Hazel Park woman amazed at kindness of Lions Club

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published August 4, 2015

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HAZEL PARK — Back in June, volunteers from the Hazel Park Lions Club came to the home of Jane Pisarski, and in the pouring rain they constructed a handicapped-accessible ramp and deck that proved vital when, a week later, Pisarski had to be rushed to the hospital. Now she’s recovering with the help of a therapist, and she’s singing the praises of the do-gooders who made a difference. 

Pisarski, who has a blood condition that makes her lose control of her legs from time to time, experienced such severe pain in her legs that she had to call her son to take her to emergency care. She then underwent surgery addressing the issue. The ramp allowed her son to get her out of the house in her wheelchair and take her straight to the hospital.

“I don’t know how he could’ve got me down those steps if we didn’t have the ramp,” she said.

The ramp has made it much easier for Pisarski to get in and out of her home on East Bernard, off Hughes between Eight Mile and Nine Mile. And it’s not the first time the Hazel Park Lions Club has helped her out with accessibility. Pisarski moved to Hazel Park from Goetzville, near Sault St. Marie, after her husband passed away in 2011. She struggled with walking up and down three big steps in her new home, so the Lions turned the three big steps into five smaller ones.

At press time, the Lions were busy installing another deck and ramp at a home on East Milton, one house down on the street behind Pisarski’s home. Pisarski couldn’t stop gushing about how selflessly the volunteers worked. They wouldn’t even accept a glass of water or ask to use the bathroom. When she offered to feed them, they instead treated her to lunch and dinner.

“I really felt like the Queen of Sheba,” Pisarski said. “I never met people like this up north (in Goetzville). Sure, we’d help each other up there, but no one would do anything like this. All I had to pay for was the wood. I can’t believe how nice these people are.

“And they were soaking wet, dripping from the rain, but they never stopped hammering,” she said. “About half of them were women, and the women used the hammer as well as any man. They were all right at it.” 

The group of volunteers was organized by Larry and Peggy Burleson, members of the Lions. Larry explained that he builds ramps all over the club’s district, inside and outside Hazel Park. They’re  part of District 11A-2, which spans Macomb and Oakland counties.

The Hazel Park Lions Club has been serving the city since 1947, and it currently has around 60 members and a $36,000 annual charity budget. And the local club is part of a larger picture, with the overall Lions Club numbering 1.3 million members across 200-plus countries.

The Lions’ list of initiatives is exhaustive. The Lions Club administers vouchers to those in financial need, covering the entire cost of eyeglasses or defraying the high cost of hearing aids. The Lions make contributions to Leader Dogs for the Blind, as well as the Penrickton Center for Blind Children.

The “white cane” sale at the end of April and beginning of May helps support this. Standing on street corners around the city, club members collect money from drivers and pedestrians and give them blue tags indicating they’ve already donated.

The white cane sale is a common shared fundraiser among local Lions Clubs, including the one in Madison Heights. In that city, the Lions Club has given out miniature white canes as symbolic gestures of appreciation.

One fundraiser unique to the Hazel Park Lions Club is the Hazel Park Memorial Weekend, where it runs a tent selling food and refreshments and has free live music. The club also raises money holding bingo at the Recreation Center during the Memorial Weekend festivities, and it sells miniature American flags to people up and down the parade route.

Aside from helping the seeing- and hearing-impaired, the Hazel Park Lions Club has contributed to the Hazel Park Promise Zone, helping to send graduating Hazel Park High School students to college. The club endows several scholarships that are renewable for up to four years. It has also contributed to the Hazel Park Youth Aid Foundation, which assists students in need with such matters as band instrument rentals, college grants and more. The club has given out reflective, decorated trick-or-treating bags to the elementary schools to keep their students safe on Halloween.

The club has sponsored a baseball team through the Recreation Center and donated to the Lunch with Santa event that takes place there.

The club has donated playground equipment to the parks over the years and helped decorate one of the rooms at the Recreation Center, painting it and furnishing it with new tables, chairs, blinds and so forth.

The club purchased a defibrillator for the Hazel Park Police Department, which has already been used multiple times to save lives.

The wheelchair ramps and decks are yet another way the club is helping the community.

“The people always want to thank us, but all we want to do is see them use what we’ve made,” Larry Burleson said. “That’s our reward. It’s a really great feeling.”

For more information about the Hazel Park Lions Club, call Hazel Park City Hall at (248) 546-7000.

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