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May 3, 2012
Contact: Stan Heimburger
THE BCLC CHARITY GOLF TOURNAMENT HAS A NEW WEBSITE . . .
. . . thanks to Brandon Allen, a Bellingham Central Lion and senior designer with Baron & Company, a marketing group in Bellingham, WA.
This is a full-service website that facilitates both participation and payments, and is designed to support the growth of a charity tournament community that is active year round.
Visit the BCLC Charity Golf Tournament Website.
February 1, 2012
Contact: Ron Dickerson
FRANK HASKELL LIONS EYE CLINIC OPENS IN BELLINGHAM
The Bellingham Central Lions Club and The Lighthouse Mission Ministries joined forces to create the Frank Haskell Lions Eye Clinic. The project was sponsored by the Bellingham Central Lions and will be a ministry of the Lighthouse Mission. Mayor Kelli Linville dedicated the clinic on January 12, 2012, touring the facility and briefly addressing the civic leaders and Lions who had come together in celebration.
The clinic was named to honor Frank Haskell, who was a past president of the Bellingham Central Lions Club, assuming office on July 1, 1928. He was active in many Club projects for the rest of his life. After his death in 1982, his family established the Frank Haskell Fund, which has worked with the Lions on numerous projects over the years.
Frank Haskell, to whom the Clinic is dedicated.
The Haskell Lions Eye Clinic is situated in the Lighthouse Mission's Drop-In Center on Holly Street in Downtown Bellingham. It provides eye examinations and eyeglasses to the homeless and others in need and is open every Thursday between 1:30 PM and 4:30 PM. Six patients are seen each session, or about 300 per year. Volunteers from the Mount Baker Optometric Society, many opticians from the Bellingham area, and local Lions staff the Clinic.
Ken Henderson explains equipment at the Clinic.
A mother and her two daughters, all of whom needed glasses, were among the first clients of the Clinic. It's a great feeling when you pause and consider how the gift of clear vision enables adults to be more productive in their work and children excel in school.
Learn more about the Lions Haskell Eye Clinic here.
Interested in the Lions? Click here for meeting information details and map.
December 5, 2011
Contact: Ron Dickerson
BELLINGHAM CENTRAL LIONS CLUB AND LIGHTHOUSE MISSION JOIN FORCES TO OPEN CHARITY EYE CLINIC
by Dean Kahn
Needy people in Whatcom County will have access to free eye exams and free eyeglasses at a new clinic that will open soon in the Lighthouse Mission's drop-in center on Holly Street. . . . Click here to read more.
August 24, 2011
Wheelchair Warehouse Helps Ed Participate in Alzheimer's Walk
BY CHARLES NELSON
July 4, 2011
Contact: Stan Heimberger
LIONS GOLF FOR CLUB PHILANTHROPIES
by Julie Shirley
The Bellingham Central Lions Club hosted its 12th annual golf tournament and raffle June 23 at Bellingham Golf & Country Club. More than 160 golfers and 75 corporate sponsors helped make it a success. Stan Heimburger tells me the majority of the $25,000 raised this year will be donated to three community nonprofit organizations.
The first is Lighthouse Mission Ministries, to help the Club's new project to create and help operate the Frank Haskell Vision Center to serve the homeless in Bellingham. The walk-in center will begin operating in September or October.
A second project is to honor a $5,000 pledge to help buy gym bleachers for Bellingham Boys and Girls Club.
The third project is to fund four $1,000 scholarships for Bellingham High School students through the Bellingham Dollars for Scholars program, and continue the club's longstanding support of this organization.
The remaining proceeds will support the Club's ongoing programs offering vision and hearing testing, and eyeglasses, hearing aids, wheelchairs and other durable medical equipment to local people in need.
The club operates the Christmas Ship, which brings the spirit of the holidays to children in the San Juan and Gulf islands. The Club also provides volunteers and campership funding for Camp Horizon, a summer camp for people with developmental disabilities.
The Club meets every second and fourth Thursday at Bellingham Golf & Country Club from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Guests interested in learning about the Club are welcome. For more details, call Stan at 360-303-5782.
Click here for meeting information details and map.
March 1, 2011
Al Boe Lions Wheelchair Warehouse Featured in Lion Magazine Download as PDF.
Contact: Jerry McClean
Lending a Seat
When Rebecca Panton's clients need a wheelchair,
shower seat or walker, she knows exactly where to go. As
a home health occupational therapist, she has looked to
the Bellingham Central Lions Club's Al Boe Lions Wheelchair
Warehouse in Washington for the past 18 years as
the premier source of free medical equipment.
"I work with people in their homes, and I work with
a lot of people that don't have insurance that covers
equipment," Panton said. "The lending bank helps those
people who don't have insurance and those who need it
to be safe. It basically means safety and also independence."
Al Boe, the club's president in 1992-1993, began a
humble project to lend wheelchairs to those in need. Since
his death, the project has grown to include a former three-car
garage stuffed to the rafters with carefully cataloged
medical equipment available to those in need. Lions
repair, clean and refurbish equipment
in an addition to the garage.
"It's free of charge and it's a great
recycling project in a sense," said Dan
Cantrell, president. "We have about
17 guys that three days a week or
more are there working, repairing,
cleaning up and giving out the different
pieces of equipment."
The warehouse also assists those
with temporary needs, such as items
needed to recover from surgery or assist
a guest from out of town.
"We have about 950 wheelchairs
and powerchairs and we have about
745 checked out now," said Charles
Nelson, a Lion who donates his time
at the warehouse. "The number that
we have out to the public is currently
growing at a rate of 10 to 15 per
month. We're also getting donations
of equipment at about the same rate."
The Lions created a basic contract
that lends four-wheel walkers,
two-wheel walkers, knee scooters,
low-vision equipment, canes,
crutches and accessories for bedroom
and bathroom to residents for three
months. If the need persists and they
are unable to purchase the equipment,
the club will loan it out on an
"We do a very brisk business,"
Nelson said. "Having a power chair
is the difference in being a shut-in and
being able to visit their neighbors
and go to the senior center. They use
our chairs as a bridge when they
reach this point in life."
Indeed, Panton said that while
the items themselves are very ordinary,
the effect they have on her
clientsÕ lives is nothing short of extraordinary.
"It enables them to get into the
shower when before they may have
only been sponge bathing," Panton
said. "They really appreciate it because
of the safety and independence
it affords them and not having to rely
on anyone else for those personal
December 3, 2010
Lions Award Grant to Eagle Scout for Conservation Project
Contact: Ron Dickerson
November 22, 2010
The Good Ship Santa
Contact: Don Wight
BY MIKE ALLENDE ~ PHOTOGRAPHY BY RUSS KENDAll
Rick Kowsky was a natural. He had been involved in the
Multiple District 19 Lions International Christmas Ship for several years
when, about seven years ago, the program found itself without a
Santa Claus and little time to fmd a replacement. "I'm Santa Claus-shaped
anyway, so we got another Santa Claus costume at the last
minute," said Kowsky, the owner of Cascade Ambulance Service in
Ferndale. "I had a trial by fire and it went extremely well. I was able to
pull off doing a Santa impersonation for my grandson and he never
picked up on it. Since then it's been an incredible experience every year."
The Christmas Ship began in 1947 when
islanders asked a boat captain to bring
them Santa since they couldn't get to him.
The Lions assumed command of the ship
in 1996 with Captain Don Wight - son of
the original captain - at the helm. The
ship sails on a Friday and returns Sunday
night, covering about 2,50' square miles
and visiting about 500 children, a number
that should rise this year as the ship will
visit Orcas Island for the first time in years.
Kowsky, 52, a lifelong Bellingham resident
whose great-grandfather Emmett
Hawley was one of the city's first white settlers,
is one of two Santa helpers on board.
He and Tom Lingbloom split duties, giving
each other relief over the busy, taxing
"When you see 500-plus kids, you need
some breaks and some down time,"
Kowsky said. "One of us will take most of
the big islands the first day, the other takes
more ofthe big ones the second day. When
you get one with 200 or 300 kids, that's a
lot of lifting, shifting, moving. You get
groups of teenagers who want to put three
or four on your lap for a picture. It's a lot of
work, but Tom and I both love it."
Kowsky said he loved Christmas as a
child but it faded some as he grew into
adulthood. But being Santa has restored
his Christmas spirit. He said he loves seeing the joy in the kids' eyes when they get
a chance to speak to him - and anyone
who wants to talk to him gets to talk to
him, there is no turning away of anyone.
But seeing so many kids means you get a
wide gamut of questions and requests.
"You have to have the right answers to
the questions, and you have to be really
ready to think on your feet," Kowsky said.
"You get a lot of curveballs. Some are hilarious,
some are genuine tear-jerkers and
some make you wonder where the kids get
these ideas. Mostly you just have to love
kids and can't be afraid of them. You have
to be able to look them in the eye and give
them a straight story. It's a challenge and a
treat. Every year I do it, I come back feeling
even better about Christmas."
Kowsky said he regularly gets requests
for sisters and brothers ("That's a tough
one to answer without the parents turning
red," he said), animals and the latest toy
"You forget sometimes how quick five-
year-olds can think," he said. "They sit on
Santa's lap and you ask what they'd like
and they rattle off 20 things before you
can blink. But it's not what they ask for,
it's how they ask for it. It can bring you
to tears from laughing or because you
don't know what else to do. Santa has to
keep a stiff upper lip."
Kowsky said one of his most memorable
experiences was calling a child on
the phone from one of the islands
because the boy was too sick with the
swine flu to make it to the event.
"He saw this as one of the worst
moments of his life because he couldn't
come see Santa Claus," Kowsky said.
"And you just don't expect to get a call
from Santa. So that really made us both
There was also the time two years ago
when the boat got caught in 12-foot seas
and of the 64 people on board, 40 got
"It was a real nasty mess," he said.
Kowsky said getting requests for toys
is the easy part. It's the more personal
requests that puts the lump in Santa's
"There are kids with personal losses,
separations, they want their families
back together, they want dad or mom to
come home," he said. "You get kids
whose parents are deployed overseas.
You have to be really sensitive to those
Of course, there's also the common
questions, like where are the reindeer
("You've got to be ready with all their
names," Kowsky said), how is Mrs.
Claus, the usual Santa queries.
For Kowsky, his Mrs. Claus is his wife
of six years Kayla. Kowsky also has four
children and his 5-year-old grandson,
Tyson, lives with him and his wife.
Kowsky said he sees no end to his
Santa days and added that it truly marks
the beginning of his holiday season.
"It's a wonderful treat for me to be
able to do it," he said. ''I'm in good
health, I can get around and I love it.
Each year it gets better and better. It
looks like Santa has a lot more years left
June 24, 2010
Bellingham Gold & Country Club
Contact: Don Wight
The Bellingham Central Lions Annual Charity Golf Tour- nament featured an unusual contest and prize through the auspices of the Bellingham Servepro franchise. The prize: a 1000 GRAND! The contest: simple. You select a card with five topics on it; then you pick your topic. You are asked one question. If you get it right, the 1000 GRAND is yours.
January 18, 2010
Contact: Don Wight