The Mid-Day Lions Club received the Culpeper County Chamber of Commerce Nonprofit of the Year Award.
The award was accepted by the organization at the 108th Annual Meeting and Chamber Awards Banquet on November 3.
Mid-Day Lions President Dr. Lee Simpson spoke with Culpeper Star-Exponent about receiving the award. Simpson has been with the organization since joining in 2006.
“Winning this award feels good. I had a conversation with someone about what it’s like to be in a service organization. You don’t come into service to receive recognition, so the recognition is overwhelming,” Simpson said. “People at the club are there to help people in the community. It’s overwhelming and we appreciate the recognition and accolades. It’s nice to be appreciated when you do good things.
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When asked what he thinks earned the organization the award, Simpson said he believed it was the club’s consistency with its charity work that earned them the consideration.
“I think sometimes the squeaky wheel gets greasy, maybe people were talking to the chamber about the good things we do. There may be a metric involved, but I think it’s our consistency,” Simpson said. When you do something really well, even when things are going well, you try to be consistent.
The Mid-Day Lions Club has been particularly consistent in its charitable work in 2022 and its best-known work in the Culpeper area is a charity that actually predates the organization itself.
Since 1925, Lions Club International has operated a charitable organization dedicated to helping people with sight problems get the help they need. This long-standing charity, which was inspired due to a challenge by author and disability rights activist Helen Keller, has earned the Lions the nickname “Knights of the Blind”.
In 2022 alone, Midday Lions helped just under 400 people get eye exams, eyeglasses and hearing aids.
The Mid-Day Lions and Culpeper 92 Lions Club have worked alongside Sam’s Club, social services, nurses and local schools to ensure adults and children get the help they need. The club also accepts used glasses which can be recycled and reused by someone in need.
Screening potential customers is a newer aspect of the Midday Lions charity, which it uses to encourage people to get eye exams. The organization does not make diagnoses but has equipment that can carry out simple tests to judge whether or not someone should undergo an examination.
The charity does not stop at the eyes, it has also made donations to other organizations in the area. This year, Lions donated $60,000 to various causes, ranging above and beyond compared to previous years according to Simpson.
One such donation was a $1,600 grant to a local school nurse to receive diabetes education training, curriculum and testing materials. The effort aims to work with teachers to help identify children who may be at risk for diabetes. Simpson said childhood diabetes has become a growing concern for school-aged children.
Other charities of note include partnering with the Culpeper Technical Education Center to design and build a gazebo for the Culpeper Senior Center for which the club donated building materials. The Mid-Day Lions have also worked with Winchester-based company Trex to create park benches. The organization donated 500 pounds of plastic, which was enough to create three benches.
According to Simpson, two of these benches will be placed at Rockwater Park in Culpeper.