Category Archives: Programs

Big Community Support of Lions Vision Program

Yarmouth Lions Thank Town for Record Number of Eyeglasses Donations

The Notes – January 28, 2019

The Yarmouth Lions Club wishes to thank the many people in and around Yarmouth, Maine who have donated their used eyeglasses, lenses, and eyeglass cases to the Lions Clubs International Recycle for Sight program in 2018.  Lions Club member, Doug Carney, has been faithfully shepherding this the Club’s eyeglasses recycling program in Yarmouth, and reports that the Club had collected 1,512 eyeglasses over the last year – an amazing 77% increase over 2017!

Lions Club eyeglasses donation box located at the Hannaford Pharmacy  counter in Yarmouth, Maine
Lions Club eyeglasses donation box located at the Hannaford Pharmacy
counter in Yarmouth, Maine

All donated eyeglasses are collected, then processed by the regional Lions Eyeglass Recycling Center to then be distributed to people in developing countries where they have the greatest need.

A special thank you also to the five Yarmouth businesses below that currently host the eyeglass collection boxes:
• Hannaford Supermarket (Pharmacy Counter): 756 US Rt. 1
• Maine Optometry PA (Front Entrance): 407 US Rt 1, Freeport
• Merrill Memorial Library (Front Entrance): 215 Main Street
• Yarmouth Recycling & Transfer Station (Book Shed): 659 East Main Street
• Bayview Dental Associates (Front Entrance): 247 Portland Street

The Lions would greatly appreciate the continued participation and support from the community for this very worthy cause.  To learn more, visit the Lions Vision program page, or contact Doug Carney at 846-0863 for more information.

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Yarmouth Lions Kick Off 70th Year with Open House

Lions Club invites community to learn about our history of service to Yarmouth

October 28, 2018 Update by Doug Carney

A special “open house” meeting was held on October 1st at the Muddy Rudder restaurant. Guests learned about the history, current programs and contributions the Yarmouth Lions have made to the town, and how they can volunteer or become a member. Speakers, all of whom are club members, addressed the following topics.
Yarmouth Maine Lions Club Open House
Bob Swan presented the history of the Lions Club International, as well as the Yarmouth Lions, from its charter in 1949, to the present.

Larry Forcier spoke of our involvement in the annual Yarmouth Clam Festival, with a history of what we sell and the charities that are supported by the profits that are generated from our food booth.

Kerry Tull covered the acquisition, preparation, and sale of Christmas trees for our Trees for Tuition program, noting that 100% of the profits go to fund college scholarships for local high school graduates.

Alan Lambert addressed our Wreaths for Warmth program, noting that 100% of the profits from the sale of 120-135 wreaths each year (about $2,000) go to the Yarmouth Heating Assistance Fund for those residents in need.

Brian Bicknell gave a history of Santa’s Chalet, from its start in the 70’s to the present day. Thousands of children and families have enjoyed visiting Santa over the years on the three Saturdays before Christmas.

Larry Forcier spoke about “Adopt A Family,” a seasonal program in which contributions from Lions and local businesses are used to purchase, wrap, and deliver gifts to families and nursing home residents in need at Christmas time.

Phoebe Chandler covered the way the club has provided vision services to new Mainers through eye exams, glasses and transportation to receive these vision services.

Doug Carney reported that we have recycled over 14,000 eyeglasses over the past 15 years, and that we are 85% ahead of last year at this time.

Joan Russell briefed the attendees on where our dues money goes, as well as the process by which charities are selected to receive contributions from the Yarmouth Lions Club.

President Sandy Bowie closed the meeting with a well-deserved thank you to each of the presenters, a look to the future, and an invitation to prospective members to join our Lions Club and support our motto, “We Serve.”

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Yarmouth Lions Bring Cool to Clam Fest

A staple of the Yarmouth Clam Festival, the Yarmouth Lions Club are ramping up community service awareness, food and fun

– July 16, 2018

The Yarmouth Lions Club has been participating at the Yarmouth Clam Festival for over 50 years, but this year, they are ramping up fundraising efforts to do more good in our town, and within Maine.

This year’s Clam Festival parade theme is “Totally 80’s”, so the Yarmouth Lions thought it would be fun if the King of the Jungle became the King of Pop. During the parade, club members will be dancing behind a Michael Jackson “Thriller” themed limousine to re-recorded Michael Jackson favorites about what it means to be a Lion. A preview video was released earlier this week on Facebook, and already has over 8,000 views. You can view the video here:

In addition, the Lions Club will be bringing a new drink to Clam Fest called the Lemon Lucy. It is the only all natural hand-made lemon slush drink at the festival. The drink and the name was chosen as a nod to the classic TV series, I Love Lucy, as companion to the popular Lime Rickey, sold by the Downeasters choral group. When trialed during last year’s Clam Festival, the Lemon Lucy got rave reviews. See the Lemon Lucy testimonial video:

What make the Lions Club different from all the other food vendors at Clam Fest is that they give 100% of all proceeds from food purchases to local community service organizations. Some of these groups include the food pantry, Yarmouth Cares About Neighbors (YCAN), and the Iris Network. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been donated over the years, and just recently, the Yarmouth Lions were able to use funds from last year’s Clam Fest to help the Yarmouth Fire and Rescue department purchase an emergency UTV, which will make its service debut at the Yarmouth Clam Festival.

Utility1 - Yarmouth Fire and RescueYarmouth Lions contributed to Utility 1, Yarmouth Fire & Rescue’s new UTV, which begins service at the 2018 Clam Festival

The Lions have extended their booth space this year to ensure they can meet food demand, and are looking forward to not only continuing their service to Yarmouth and surrounding communities, but having lots of fun.

Learn to learn more about the Yarmouth Lions Club at the Yarmouth Clam Festival, visit

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Yarmouth Lions Finish 2017 with a FLOURISH of Service

Lions December Programs Raised Over $19,000 for Local Heating Assistance Service, Student Scholarships, and Families in Need

For 30-plus members of the Yarmouth, Maine Lions Club, December is the busiest months on the club calendar featuring several service activities, raising funds for local community support, and bringing joy to countless children in the area.

Yarmouth HS Guidance Counselor and program coordinator, Brenda Michaelsen with Yarmouth Lions ClubStarting Thanksgiving weekend with the arrival of 350 Maine-grown balsam fir trees, club members unload and sort trees according to size for sale with all proceeds going to scholarship for area students. In the 20-plus years of selling trees for scholarships, over $80,000 has been awarded. Students are selected based on school recommendations which are, in turn, based on need, academics and extra-curricular activities. The program is well advertised and this year, as in most years, every tree sold out in the first three weekends of December raising over $6,700 in scholarship funds. Lions, as well as some family members, set up and took down tree stands, sold and as necessary, delivered trees. Click to learn more about the Trees for Tuition program.

More recently the club began to sell wreaths alongside the trees with the distinction that wreath sales are used exclusively to benefit the town’s fuel fund for those needing assistance. The Wreaths for Fuel program, under the sponsorship of Yarmouth Community Services, has become increasingly necessary as Maine has recently seen harsher winters, higher fuel prices and more people needing fuel. In December 2017, club members sold 115 wreaths netting over $2,000 to support Yarmouth’s fuel assistance fund bringing total club donations over a 10-year period to about $20,000.

Yarmouth Lions Sell Christmas wreaths to fund the heating assistance programWhile wreaths and trees are being sold at the village green, another tradition almost as old as the club itself, takes place each December in the same area. For two hours on Saturday afternoons, Santa Claus ably assisted by an elf or Mrs. Claus sits in Santa’s Chalet greeting an endless line of families who pose with their children for photos. Before the children leave Santa, cookies and goodwill go with them. In the 30-plus years of this activity, veteran club members estimate that over 6,000 children have chatted with Santa in his chalet which magically appears on the village green the first weekend in December. The structure currently serving as Santa’s greeting house was built and maintained by club members while cookies are provided at cost by a local bakery.

Yarmouth Lions Adopt a Family ProgramProbably, the centerpiece of Yarmouth Lion’s December activities, is the club’s Adopt-a-Family program which began 16 years ago and gains momentum with each passing year. In the Lion’s tradition of service, a few members of the club initially received names from Yarmouth Community Services of a small number of families who were experiencing financial difficulties. The club budgeted a modest amount of monies and members donated out-of-pocket to meet the program’s needs. As the need for assistance increased, so did the club’s support and involvement. In 2017, 14 local businesses donated over $2,000 in gift certificates. The club also budgeted $1,000 to the program. This year, several enthusiastic and generous members shopped, wrapped and delivered gifts to the families and nursing homes. In total, a record number of families (12) with a record of children (26), as well as 22 indigent residents of local nursing homes, received over $7,500, in gifts and gift cards. Cumulatively, thanks to Lions and friends, over $75,000 in merchandise and gift certificates have been donated in just the past 10 years.

Although it would be difficult to single out the reason(s) for the success of Yarmouth Lions December efforts, strong publicity through the local paper, signs and word of mouth indicating where the proceeds from these activities were going, have led to continued success and steady membership in the club.

“Seeing people and merchants open their hearts and wallets to help those less fortunate, the willingness of volunteers to do what they do, and seeing the benefits of their efforts, make me proud to be a Lion.” – Sandy Bowie, President, Yarmouth Lions Club

Yarmouth Lions sell Christmas Trees for scholarships and host Santa
Each December, the Yarmouth Lions Club sells Christmas trees to raise money for scholarships, and wreaths for heating assistance, while hosting Santa for the hundreds of Yarmouth kids to visit and share their Christmas wish.

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Vision Services for New Mainers

Providing Vision Services for Immigrants in Maine
The Notes – April 19, 2016

The April 4th meeting of the Yarmouth Lions Club was held at the Muddy Rudder. Our guest speaker for the evening was Valerie DeVuyst, ESOL Program Coordinator and Student Advisor at Portland Adult Education (PAE).

Valerie has been involved in the effort to provide services for the growing “New Mainer” population in the greater Portland area for some time and oversees appropriate classes at PAE like English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). In 2015 there were 1,993 students from 81 countries enrolled in PAE classes. The growing need for all types of services is outstripping supply. They are reaching out to other organizations that might be able to help in outlying communities like Yarmouth. Since one of the highest priority needs is to secure vision services for these students, they are approaching the Lions with a proposition to consider: “Would the club provide leadership and advice for obtaining these services through area optometrists and eyeglass providers?” These new Mainers knew the Lions Clubs supported vision projects and think it might be a good fit.

Valerie made a strong case for the Lions Clubs leading an effort to provide these services to the Portland new Mainer population. There are 3 components to the group: Refugees – those forced out of their country by famine or war; Asylum Seekers – those who have a visa, but can’t return to their country; and Immigrants – those who want to be here to pursue a better life. One of main barriers these groups face is vision issues.  About 30%, or 500 students, need or have lost glasses. How do we get them glasses? They have no $’s to see a doctor or to buy glasses.

Valerie DeVuyst, ESOL Program Coordinator and Student Advisor at Portland Adult Education (PAE)

Asylum seekers have nothing, except general assistance for about 5 months, and are dependent on charity for most needs. Valerie stressed she was not looking for $’s, but rather leadership and advice.  Find optometrists willing to do the exams and write prescriptions; provide transportation to appointments; assist with eyeglass purchases; and help with the inevitable language problems.

A spirited discussion followed her presentation with several useful suggestions made. It’s possible the Maine District 41 staff or the Lions Sight and Hearing Foundation may want to get involved to coordinate activities. There will be additional discussions with representatives from other Lions clubs as to what the Lions as an organization might do. Another meeting with Valerie will be scheduled at an appropriate time.

Learn more about the Yarmouth Lions Club Vision Program here.

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