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PRESS RELEASE / ANNOUNCEMENTS Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Lions Sight and Hearing Center of Santa Barbara Turns 50 this Year

It was started in 1963 by ophthalmologist Dr. George Primbs, a member of a local Lions club, who repaired a detached retina for a fellow Lion named Len Mayer. Mayer was so impressed he wanted more people to know about this miracle as he had been told that the only place this procedure was available was in Los Angeles or San Francisco.


Not true. And from that day on in 1963, with the generous assistance of the local Lions Clubs and ophthalmologists, Lions club members and others, the Lions Sight and Hearing Eye Center at St. Francis Hospital was established.

Many pieces of state of the art equipment were purchased and a room in the hospital was set aside for eye treatment with a special nurse hired just to work in that department.

Now in our 50th year, located at the MacDougall Eye Center at Cottage Hospital (after its former home St. Francis Hospital closed), the Lions Sight and Hearing Center has a little different mission and philosophy than at its inception. The Center offers free vision and hearing screening to preschool and grade school students and hearing and glaucoma screening to adults. Many children, students and adults have been discovered with less than ideal vision and hearing and have been referred to doctors, while some adults have discovered that they may be at risk for glaucoma, which leads to blindness.

A dedicated list of ophthalmologists, led by Steven Zelko, M.D., board member George B. Primbs, MD and otolaryngologists take care of referrals at a reduced rate. To them, we are ever grateful for their service. Ophthalmologists include: Steven Zelko, MD, Michael Paveloff, MD, Robert Poulin, MD, Mark Silverberg, MD, Robert Kolarczyk, MD, Douglas Katsev, MD, and Joseph Jacoby, MD. Otolaryngologist volunteers are: Joseph DiBartolomeo, MD, Rabrinda Braganza, MD and Michael Merrin, MD.

Board members work on a myriad projects during the year, such as collecting thousands of used eyeglasses that are then sent to other countries for re-use, the purchase of special equipment for vision and hearing for pre-schoolers, participating in health fairs around the community, and education.

Most recently, the Lions Sight and Hearing Center received its 501c3 non-profit designation. What this means to the Lions Sight and Hearing Center is that it can solicit grants and donations, for example, to purchase hearing aids for clients, obtain new screening equipment, supplies as needed for the continuing operation and expansion of our program, and more.

501(c)(3) organizations may receive grants from foundations; and any donations to the Lions Sight and Hearing Center, no matter how large or small, are tax-deductible for the donors.

Section 501(c)(3) is a tax law provision granting exemption from the federal income tax to non-profit organizations. Such a public charity receives a substantial part of its income from the general public or from the government and/or grants. It is broad, not limited to a few individuals or families.

The Lions Sight and Hearing Center works from a calendar which lists each month’s goals and activities and has two websites from which one may gather information: http://www.goletalionsclub.org and http://www.lionspark.com.

About the first Lions Club

Helen Keller challenged the Lions to help the blind and poor with impaired vision in 1925. Sight First has since been a campaign for all Lions Clubs. For nine decades now The International Association of Lions Clubs around the world have been at the forefront of and paramount leaders in restoring vision to those in need and less fortunate.

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