Considering joining Lions Club fight to save eyesight

Letter to the Editor

To the Editor,

     In this letter, I want to call our community’s attention to two of the good works being done by the Monticello Lions Club, and to make a pitch for the Lions.

     As some people know (but most don’t), the primary mission of the Lions organization is the preservation of eyesight and hearing. Lions Clubs all over the world contribute their time to support the Lions’ causes. Our club includes a group of people who are specially trained to operate the diagnostic camera for Lions KidSight eye screening. Since our state no longer provides eye screening, Lions Clubs provide this service for all children before they start attending school. And this service is essential–almost 7 percent of the kids screened are diagnosed with an issue that requires some level of treatment. Recently, a University of Iowa eye physician examining one of the screening photos discovered that the individual had a life-threatening condition. The individual’s family was contacted, medical things happened, and this child will be fine, thanks initially to the KidSight screeners in Monticello.

     Additionally, our club provides transport for the eye tissue processed by the Iowa Lions Eye Bank in Coralville. The processing at the Iowa Lions Eye Bank is highly refined and their tissue products are sought after by the other eye banks. The tissue from the eye bank is provided at no cost to people in need, so keeping the processing costs low is very important. The Lions tissue transport acts like a low-cost delivery system within the eye bank system. Our club members pick up the tissue at the Iowa Lions Eye Bank in Coralville and drive it to a rendezvous point in Wisconsin where a Wisconsin Lion takes it the rest of the way to the Wisconsin Lions Eye Bank. We donate our time and fuel. There are other regular routes that are handled by other Lions Clubs in Iowa. Statewide, our group of transporters accumulates over 30,000 miles each year for these tissue transports.

     These are just two of the behind-the-scenes activities performed by the Lions Club. Our club activities support local groups as well, including providing scholarships and supporting youth sports activities each year. Other activities and initiatives will be highlighted perhaps in future installments.

     Our club is seeking members, of course. Most service organizations are constantly seeking members.

     Why join a service organization? A friend once said, “It pays your civic rent.” Yes, it’s true that a lot of people say that, and it’s become a little old, but I still like it.

     It’s also true that you can pay your civic rent with cash or a check. Well, a piece of paper won’t carry eye tissue across the state, and a piece of paper won’t take a photo of a child’s eye. Every service organization requires hands-on volunteer help to accomplish their goals.

     But why be a Lion, as opposed to joining the Rotary, Optimists, or another club? After all, all of these service clubs perform good works, and all have their particular initiatives against the maladies of the world. I believe the answer is one club’s mission must strike a chord in you, and if you choose that club, you will perform good works that enrich against any threat to them, including a new initiative against diabetes.

     If any of this has struck a chord in you and you are interested in joining our fight to preserve eyesight and hearing, you are invited to contact me at or at 319-465-6569.

Bruce V. Smith


Monticello Lions Club


Subscriber Login