Norwich Lions Honor Outgoing Chief Frank with a Lion

Norwich Lions Club president, Cheryl Brush, reading the club’s declaration to Chief Frank.

By Stephen N. Flanders

Norwich, Vermont, February 19, 2021 Norwich residents were understandably sad, when they learned in January that Norwich Police Chief, Jennifer Frank, would be moving on to a new job as Chief of Police in Windsor, Vermont at the end of February. The Norwich Lions Club wished to show Chief Frank the appreciation of its members and prepared some mementos for the chief to take with her to her new position, as explained in the following declaration, presented by Lion King Cheryl Brush at a brief ceremony on February 19th at the Norwich police station, attended by Lions Demo Sofronas and Steve Flanders and by town manager, Herb Durfee.

The declaration reads:

Dear Chief Frank,
At its February 2nd meeting, the Norwich Lions Club took note of you leaving your position with the Norwich Police Department with sadness for our community, but with confidence that you will continue to benefit the citizens of Vermont in your new position in Windsor.
During your tenure on the Norwich Police force you have been a model of compassion and competency for the town’s citizens, both young and old. No one could embody the qualities of community policing better than you have done. We have seen you playing ball with kids at the Marion Cross School, developing cadets to become responsible citizens, keeping the town aware of events affecting public safety through your Facebook feed and through your informed reports on the state of the COVID-19 virus contagion. Your visibility brought comfort to the citizens of Norwich and its visitors.
As a token of our fond wishes and to always have your back, we present you with this lion to keep watch in your office and to ride patrol, as circumstances indicate.
Here’s wishing you success in your new position and wherever your career may take you. We are confident that it will be to the benefit of all whom you serve.

Brush gave the outgoing chief a stuffed lion, wearing Lions Club regalia. The chief, in turn said that the memento was doubly significant, since the lion is the symbol of law enforcement, prominently used at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. The memorial cites scripture: “The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are as bold as a lion.” (Proverbs 28:1)

Chief Frank with her new mascot!

Thanks for the memories and the tree!

By Stephen N. Flanders

Norwich, Vermont, January 7, 2021 The Norwich Lions Club added to the holiday cheer with its Memory Tree in the town band stand and invited the community to memorialize those who were special to the participants. At the same time, many of those participating made donations that benefitted the Upper Valley Haven—an organization that serves people grappling with poverty. The $1,680 in donations received were matched by the Byrne Foundation. We thank everyone, who participated!

The Memory Tree helped light the Norwich green through the holidays.

Bonnie Munday, Norwich’s town clerk, compiled the 75 names received and displayed them on the town’s notice board. This is a cherished tradition for Bonnie. She remembers when the bulletin board was filled with names! We thank her for her kind attention to helping the community in its remembrances.

Bonnie Munday, preparing to take down the list of memorials on January 14th.

On January 7th, Lions Donna and Phil Wheeler, Debbie Bernal, Gary De Gasta, Brion McMullan, and Steve Flanders arrived at the bandstand to dismantle the tree and stow its decorations.

Meanwhile on a remote farm on Chapel Hill Road, some unsuspecting goats were wondering what their next trick would be to keep life interesting. They were pleased to see the tree arrive, after a long drive, to become their fodder!

As soon as the tree was rolled into their pen, the goats came out to investigate, followed by a curious donkey. The goats found the tree to be delicious—one of the best that they had ever had! The donkey said, “That’s OK. You guys go ahead and eat it. I’ll pass.” At least, that’s what I thought she said.

Spot® Vision Screening—Sharon Elementary School

By Gary De Gasta and Stephen Flanders

Sharon, Vermont, December 10, 2020 Three Norwich Lions Club “visioneers”—trained volunteers—screened 138 children at the Sharon Elementary School for vision issues under the supervision of the school nurse, Jill Lloyd, R N. The school teaches at the pre-school to the sixth-grade level with students ranging in age from three to 15. The visioneers were Lions Steve Flanders, Peter Stanzel and Gary De Gasta.

They used a Welch Allyn Spot® Vision Screener, which resembles a Polaroid camera and quickly assesses six parameters: myopia (near-sightedness), hyperopia (far-sightedness), astigmatism (blurred vision), anisocoria (unequal pupil size), anisometropia (unequal vision between eyes), and gaze symmetry.

 Spot® Vision Screener in action

The spot screening device replaces the traditional eye chart for screening children and provides much more information. Typically, a subject can be screened in under a minute and screening results in a printed report for the school nurse’s files. Out-of-range values are highlighted for the nurse to advocate follow-up by an optometrist or ophthalmologist to the child’s parents. On the average, about 10% of those screened result in out-of-range readings. Of the 138 children screened, 13 registered out of range.

Thanks to COVID-19 precautions instituted within the Sharon School District, not a single case of the virus had been reported among the students or staff.

The screening protocol addressed COVID-19 safety in a variety of ways. The visioneers were given a temperature check and queried about risk factors, upon arrival. Then, they were led into a large, well-ventilated room and issued KN-95 masks and face shields. The children and teachers waited in the hall outside and were admitted one at a time—each wearing a mask. Each child had an identifying code, issued by the school nurse, to preserve privacy. With appropriate breaks the screening spanned five and a half hours.

Children, teachers and school staff all wore masks. The colorful children’s masks featured everything from a batman logo to a smiley face to a pig’s nose.

Supervision of the screening

The Spot® Vision Screener used is one of several owned by District 45 Lions (the State of Vermont). The screening devices, strategically based at clubs throughout the state—including Norwich—are valued at $7,500 each

Annually, Vermont Lions Clubs in District 45 screen thousands of Vermont school children. The Norwich Lions Club has participated in the District program since 2016 and currently has over a dozen club members trained as visioneers, ready and able to conduct eye screenings.

Sample report for subject in the normal range

Norwich’s 2020 Memory Tree

Norwich, November 27 & 29, 2020 The day after Thanksgiving, Lions Brion McMullan and Phil Wheeler, assisted by Steve Flanders, harvested this year’s Norwich Lions Club Memory Tree. They purchased it contact-free from an Upper Valley Christmas tree dealer.

Once in Norwich, they brought it to the bandstand gazebo at the Marion Cross School, sawed it to a 10-foot length, and erected it—securely tied off with strings in four cardinal directions, plus up. They admired their work in anticipation of the tree-trimming crew, scheduled to follow on the weekend.

On the sunny Sunday, following, Lions Debbie and Rusty Bernal, Fran and Gary De Gasta, and Lion King Cheryl Bush converged to trim the tree, despite concerns that the earlier crew might not have placed it in a vertical orientation! They had purchased new ornaments and secured them in anticipation of strong winds to follow.

With the lighting scheduled for December 1st, a few people gathered for a sneak preview!

Norwich Lions Help 92-year-old Marine Veteran Fulfill Her Bucket List

White River Junction, November 3, 2020 The Norwich Lions Club received word that an adaptive device that they funded helped a 92-year-old veteran of the United States Marines Corps fulfill her bucket list by giving her the opportunity to go kayaking. A Norwich Lion, who is active in helping veterans at the White River Junction VA Medical Center, learned of the opportunity to help veterans like her and recommended that the Norwich Lions Club provide funds that supported the purchase of a set of adaptive chariot wheels and personal flotation devices for the VA’s adaptive kayaking program. The wheels provide added floatation in the water and allow the kayak to be brought on shore for embarkation and disembarkation. Appreciation for the funding of these items was expressed by a VA representative in a letter to the NLC on this day.

Marine veteran in kayak with adaptive chariot wheels funded by the Norwich Lions Club. Photo: VA Medical Center

NorWitchy Woods Walk

Norwich, October 31, 2020 Four Norwich Lions prepared a spooky table along a pumpkin-lined path at the Milton Frye Nature Area for children to enjoy as a way to celebrate Halloween in a COVID-safe manner on Halloween. The event was organized by the Norwich Recreation Department with support from the Norwich Boy and Girls Scouts, Youth Advisory Council, King Arthur Baking, Norwich Fire Department Support Team, Norwich Public Library, Norwich Police Cadets, Marion Cross PTO, Marion Cross staff, Norwich Lions Club, and the Norwich Women’s Club.