Warren Lions Club has a busy month

Recently, members of the Warren Lions Club gathered for their annual “steak fry” to honor outgoing officers and welcome a new lineup for the 2014-2015 term. In all, 12 officers were sworn in by Lions’ District Governor-Elect Gene Shelhamer.

The club honored Dr. Charles Mackenzie, who was presented with a plaque of appreciation by incoming president James Eggleston for his exemplary and inspiring leadership over the past year. Also honored was Morris Kintner, who received the Melvin Jones Fellowship Award in recognition of his more than 30 years of outstanding humanitarian contribution as a Lion Club member. Sadly, the club lost another Melvin Jones recipient and cherished member with the passing last week of Henry Blick, who had been a Warren Lion since 1963.

Earlier in June, the Lions enjoyed a lunch presentation by Lion Therese Wheaton, Lions District 14-F Chair for 14-F Leader Dogs for the Blind. She brought Leader Puppy, Easy, the fifth puppy she is raising for Leader Dogs for the Blind. Easy will stay with Therese and her family, and the Conneaut Valley Lions Club until he is about a year old. Later this fall, Easy will return to Leader Dogs for the Blind for his advanced levels of training.

Only about a third of all puppies who start out in the program will actually become Leader Dogs (one third are unsuitable due to physical limitations like allergies, and another third don’t possess the intellectual reasoning required to fulfill the duties of a guide dog). The guide dogs who graduate are provided free of charge to those who qualify.

The Leader Dog program has been operating since 1939 and is one of the world’s most respected and innovative guide dog programs, empowering people who are blind, visually impaired or deaf-blind by providing them with guide dogs and skills to allow them to live more independently. The training is personalized to each client, and each individual is matched with a dog who will fit easily within their lifestyle. Lions Clubs worldwide contribute two million dollars annually to the Leader Dog Program, a non-profit organization relying entirely on donations to make the guide dogs available to those in need. More information on the program, becoming a volunteer trainer, or making a donation, can be obtained by visiting leaderdog.org or contacting Wheaton through the Conneaut Valley Lions Club.

Following are some suggestions to follow should you encounter a guide dog and their handler:

Don’t call out or otherwise distract a working guide dog. They must concentrate on the safety of their blind handlers.

A guide dog in harness signifies the dog is working, even if sitting or lying down.

A blind person with their guide dog always has the right of way.

The Federal Americans with Disabilities Act and State Laws explicitly grants the right of access to guide dogs everywhere the public is allowed. They are allowed into restaurants, beach areas, workplaces, hotels, churches, and hospitals. They travel on buses, in taxis and airplanes, shop at grocery stores, and enjoy amusement parks, movies and concerts.

Don’t feed a guide dog; their scheduled mealtimes must be strictly maintained.

Never grab a guide dog’s harness or leash from their handler. If they are in a dangerous situation, voice your concern calmly, but do not push, pull or grab the person or guide dog.

Some guide dog handlers may allow petting, but always ask permission first, and respect the handler’s wishes or instructions.

If you’re driving, and see a guide dog with their handler, don’t call out or honk the horn; handlers need to listen for traffic and other sounds to know if it’s safe to continue their travel path or cross the street.

If trying to assist a person who is blind, offer them your arm or elbow, but allow them to tell you if they’d rather use their cane or guide dog.

The Lions will roll out the weenie wagon for Liberty Rocks Thursday and would be grateful for public support at this event. Club members meet for dinner the second Tuesday of every month and for lunch the fourth Tuesday of every month at the Conewango Club. For more information about the Lions, or if you are interested in presenting your program or becoming a member, call 726-1381.