Programs help medically challenged to lead normal lives
On Oct. 18, Truro & District Lion Derwin Bartlett journeyed to Oakville, Ont., for a weekend at the Lions Foundation of Canada (LFC) facility for training dog guides and their handlers.
Past district governor Alex Hancock, left, presents the 2012-13 Lions Foundation of Canada award at the District N-2 fall cabinet meeting in Lawrencetown to Bill Ripley who accepted the honour on behalf of Truro & District Lions Club. SUBMITTED PHOTO
This is the first of many visits that Derwin, recently appointed to the position of Nova Scotia Director of LFC, will make during the next three years.
The appointment follows a three-year term as District N-2 chairperson for the foundation. In this role, Derwin, with the help of his wife, Lion Susan, managed a booth at District N-2 conferences four times each year, selling dog guide pins, apparel and other goods to raise funds for and promote awareness of LFC and the dog guide program.
The mission of LFC is to assist Canadians with a medical or physical disability by providing them with dog guides at no cost. The Oakville facility, established in 1983 to train canine vision dog guides for the blind or visually impaired, has grown from offering one program to six. These include hearing dog guides for people who are deaf or hard of hearing; special skills dog guides for people with a medical or physical disability; seizure response dog guides, for people who have epilepsy; and autism assistance dog guides for children with autism spectrum disorder.
In 2013, LFC mounted an ‘Opening Doors to Independence’ fundraising project to raise $1 million to increase residential space for clients by 25 per cent, provide 30 per cent more dog guide teams, create additional teaching space for client classes, renovate space for training staff, and launch its sixth program, diabetic alert dog guides, for people who have type-I diabetes with hypoglycaemic unawareness.
The year also marked the graduation of the 2,000th dog guide team, a considerable feat when the cost of raising each dog guide, along with intense training for both the dog and the client receiving it, reaches $25,000.
Lions clubs across the country contribute to this cost in many ways, from sponsoring dog guide teams at a cost of $4,000 to $12,000, depending on the type of program, to purchasing life memberships in LFC for Lions or other individuals, or participating in the Adopt-a-Puppy program with donations to offset the cost of veterinary expenses.
The Truro & District Lions Club has sponsored a total of six dog guides – four canine vision and two autism assistance – two of which have been placed with clients in Nova Scotia. Funds raised at the annual casino night in March are used to purchase LFC life memberships, and club’s fallen Lions are memorialized through the Adopt-a-Puppy program.
At the District N-2 fall cabinet meeting in Lawrencetown earlier this month, the Truro club was honoured with the 2012-13 LFC award for the club in the district with the highest donation per capita to dog guide programs.
One does not have to be a Lion to support this important service. Visit http://www.dogguides.com/ to find out how you can help, and to learn more about Lions’ support in the community, or becoming involved in the Lions organization, visit http://e-clubhouse.org/sites/trurons/ or join the Truro & District Lions Club on Facebook.
Joyce Gero, or Lion Joyce, is 2013-14 public relations chairwoman with the Truro & District Lions Club. She is a resident of Lower Truro.