Chicago Lions Club to provide services for families at RidgeFest

  • Written by Dermot Connolly

The new Chicago Ridge Lions Club will have a big presence on Sunday at RidgeFest, which begins today in Freedom Park at Birmingham Avenue and Oak Street.

Sunday is Family Day for the 27th Annual Ridgefest, when Chicago Ridge residents are admitted free. So Bill Lammel, founding president of the chapter, said it was decided that would be the best day to offer hearing and vision services.

“We’re working with the Lions Club of Illinois Foundation, and we’ll be offering hearing tests for adults and seniors on a bus parked outside the entrance to the fest on Birmingham Avenue from 3 to 5 p.m.,” he explained. “No appointment necessary. All they have to do is fill out a release and get a hearing screening.”

Also on Sunday, along with the carnival rides, petting zoo, musical entertainment, bingo and other attractions, the Lions Club will have a booth inside the fest offering free vouchers worth $250. “They are good for an eye exam and a pair of glasses,” said Lammel, adding that the vouchers are available through a partnership with VSP Global. “We were hoping to get the vision testing done at the fest too, but we couldn’t have both a vision and hearing bus at the same event.”

Lammel said that his chapter, which was only founded last October, is also planning to partner with the Orland Park Lions Club to host a local vision screening for children ages 6 months to 6 years, using a new tool the Orland Park chapter recently bought. He explained that the new vision screening tool is able to check children for astigmatism and other correctable vision conditions.

“They don’t make a diagnosis. But they will just advise parents to see an eye doctor,” he noted.

Lammel said that the testing and vouchers are available to everyone on a first-come, first served basis, not just Chicago Ridge residents.

The chapter president, a 30-year resident of Chicago Ridge, is a special education teacher in Orland School District 135. He said he decided to start the Lions Club chapter to help community residents after getting somewhat involved in the 2015 local elections.

“A lot of craziness in the last election,” said Lammel, referring to the campaign in which insurance benefits for past and present trustees became one of the most divisive local issues.

“I wanted to see if I could bring people together across town and make Chicago Ridge a place where people want to come to visit and live in peacefully,” he said.

“I’m not getting involved in politics again,” he said.

The new Lions Club was officially founded last October with 45 charter members,

“We’ve added one more member since then, so we are up to 46 now,” Lammel noted.

The new chapter’s first activity held last spring was handing out the same type of vouchers being made available at RidgeFest to qualified students at Ridge Central and Ridge Lawn elementary schools, and Finley Junior High School. They did the same at a senior club meeting.

More recently, as summer was starting last month, the Lions Club also brought residents together for a local beautification project in which they fill planters along Ridgeland Avenue with flowers and greenery.

“Our current members range in age from their 30s to their 60s. We are always looking for more,” said Lammel. The minimum age for Lions Club membership is 18.

He said anyone interested in joining the Chicago Ridge Lions Club may come to a meeting, which are held at 6:30 p.m. on the third Thursday of every month at Ridge Lawn School, 5757 W. 105th St. Those seeking more information may also call him at (708) 289-3438.