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November 26, 2012 - Two Members of USA’s Lions Club Recognized for Service
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Lion Tommie Carlisle and Lion Judy Burnham

University of South Alabama employees and University Lions Club members Tommie Carlisle and Judy Burnham recently received the Melvin Jones Fellowship award, one of the highest honors a Lions Club member can receive. The Melvin Jones Fellowship is named for Melvin Jones, the founder of the Lions Clubs International.

Judy Burnham, director of the USA Biomedical Library, also serves as the treasurer of the University Lions Club. She says after serving the organization for almost 10 years, she is honored and humbled that the University Lions Club named her as a Melvin Jones Fellow recipient.

“Anytime you participate in an outreach or service effort like the University Lions Club, it changes your perspective,” she said. “The University Lions has given me an opportunity to give back to the community, and we are able to make a meaningful difference in the lives of many people.”

According to Burnham, the University Lions Club sponsors several projects in the area including a Christmas Party at the Alabama Preschool for the Sensory Impaired, camp scholarships for children with diabetes at Camp Seale Harris and Camp Sugar Falls, USA Eye Research Institute, and Habitat for Humanity. They also collect eyeglasses that are then recycled for people who cannot afford glasses, and they maintain over a half a mile of shrubbery in the medians of University Boulevard in conjunction with the Keep Mobile Beautiful organization.

“Before becoming a Lion, I had never thought of the impact having diabetes has on a child, not only medically, but also socially and psychologically,” said Burnham. “Supporting projects such as scholarships for Camp Sugar Falls can help to ease that burden for a child.”

Tommie Carlisle, who is president of the University Lions Club and has been a member for almost 15 years, said he believes humans are obligated to help one another, and with the help of like minded club members the impact of sharing this idea is much greater.

“I am happy to be a part of the organization and to be recognized, but I do not solely deserve this recognition because I feel there is so much more to be done to strengthen our organization,” he said. “It is a team effort--I’m the guy that gets the trophy for being a valuable player, but I could not have done it without the people around me, and I would like to share this award with everyone in the University Lions Club.”

Carlisle, coordinator for health services operations at USA Health Services Foundation, said he hopes the club’s work will ultimately benefit the entire world by working to decrease visual impairment and hearing impairments, and his club lives by the organization’s motto “we serve.”

“One of the biggest programs we are involved in is sending children to camp in the summer,” he said. “The kids have the opportunity to fish, camp and have fun. They learn from one another and realize that they are not alone.”

Carlisle said one of his favorite club events is the annual Christmas party with the Alabama Preschool for the Sensory Impaired. “If you could only see the smiles on kids’ faces when they receive a gift from Santa and sing Christmas songs,” he said. “This is something we’ve been doing for almost 15 years, and it is so rewarding to see our efforts lead to so much happiness and results in a joyful experience for these children.”

The University Lion’s Club currently has 17 members, but they are eager to accept anyone who wants to help serve the community. The University Lions Club meets every 2nd and 4th Tuesday at noon in the Virginia Harr Conference Room in the Medical Sciences Building on USA’s campus. The only criterion needed to join the club is the desire to serve others in the community.

“The University Lions Club welcomes new members,” said Burnham. “We have some exciting plans for 2013 and invite others to join us.”

The Lions Club is the world's largest service club organization with 46,000 clubs and 1.35 million members, and their main concerns are diabetes and eye research. For more information about the University Lions Club, visit http://e-clubhouse.org/sites/mobileuniversity/.

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