Lions Club eye programs help needy see a better future

AUBURN CA – For nearly 100 years, the Lions Clubs International has worked on projects designed to prevent blindness, restore eyesight and improve eyecare for hundreds of millions of people worldwide.

Closer to home, its program for helping needy people in obtaining prescription eyeglasses plays a low-key role in helping give many the gift of better sight during tough economic times for some.

Individual clubs have their own programs and some are seeing an increase in need as jobless numbers have swelled while other clubs are not.

The Auburn 49er Lions club averaged 18 referrals a year in 2009 and 2010 but that increased to 25 in 2011, said eyeglasses coordinator Kelly Post. This month, there have been seven calls for glasses.

Post said that a number of reasons could be responsible for the increase. Until two years ago, Medi-Cal’s welfare medical program paid for eye exams and glasses. Now it pays for just the eye exams, she said.

Some of the calls could be attributed to an increase in word of mouth among people needing eyeglass assistance. Others are coming because of referrals from groups assisting the poor like Hope, Help and Healing and The Gathering Inn, Post said.

“More people are homeless, more are out of a job,” Post said. “And there are more parolees.”

At the Loomis Lions Club, Vision Assistance Chair


No spike in Loomis

Jack Morris said the group has handled four aid requests since July, with one of the callers finding another way to replace their broken frames.

In Auburn, the Host Lions group had fielded six requests since the end of December – which is depleting the limited amount of referrals that the Lions can send to an optometrist, said eyeglass chairman Dennis Lloyd. The group has the ability to handle about 20 referrals a year, he said.

Dr. Mark Starr, county Health & Human Services deputy director, said Placer has not had an eyeglass program for the needy but will steer them in the direction of the Lions on an informal basis. The county will provide emergency medical eyecare but doesn’t provide eyeware, Starr said.

Lloyd said the number of requests seemed to be linked to an increase in referrals from the county.

“We can handle a limited number of people but we’re not part of the welfare system,” Lloyd said.

Morris said that many Loomis Club members felt a worsening economy and lack of jobs would result in a substantial increase in requests for vision assistance. But there has been no spike in requests. The Loomis Lions normally handle three or four a year, he said.

One of the recent requests had been forwarded by another Lions Club and another by a welfare-related organization, Morris said.

Morris said that different communities have different rates of awareness on the Lions vision program and that could have something to do with a lack of increased demand.

“I think there are many needy persons but I’m thinking they have other ways – paying for them themselves or with insurance, for instance,” Morris said.

He added that the granting of funds for an exam and new glasses – which averaged $190 last year – is not automatic. The club needs to confirm the person’s identification and then move forward on an eye exam. If the optometrist says glasses are required, Morris can authorize the purchase.

“After that, there are no further requirements – they don’t need to come and talk to the club,” Morris said. “But most of them find a way to send us a card.”

The Lions have gained worldwide recognition for their work to improve sight and prevent blindness. That work includes recycling eyeglasses, supporting Lions Eye Banks that provide eye tissue for sight-saving surgeries, and screening the vision of hundreds of thousands of people every year.

The effort goes back to 1925, when Helen Keller called on the Lions organization to become “knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness.”

“It’s a very rewarding thing and we Lions are proud of it,” Morris said.

O Christmas tree! – Boston Lions Club Sells Christmas Trees

By Gene Cassidy Globe Correspondent

Ashland Lions TreeMickey Robertson, 9, recently rode 485 miles from his home in northern Maine to a town near Boston and was rewarded at the end with some hot chocolate. That’s what his dad said was Mickey’s favorite part of the Christmas-tree delivery trip, the hot chocolate in Ashland.

Along the way, Mickey also got a view high above the highway and to spend time with his dad, Mase, as the broad-shouldered, good-natured Marine veteran drove a green Freightliner cab pulling a 53-foot trailer loaded with Christmas trees from Allagash View Farms to Lions clubs in Medfield, Medway, Wrentham, Stow, and Ashland.

Every year, a few weeks before Christmas, trees arrive in lots like the Ashland Lions Club’s, and families like the Pisanos set out to pick out that special tree to take home.

“The tree was an executive decision,’’ Kristin Pisano said with a smile on a recent Saturday. She nodded toward her sons. “They agree with everything we say.’’

Five-year-old Joey Pisano’s eyes got wide as the volunteers put the tree into the hatchback and its tip poked out. He seemed concerned where he would sit.

“Uh-oh. Tree’s coming out,’’ he said.

While his other mom, Raylin Pisano, and the volunteers worked to shift the tree across the front-seat console almost to the dashboard, Joey and his brother Lucas, 4, talked about Santa and Christmas over candy canes the Lions had provided.

Lucas said he is hoping for a track that allows cars to travel on the wall, while Joey described the Elf on a Shelf he regularly reports to, who lives by the stairs, communicates with Santa nightly, and flies.

It takes about eight years to grow Christmas trees, so the specimen in the back of their car was probably about as old as Joey and Lucas combined.

Ed Cyr’s Allagash View Farms, where Mase Robertson worked before starting his trucking business, has about 60 acres divided into eight growing areas. Each fall 10 to 12 students from the University of Maine Fort Kent work part time to cut the trees. Planting for a future crop starts in the spring.

The Lions sell two types of fir trees. Tom Heguy, the Ashland club’s secretary and this year’s chairman of its tree sale, now in its 25th year, has an easy way to describe the difference: a balsam has more smell, a Fraser means less mess.

Thomas Mikkelsen of Holliston knew the difference and picked a Fraser, a fir that is native to the warm Carolinas and loses fewer needles indoors leading up to Christmas. Mikkelsen, his wife, Lisa, and 10-year-old son, Clark, who were glad to be choosing a tree unhampered by gloves and snow, passed several Christmas tree lots, some with lower prices, on their way to the Ashland Lions Club’s offerings alongside Route 126.

“I wanted to buy one from a place where the money was going to something,’’ Mikkelson said.

The money raised from the tree sales goes to Lions Club projects, which include youth soccer, T-ball, senior breakfasts, lunches, meals on wheels, food pantries, school programs, the Medway-Ashland Wildcats girls’ youth hockey team, the Lazarus Organ Donor program, diabetes programs, NEADS service dogs, and the service organization’s dedicated charity, eye research, with the goal of eradicating blindness.

But there are other reasons people buy Lions Club trees. Norah Cox, 3, picked a beauty for Ashland residents Beverly and Matthew Henderson, who are her Bee and Papa. “Because it was pretty,’’ she said.

Marley Hanson and Tara Dorval bought a huge first tree, easily as big as their small car, for their new Framingham apartment. They cuddled their tiny dogs, Josie and Pops, while the Lions threaded tie lines around the tree, through the interior and to the front bumper. If the tree was that big on the car, what about their apartment?

“We’re going to kind of move ourselves for the tree,’’ Hanson said.

Eileen and John Avisa of Medway made three stops Friday night and three on Saturday morning before picking a 10-foot tree as wide as it was tall at the Ashland Lions lot.

“We have a cathedral ceiling and a perfect space for this tree,’’ Eileen Avisa said. She hoped her four children would be thrilled, and the family’s two cats not thrilled enough to try to climb it.

Avisa said her family collects ornaments wherever they go on vacation. This time of year brings back not only memories of Christmases past, but of family journeys.

Andrew MacNeil brought girlfriend Ashley Pardi from their Back Bay apartment to the lot in his hometown to buy their tree, continuing a family tradition. “They have better trees,’’ he said.

Joe and Laurie Yannone, who recently moved to the suburbs from Quincy, bought a tree so big for 8 1/2-month-old Will’s first Christmas it couldn’t fit on the car. The Lions would deliver it.

The volunteers at the Lions tree lot embody Christmas with unhurried good cheer. If Mickey makes the tree-delivery ride from Maine next year, it will be his fourth year of hot chocolate in Ashland. High school students will again help unload the trees.

Cars will roll out of the lot with trees on top, and profits will go to charity, all in a relaxed seasonal counterpoint to the crush of shopping malls.

That vibe keeps buyers like Ashland’s David Jenkins coming back year after year. Finally, he’s perfected the best way to choose a tree. “It was close to the car,’’ he said.

The Los Angeles Maharlika Lions Club: Bringing a brighter future to Kababayans in the PH

By: Cynthia De Castro | AJPress Los Angeles

Los Angeles Maharlika Lions Club: Bringing a brighter future to Kababayans in the PH In 1917, a 38-year-old Chicago business leader named Melvin Jones asked a simple and world-changing question—what if people put their talents to work improving their communities?  He then challenged other business leaders to serve their community and founded the Lions Club. Today, almost 100 years later, Lions Clubs International is the world’s largest service club organization with 1.35 million members in more than 45,000 clubs serving in over 206 countries and geographic areas.

Lions Club is best known for fighting blindness—it’s part of its history as well as its work today. This came about when in its early years, the Lions Clubs invited famous blind author and speaker Helen Keller to address their International Convention. She challenged Lions to become “knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness.” Since then, Lions Clubs around the world have worked tirelessly to aid the blind and visually impaired. In 1990, it launched SightFirst, a program that is restoring sight and preventing blindness on a global scale.

But Lions did not limit its help to the blind. It has volunteered for many different kinds of community projects—including caring for the environment, feeding the hungry, aiding seniors and the disabled, supporting children and young people through scholarships, recreation and mentoring and helping communities following natural disasters by providing for immediate needs such as food, water, clothing and medical supplies—and aiding in long-term reconstruction.

One of the most active Lions Clubs is the Los Angeles Maharlika Lions Club, made up of our kababayans in LA.

Chartered in 1999, the Los Angeles Maharlika Lions Club was organized by Charter President and now District Governor Joel Pastor, Charter Secretary and Past President Dr. Teri Pastor, Past President Dr. Kirk Dizon, Chit Dizon, Cynthia Briones, and Butch Bandong.

The club had 40 Charter Members and held its first Installation of Officers and Induction of Members at the Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles in 1999.

In line with the Lions Club’s vision of helping eradicate blindness, LA Maharlika Lions Club’s main focus is to organize and send medical missions to the Philippines concentrating on conducting vision screenings, delivering free cataract surgeries with intraocular lens implants and giving prescription eyeglasses to our impoverished kababayans.

Like many new organizations, the LA Maharlika Lions Club went through the usual growing pains in its early years. But because of the perseverance and tenacity of the leaders and the members, the club achieved one of the highest accolades that a Lions Club can achieve.

Through the past few years, there was a boost in the membership. Dynamic, new leaders joined the club, eager to be one in serving our community both here and back home in the Philippines.

The current President of the Club is another dynamic leader, Boy Lizaso, who took on the office last July 1, 2011. For the past 40 years, Boy Lizaso has been a respected figure in the LA fashion and entertainment industry, being a successful producer and director of many special shows and events and a well-known fashion designer.

During his term as president, Lizaso has been able to lead the LA Maharlika Lions Club into the number 1 slot in the Southern California District (District 4L3). “We are proud to say that currently, during my presidency, we are no. 1 among 65 Lion Clubs in the district.  In the entire state of California, we have the biggest number of membership growth and the highest amount of funds raised during our induction ball,” said Boy.

The other officers of the Club currently serving along with Lizaso are 1st Vice President  Marvin Baroquillo,2nd VP Wilder Ynoquio,  3rd VP Joe Lagman, Lion Secretary Marissa Dela Fuente-Du, Lion Treasurer Ellen Abejuela M.D., Lion Auditor Susan Aquino M.D.,

Lion Tamer Dado Fabro, Lion Twister Ruben Lagman, Membership Chairwoman Teri Pastor M.D., Immediate Past President Sam Aquino M.D.,Membership Board Irene Igual  M.D. and Membership Board Lisa Santos-Cadano.

The current District Governor is Joel Pastor who is the Charter Founder along with his wife, Past President Teri Pastor, MD. The district secretary is Normajean  Eustaquio.

The LA Maharlika has sent Medical Missions to the various regions of the Philippines such as Batangas, Romblon, Tarlac, Pampanga, Ilocos Norte and Bacolod.

Every year, the club has sent between 8,000 to 10,000 pairs of eyeglasses for people of all ages back home. This year, 15,000 pairs of eyeglasses were sent to Batangas and Cavite for distribution.

The very first Eye Center in Southern Luzon will be constructed in Batangas City through the generosity of Atty. Tony Pastor, the uncle of District Governor Joel Pastor. This was after Atty. Pastor saw his nephew Joel’s dedication to the Lions’ goal of eliminating preventable blindness worldwide.

The club has conducted the following service programs: the Annual Eye Medical Mission to Indigent Areas in Philippines, Feed the Homeless and Adopt a School thru ABS-CBN Foundation Kapamilya Program.

“It has been said that whenever a Lions Club gets together, problems get smaller. And communities get better. That’s because we help where help is needed—in our own communities and around the world—with unmatched integrity and energy,” said LA Maharlika Lions Club Founder Joel Pastor.

President Boy Lizaso definitely agrees as he reiterates, “The motto of LCI is “We Serve.” And that’s why we are doing our best to help our kababayans, and we will continue to do so for as long as there is a need. My own personal motto for my presidency is to “serve with style,” said Boy, the famous fashion designer who has truly done everything with style.

The Gates Foundation has awarded LCIF $5 million

By Russell Sarver Past international director of Lions Clubs International

Russell Sarver is a Past international director of Lions Clubs InternationalLions Clubs do great work locally and around the world. Below are some examples of what has been accomplished.

Update of measles initiative: Since joining the measles initiative last year, Lions Clubs International Foundation, in a collaborative effort with several leading organizations to eliminate measles, have vaccinated the one-billionth child for measles. Since 2001, the World Health Organization estimates that measles has been reduced by 78 percent. In 2009, almost 900,000 African children died from measles; and in 2010, 164,000 died from measles.

The Gates Foundation has awarded Lions Clubs International Foundation $5 million for the program this year, by matching every $2 that LCIF raises with $1, and they have set a combined goal of providing $15 million toward this initiative.

Lions Clubs making impact in South Asia: Lions helped to raise more than $200 million during Campaign SightFirst II in donations and pledges. These funds already are having a great impact around the world, including South Asia. To date, in South Asia, the program has helped to fund 112 projects totaling $16.9 million. These funds are being used to upgrade or expand 72 clinics and hospitals, provide 496,200 cataract surgeries, and train 96 midlevel ophthalmic personnel. In addition, one eye hospital will be constructed and equipped, and one multiple district diabetic retinopathy program, including equipment and training, has been completed.

LCIF awards grants: At the recent international board of directors meeting in Hong Kong,  55 grants were awarded, totaling $4.09 million and benefiting 915,778 individuals. This includes $1.19 million for the Special Olympics Opening Eyes program.

River blindness eliminated in Colombia: Since 2004, SightFirst has been a contributing partner in the Onchocerciasis Elimination Program (River Blindness) of the Americas, which works to end river blindness in Latin America. As a result of work done in these areas, it is announced that Colombia is now free from river blindness.

LCIF providing famine relief in Africa: Right now, famine is threatening the lives of millions of people in Africa. As always, Lions are bringing aid to the people affected by this disaster. LCIF has approved a $15,000 grant to support famine relief. Lions in Kenya also collected $10,000, and our members around the world are rallying to help. Lions in Sweden are donating $77,000; a Lions Club in Germany has pledged to collect $7,100; and Lions from Ethiopia are also taking part in relief efforts.

Blindness Awareness Month and World Sight Day, is Today Oct. 13

world-sight-dayThe Little Rock Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of children who are blind or visually impaired initiated a bill into law establishing October as “Blindness Awareness Month.” Last year, Mayor Barnett proclaimed October as Blindness Awareness Month. Studies indicate that over 14,000 persons in Collier County live with blindness or significant vision loss. Although blindness and vision loss largely affects senior citizen; accident, disease, genetics and other causes can cause vision loss to persons of whatever age.

Those persons living with blindness or vision loss and their caregivers residing in Collier County and the City of Naples may now receive education, assistive technology, mobility and adaptive independent living training and a myriad of other support services locally from the only full service center in Collier County; namely –Lighthouse of Collier.

World Sight Day (WSD) is an international day of awareness, held annually on the second Thursday of October to focus attention on the global issue of avoidable blindness and visual impairment. World Sight Day is a day of awareness and urges the local community to observe personal eye health care and that the services of Lighthouse of Collier be made known for the assistance of the blind, vision impaired and their caregivers within Collier County and the City of Naples.

The mission of the Lighthouse of Collier is to promote the development, implementation and on-going evaluation of programs and services which foster independence and enhance the quality of life for the blind, visually impaired and their caregivers. To learn more about the Lighthouse of Collier please visit or call 239-430-EYE4 (3934).

Lions Club working to fight vision problems

Lions Club Working to fight vision problemsThe Lions Clubs/Lions Club International took on a challenge in 1925 to make fighting blindness a defining cause of its clubs. The guest speaker making that challenge to the Lions group is probably history’s most famous blind person.

Standing before the audience of Lions Club members, Helen Keller told the members to become “the knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness.”

The clubs, which are volunteer organizations, already had dedicated to that cause but took the challenge to the next level. The clubs have numerous projects aimed at preventing blindness, restoring eyesight and encouraging proper eye care. Members recycle eye glasses, support Lions Eye Banks that provide tissue for sight-saving surgeries and support screening for vision.

Programs are in place within the organization designed to research and help fight the onset of cataracts, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, diabetic eye diseases, corneal blindness and more.

In keeping with the challenge made long ago, local Lions Clubs have helped a Lindsey man. The Lindsey Lions Club, in collaboration with the Fremont Lions Club and the Elmore Lions Club, presented Lindsey resident Mark Cole with $1,350 to help defray the cost of his recent eye surgeries and treatments at the Vision Center in Toledo. Cole has complications from glaucoma.

Lindsey resident and Lindsey Lions Club member Trish Weinstein brought Cole’s situation to the attention of the club that works closely with the other two local clubs. In the past, the clubs also have cooperated to assist a resident in Fremont and a Woodmore Elementary School student with vision problems.

Knights of Sight Recognized by Hazlet Board of Education

Hazlet and Middletown, N.J. – The Hazlet Township Board of Education recognized the Middletown Township Lions Club Vision Screening Team, the ‘Knights of Sight,’ at their regular meeting on Monday, October 3rd. The volunteer vision screening team recently tested the eyes of 254 kindergarten students at the Sycamore Drive Early Childhood Learning Center at no charge to the school district. Superintendant of Schools Dr. William O. George III, Ed. D., Assistant Superintendent Dr. Bernard F. Bragen, Jr., and Board of Education President Stephen F. Willig presented certificates of appreciation to each member of the team.

Sight preservation and prevention of blindness are major global initiatives of Lions Clubs throughout the world. Middletown Lions Sight Committee Chairman Rich LaBarbera stated the purpose of the screenings is to detect common eye ailments such as lazy eye, shaking eyes, and refractive errors like near-sightedness and far-sightedness. Noting that lazy eye is one of the leading causes of blindness in children, he clarified that the condition can be corrected up until the age of eight.

Lion volunteers conduct the vision screenings using special cameras know as Welch Allyn Suresight Vision Screeners. Team members receive extensive training in the operation of the cameras. The Suresight Vision Screeners take digital readings without physical contact, and results from the exams are sent directly to the South Jersey Eye Center, Camden, where they are evaluated by medical doctors. Parents are notified of any problems.

To date, the ‘Knights of Sight’ have performed vision screenings in the Middletown Township and Red Bank School Districts and will be visiting the Matawan School District in the near future. Several thousand students have had their eyes tested.

The Middletown Township Lions Club, chartered in 1946 under Lions International, is a volunteer service organization consisting of men and women who help the community through various charitable service programs and fundraising initiatives. The club assists individuals and families by underwriting free eye exams, eyeglasses, and hearing aids for those who cannot afford them and also donates funds to local charities that advocate for the blind and visually-impaired. Members also volunteer directly at The Kitchen at St. Marks Food Pantry, Keansburg, by purchasing, preparing and serving meals to the hungry.

The club has instituted a capital campaign – ‘Hear Their Voices’ – which will guarantee the continuation and expansion of all charitable programs. Checks can be sent to the Middletown Lions Club, c/o Lion President Lori Anne Oliwa, P.O. Box 75, Middletown, N.J., 07748 and should contain a designation for the capital campaign in the memo area. Membership in the Lions is by invitation. The club meets on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month

Rochester Lions describe healthy diet project

By JOHN DAVENPORT Rochester Lions Club

 Rochester Lions describe healthy diet projectROCHESTER — Lions are known for their work with sight and hearing, so why are the Rochester Lions getting their hands dirty in a plot of land on Franklin Street?

Their newest project is a garden that is providing fresh vegetables to Gerry’s Food Pantry. It all started when the local club realized that diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in the United States and that a diet filled with fruit and vegetables was one way to prevent the disease. With this fact in mind, Lions adopted diabetes awareness as a long-term commitment. They knew that the cause of diabetes continues to be a mystery but diet and a lack of exercise, appear to be correlated to its diagnosis. The garden project became a way to get high fiber fresh food to people who may lack them because of cost.

The project started in the spring when Sharon Davenport contacted the Rochester School Department and asked for permission to raise vegetables on a plot of school land on Franklin Street. With the School Department’s permission Lions started preparing a 30′ by 30′ plot in April. Members started plants in their homes. Plant donations were made by Martha Whitehouse at the Richard W. Creteau Regional Technology Center. By May, they were ready to plant. Into the ground went 40 tomato plants, zucchini, summer squash, sweet corn, butternut and acorn squash, and potatoes. Soon the effects of sun and rain could be seen from the street as plants grew and bobbed in the breeze.

Asked about the project, Davenport said, “Approximately two percent of all people who have had diabetes for 15 years become blind, while about 10 percent develop a severe visual impairment. Lions are committed to changing those figures.”

Ralph Brock, who has been a Lion in Rochester for over 50 years, said, “It’s a fun evening to get together with club members and get a little dirt under your nails.”

Jim Brock, treasurer, pointed out that in this economy there are people without insurance who need glasses. He hopes that the Lion project will lower the need for glasses in the long run, and that in the short term people in Rochester will help the Lions by joining and supporting the club. Anyone wishing to join can come to a meeting on the first Wednesday of the month at the Rochester Library in the meeting room on the top floor. They can also call 332-5627 for more information.

Now that a frost is just around the corner, the Lions Club is about to harvest the last fruits of their project. The summer squashes are all picked and some of the tomatoes still have a few green fruits. The pumpkins and winter squash are ready. The Lions Club is about to show that a diet to fight diabetes is one that’s naturally rich in nutrients and low in fat and calories. In fact, it’s the best eating plan for everyone.

Clinic focuses on declining eyesight in Merced County


Margaret Buchmann-Garcia was taken by surprise 12 years ago when she suddenly began to lose vision in her right eye with no explanation.

“I started seeing dots, and I came home and it happened very quickly overnight,” she recalled Thursday morning.

The worst is that three months later, she also began to lose vision in her left eye. She underwent six surgeries in five months, which helped save some vision in her left eye, leaving her with tunnel vision in that eye.

Now, the 57-year-old woman volunteers part of her time to serve as the executive director of the Center of Vision Enhancement in Merced. The center has been around for a little more than three years, and it serves people who are in situations similar to Buchmann-Garcia’s — dealing with low vision or blindness.

The first year the center opened it only served 30 people, she said. It now serves more than 100.

“It’s a growing number of people who are finding out that we are here,” she said.

The center doesn’t offer doctor’s referrals, but rather provides training for people to better cope with their vision problems. The center has various support groups, and it has different vision aides. “We try to help them deal with it,” she said.

For example, they teach them how to get around the transportation system, and how to cook, among other daily living skills. “We are here to (help them) get their independence back,” Buchmann-Garcia said. “When you lose your sight, you feel isolated.”

About 85 percent of the people who reach out to the center, located at 1240 D St., are 55 and older.

The causes of the vision impairment for those people vary, but includes diabetes and birth vision problems, Buchmann-Garcia said. Macular degeneration is the most common one, she said.

The center, a nonprofit, started as a support group that originated about 16 years ago, said Pamela Strange, a vision impairment specialist who has a private business and helped start the center. “All levels of vision impairment are going to impact a person’s life,” she said. “We are trying to reach those people who don’t know how much help there is.”

On Oct. 13, the center will have a Low Vision Awareness Day event from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Merced Senior Community Center.

The event will feature two speakers, Dr. George Chen, a retired ophthalmologist, and Dr. Thomas Weed, a local ophthalmologist.

In addition, the Lions Eyemobile will be at the site to offer free vision screenings, Strange said, who has helped organize the event for the 12 years. “We are also trying to help prevent vision problems,” Strange said.

For those people who can’t make it for the event in the morning, there will be an extension from 3:30 to 6 p.m. at the Center of Vision Enhancement.

However, Strange said there will only be exhibits during those hours, so she strongly recommends people attend the event earlier in the day.

Buchmann-Garcia said since losing her sight, she’s learned how to use her computer again, use the transportation system and use a cane. “I was falling all over the place,” she said. “I needed to get around without falling.”

Buchmann-Garcia hopes that other people in the area with vision impairments will use the resources and services available at the center. “Contact us, and (don’t) just sit at home and get depressed,” she said.

Buchmann-Garcia said the nearest centers that offer services similar to the Center of Vision Enhancement’s are in Modesto and Fresno.


Annual Auto Show and Motorcycle Meet to Benefit NJ Blind Citizens Association

Newsbrief Monmouth County Written by Al Siano

Middletown, NJ  – For the sixth year running, volunteers from the Middletown Lions Club will host the annual Auto Show & Motorcycle Meet on Saturday, October 8th (rain date 10/9) to benefit the New Jersey Blind Citizens Association (NJBCA), a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of the blind and visually impaired.  This year’s show begins at 1:00 pm, at the Middletown Shopping Center located at the intersection of State Highway 35 Northbound and New Monmouth Road in Middletown NJ.  Admission is free and the show is open to the public.
1910 Ford Model T – This beauty is owned by Dave McKenny of Shrewsbury and is the same age as the New Jersey Blind Citizens Association.

Car and motorcycle enthusiasts who wish to show their vehicle(s) may use vehicle pre-registration for $10-$12, or register at the show for $15.  Trophies and plaques will be awarded to winning entries, which will be selected by judges at the show.  Sponsorships and vendor space remains available for a limited time. Call 732-291-0878 for details about sponsorship donations and vendor space. Show cars, sponsors and vendors may arrive as early as noon to facilitate set-up.

Thanks to the dedication of the Middletown Lions, and show sponsors like the Garden State Land Surveyors Alliance and All American Chevrolet this is such a fun family event each year attracting some of the most beautiful cars and motorcycles in the state,” says NJBCA Trustee Trish St.George. “I am legally blind and progressively loosing my vision, along with many others who face blindness, we find tremendous value in this vital organization and we appreciate the great kindness and ongoing concern of all of our donors and volunteers who have kept the organization alive for 101 years” added St.George.   An interview with Trish St.George is available for viewing at

For general inquiries or to learn more about available sponsorships and vehicle registration, please visit, email, or call NJBCA offices at 732-291-0878 and ask to speak to Executive Director, Mr. Doug Scott. Alternately, Middletown Lion and NJBCA Trustee, Al Siano may be contacted directly at 908-902-7155. To learn more about the Middletown Lions Club and their ongoing support of NJBCA, please visit

About New Jersey Blind Citizens Association, Inc. (NJBCA)          

Founded in 1910, NJBCA is the oldest organization of its kind in the state.  With the mission of improving the lives of the blind and visually impaired economically, vocationally, educationally, and socially, NJBCA provides free programs to help clients gain independence and confidence to lead self-sufficient and productive lives.  At Camp Happiness, the main campus in Leonardo, NJBCA runs a fine arts program, computer training, peer support groups, special interest clubs, and more through the Wobser Day Camp and other initiatives.