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Monday, February 18, 2008

Club jumps in to help those affected by weather disaster

By Donna Lenz Wright/The Week

In just under a month, Walworth County has been through an unheard of January tornado, followed by a major snowpocalypse.
Submitted Photo
From left: Lions Club Governor Gary Stewart, Kandi Horton, lead volunteer; Genoa City Lions Rich Maddox and Stan Torstenson, volunteer Pam Roe, Paddock Lake Lions Ralph and Joyce Meyers with letters authorizing grant money for the Kenosha County tornado victims.
People around here are used to weather extremes and even more used to helping out a neighbor in need of a hand because of it. No doubt many thank you cards have been forwarded to deserving good deed doers in the past few days, but the generosity predictably fades, usually quite quickly.

The Jan. 7 tornadoes that tore through Walworth and Kenosha counties were followed by an outpouring of help. Caring neighbors and even strangers were there in the days that followed helping to clean up the twisted mess that was left behind. They collected clothes, food, storage bins, cash and anything else they heard was needed.

Their help was and is very appreciated, but has naturally dwindled with time as people need to keep their own lives afloat.

"Those first days there were more people than they could use to help and now you drive through and everything's gone--there's nothing there," said Greg Pryor, Genoa City Lions Club vice president.

"But these people are still trying to get their lives back together."

During those first days, the Genoa City Lions Club gathered to help too, but in a different way. They were brainstorming ways that they could help after the initial surge of support passed.

They immediately donated $1,000 to the A1 Relief Fund, joined by $5,000 more by Lions Club District 27 and another $10,000 by the Lions Clubs International.

"Our district governor applied to the Lions Club International Wednesday morning (Jan. 9) and by Wednesday afternoon at 2:30 the funds were transferred," Pryor said.

It's a special disaster relief fund exactly for times like this. This special fund is for neighbors experiencing emergencies like these tornados or the floods that swept the area last summer.

"It's for people misplaced from their homes and it's specifically for food and medications."

The Lions choose to fill this area because there are other agencies that assist with lodging, clothing, gas and other areas of need.

"What ends up happening is that people get help in these areas but realize that their prescriptions are gone and their insurance won't cover the lost medications," Pryor says.

Pryor has been a member of the Lions Club for 22 years for one simple reason, he said.

"I like the fact that we help our community out," he said. "We raise funds from our communities and give it back to our community.

"We help build our community and that means a lot to me--it's about helping someone in need."

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