Shelton Lions Club targets vision as its mission

Staffing the Shelton Community Lions Club table at a Huntington Green concert are, from left, Barbara Osterhoudt, Rebecca Twombly, Natalie Skinner, Laura Blakeman (secretary), and David Haddad (president).
Staffing the Shelton Community Lions Club table at a Huntington Green concert are, from left, Barbara Osterhoudt, Rebecca Twombly, Natalie Skinner, Laura Blakeman (secretary), and David Haddad (president).

The Shelton Community Lions Club members volunteer wherever they’re needed, according to club President David Haddad.

In support of the International Lions Club organization’s commitment to health, sight, youth and building local communities, the Shelton Lions collected 5,000 eyeglasses and eyeglass lens to recycle last year.

These are donated to people who cannot afford to purchase corrective lenses.

“We had collection boxes set up at the senior center, libraries and at different pharmacies throughout the city,” Haddad said.

This year the Shelton Lions provided eye screenings for adults at local corporations, such as Pitney Bowes. With the assistance of Dr. James Pinke, of Pinke Eye Center in Shelton, and his wife, individuals were able to receive complimentary screenings to identify vision problems.

“At the screenings, they simply tell them the information about their vision and recommend that they visit an ophthalmologist,” Haddad said. “What is nice is that they do not steer people to their practice.”

The Shelton Lions Club appreciates the couple’s efforts because it’s difficult to find doctors to volunteer for this important health initiative, Haddad said.

Although plans are not finalized yet, this fall the Lions Club hopes to host another public vision screening at the Shelton Community Center.

Child vision screenings

For the past three to five years, the club has also sponsored pediatric eye screenings at several daycare centers in the area.

“This is a project I’m very excited about,” Haddad said.

In keeping with its commitment to improving vision, the Lions Club supports guide dog service organizations. It often sponsors demonstrations in Shelton.

Every year the Lions Club also holds an International Peace Poster contest. Children ages 11 to 13 are invited to submit drawings based upon a theme about peace. According to Haddad, this year’s theme was “Children Know Peace.”

Haddad said Shelton’s chapter is “the most successful in the state” for the number of submissions from children.

Giving back to the community

Natalie Skinner joined the Shelton Lions Club three years ago because she wanted “to give back” to the community.

“It’s very gratifying to work with the Lions Club,” Skinner said. “My parents always did volunteer work.”

Providing holiday baskets and food is another way the Lions Club cares for the Shelton community.

Working closely with the Christian Counseling Center, VFW and Shelton High School, members assisted 14 local families this spring. They also regularly prepare and serve meals at the Spooner House.

During the Christmas season, the Shelton Lions Club members volunteer to ring the bell in front of Walmart and collect monetary donations for the Salvation Army. This spring the Lions presented a $300 scholarship to a Shelton High School senior.


Annual raffle boosts projects

Skinner, who was active in the Lions Club’s Easter project, also was responsible for soliciting prizes from local merchants for the club’s annual raffle.

Every year, members sell $1 raffle tickets from Fourth of July through Shelton Day, which will be held Oct. 6 this year. Prizes include an iPad, 39-inch flat-screen television and many gift certificates.

The raffle tickets are sold at local businesses and every Wednesday night from 7 to 9 at Shelton’s Music Under the Stars concert series on the Huntington Green.

“People here in Shelton are very generous,” Skinner said.

New members are welcome

Founded by a Melvin Jones, a Chicago businessman, in 1917, the international philanthropic organization has more than 1.35 million members.

“We can be found in 200 countries, and the Lions Club is the only service organization that has a voting seat at the United Nations,” Haddad said.

Haddad is a charter member of the Shelton club, which was formed in 2010. Prior to establishing a Shelton chapter, residents had joined the Derby club.

“At that time, the district decided that Shelton was big enough to have its own club,” Haddad explained.

The Shelton chapter currently has about 20 members ranging in age from early 30s to 80, according to Haddad. “We’re always looking for new members, both men and women,” he said.