Brad Baker, chief executive officer of Mid-South Lions Sight and Hearing Service, spoke to the Hope Lions Club Monday and received a check from the Hope Lions Club for $2,500.
The $2,500 check was the net proceeds from the annual Lions Club fish fry that is held in conjunction with the Hope Watermelon Festival.
Baker has attended 50 state conventions and five international conventions, and he has achieved 22 years of perfect attendance.
“I was part of the 'Champions of Change' team that got to tour the White House and represent Lions Club International,” Baker said. “The Secret Service kept texting and calling and receiving calls, and I asked them what that was about. One of the gentlemen told me that if they didn't check in when they were supposed to, 'the troops would be there quickly.'”
Baker reviewed the Lions Sight and Hearing Service's efforts with the club.
“Out of the $12 million that is raised in the Mid-South area, $1.2 million is used on equipment and patient care,” he said. “James Griffin, Jim Gunter, and Bill Freeman help with the program in a personal way.
“It was found that 100,000 families in the last census could not afford glasses or the surgery they needed without assistance,” Baker said. “The average family we assist have 4.3 family members and make approximately $7,000 per year. In the last four years, we have helped people with $40,000 in funds in Northwest Arkansas alone.
“The Freedom from Blindness campaign was James Griffin's idea and it was such a good idea, we ran with it,” he said. “A lot of people have been helped by this program and I am proud of it.”
He explained how services are delivered in Arkansas.
“We pay $225 for hearing aids through this program, also,” Baker said. “The Memphis-area waiting list has about 80 people on it, whereas Hot Springs doesn't have a waiting list at this time. We serve a four state area, which includes Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, and part of Tennessee. Thirty-thousand people have been helped through the Lions Club and one of our mottos is 'MAD,' which stands for 'Make a Difference.'”
Baker is from Trumann and presently lives in Jonesboro. He is an honor graduate of Trumann High School, a graduate of the University of Arkansas with a Masters in Public Administration from Arkansas State University.
He and his wife, Mona, have two daughters, Lindsey and Lonna, a son-in-law, David Utley, and a granddaughter.
He is a member and two time past president of University Heights Lions Club; a district cabinet member for nine years; a recipient of the Lions International Presidential Leadership Medal; a recipient of nine Lions Clubs International Presidents' Certificates of Appreciation; was selected by President Obama and the Lions International to Champion of Change; is a three time recipient of of the Progressive Melvin Jones Fellow, and is a two time presenter at the USA/Canda Forum.
Page 2 of 2 - “We appreciate this donation of $2,500,” Baker said. “Our goal was $25,000 and with this donation, we're about $2,000 short of that goal. We thank you. It will help several people with glasses, surgery, and hearing aids.”