The Meaning of Spring

“If people did not love one another, I really don’t see what use there would be in having any spring.” – Victor Hugo

Every April brings spring fever, baseball, more rain, and the start of OLSHF’s annual Keep the Promise (KTP) Campaign! 2018 marks the 6th year of our campaign to raise critical operating funds for our sight and hearing programs that help Oregonians in need.

Our campaign theme Keep the Promise evokes the special history Lions share with deaf-blind activist Helen Keller. In 1925, she challenged the Lions International Convention audience with these words: “Will you not help me hasten the day when there shall be no preventable blindness, no little deaf, blind child untaught, no blind man or woman unaided? I appeal to you Lions, you who have sight, your hearing, you who are strong and brave and kind. Will you not constitute yourselves Knight of the Blind in this crusade against darkness?”

As Lions, we made a promise, and we’ve kept it for almost 100 years.

Every year as we prepare for various KTP events around the state, I meet and learn about the people we serve and help through the efforts of Lions Clubs and partnership with OLSHF.

Recipients who share their stories are a constant reminder of the need that many people face day to day that others take for granted – the struggle to see or hear clearly and the lack of access to resources for help. Though I had severe vision issues as a child (congenital cataract, lattice degeneration, and partial blindness), I often forget the feeling of the struggle because I benefitted from access to high-quality healthcare.

Recently I met a Patient Care and LEAP recipient named Harold Jean a sweet man from Haiti who has lived in Oregon for over 5 years. His eyesight had rapidly declined due to Salzmann’s nodules and pterygia, conditions caused by UV light and exposure to chemicals after years of his working in agriculture. He couldn’t balance or walk well. Thanks to Leah, a caring neighbor, Harold found the Springfield-Mohawk Lions Club and started the process to receive sight-saving surgeries and eyeglass assistance. This week he visited OLSHF to receive and get fitted for his new trifocal eyeglasses, made by our LEAP Optical team. We’re proud that Harold’s eyeglasses were edged right here in our own finishing lab!

Harold was soft-spoken, and he repeated “merci” quietly. He smiled widely and I noticed a twinkle in his eyes. I happily spoke to him in French, “Tout le plaisir était pour nous!”

He walked out into the sunlight with Leah guiding him carefully, ready to adjust to seeing, walking, and living life.

At that moment, I felt the words of Helen Keller resonate anew: “Will you not help me hasten the day when there shall be no preventable blindness?”

The Keep the Promise Campaign brings us together to learn more about the work of OLSHF, the Lions of Oregon, and our impact upon communities. Our KTP events are an invitation to gather to remember Helen Keller’s work and generously support our shared mission.

To learn more about our KTP events and to make a secure gift online, please visit http://www.olshf.org/keep-the-promise-campaign/.

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