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Olds Lions Club bestows awards for service

Service club fetes four outstanding Olds-area volunteers

OLDS — The Olds Lions Club presented four awards, including its first-ever district community service award during an interclub social, held April 2 in the Royal Canadian Legion Branch #105.

The community volunteer award was presented to Linda Anderson.

“Our motto of the Lions is ‘we serve’ and of course, that implies that one of our prime functions is to indeed be volunteers in many respects within our community,” club president and MC Henry Czarnota said.

He said the award will be going to “people that aren’t necessarily recognized publicly, but we understand and appreciate that they do a great deal of work.”

Czarnota said Anderson, a navy vet, has been president of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch #105 five times and has been its secretary for several years as well.

She is also instrumental in the annual Henry’s Christmas Dinner, which, in conjunction with the Olds Lions Club, is provided to people in the community on Christmas Day.

Anderson also served as a Girl Guides of Canada leader and Scouts Canada volunteer.

In addition, she has been involved in the Royal Canadian Air Cadets, including serving as a judge of speaking competitions.

After receiving the award, Anderson took to the mic.

“I just wanted to say being a part of the community doesn’t mean that you’re just part of the community,” she said.

“To me, it’s what you do to make your community a better place.”

She said it’s “an honour” to work with members of the Lions Club on Henry’s Christmas Dinner, something she hopes will continue for many years to come.

Guest speaker James Lee, chair of the Calgary-based Canadian Lions Eyeglass Recycling Centre (CERC), handed out a few other awards.

A new award, the Gordon Prusky award, was presented to two recipients.

One went to Olds Lions Club member Beat Zumbuehl for “your outstanding service and contributions towards eyeglass recycling, sight and the environment,” Lee said.

The second one was presented to Patrick Reed.

Lee said thanks to Reed, people at CLERC can cut glasses to specifications, including those for “high-end” and “low-end” prescriptions that are often very hard to find.

The Lions District C2 100% Secretary award went to Olds Lion Club member Al Taylor.

Czarnota said during Taylor’s tenure as secretary there were 92 clubs and only four secretaries in the entire district that met all of the requirements of being an excellent secretary.

“Those of you in our club that know Al are not the least bit surprised that he would be one of the four that got this award,” Czarnota said.

“It is a prestigious award and it’s not easy to achieve – so many reports that have to be handed in on time.”

During the evening, Lee also gave attendees an update/promotion of CLERC.

“Many of you have heard me say that CLERC is the program that touches more lives than anything we do as Lions,” Lee said.

“Seven million folks of 103 countries to date can attest to that, to the very fact that Lions across Canada have continued to volunteer and aid in providing quality eyeglasses to those in need.

“It speaks of the commitment, the values and the efforts on behalf of those with vision needs around the world that we, as Lions, respond to,” he added.

Lee noted that it’s estimated that across the world, 45 million people suffer from blindness.

“One person goes blind every five seconds,” he said, adding that 1.4 million children under the age of 15 are blind.

He said cataracts are the number 1 cause of blindness and efforts by Lions clubs have enabled 3.5 million cataract surgeries worldwide to be done for free.

Lee said Lions clubs have financed and built more than 160 eye hospitals around the world.

Lee noted that as he looked around the room he could see the faces of some in the Olds-Didsbury area who have volunteered with CLERC’s efforts.

“I tell the volunteers when they come in and they’ve done a day’s work, when you go home, you have a good feeling in your heart because your efforts of volunteerism have made a big difference in somebody else’s life,” he said.

He said funding to CLERC will not only enable them to replace equipment that’s wearing out, but also to update a video in order to get the message out about what CLERC does.

Lee recounted the story of a woman he met and helped in Indonesia.

He said she had a “very, very high prescription” so he was doubtful he’d be able to find glasses for her that would fit that prescription.

But he did.

“(I) fit her up with them and it’s a wild moment,” he said. “She gets out of the chair and she starts to cry.

“I said the interpreter, ‘gee whiz, that’s not the reaction I’m used to seeing.

“He talked to her had he said, ‘well, after not seeing clearly for the last 10 years, she’s seeing her grandchildren over there for the first time.’

“And I go, ‘oh, I totally get it,’ right?

“Then she starts to laugh wildly.

“I said to the interpreter, ‘she’s laughing. What’s going on here?

“He said, ‘well, after not being able to see clearly for the last 10 years she’s just discovered her husband isn’t quite as handsome as she thought he was.’”

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