For Stafford Lions Club, It’s the Spirit of 67
Wednesday, Oct. 12, will mark the 67th birthday for the Stafford Lions Club, which has made vision health a high priority in Southern Ocean County.
Group Secretary Susan Mueller said that in 1950, its initial project was purchasing the township’s first ambulance, which transported patients to Paul Kimball Hospital in Lakewood.
“We’ve also installed and maintained the ’Welcome to Stafford’ sign on Route 72,” said Mueller. “But our main project is free eye screening for preschool children, and soon we will do students in grade schools, from Waretown to New Gretna. Every year, three scholarships are given to Southern Regional High School graduates, and we make donations to Project Graduation and DARE programs, and many other local community causes.”
Calloways Restaurant and Bar serves as a home base for the organization, as it holds meetings there on the first Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m. The group also holds two fundraisers each year at the establishment.
“The Lions Club is the largest international service organization in the world,” said Past President Bob Skrable. “We are in 208 countries and have 1.4 million members worldwide.”
David Skrivanek, current president, said the club has 31 members. Men and women 21 years of age and older are welcome.
“We can sure use more,” he said. “We want people who are interested in joining and working with us. People are welcome to stop by at our meeting to learn who we are and what we are about.”
Skrivanek said the club’s preschool eye screening uses a state-of-the-art Spot Camera, which detects problems with a child’s eyes that may occur and can be corrected. Conditions that Spot can identify include near- and far-sightedness, unequal refractive power, eye structure problems, pupil size deviations and eye misalignment.
“And it can diagnose within seconds,” he said.
Ruth Skrable, publicity director, said the club annually raises a few thousand dollars through its white cane drives, in which members sit out in front of such places as Walmart and collect donations.
“ Every penny of that goes right back into service to the community,” she said. “We do more eye screening on young children than any (other) Lions club or any organization in Ocean County. The early diagnosis of a vision difficulty has on many occasions turned a child’s life completely around. When they can’t see right, they tend to be poor students, withdrawn and sometimes sullen. Once that is corrected, they immediately do a 180, becoming great, outgoing students and a great deal more social.”
Skrivanek said the club also sponsors the Leo Club in the Southern Regional School District, providing youths ages 12 to 18 an opportunity to focus on individual and social development through community service. Other projects include scholarships in Southern Regional High School for continuing education, holiday food certificates in partnership with local churches to needy families, and therapy dog visits to local senior citizen and hospital facilities.
Next year, Lions Club International will mark its centennial.
“We’ll be looking at doing some special projects that year,” said Mueller. “We’re thinking of raising money to place stone benches in parks. We’ll be reaching out to the mayors to get their feedback.”
For information on joining the club, call Bob Skrable at 609-709-6093.
— Eric Englund