Mr. President, today I wish to recognize the New Haven Lions Club as they celebrate their 90th anniversary and nearly a century of community service, civic involvement, and charitable contributions to the city of New Haven, the State of Connecticut, and the increasingly interconnected international community.
Lions Club members are connected to the heart and soul of their local cities and towns, following the proactive philosophy: ``community is what we make it.'' Through their extraordinary service and generosity including weekly meetings, annual volunteer events, and fundraising the 46,000 Lions Clubs and their 1.35 million members change the world around them. Following their historic practice of activism and participation, they touch countless lives.
Founded in 1922, the New Haven Lions Club is the second oldest Lions Club in Connecticut. The members--or Lions, as they aptly call themselves--come together four times a month at the New Haven Long Wharf to plan the community outings that have become well known and anticipated events. Their impact is felt when they hand out free hot cider at the New Haven tree lighting or deliver food donations to the Connecticut Food Bank. Since its start, the club has raised more than $717,000 in charitable contributions.
Responding to a call to action by Helen Keller in 1925, one of the hallmark services offered by Lions Clubs around the world is assisting the often-marginalized blind and visually impaired communities. In 1975, the One to One Program was created in New Haven, where partnerships are formed between a blind and a seeing person. Together, these pairs attend events together throughout the year. In addition, free eye screenings have been offered on the New Haven Green since 1998, serving as a practical resource as well as symbolic gesture that the Lions Club of New Haven is dedicated to inspiring the vision of New Haven residents, helping them to see better lives for themselves.
The Lions of New Haven also offer valuable opportunities for children and young adults in New Haven, understanding their specific needs and then aiming to fill the void, whether providing recreational fun, mentorship, or the teaching of life skills. They have partnered with local schools in New Haven throughout the years, most recently with Nathan Hale School, to sponsor Leo Clubs, which lead students to spend time volunteering and giving back to their communities. Last July, the Lions Club of New Haven offered $2,500 in scholarship funds for graduating Leos.
The New Haven Lions Club is also known for Camp Cedarcrest, 42 acres of grounds in Orange, CT, enjoyed each summer by thousands of Connecticut residents. Together, the New Haven Lions, along with four other service organizations and the New Haven Department of Parks, Recreation and Trees, provide this spot for the community to enjoy.
Even though the New Haven Lions Club has held and participated in many newsworthy events such as hosting a Benny Goodman concert in 1958 and volunteering over 150 hours during the 1995 Special Olympics World Games held in New Haven--what makes this service club special is its members' dedication to each other, their community, and their legacy. Since its birth, then only the second of its kind in New England, the Lions Club of New Haven has evolved and adapted while always keeping the tradition of service, companionship, and civic duty as the foundation of every step together.
I wish the Lions of New Haven all the best as they continue to listen to the pulse of the city of New Haven and represent Connecticut in the many Lions Club happenings around the world. I have the greatest confidence that steadfast progress, tender human connections, and far-reaching impact will be made by this invaluable organization over the next 90 years and more.
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