Blind man helps promote use of guide dogs across the country

By: Ray Reed

Life changed abruptly for Bill Hadden 38 years ago, when a stroke took away his vision.

Until then, he had a successful career in the insurance business.

Since then, the Lynchburg resident has traveled over much of North America as a Lions Club ambassador who promotes the use of guide dogs for people who are blind.

“I didn’t deal with it very well early on,” Hadden said, because he was suddenly unemployed and had three children to educate. “It was kind of a devastating situation,” said Hadden, who was 46 at the time.

But now, at 84, Hadden hands out his business cards in pairs, held together with a clothespin inscribed with “make a difference.”

He travels about 80,000 miles a year, telling prospective users of guide dogs what it takes to rely on the dogs and work with them.

He’s also working to set up a local vision and hearing event the Brookville-Timberlake Lions Club is sponsoring, with a mobile sight and hearing unit that will visit Brookville Middle School and Sam’s Club on Oct. 25.

The next day, the mobile unit will set up at a health fair at the Templeton Senior Center at 225 Wiggington Road.

The club is hoping to screen about 300 children at the school for possible vision and hearing problems, Hadden said.

“We’re very excited about it,” he said.

When Hadden travels across the continent, he flies alone except for his current guide dog, a yellow Labrador named Godiva.

Hadden and his wife, Jackie – he calls her Saint Jackie – live in the Graves Mill Road neighborhood.

He credits the Brookville-Timberlake Lions Club with helping him find a door to his future, first by helping him to get his own guide dog and then setting him on to a new career as an advisor for Guiding Eyes, a dog school in Yorktown Heights, N.Y.

“I was sponsored by the club to receive a dog,” Hadden said.

Even with the club’s backing, getting his first dog was no easy task.  An evaluator told him he wasn’t a good candidate for learning to work with a dog, but Hadden persevered and received his first dog, named Syracuse, in 1974. He’s had five more dogs since then.

“I’ve had one wife and six dogs,” Hadden quips. “God has been good to us.”

He needed almost two years to come to grips with losing his vision.

“I was wallowing around in self-pity,” he said, but eventually decided “I had better deal with it.”

He went to a rehabilitation program where he met people who had been blind since birth, who had never known the freedom of driving a car, and had never seen the blue of a robin’s egg.

He decided he could do something despite his own situation.

He has since been chairman of every committee in the local Lion’s club, and received the Lions Club International’s highest award, the ambassador of good will, in at a gathering of 2,000 Lions Club members 1992.

“I had no clue I was being considered for that,” Hadden said. “I had come there to talk about the dog school.”

“It was certainly overwhelming.”


California Lions honored

POMONA – The Pomona Host Lions Club won District Club of the Year at the recent District 4-L4 Convention held in Palm Springs.

The 43-member Pomona club competed against all Division B clubs, which have 26 to 50 members.

Club of the Year was also awarded in two other divisions: Diamond Bar Breakfast Lions Club, which won Division A for clubs with 25 or fewer members, and Seal Beach, which received the prize for Division C, clubs with more than 50 members.

Lions District 4-L4 is comprised of Orange County and parts of Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties.

The Club of the Year Award is based on a wide range of criteria, which measure a club’s success.

Points are awarded for participation in community and Lions International projects, attendance at meetings, conventions and training, membership increases, administrative functions, publication of newspaper articles, the chartering of new Lions and Leo clubs, district and international visitations, the recycling of eyeglasses, club newsletter, club website, Proud Lion program, new member orientations, service to the district and charitable donations.

Pomona Host President Jack Lightfoot accepted the award from District 4-L4 Governor Norm MacKenzie.

He later reflected upon the award, “It’s a tribute to the leaders and general members of our club to be named club of the year by our district. This is a highly competitive award, given to the Pomona Host Lions by one
of the top four Lions districts in North America.

“Countless hours of dedicated service by many members brought about this recognition.”

The club also won two other awards: the district-wide Bimonthly Bulletin Award and the Visitation Award for Division B. The Pomona Host Lions Bulletin, under editor Barbara Smith, has received the award for five consecutive years. The Visitation Award, under first vice president Amanda Gonzalez, marked its second consecutive win.

At the convention, club president Jack Lightfoot was recognized for his work as chairman of the District Budget and Audit Committee. Gil and Barbara Smith were recognized as chairs of the Disaster Preparedness Committee.

Stunning Success of Campaign Means Sight for Millions

By :Albert F. Brandel, President
The International Association of Lions Clubs

Albert F. Brandel, President The International Association of Lions ClubsThe Navajo Reservation in Arizona is beautiful, rugged country. The landscape matches the people. Many Navajo survive with little income yet they maintain a strong sense of community. Sadly, one thing their community often has lacked is vision care. Maureen and I were privileged to participate in eye screenings in October on the Navajo Reservation in Window Rock as part of World Sight Day. We were part of a very worthwhile effort that uncovered vision problems and distributed eyeglasses to those in need. (Lions also did diabetes screenings for Native Americans, Hispanics and senior citizens in Phoenix.) If you’ve ever been on a screening or mission, you know what it’s like to directly help those in great need. It’s just a wonderful feeling.

Maureen and I also recently were in Africa to observe Lions in action. We met with a grateful 26-year-old mother whose corneal transplant enabled her to see her two kids for the first time. Some people think I’m an unemotional police detective. But meeting that mother and realizing what the Lions did for her brought tears to my eyes.

Thanks to Lions, the world is full of stories such as the mother in Africa. We’ve also helped community after community meet its vision needs. Our main weapon in the fight for sight is SighFirst, of course, and the incredible success of Campaign SightFirst II will enable Lions to protect or restore the sight of millions. The $200 million we raised will bring sight–and the ability to live independently, to attend school, to work and to reach one’s full potential–to people in developed nations such as those in North America and in developing nations in Africa and Asia.

I want to thank all Lions who supported the campaign. Your generosity was outstanding. As always, Lions came through. It’s not easy to maintain your regular club projects and also support a larger cause. But club after club, Lion after Lion, put in the extra time and effort to ensure the campaign met its goal.

Now comes the part that makes the effort worthwhile–performing the operations and screenings, building eye clinics and hospitals, distributing medication and training eye care professionals, bringing the gift of sight to children and senior citizens and everyone in between. The campagin was a great success. But a year from now, two years from now and for many years to come, Lions will use these funds efficiently and effectively to restore sight and prevent vision loss for multitudes.

Uniontown Company to Open $100M bleach plant in Pittsburg

A $100 million bleach manufacturing plant will be built and operated by K2 Pure Solutions at Dow Chemical Co.’s Pittsburg site.

K2 will build and operate the plant on 15 acres leased from Dow on its 513-acre east Contra Costa County site. Dow will supply raw materials.

The new plant will sell bleach mainly to municipal water treatment plants in Northern California. It should be operational by the end of 2010.

Seperately, K2 will lease to Dow an additional separate facility K2 will operate to make chlorine and caustic soda for Dow’s agricultural markets.

Howard Brodie, K2’s chief executive officer, said the 20-year agreement should provide about 200 direct and indirect construction jobs and approximately 40 direct and indirect permanent operations jobs.

Dow, the $53.5 billion chemical giant based in Midland, Mich., said Dec. 8 as part of a global reduction it would close its Pittsburg latex operation, costing 20 jobs. The latex plant had been idle since August. Dow has 500 employees and contactors in Pittsburg.

Dow has nine production units left after the latex plant shut down, said Randy Fischback, Dow’s California public and government affairs leader.

The K2 plant “will be a new unit on site; its footprint every bit as robust as our larger plants.”

Dow operated a global-scale chlorine production plant in Pittsburg for 50 years, before closing it in 1992.

The new plant will have to get city and regulatory agency approvals, Fischback said.

Tod Sutton, Dow’s Pittsburg site leader, said Dow will get “a stable, onsite, low-cost raw material supply by working with K2,” and that “sharing capital costs is consistent with Dow’s asset-light strategy and provides Dow better raw material integration at the Pittsburg site.”

While chlorine and bleach may be the same thing, chlorine is a deadly gas, mostly made in the Gulf, and shipped by rail.

K2’s technology “eliminates the public safety risk,” said David Cynamon, K2 executive chairman.

Cynamon and partner Brodie founded KIK Custom Products in 1997, a Concord, Ontario, company that grew to $1.5 billion in sales and is North America’s largest contract manufacturer of private label household bleach, personal care and household cleaning products. The duo sold KIK with its 25 plants in May 2007 to CI Capital Partners LLC of New York.

“We knew chlorine,” Cynamon said, “We were the largest store brand bleach manufacturer in North America.” Along with Centre Partners, their original partners at KIK, Cynamon and Brodie founded K2 and put to use their knowledge of bleach-making.

K2 is based in Toronto, Ontario, with U.S. headquarters in Uniontown, Ohio. It has 15 employees and, besides Pittsburg, plans to open bleach plants in Vernon in Southern California and later Chicago.

K2 makes bleach using only salt, water and electricity as the inputs.

K2’s plan is to reduce the need to transport chlorine for water treatment by setting up a network of regional plants using its safer method of bleach production.

While early-stage technologies are often expensive — windfarms and solar power, for example — K2 is able “to create products at no extra cost to taxpayers,” Cynamon said.

Shipping chlorine by rail isn’t allowed in Europe and Asia, he said, something that may happen in the United States.

Lions, Shriners and other service organizations use modern approach to draw recruits

Wearing a bucket-shaped fez and being referred to as “Grand Potentate” doesn’t exactly speak to younger crowds, so Shriners International decided it was time to bring some sexy back. Naturally, they called Justin Timberlake. “You have to definitely step things up in order to make an impact,” said Alicia Argiz-Lyons, spokeswoman for Shriners International Headquarters, which co-hosted a fundraising event headlined by the pop-culture icon and featuring performances by the Jonas Brothers, Rihanna and 50 Cent.

The October event was arguably the Shriners’ flashiest appeal to the younger set in its 136-year history, but other groups, such as the locally based Lions Clubs International and Rotary International, also are facing declining membership and trying new approaches. “In the ’60s or ’70s, we could just put up a sign: ‘We’re forming a Lions Club’ and people would come,” said Peter Lynch, executive director of Lions Clubs International in Oak Brook. “It doesn’t work like that anymore.”

Decades ago, business leaders went out of their way to join service clubs such as Kiwanis, Lions and Rotary, which were founded as networking groups and quickly expanded to do charity work in local communities and then the world. Fraternal organizations such as Shriners and Elks also easily drew in members using similar charitable goals.

But since the late 1990s, social scientists have noted that Americans are less connected, and that rings true for these groups.

Lions International membership dropped from 1.45 million in 1995 to 1.29 million last year, Lynch said. Shriners’ 2007 membership was 393,896, compared with 937,712 three decades ago. In the early 1990s, there were 270,000 Kiwanis members. Today, there are 250,000. Rotary membership in the U.S. went from its peak of 445,434 in 1996 to 375,914 last year, officials said.

The Lions and Rotarians aren’t going as far as booking Hollywood stars, but they’re trying to update their images.

Lions board members from all parts of the world recently met for an emotional, three-hour debate about changing the familiar logo seen on city welcome signs, business awards and Little League baseball caps. With a cleaner font and updated colors, the new logo was sent to all Lions clubs worldwide along with a PowerPoint presentation on how to talk about the group with impact.

And travelers on United Airlines flights may have noticed cartoons about Rotary International’s good deeds mixed in with the in-flight TV reruns. The public service announcements, part of an overall rebranding campaign called Humanity in Motion, were designed to give the Evanston organization a more forward-moving image than the stagnant wheel logo, said spokeswoman Kathy Kessenich.

In addition to a Timberlake golf outing, Shriners are reaching out to fraternities on college campuses with advertising designed for them. The organizations have been offering more creative and flexible opportunities. Instead of meeting monthly, for instance, Lions members can now touch base online in “e-clubs” and only show up for volunteer outings. Instead of holding traditional raffles, new Lions clubs host Wii tournaments as fundraisers, said Sue Haney, who runs membership programs for the organization.

The changes were designed to match the way people seem to want to get involved, especially post-Sept. 11—one event at a time rather than a long-term commitment, officials said.

“People are so busy now that it’s hard to get them involved in community service work,” said Mark Knigge, Lions Club president in Wauconda who is also a Rotary Club member. “It’s still frustrating a little bit, but we keep working at it.”

Despite the major face-lifts, club leaders say some aspects of the longtime organizations will not change to preserve the groups’ history.

Kiwanis International, based in Indianapolis, has no plans to change the “K” logo it has used for years. Its efforts to relate to today’s generation focus more on offering more flexible membership options, such as allowing people to attend meetings online or join through work.

Rick Kohn, regional spokesman for Shriners of North America, said the modern updates have to come in moderation. “We don’t want to have a young person come into a social gathering and have your grandfather’s music playing,” he said. But Kohn quickly added that he doesn’t see the fez caps going away anytime soon. “There’s a certain element of tradition involved in everything we do in life,” he said. “The fez is simply part of that.” “We don’t want to have a young person come into a social gathering and have your grandfather’s music playing.”

—Rick Kohn, regional spokesman for Shriners of North America