One of the main interests of Lions Clubs worldwide is to help people with sight and hearing issues.
The Choteau Lions Club has been involved for many years with providing eye exams and eye glasses to those in need who cannot afford to do this on their own. Requests and referrals are made directly to members of the local Lions Club. They are reviewed by a Lions Committee of three members and all information is held in strict confidence by this committee. Once approved by the Lions committee, exams and eyeglasses are provided locally.
At least 80% of all visual impairments can be prevented or cured. The first step is awareness. Early detection through visual screening is very important.
Several years ago, one of the Great Falls Lions Clubs purchased screening equipment and began school screening of grade school students. In 2019, 34,305 students were screened in north-central Montana, including Choteau. Because of the COVID-19 restrictions in place, school screening will probably not be available for the 2020-21 school year.
The Choteau Lions also collect used eyeglasses and hearing aids.
Eyeglasses are shipped to Washington state where they are cleaned, tested and distributed by volunteer Lions professionals to developing countries, mostly in Central and South America.
Hearing aids are refurbished and provided to those Montanans in need through the local Lions Club and the Montana Lions Sight and Hearing Foundation.
The Choteau Lions have a collection box in the front window of Ace Hardware. Used glasses and hearing aids can also be left at Mountain Front Family Vision Center.
The Montana Lions Sight & Hearing Foundation was formed in 1981. This nonprofit foundation involves all the Montana Lions clubs and provides services to sight, hearing and speech-impaired persons.
A volunteer board and Lions Club members from throughout the state manages the foundation. Foundation activities are supported through a variety of fundraising activities and donations from clubs and individuals. The foundation normally considers needs that are more involved than eye exams and corrective glasses that can be provided by the local Lions Club.
Requests for eye surgery, hearing aids, and/or speech problems can be initiated by written application and verification of need through the local Choteau Lions Club. The local Lions will help with preparing the information and application that will be submitted to the Montana Sight & Hearing Foundation. The foundation meets quarterly in Helena. The Choteau Lions Club receives several referrals each year for eye exams and glasses. Through the foundation, the Choteau Lions have also helped several people obtain hearing aids.
More information can be obtained by contacting any Choteau Lions Club member.