A Heart for Service
The Rancho Bernardo Lions Club has brought community members together to make a difference for more than 50 years. Their impact can be seen throughout the community, from contributing to the foundation of the Rancho Bernardo Library to inspiring high school students to volunteer. RB Lions, like the international organization, focus their volunteer efforts on supporting the blind and vision-impaired. We learn more about that mission from RB Lions President Betty Jean Dye.
Q&A with Betty Jean Dye
What is the Lions Club mission?
“Lions are knights of the blind and seeing impaired.” At the Lions Clubs International Convention in Ohio, in 1925, Ms. Helen Keller, the guest speaker, challenged Lions to become the knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness.
What is the history of the RB Lions Club?
Our club was chartered in 1964. The community of Rancho Bernardo was started as a planned community in 1961. In 1917, Melvin Jones, a wealthy Chicago insurance man, convinced his fellow members to help the less fortunate in their community. This was the start of the Lions Clubs International, a business men’s club. In the late 1980s, women were permitted to join Lions.
What communities and organizations does the club serve?
Rancho Bernardo. We work with health technicians in the Poway Unified School District, San Diego Center for the Blind San Diego/Vista locations, Lions Sight & Hearing Foundation, and Juvenile Diabetes Foundation.
At-A-Glance | President
Name: Betty Jean Dye
Position: President, Secretary, Membership 2019-2020
Community: Oaks North
Hobbies & Interests: Music, theater, volunteering, gardening
Favorite Local Spots: San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park, Bernardo Winery, local fundraising events
How did you personally become involved with RB Lions?
My neighbors were members and invited me to a meeting after retiring in 2004. The mission of the club was not just attending luncheons, but being an active volunteer in community fundraisers, holding vision screenings, and getting free eye exams and prescription eyeglasses for low income students in the Poway Unified School District. LensCrafters partners with our club in their One Sight program.
What is your current role within the organization, and what duties does it involve?
President/Secretary/Membership. Guiding the club members, committees, and getting new members involved with our motto, “We serve.” Where there is a need, there is a Lion.
What is the most rewarding thing about your role? The most challenging?
Rewarding: Each October, for over 40 years, the club has held World Service Day for the Blind and Seeing Impaired. Our guests are bused from San Diego Center for the Blind, Lions Optometric Vision Center, and Blind Community Center of SD. Lions and volunteers serve lunch to the guests. Each year, guests look forward to this annual event. Entertainment is provided by Vincent Young, a sight-impaired and talented young man.
The most challenging: To keep up the enthusiasm, fun, and our mission as Lions, by encouraging others to join the Lions Club.
What are the RB Lions’ primary goals, both short-term and long-term?
Short-term: Having more members that have a passion for volunteering to meet the needs of those less fortunate.
Long-term: With increased members, we can reach out to the community to continue programs for the blind and seeing impaired. We have 10 collection boxes in RB for used eyeglasses and hearing aids, including at the Rancho Bernardo Library and Rancho Bernardo Senior Services.
Oct. 18, 19
Annual White Cane Fund Drive
Collecting donations to benefit local vision nonprofits
Rancho Bernardo Vons and Albertsons
9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
World Service Day for the Blind/Seeing Impaired
Luncheon at Seven Oaks Community Center
Can you tell us more about your high school branch?
Lion Greg Cody is our LEO Club Adviser at Rancho Bernardo High School (RBHS), teaching community service. LEOs decorate the Lions Clubs International float for the Rose Parade each December, participate in the Student Speaker Contest competing for cash prizes, volunteer at I Love a Clean SD, and place floral wreaths at the graves of KIA and veterans at Miramar National Cemetery each Memorial Day. This year, LEO Morgan Perry was LEO of the Year 2018-2019 from RBHS. Our Treasurer, Justin Souter, was a LEO at RBHS!
Can you tell us about the upcoming White Cane Fund Drive?
The Annual White Cane Drive is held each October soliciting donations from our community. Albertsons and Vons are the two storefronts where Lions, LEOs, and puppy raisers from Guide Dogs for the Blind will be at the stores on Oct. 18 and Oct. 19, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Without the support of the community we could not continue to donate funds to the organizations we have supported these past 55 years. 100% of the funds raised are donated.
What have been some of the organization’s most memorable achievements over the years?
Purchasing buses in the 1960s and 1970s for San Diego Center for the Blind, pledging $6,000 to the construction of the new Rancho Bernardo Library, donating funds to RBHS Music Building, monthly donations to SD Center for the Blind. Six month classes are available at SD Center for the Blind for the visually impaired to live independently.
How can community members get involved or support the club?
Becoming a new member or supporting our cause by a donation; any amount is appreciated. Donations can be sent to P.O. Box 28361, San Diego, CA 92198. There are no admin fees, since we are all volunteers.
Who is eligible for membership?
If you have a heart for service, we welcome you to join us.
Is there anything else you would like to add for our readers?
Support the blind and visually and hearing impaired to improve their quality of life. Become a Lion.
At-A-Glance | RB Lions Club
Name of Organization: SD Rancho Bernardo Lions Club
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 28361, San Diego, CA 92198
Meeting Location: Bernardo Heights Country Club
Meeting Times: 4th Tuesday of every month at 11:30 a.m. Call for reservations.