Central Brooklyn Lions make impact on community

Awardees with supporters at Central Brooklyn Lions Club’s annual gala awards ceremony and dance.
Photo by Nelson A. King

Though 2018 was a “challenging” year for Central Brooklyn Lions Club, Inc. (CBLC), it can still take comfort from its rich history and the fact that it continues to make a big difference in the community.

In her New York’s message, the club’s Jamaican-born president, Jerusha Jacobs, wished members and their families “a blessed, healthy, happy and a safe New Year.”

Then, she then: “The past year was challenging, but I am looking forward to working with you in the New Year. Blessings to all.”

In its souvenir journal in November, commemorating the annual gala awards ceremony and dance, the club states that, when Lions Club International passed the vote to strike gender from the constitution, Lioness clubs were presented with the option to become a Lions Club (previously male only), or remain a Lioness club (previously female only).

“This issue was thoroughly researched and information presented to the East Brooklyn Lioness Club,” the journal says, adding that the majority of members voted to become Lions.

“With the dedicated assistance of our guiding Lion, Earle B. Wilson, this became a reality on May 16, 1988,” the journal continues. “The late Lion Bernice Best was elected charter president.”

CBLC says that, over the years, it has served “our community well through various activities.”

During Lion Best’s tenure (1988-1990), the journal notes that CBLC sponsored the Central Brooklyn Leo Club, “one of the most outstanding projects,” with Carlos Whitman as Charter President.

The Leo Club has “grown well” under the leadership of Lions Dian Coombs, Ernestine Harrison, Marjorie Walters, C. Coma, Lion TyEast Alleyne-Bobb, Lion Ashley. Campbell-Goolgar, and Lion Benita Malloy, according to the journal, stating that the club is “currently in rebuilding status.”

The journal says that CBCL began its new “legendary volunteer work” at John Wesley United Methodist Church Soup kitchen in Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklynb.

It was there that Lion Glenner Strachn Lion Ermine Myers and Lion Morval Gibson provided service each Thursday, the journal says.

It says CBLC began to sponsor the Peace Poster competition, a contest run worldwide by Lion International, in local schools.

Several health fairs were also “successfully held, with the far-reaching assistance of the Caribbean Women’s Health Association, Congressional Friends of Glaucoma Screening, Kings County Nurses, NYC Fire Department, among other agencies and departments,” according to the journal.

It says the public received screening services for blood sugar and blood pressure testing, eye testing for glaucoma and nutritional counseling.

Under the leadership of the late Lion Myrtle Peele, the journal says the club finally awarded its first Melvin Jones Fellowship (MJF) to five members — Lions Diane Coombs, Mildred Hurlock, Dorothy Providence, the late Bernice Best and Myrtle Peele.

Today, the journal says the number has increased, adding that CBLC boasts of having over a dozen MJFs and over five “Progressive Melvin Jones Fellows.”

The Melvin Jones Fellowship Award is named after founder Melvin Jones, “who had the vision to lead a group of businessmen to form a Lions Club in Chicago and there stands the headquarters for Lions Clubs International worldwide.”

The journal says that another milestone was the incorporation of the club on Nov. 15, 1996.

It says the purchase and training of a guide dog, named Nuffy, was matched to a sightless individual.

“This was one exciting and major project started,” it says, stating that work with the blind continues, “as some of our members volunteer as ‘Eye Transporters’, transporting corneas from the various airports throughout New York area to the Long Island Lions Eye Bank.”

With the adoption of the dining room at the Vacation Camp for the Blind (VCB), every year, club members journey to Spring Valley for the summer and fall clean up, the journal says.

It says the club also provide utensils, crockery, cutlery, glasses, plates, microwave and kettles among other items, to VCB.

The journal points out that sight conservation, through the used eye glasses collection, is another way in which club members work with the blind.

“We send these glasses to the recycling plant in New Jersey, where the glasses are washed, sterilized and repaired for future use,” it says.

Working with the youth is another major CBLC achievement, the journal says, stating that members collect and donate school supplies annually, and sponsor a youth-to-youth exchange programs in Cambodia and other countries.

The “Letter to Santa” from the USPS was also adopted for a short period, the journal says.

“We fulfill the needs of those children at Christmas by honoring whatever the letters requested,” it says, adding that “Toys for Tot” for the children in shelters is “an annual obligation.”

The club also established the Pennies from Heaven Fund, which assists high school students in purchasing graduation needs.

All past presidents of the club are members of the Education Committee. They raise funds for the “Bernice Best Educational Scholarship” in providing four-year-scholarships for high school students entering college, the journal says.

It says the Leos are also not forgotten, as they receive a monetary donation after graduating from high school.

In addition, the journal says the new Reading Action Program (RAP) has been “readily adopted” by club members, as they work with the Benjamin Banneker School, Parkside School and Nathaniel Green Schools.

The environment is also on CBLC’s radar, as it impacts the “carbon foot print” by collecting ink cartridges, plastic bottles and paper products, and recycles them.

CBLC has adopted the Robert Mc Nair Park on Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, with Lions planting trees, flowers and shrubs; raking leaves; and painting the rails and benches at the park.

Additionally, the club participates in beach and creek clean-up, and school painting, among other projects, at the district level.

During natural disasters, CBLC says its response is “epic.”

According to the journal, the club donated clothing, food and toiletries to the massive Haiti earthquake in 2010, and continues to provide toiletries to the ladies for well over a year.

The club also held a walk at Canarsie Park to raise funds for the Haiti disaster.

During Hurricane Sandy, CBLC provided food, cleaning supplies, household items, clothing and bedding to residents in Coney Island, Staten Island, and Queens.

CBLC also donated equipment and books to re-open a child care program, which was affected by Hurricane Sandy in Queens.

The club conducts a monthly Bingo session at Carlton Nursing Home; and provides celebratory parties at Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Thanksgiving and Easter for the residents.

CBLC works in partnership with the senior and the community feeding program at Fenimore Street United Methodist Church in Brooklyn, according to the journal, and has adopted seniors and provide Thanksgiving baskets to the shut-in.

But that is not all. The journal says lions volunteer donate office supplies, provide administrative services and assists with transportation for the Coalition for Concern Medical Professionals (CCMP), a Brooklyn-based organization that provides medical care for undocumented residents.

“Central Brooklyn Lions strive to make a difference in the community through the array of service projects and events,” the journal says.

“Our lions share a common vision of helping people, as we embrace our motto ‘We Serve,’” it adds. “We are ordinary people doing extraordinary things, as we embrace what the future holds for our community.”

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