Hazel ParkSeptember 26, 2012
At Hazel Park’s service
By Andy Kozlowski
C & G Staff Writer
HAZEL PARK — For nearly 65 years, the Hazel Park Lions Club has helped restore the basic senses of sight and sound to needy individuals in the community. Helping those with hardships has always been their goal, and to this end, they’ve also made donations to the city departments, schools and charities that keep Hazel Park strong.
They adhere to the motto “We serve,” shared by other Lions Clubs around the world. There are 46,000 clubs in the network — 1.3 million members in some 200 countries.
“You know you’re never alone, and there are always experts to call on,” said Tina Caudill, long-time Hazel Park resident and president of the Hazel Park Lions Club. “Our main cause is to help qualifying low-income people with sight and hearing issues, but we also help with disaster relief across the country and around the world.”
That being said, they never abandon those in their own backyard.
“We look to our individual communities and see what our immediate needs are, which is different for each community,” Caudill said. “We do what we can throughout the year to meet those needs.”
It starts with various fundraising initiatives that include White Cane Week in April, a golf outing in May, and selling candy and fruit cakes around Christmastime.
Their biggest fundraiser is the beverage tent and bingo games they run during the Memorial Day weekend festivities. They were also at the recent Harvest Festival, requesting small donations for rides on their special train, which features 10 barrels for the individual cars and the caboose, each seating one child.
The money goes toward a variety of causes, the best known of which are providing eyeglasses, eye exams, hearing aids and hearing exams for residents in need.
Low-income or uninsured people call the main number, answer some pre-qualifying questions, fill out an application form and then call the participating doctor’s office to make an appointment. Once they’ve been checked out, they can order the glasses or hearing aids, paid for by the Lions Club.
There are many other ways the Lions Club has helped the community. They recently donated a defibrillator to the Police Department, for emergency use in a police car. In past years, they donated a telecommunications device for the deaf and a Taser gun to the police, and an Argus thermal imagining camera for the Fire Department.
“We like to help keep our citizens safe, and sometimes we can provide the equipment the police and fire budgets can’t handle,” Caudill said. “When the millages come up for police, fire and our schools, we support them. We stick together in providing those basic needs for people. For a town that’s low-income, that’s remarkable. We’re very resilient people in our town, and we do pull together.”
School support has included three scholarships to graduating Hazel Park High students each year, renewable for four years. The club recognizes two outstanding 11th-grade students, one boy and one girl, as well. The club also donates to the Promise Zone, which helps ensure a college education for all Hazel Park High grads.
They’ve contributed to the Hazel Park Recreation Department to support the Little League teams and also support such causes as Leader Dogs for the Blind, the Michigan Eye Bank, and the Lions of Michigan Service Foundation.
Right now, Lions Clubs around the world are focusing on literacy initiatives. For its part, the Hazel Park chapter plans to reach out to Hazel Park Public Schools and see how they can help.
Judy Turner is another longtime Hazel Park resident and member of the Lions Club. She said her reason for joining was simple.
“I think the thing that really stuck with me is we do what we call ‘serve the source,’” Turner said. “We’re contributing back to our own community.”
Low-income or uninsured individuals who could use the Hazel Park Lions Club’s assistance with eyesight, hearing or other issues can call the main number at (248) 541-0372. The club meets at the Hazel Park Recreation Center, 620 W. Woodward Heights, at 6 p.m. the second and fourth Monday of every month except June and July. For more information about Lions Clubs around the world, visit www.lci.org.