The Lions’ Vision For Giving Back

By Jim Bryan
Wednesday - August 05, 2009 Share

Jim Bryan, President
Kamehameha Lions Club

Lions in Hawaii are men and women who volunteer their time toward humanitarian causes. The Kamehameha Lions Club and its foundation currently serve a broad area of Honolulu, from the Kapalama campus of Kamehameha Schools through Nuuanu to the shores of Sand Island.

Chartered in 1948, club members have supported local neighborhoods in various ways, such as working with the blind and elderly. Decades later, the work has evolved, but the Lions’ message remains the same: Give back to the community.

The Kamehameha Lions collect and recycle used eyeglasses, support eye screenings and cataract surgeries, support diabetes education, provide youth scholarships and recreational opportunities, work to improve the environment, assist the aged, and build and/or maintain community parks and playgrounds.

Literally thousands of people benefit from the manpower of the Kamehameha Lions.

Most recently, gemologist Gary “The Gem Hunter” Bowersox and I made our way to Afghanistan, bringing along 5,000 pairs of glasses. Although used and discarded, the eyeglasses were recycled, cleaned and graded by local optometrist (and Kamehameha Lion) Dr. Hugo Higa before distribution.

Kamehameha Lion Ben Tanaka has a young patient read an eye chart during the club’s various community vision examinations

Our three-week trek was spent in dangerous, war-ridden, mountainous terrain at the height of the Pakistani border standoff. U.S. military ground support was not available; however, we pushed on to deliver the much-needed eyeglasses.

Not one organization in the world has ever done this at such a degree, but the Kamehameha Lions were successful!

To fund this Afghan project, along with many other local community service-oriented projects, the Kamehameha Lions Club Foundation is charged with creating and promoting its own fundraiser. In lieu of selling pancakes, Huli-Huli chicken or chili, the Kamehameha Lions has developed its signature fundraising event, Laughs for Lions. This annual event raises money not only to serve the club alone, but other Hawaii Lions clubs in the district as well. Our biggest challenge is to top the previous year’s event, and always with a sold-out audience. This year, “The Big Elvis Show” comes direct from Harrah’s of Las Vegas for one night only, Aug. 22! Please visit the show’s Web site,

If you can’t make Laughs For Lions, the club could always use donations in money, goods and services. To find out more about the club, visit


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