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White House recognizes Lions as Champions of Change

Members of Lions clubs from around the country will join White House staff and United States government agency officials at the White House in Washington, D.C., Oct. 2 to recognize Lions club members as Champions of Change because of their nearly 100 years of volunteer service in communities around the world.

“We are extremely honored that the White House has chosen to recognize Lions Clubs International as Champions of Change,” said Lions Clubs International President Wayne A. Madden of Auburn, Indiana. “This is a privilege for us and truly an honor for the men and women of our association who serve their communities selflessly and with compassion for those in need.”

This day-long event, co-hosted by the White House and Lions Clubs International, will include an in-depth briefing session on issues pertaining to community service between Lions and key government agency officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Education and others. The day will also include panel discussions with 11 men and women Lions who were selected to represent the 1.35 million Lions members worldwide as Champions of Change.

Lions Clubs International’s Champions of Change are:

• Brad Baker of Jonesboro, Ark., is a member of the Jonesboro University Heights Lions Club and the CEO of Mid-South Lions Sight and Hearing Service, Inc., an organization that provides comprehensive sight and hearing care to individuals in need.

• Dr. Paul Berman of Hillsdale, N.J., is a member of the Hackensack Lions Club and founded the Special Olympics Lions Clubs International Opening Eyes, an initiative providing vision care for challenged individuals. He is also working on Lions Lens in partnership with Essilor, which will provide high-quality, low-cost eyeglasses for Lions’ humanitarian purposes worldwide.

• Mike Buscemi of Thornville, Ohio, is a member of the Thornville Lions Club and works extensively with youth. He developed Lions Quest, a comprehensive life skills program that has been taught to 12 million children globally from kindergarten through 12th grade.

• Karla Harris of South Milwaukee, Wis., is a member of the South Milwaukee Lions Club and works to raise awareness for the visually impaired and Lions Clubs International through public relations efforts, including helping to create the Lions “Rockin’ the Vest” Rap Video.

• Greg Jeffrey of North Webster, Ind., is a member of the Fort Wayne Central Lions Club and leads annual trips to Central America to provide vital medical services to people in need.

• Bob Massof of Pasadena, Md., is a member of the Baltimore Brooklyn Lions Club who works to restore and enhance the sight of people with low vision through technology, including developing the Low Vision Enhancement System (LVES), which compensates for low vision by altering images to make them easier for people to perceive using the vision that remains.

• Nadine Nishioka of Honolulu, Hawaii, is a member of the Honolulu Manoa Waioli Lions Club who works to beautify and improve the environment through a variety of extensive projects.

• Maria Emee Nisnisan of Sugar Land, Texas, is a member of the Houston Royal Oaks Lions Club who provides ways for families to serve together and health care for underprivileged people such as free immunization clinics, screenings and awareness campaigns.

• Laura Rieg of Portsmouth, Va., is a member of the Portsmouth Children First Lions Club and works to provide educational opportunities for children through monthly preschool sessions in a family environment and literacy tools for families living in women’s shelters.

• Doug Rodenbeck of Fort Wayne, Ind., is a member of the Anthony Wayne Lions Club who fosters leadership skills in young people through Leo clubs, the youth development program of Lions Clubs International. In this capacity, he supervised the largest Leo club fundraiser on record, which raised $170,000 to build family suites at the St. Joe Regional Medical Center Burn Unit.

• Debbie Whittlesey of Lebanon, Mo., is a member of the Lebanon Host Lions Club who led disaster relief and reconstruction efforts following the EF-5 tornado on May 22, 2011.

Those who are unable to attend the recognition are encouraged to watch the proceedings as they are streamed live on the Internet at www.whitehouse.gov/live.

The recorded session will be available to be viewed after the event on the Lions Clubs International YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/lionsclubsorg. Viewers are encouraged to Tweet about the event using the hashtag #WHLIONS.

Lions Clubs International is the world’s largest service club organization with 1.35 million members in more than 46,000 clubs in 207 countries and geographical areas around the world. Since 1917, Lions clubs have aided the blind and visually impaired and made a strong commitment to community service and serving youth throughout the world. For more information about Lions Clubs International, visit the Web site at www.lionsclubs.org.

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