HOULKA – Continuing the original goal of Lions Club International, the Houlka chapter offers vision assistance in the community to those in need and even to those who don’t know they’re in need.
Club President Sam McWhirter said the club tries to help replace vision aids for those who need help.
“We try to buy glasses for the elderly people,” McWhirter said. “There’s a lot of paperwork to it, but we try to help.”
The club members also perform annual vision screenings for elementary children in the Chickasaw County School district.
“We have a machine,” McWhirter said. “I haven’t run it but they say it’s very easy to do.”
Club members volunteer to hold the vision screenings as a first line of defense in discovering needs children and families might not be aware of.
Children may not realize they have vision problems, having nothing to compare to, and parents sometimes don’t understand their child is having difficulty seeing until it causes problems.
Club Vice-President Richard Chrestman said he can speak from experience about the service eye screenings provide.
“I was in the sixth grade and I didn’t know I couldn’t see until they plopped a pair of glasses on my nose,” Chrestman smiled.
Providing community services takes resources and the Houlka Lions Club holds an annual fundraiser, taking their trailer to the spring Flywheel festival in Houston to vend food and beverages. In their quest for a trailer, they received in-kind assistance from other clubs and volunteers. The paint for the trailer was donated and an inmate at the Chickasaw County jail painted it for them, freehanding the Lions’ emblem on both sides.
More hands needed on board
Reaching out into the community also requires hands to do the work and club members are always receptive to new recruits.
The Houlka and Houston Lions Clubs were once in the same district, but separated several years back and the Houston chapter closed last year.
“They redistricted,” McWhirter said. “We’re the only club left in our district, in this area.”
But McWhirter said former Houston club members are invited to become active again in the Houlka chapter.
“If they want to transfer their letters, we’d be glad to have them,” McWhirter said.
History of community service
The Houlka Lions Club has a long history of service in the community even if an exact date can’t be pinpointed on short notice.
“I want to say it’s been around since the early 50s,” McWhirter said. “Mr. Paul Griffin, I don’t know how many years he served as president.”
“People like Mr. Paul and Hardy Keith, they started it and kept it going,” agreed Chrestman.
With about 16 active club members, the Lions Club is a real asset to a community the size of Houlka, but there is always room and a need for more volunteers to help out.
“There’s no age limits or criteria to join,” McWhirter said. “Anybody who’s intersted is welcome.”
The Houlka Lions Club meets the second Tuesday of each month at Houlka Food Shop at Old Houlka. Monthly dues of $11 include a meal at each meeting.