Gudrun Yngvadottir, second vice president with Lions Club International, speaks during an announcement at the regional eye centre at Chilliwack General Hospital on Tuesday. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

Chilliwack Lions wrap up stellar eye centre campaign

Chilliwack Lions poured 2,000 volunteer hours into raising $600,000 for CGH

All across the world, Lions Clubs have been working diligently on Centennial Legacy Projects to mark the club’s 100th anniversary.

They’re big projects that seek to “share the vision.” But none were as big as Chilliwack’s clubs’ efforts to upgrade the hospital’s eye centre by raising $600,000.

It took them 11 months, 2,000 volunteer hours, and 79 community presentations, said Dave Mackintosh, chair of the Centennial Legacy Project. The Mount Cheam and Stellar’s Jay Lions Clubs worked together to raise the money, and in the process they earned the attention of Lions International.

At a ribbon cutting ceremony held Tuesday at Chilliwack General Hospital, the 2nd VP of Lions International spoke of the immense efforts taken by the local clubs.

“This is the biggest legacy project I have witnessed, and I’ve traveled the world,” said Gudrun Yngvadottir. “This is the most amazing thing I have seen.”

She traveled from Iceland with her husband to be at the ribbon cutting, and a special dinner was held Tuesday evening to celebrate the achievement. Yngvadottir noted that the project would be introduced at an upcoming Lions conference in Chicago.

“You really embraced this idea,” she told the crowd. “One little idea and such a big project. It’s important a project like this is visible.”

Several ophthalmologists work out of the Chilliwack Eye Centre, which is now called the Mount Cheam Lions Eye Care Centre. Likewise, the operating room inside the centre is now the Stellar Jay Lions Club Procedure Room.

“I feel like a kid on Christmas,” said Dr. David Heinrichs, one of the ophthalmologists who work in the eye centre. “On behalf of all us, thank you. This will greatly assist us.”

In one year, the centre will treat 5,000 people. So having this new, state-of-the-art equipment will ensure those patients are getting the highest level of eye care, he noted.

“I never doubted you for a minute,” said Mayor Sharon Gaetz. “Your club is so valuable to our community.”

“Why does this matter?” she asked. “Think of the 5,000 people who will come here this year. They would be blind. This is what goodness looks like and I thank you all.”

Gaetz was among many dignitaries and executives who joined the Lions members and hospital staff at the ceremony. The money raised has purchased two new phacoemulsification systems. The centre has also been improved visually with the addition of large murals, created by artist Dean Lauze.

Liz Harris, executive director of the Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation called the Lions’ efforts “a fast paced campaign from the start.”

“We are so impressed with the tenacity and commitment of the local Lions Club,” she said. “This campaign has been a testament to the community of Chilliwack and their dedication to Chilliwack General Hospital.”

She added the foundation hopes the Lions have inspired others to find ways to give to the hospital. A list of items needed is available at www.fvhcf.ca.

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