$10,000 Donation in Sight

Branin Thompson, Murray Warnke, Larry Fowell, Bern Hankinson, Jim Taylor, Cliff Reed,Glen Zahara and Cheryl Deckert


 An oversized cheque was presented to representatives of the Wetaskiwin Hospital and Health Foundation during a photo op just outside the operating room in the Wetaskiwin Hospital on February 1st .  Lion, Larry Fowell announced, “We are donating $10,000.00 to the Wetaskiwin Health Foundation to help purchase cataract surgical trays.”  That was all he had to say to bring smiles of gratitude to the faces of the Wetaskiwin Hospital staff and representatives of the Wetaskiwin Health Foundation.
  “The Lions are doing a wonderful thing by supporting cataract surgery,” said a grateful Cheryl Deckert, Wetaskiwin Hospital Manager. “You have just made three smiling ophthalmologists out there and one smiling Operating Room Manager as we have another important item off our want and need list.  The fact that the donation came in today couldn’t be any better timing.”  She laughingly added, “When the cheque came in it was only good for 5 minutes and I spent it.  We bought sterilization trays so the fragile instruments can be easily cleaned without damaging them in the high pressure sterilization unit.”
 Cheryl talked about the importance of the donation and how this community has been so supportive. “A set of cataract instruments to do one case is $8000 and we need 24 of them. The microscope they use to do the surgery cost $175,000 and we just got a new one from Alberta Health Services.  The support from Alberta Health Services has been wonderful but they can’t do everything so it’s so important for the (Wetaskiwin) Health Foundation, the community and you (the Lions) to step forward like this.”
 Cataract surgery is the removal of the natural lens of the eye (also called "crystalline lens") that has developed an opacification, which is referred to as a cataract. Metabolic changes of the crystalline lens fibers over time lead to the development of the cataract and loss of transparency, causing impairment or loss of vision. Many patients' first symptoms are strong glare from lights and small light sources at night, along with reduced acuity (sharpness) at low light levels. During cataract surgery, a patient's cloudy natural lens is removed and replaced with a synthetic lens to restore the lens's transparency.
 Cataract surgery is generally performed by an ophthalmologist (eye surgeon) in an ambulatory (rather than inpatient) setting, in a surgical center or hospital, using local anesthesia usually causing little or no discomfort to the patient. Well over 90% of operations are successful in restoring useful vision, with a low complication rate.  Source
 Equipment purchased by funding from donations made to the Wetaskiwin Health Foundation provides top notch healthcare that exceeds what can be offered using only government funding. Cheryl describes it by saying, “80-90% of the people having cataract surgery are from the Wetaskiwin region.  Given the demographics of Wetaskiwin and the aging population, we are thankful we can purchase medical equipment and provide them with health services in their own community. This year alone we will be performing 900 cataract operations on 450 patients right here in Wetaskiwin.”
 The Hospital prides itself on the convenience that can be offered, the personalized care and maintaining a low infections rate. “We get wonderful feedback from the citizens. It’s a smooth operation (cataract) and often we see them down in the cafeteria the same day as the operation. We have been doing this since 1993 so we know the process very well.”
 The Wetaskiwin Lions Club has donated $119,390 to the Wetaskiwin Health Foundation over the years. Larry commented, “There are many contributions made by the Wetaskiwin Lions that have assisted with making Our City a better place to live.” And of course Cheryl wasn’t exactly kidding when she invitingly said “Whenever you want to come back, we will be here.”
 The Wetaskiwin Health Foundation is the essential link for creating and managing partnerships and alliances between healthcare representatives and individuals, service clubs, foundations, corporate representatives, and government. The correct mix of partners and resources are matched to satisfy the values of the donor and the needs of healthcare. For more information contact Foundation Executive Director, Lillian Dykes at 780-361-4130.

Wetaskiwin Lions Club Stepping up to Centre Ice

Mayor Elliot accepts the Lions

The compressor motors have been running over a month making artificial ice in the Wetaskiwin arenas. Soon the hockey players and figure skaters entering and exiting the buildings every day will be joined by another user group,  public skaters. Thanks to generous financial support offered by community groups in Wetaskiwin, individuals and families will be able to participate in this excellent form of recreation and exercise, free-of-charge. 
 The Wetaskiwin Lions are one of the generous supporters that stepped up to centre ice of the subsidized public skating program. On October 31st they announced a donation of $600 to help offset the costs of public skating. This fund will be increased by other community groups such as the Loyal Order of the Moose to help remove the financial barrier that may be denying any local residents the opportunity to enjoy and benefit from this exercise.
 Local Lion member Larry Fowell explained how this came about. “We have certain things we fund every year that are our projects and activities. We have been doing this (subsidizing skating fees) for, I don’t know how many years…a long, long time. I know that the people that are using it, it is a benefit to them.”
 Lions have a 50 year history of assisting the community in which they live. As explained by Club President Cliff Reed, “The values of the Lions are to work for others.  There is no ‘self’ in Lions. Another value of Lions is the family….The Lions Club is a family working together to do the things needed in the community where the government doesn’t find enough money”. The Lions, in an agreement with the City of Wetaskiwin, operate the Lions Campground east of the City. Of the approximately $80 thousand dollars of annual revenue, $20 thousand is invested directly into charitable causes in Wetaskiwin.
 Mayor Bill Elliot and Alderman McFaul, Alderman Barry Hawkes and Alderman Glenn Reucker shared their praise of the Lions and all the good work they do for the community.
 The Lions are never idle in the community. Larry also mentioned another fundraising campaign the Lions have in progress. “We are fundraising for the Wetaskiwin Hospital for 10 trays for cataract surgery. This is a big fundraiser for us as it`s $1000 per tray.. We can`t say yes we are going to do it but I can say the Lions are trying to achieve the $10,000 fundraising goal.”
 Thanks to the generosity of the Lions and the Loyal Order of Moose and other community supporters, every resident can benefit from the great exercise offered by skating. Enjoy the opportunity to get out of the house. Come down to the arena, lace-em up, meet some new friends and see old ones and generally enjoy the fresh air and exercise offered by a skating experience. As the Lions declare. ‘Whenever a Lions club gets together, problems get smaller. And communities get better. That's because we help where help is needed – in our own communities and around the world – with unmatched integrity and energy.’



See it to Believe it!

 In 1942, just 7 miles east of Wetaskiwin where the Wetaskiwin Lions Campground now stands, a building was erected, and known then as The Department of Communications, Telecommunications Regular Branch, Wetaskiwin Monitoring Station. It was a Federal Dept. of Transport Monitoring Station, listening to all Radio frequencies, since everyone had to have a license and all had to be on their proper frequency. All Radio communications were monitored, especially air/military, resulting in a 24-hr monitory surveillance and one man always on duty.
 Beneath this very building, hidden below the hustle and bustle of a busy communications centre, there existed a stygian, cold concrete but secure bomb shelter. The walls are 6’ thick, and beams below the main floor 6’ wide and 2’ thick. To this very day, mysterious  but useless wiring hangs in view, and a chunk of granite, now used as a doorstop, attests to the extensive core-drilling required of the 6’ thick walls, when back in 1984 plumbing was needed to reach these inner confines. As I personally viewed this area only weeks ago, I prayed and hoped no man, woman or child would ever have need of this “home” away from death.
 Today, this same building remains only now, instead of a bomb-shelter, the lower portion houses the boiler room and reserve water tank, as well as serving as a general storage area. The upper floor now boasts Ladies and Gent’s Washrooms, complete with two large shower areas each, and in total hygienic conditions. A Laundry Room, a modern Video Arcade, when inclement weather prevails, and a beautiful Library/Reading Room (Sam Clemens, a.k.a. Mark Twain would have relaxed here), take up the remaining portion of the ground level floors.
 In 1984, the Wetaskiwin Chamber of Commerce along with an enthusiastic group of Wetaskiwin citizens, all volunteers, decided it was high time for their community to offer travelers as well as locals, the chance to leave the “City” and enjoy the great outdoors, so close and yet so ideal with it’s impressive dense forested areas. Over thirty commercial businesses, agricultural, farm and machinery, car dealerships as well as most Wetaskiwin Service Clubs supported the venture, and in 1985, the Wetaskiwin Community Campground officially opened, offering 18 campsites complete with well-water and fire-pits.
 In 1997, the Wetaskiwin Lions saw the future and took up the banner putting every effort into the brand new image of the Wetaskiwin Lions RV Campground. This past Spring 2011, new management in the form of the fantastic duo of Ed and Rose Bartsch, dived in and have pulled out all stops when it comes to servicing all 50 present campsites. Rose and Ed Bartsch bring with them a wealth of experience, including a campsite managerial position at Jarvis Bay near Sylvan Lake, and recently vacating their position as Managers of the Vermilion Provincial Park Campground, to uphold the challenging position of overseeing the life and times of the Wetaskiwin Lions RV Campground. Rose and Ed bring with them an expertise in the knowledge of just what is right without being skimpy, yet not over zealous as to the ridiculous, when it comes to making this campground “the friendliest campground in Alberta”.
 The Wetaskiwin Lions RV Campground offers a total of 50 campsites with more than 20 sites including power (30 amp service available) and water, tables and fire pits at each site, a small number of unserviced tenting sites, a picnic shelter, playground, a group camping area (common area) available for larger or family groups. They also have a pay phone, horseshoe pits, and the availability of an excellent golf course just across the highway.  The campsite has the privilege of being the recipient of two large, unforgiving working wood-splitters, offered by Mr. Ted Draeger of Wetaskiwin. Watching these machines work is a telling experience, with two or three people hoisting huge log portions to be split in mere seconds! The campground also offers Internet  access. For a small fee, one can load his/her wheelbarrow as full as can be managed, with dry wood for a gorgeous night of weenie roasts and later, just sitting close viewing the flames of an outdoor fire, as they turn from a bright red to orange, a paler amber, and finally begin to flicker from a yellow to a smoking hue. One can watch similar flickers of flame in their own stone, wall-length fireplace in the drawing room, but, to watch a flame with stars in the open sky above, the smell of ash, the rustle of leaves in a dying breeze and the sudden feeling of being alone with earth and self, there is little that can supersede this haunting sense of timelessness that reaches deep primitive chords.
 I wish to thank the Wetaskiwin Heritage Museum, Mr. Roy Foster of the Wetaskiwin Legion Branch 86, Mr. Stan Reynolds for his stories and input, Tom’s Plumbing and Heating of Wetaskiwin, Mr. Jan Brens of the Wetaskiwin Lions, the Lady Neva Sawatsky and her Knight Alvin Chambers, the continued help of members, many naught of the Wetaskiwin Lions Club, the youth clubs this year involved in volunteer work at the campsite, when it came down to a night of wood-splitting, toiling under a still hot sun. Thank you all for your patience and constant supply of information when needed.
 One does not realize the strength, the devotion, the sacrifices and stubborn determination it takes to begin and see the rewards of a dream to the end. This sort of endeavor can only engender positive results.
 The Wetaskiwin Lions RV Campground, open from May 1 to Sept. 30, is exemplary. It holds the past, preserves it yet rejoices in the new. Stop by, try it out or call 780-352-7258 to reserve a little time away from home amongst the stars.

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