Franklin Lions help visually impaired local students

Published 9:46 am Monday, June 19, 2017

by Chuck Gatten

In December 2016, the Lions Charity Foundation of Lions District 24D received a grant request from the Franklin Lions Club on behalf of two Southampton County Middle School students. The grant request was to cover the cost of visual aid equipment for two visually impaired (legally blind) students. All of this was preceded by several months of discussion in regard to the students’ needs and evaluation of the grant request.

From left are: Ashley Burns; Ron Ratcliffe; Dr. Murry Newman; Dick Gilbert, Franklin Lion’s Club president; Taron Ray, student; Windsor Lion Allen Brown; Traleya Eley, student; Windsor Lion’s Club President Marc Van Eck; Franklin Lion Clyde Parker; Jerry Phelps of the Lion Charity Foundation; and Southampton Middle School Principal Darian Bell. — Submitted | Dick Gilbert

In the meantime, the Boykins and Franklin Lions clubs furnished various vision enhancement supplies, including a Mobilux Portable Electronic Magnifier. Reports indicating the need were furnished from Duke Medical School, Hampton Roads Eye Associates and Virginia Eye Consultants. 

To assist the two students, and teacher Murray Newman in his instruction, the Franklin Lions Club requested $7,000 to cover the cost of additional visual aid equipment: E-Bot PRO from “School Health,” $4,067.20; and Mojo Electronic Monocular and Docking Stand from “Enhanced Vision,” $2,795.

Insurance coverage was not available for the requested equipment.

Jerry Phelps investigated what LFC could do.

He had input from Vice District Governor Beth Stevens and the Virginia Department of the Blind. He contacted Lion Bill Potter, Lions of Virginia Foundation, inquiring about supplies that he may know about.    

The grant request was approved by the LCF Grants Committee and the Board of Directors. However, the Board asked the Grants Committee to investigate the cost and try to get them discounted.

Phelps started to work on the cost of the requested supplies. After many e-mails and several phone calls, we arrived at a cost of $3,040 for the “E-Bot Pro,” including freight, and $2,695 for the “Mojo” and its stand — a significant reduction from the above-stated projected cost.

Phelps met with Newman and the Franklin Lions Club members on May 2. During the meeting, he announced that the grant request was approved at the above stated costs, and the committee decided that the children would own the equipment. Delivery is expected within the next two to three weeks.

Newman is more than willing to assist the students throughout their career in the Southampton County School System. He will use the equipment with both students.

The Franklin Lions Club agreed to purchase for both students special polarized sunglasses that were on the want list at a cost of $150.

A special presentation of the equipment took place on June 1 in Southampton County Middle School.

Present for this meeting, in addition to Lions Club members, were students Traleya Eley who has ownership of the devices, and Taron Ray who will have use of the devices as determined by Newman. Also present were: Ashley Burns, both a special education teacher at Southampton Middle School and a Franklin Lions Club member; and Darian Bell, principal of Southampton Middle School.

Lions Club members that worked on the project, in addition to LCF Grants Chairperson Lion Phelps of the Little Creek, Virginia Beach Lions Club, were: Lion Murray Newman, York Lions Club; Lions Dick Gilbert, Clyde Parker and Ron Ratcliffe, Franklin Lions Club; Lions Marc Van Eck and Allen Brown, Windsor Lions Club, both of the Grants Committee; Vice District Governor Beth Stevens and Past District Governor Donnie Johnson.