A shared vision for helping their community

Lions Clubs in Armstrong and Enderby and Royal Canadian Legion in Armstrong host fundraising dinner

You may end up with nothing more for dinner than a fork and spoon, but it’s all for a good cause.

The Armstrong Lions, the Enderby Lions and the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 35 in Armstrong are joining forces and hosting The Mystery Dinner to raise funds for the Lions Vision Centre. All of the proceeds will go towards helping the Lions to replace the Argon laser machine at the centre.

“This machine is old and weak and it is so old that if something goes wrong, it can’t be fixed as there are no longer any parts available,” said event chairperson Sandy McMurray, secretary for the Armstrong Lions and Lions Zone D-1 chairperson. “This machine does glaucoma and retinal surgeries.”

With the volume of procedures done at the centre and the age of the current laser, it is critical that the equipment be updated, she said, adding that a new laser will be used to do procedures related to the retina and for glaucoma.

“At a bare minimum, the laser will be used more than 20 times per month,” said McMurray. “As well, patients who have had complex retina surgical procedures in the Lower Mainland will be able to have sutures removed using the laser in Armstrong, making the course of treatment easier for local patients.”

The Mystery Dinner is a fun twist on a traditional meal, with participants given booklets containing clues. It’s possible to end up with only utensils during one of the four courses or to end up eating spaghetti with no utensils at all.

“They get a menu, which is coded, so there are 14 items on the menu — 10 are food and four are utensils — and clues could be something like ‘saucy scooper’ for tacos and salsa or ‘murderous mix’ for caesar salad. You hope you have guessed right so you get lots to eat, but you are only allowed to use each number once.

“We did it last year and it was a lot of fun, although we ran out of food so we’ve realized that we actually have to make 200 of everything this year.”

Fundraising for the laser is the latest in a long line of projects for the Armstrong Lions. And after completing the building of the gazebo in Memorial Park, members were looking for a new project and contacted the Lions Vision Centre to inquire about their wish list.

“Sight is very important to Lions Clubs International and we are known as Helen Keller’s Knights of the Blind,” said McMurray. “The centre had two machines on their wish list. The first was replaced by Interior Health, but the more expensive one could not be budgeted for a few years or so.

“The zone was also looking for a project to do, so I — as zone chair — proposed this Argon laser machine, and all six clubs agreed, with fundraising beginning in July. So far, Sicamous, Enderby, Armstrong and Lumby Lions have put in money.”

Armstrong Lions also donated profits from the five-day bingo held during the IPE.

“We are a small club with 21 members, so we asked the Legion and the Enderby Lions to help us out along with others, and they agreed. The Legion also donated money.”

As well, McMurray said the ladies at the Bargain Bin have made a sizable donation to the project, which has so far raised $99,857, with $8,543 still to go.”

The Lions Vision Centre, in the Pleasant Valley Health Centre in Armstrong, opened in 2001, thanks to the financial support from local Lions Clubs from Lake Country to Revelstoke, as well as funds from two Journeys for Sight Walks and a $60,000 donation from the Lions Club International.

The centre has four ophthalmologists on staff — Dr. Aditya Seth, Dr. Hussein Hollands, Dr. Wes Ingram and Dr. Christopher Waite — who perform eye surgeries. Longtime ophthalmologist Dr. Mathias Fellenz retired last year but continues to provide relief as a locum. Patients travel to the centre from all over the North Okanagan, the Shuswap, Revelstoke, Nakusp and Lake Country. On any given day, 12 to 16 patients are seen. Last year, 778 cataract procedures and 185 laser procedures were performed.

The Mystery Dinner takes place Nov. 18 at St. Joseph’s Parish Hall, 3335 Patterson St. in Armstrong, with cocktails at 6 p.m. and dinner at 7 p.m. Tickets are $30 per person, available at the Armstrong-Spallumcheen Chamber of Commerce, Chocoliro, Final Touch Framing/Printing and the Legion.

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