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Nonprofit View: Lions working to help ‘hasten the day when there shall be no preventable blindness’

A national survey that regularly collects data identifying persons with hearing loss or deafness in the American population, the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) estimates that fewer than 1 in 20 Americans are currently deaf or hard of hearing.

In the U.S., nearly 10 million persons are hard of hearing, and close to one million are functionally deaf. More than half of all persons with hearing loss or deafness are 65 years or older, and less than 4% are younger than 18.

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The Lions in Carroll County are active in meeting the needs of the hard-of-hearing population. Free hearing screenings for adults at local libraries, in partnership with Healthy Hearing and Balance in Westminster, are conducted periodically. Information for dates and times are advertised through the Carroll County Public Library Currents Magazine and the Carroll County Times.

This year, free hearing screenings will take place on April 3 at the Eldersburg branch library, June 12 at the Taneytown branch library and Sept. 11 at the North Carroll branch library.

Lions collect and recycle used hearing aids and unused hearing aid batteries from the public. Look in the community for any Lions eyeglass collection box. Lions reach out to get free hearing aids for the needy if they meet eligibility criteria. Applicants must complete an application and submit documentation of income to determine their qualification. For an application, contact Lion Barbara at 410-795-3167 or email her at lionshelpthehardofhearing@comcast.net.

Our Lions Clubs also provide camperships to children to attend the Deaf and American Sign Language (ASL) summer camp through Deaf Camps Inc. if they are in financial need. Deaf Camps Inc. is a volunteer-run nonprofit dedicated to providing fun, safe, communication-rich camps that promote the physical, spiritual, and social development of deaf/hard of hearing children and children learning American Sign Language. Deaf Camps Inc. runs camps for deaf children ages 7 to 19, alongside ASL camps for hearing children ages 8 to 18, who learn ASL through lessons and shared activities with deaf peers. Volunteer counselors and directors work with the campers each year.

Camps are currently held during the first full week of August each year at Manidokan Outdoor Ministry Center in Knoxville in Washington County. Visit https://deafcampsinc.org for an application. Campers at Deaf Camps Inc. will receive pen pal letters written by area Lions Club members while they are at camp.

Lions Camp Merrick partners with Bridging Hands to provide an overnight camp for deaf/hard of hearing children and children of deaf adults. Both organizations come together to create a positive environment to help these children build character, self-esteem and connect with others facing the same challenges they are, all while they are having fun making friendships and memories that will last a lifetime. Summer Camp dates are July 15 to 20. For more information, contact info@lionscampmerrick.org. To donate for this cause please send funds to: Lions Camp Merrick, P.O. Box 56, Nanjemoy, MD 20662.

Lions continue to assist the needs of the hearing impaired in our community, as Helen Keller requested of them in 1925 when she said, “Will you not help me hasten the day when there shall be no preventable blindness; no little deaf, blind child untaught; no blind man or woman unaided? I appeal to you Lion, you who have your sight, your hearing, you who are strong and brave and kind.”

Susan Bonura is president of the South Carroll Lioness Lions Club and a past district governor for the Lions of District 22W. Barbara Brimigion is the current first vice district governor for the Lions of District 22W and chair of the district’s Hearing Preservation Awareness and Action Program.

Each Monday, the Carroll County Times publishes a column from a local nonprofit, allowing them to share information about their organization and the issues facing it. To be considered, email cctnews@carrollcountytimes.com with the subject line “Nonprofit View.”

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