Speaker encourages Greenville Lions Club to be #8216;Knights for the Blind#039;

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 25, 2006

The director of Alabama Lions Sight Conservation Association, Inc., was on hand recently in Greenville to share how contributions to a worthy cause helps many in need see life more clearly.

Julie Beckham spoke to the Greenville Lions Club at their meeting last Monday. Beckham gave a PowerPoint presentation on services provided through the organization, which works to promote sight conservation, education and prevention of blindness.

&#8220We provide services to 60 individuals per month on average – these are people who are uninsured, indigent with no place else to go,” Beckham said.

For every $1 spent by ALS, $6.98 of in-kind patient services are provided by medical personnel.

&#8220We have free services provided by participating physicians, discounts on glasses, testing and X-rays, and services paid for through the Indigent Fund at the Alabama Eye Foundation,” Beckham said.

&#8220We receive nearly $1 million in contributed services, counting anesthesia, glasses and other needs provided to our patients.”

In order to be eligible for assistance by Alabama Lions Sight, a person must be low income; uninsured (certain types of government insurance are allowed); a U.S. citizen and a resident of Alabama for at least six months. Wards of the state (i.e., prisoners) are not eligible.

Persons in the Butler County area can apply for assistance in one of three ways: through the local Lions Club chapter; the Butler County Department of Human Resources or the Alabama Lions Sight office in Birrmingham (the fastest route).

The organization covers eye exams, glasses, necessary surgeries, eye medications, prosthetics, tests and low vision aids; it does not cover non-vision-related surgery or cosmetic vision surgery (Lasik), ER visits or pain medications.

While many have been assisted, there are many people more who could benefit from the help of ALSCA if the funds were in place.

&#8220We want to increase awareness of Alabama Lions Sight and see all our Lions Club members be ‘knights for the blind,' as Helen Keller first challenged many years ago,” Beckham said.

Funding is particularly needed for the organization's Mobile Screening Units, which perform low vision and glaucoma screenings at schools and communities throughout the state.

&#8220These provide such a valuable service to our schoolchildren. As of May 1, 26 percent of those youngsters screened were referred for visual acuity and 50 percent of the adults were referred for VA,” Beckham said.

The director urged the members present to consider making individual donations to Alabama Lions Sight and to encourage others to consider contributing to this worthy cause.

&#8220If each Alabama Lion would contribute just $25 a year, that would bring in more than $100,000 extra a year – what a difference that would make,” Beckham said.

To learn more about Alabama Lions Sight, call 1-800-96-SIGHT or fax (205) 325-8564.