Vision Screenings are One of Many Ways Horicon Lions Club Gives Back to the Community

Renee Peterson
Renee Peterson

Lions Clubs across Wisconsin have been wonderful friends, allies and supporters of the Council for many years. This spotlight on the Horicon Lions Club is just one example of the outstanding work being done by Lions around the state to improve the lives of people with vision loss and others in their communities.

Renee Peterson has been an active member of the Horicon Lions Club for 21 years. But to hear her tell it, she could belong for another 21 years and still find new ways to help the club help her community. “I really feel like it’s an organization that makes you feel like you’re giving back,” she says. “You’re an actual part of making it a great community.”

Take the club’s annual school vision screening project. Working with the school district, Renee and a team of three to five other club members provide free, in-school vision screenings for students in elementary and middle school. The children are examined with the aid of an optic scanner, an expensive piece of gear that’s shared by all the Lions Clubs in their region.

“Horicon has a school nurse,” says Renee, “but outside of that, they don’t have a lot of options to do vision screening.” The Lions Club team specifically tests vision for students in grades 1, 3, 5 and 7. “Every student is being vision checked,” Renee says. “The machine is able to tell if there’s a potential to have lower than 20/20 vision. If the machine detects vision loss, it flashes up a sign that reads referral.”’”

When that happens, a standard letter goes out to the student’s parents or guardians recommending a follow-up screening is soon. The Lions stay involved in that next step, too. This is where the Lions’ ongoing fundraising efforts kick in. “Some families may not be able to afford additional screening or eyeglasses,” Renee says. “But we can help them with that.”

The every-other-year check not only helps the team identify new cases that call for a follow-up examination, but it also allows the Lions Club team to keep tabs on how children who have been referred for further examination in the past are doing.

While the school vision screening program is widely known in the community, Renee says the club does a lot of other service projects that are more under the radar.

“The community knows about our brat fries and knows we’re raising money for the community, but not necessarily what we’re doing with the money,” Renee says. For example, people may see volunteers bagging trash by the highway, but may never know those folks in the yellow vests are Lions. Then there was this year’s effort to create Horicon’s first dog park.

“We have a great relationship with the mayor and the city,” says Renee. “We approached them and asked their thoughts on having a dog park. The reaction was very positive. They actually gave us the space and we were able to purchase the fencing and signage to have a dog park. We collaborate with the city on maintaining it.”

The Horicon Lions help people outside their immediate community as well. The club began giving to the Council in 2016, and their support continues today. Renee’s personal connection to the Council runs deep as well. She currently serves as treasurer on the Council’s Board of Directors. She’s been a peer-to-peer fundraiser for the Council during the annual Big Share day of giving. She’s also attended the Council’s popular Dining in the Dark event.

Renee sometimes wonders if the large volume of work the Horicon Lions accomplish might be a little intimidating for those considering becoming a member. But she has an easy answer for that. “You can choose the work you want to do!” Renee chooses to do the screening. “But you don’t have to be involved in absolutely everything.”

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