Photo: Anne Fishbein
"LSH has been a blessing
for my people.”
The first person Pat Riley referred to LSH was a client of his.
“He’d been in and out of recovery for a number of years,” Pat says, “and he needed cataract surgery. He had insurance, but he couldn’t afford the copay. LSH helped him with the copay; he had the surgery and he can see fine now – it was great.”
Pat has been a Lion for 12 years, and he remembers when LSH’s CEO, Randy Stein, came to visit his club in Pasadena.
“It wasn’t long before I started referring people,” Pat recalls.
His work with LSH has pulled together two strands of his life: the Salvation Army, where he is Director of Social Services, and the memory of his mother, who was blind since Pat can remember and who passed away four years ago. “I like being able to help people with sight problems in memory of my mom,” he says.
What impressed Pat the most was the quick turnaround. “The foundation got back to me within 24 hours,” he remembers.
Since then, Pat has referred several clients to LSH. Another one came through the president of Pat’s club. “He’s a chiropractor. He called and said that one of his patients couldn’t hear and couldn’t afford hearing aids. She was in her seventies. I helped her with the paperwork and it all worked out – she was ecstatic.”
Pat’s enthusiasm for the LSH mission made him an obvious fit for the LSH Board. “For me, it’s just another way to help people. I’m a social worker, and LSH has been a blessing for my people. It’s been really cool.”
Photo: Laura Dickinson
"The lady was crying and I could hear her husband in the background telling me I was an angel.”
A couple of years ago, while Gail Peterson-Latipow was helping with a vision screening at a senior center in Lompoc, an elderly couple came in. They were in their 80s and they were having a tough time getting information because they were living out of their car.
Gail got their contact information and through her club, the Vandenberg Village Lions, they were able to get new eyeglasses.
While Gail was talking to the lady on the phone, she noticed she was having trouble hearing. She had once had a hearing aid, it turned out, but it was broken and she couldn’t afford to replace it.
Gail emailed LSH to see if we could help, and to her astonishment, she got a call back within half an hour. “I got the application and I got the information from the couple,” she recalls. “They were qualified for help the same day. I couldn’t believe it. When I called to let them know, the lady was crying and I could hear her husband in the background telling me I was an angel.”
Gail has done a lot of work over the years with social service agencies and with Lions Clubs. But this experience was special. “It’s such a beautiful story – it was the easiest referral I’ve ever been involved in. It really brought home to me the value of what LSH does.”
Now Gail’s goal is to get more people in the Central Coast area involved. “People who need this help just need to be found, made aware, and referred,” she notes. “Unless you’ve talked to a person who needs this help, you can’t understand the magnitude of what LSH provides.”
"Her story, I guess it was just the right timing -- it was like oooh, I get it now! I'm sitting there trying not to cry."
Alice-Faye Peugh was getting a little bit burned out.
It happens to many lifelong volunteers. They put in hours and hours supporting worthy causes and community organizations, and at some point they wonder whether it's all worth the effort.
"You get discouraged no matter what you do -- you're just like oh man, why am I doing this?" Alice-Faye observes. "I don't know what caused me to be so discouraged."
Then Ramona Jensen showed up at a meeting of Alice-Faye's Lions Club in Apple Valley. A year before, the Apple Valley Lions Club had referred Ramona to LSH. A relatively young woman with a severe hearing impairment, Ramona had lost her job because she could no longer communicate properly. LSH funded hearing aids for her. The ability to hear profoundly changed her life. Now, full of gratitude, Ramona was talking to the Lions Club members and telling them her story.
"Her story, I guess it was just the right timing -- it was like oooh, I get it now! I'm sitting there trying not to cry," Alice-Faye remembers. "I don't even know if she realizes the impact she had."
A couple of Ramona's anecdotes really brought home the difference the club made on her life. "She couldn't go into a fast food restaurant and order alone. She couldn't hear the person behind counter -- and I thought, I've never thought about that.
"She told us about a time she was getting out of a car and getting ready to go into a store, and she didn't hear a truck coming up and she almost got hit.
"It just happened to be the right time, the impact on her -- she was just radiant, she was so happy, her life is back on track, now she can go into a fast food restaurant and can order totally alone, she doesn't need anybody else."
Alice-Faye now has a new sense of purpose in her work with the Lions Club. She was so happy to be a part of changing someone's life. This tiny club -- referring a person in need to the Lions Sight and Hearing Foundation -- was able to make a huge impact.
And she has a message for her fellow-volunteers. "We have to remember that there are people we make impacts on -- that's priceless."
She hopes to inspire others to keep up the fight. "There's a Ramona Jensen in your area," she says.
wants to work,
I want them to have
the ability to work.”
Government can't do everything, says Greg Cody.
That's why his work with LSH is so important. As a member of our Board of Directors, Greg understands the role of nonprofits in his community.
"I got involved in nonprofits because I wanted to show the relationship between nonprofits, government and the community," he says.
He likes working with LSH, he says, because it's an efficient organization and it helps people in his community to be self-sufficient.
"This program has a one-week, two-week turnaround to help people -- government takes a lot longer," he observes.
At this year’s Lions Club District Convention in San Diego, Greg had the opportunity to meet LSH client Tricia Mandronico, who developed severe cataracts when she was in her late 40s. "It just reconfirmed my involvement," he says.
"She's somebody who was working, and the loss of her eyesight took her out of the workforce."
With help from LSH, Tricia was able to get the cataract surgery she needed to restore her sight. Now she's back in the workforce and grateful for the opportunity to continue to make a contribution.
"I'm all about productivity," Greg says, "because that's the American engine. When someone wants to work, I want them to have the ability to work.
“I just really want to help these people.”