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Adams Lions Donate Magnifiers to Williamstown, North Adams Commons
By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff
04:39PM / Monday, April 08, 2019
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The magnifying light is portable.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Adams Lions Club has shined some light at Williamstown Commons — along with some magnification to make residents' game play easier. 
The facility's resident council last week was presented with three floor-style magnifying lamps from club member and District 33Y Governor-elect Art McConnell. 
"We use them for our jigsaw puzzles," said activities director Janice Paquette. "We keep them close to our puzzle tables so you can see the little pieces and where they need to go ... but we've also had some folks who have macular degeneration who have also asked if they could have something this in the facility."
Council member Betty Barron tried out the magnifier, deeming it useful as colleagues Russell Blake  and Judy Codogni watched. 
"As long as everybody knows where they are," responded Blake. 
Paquette said each of the three units in the facility would have one light and that they were easily portable so could be moved around when needed. The club also donated two more magnifying lights to North Adams Commons. 
"We have a lot of people who love to do puzzles as well and the lighting isn't always the best in different areas," said Tammy Larabee, who accepted the lights on behalf of the North Adams facility. "And there are some who love to do their word searches." 
McConnell said the Lions Club is all about service and had been looking to do a little more outreach within the community.
"Unfortunately, a lot of our patrons here are from Adams so we wanted to reach out and help," he said. 
It was discussions with Sarah Kline, also a Lion and a director of admissions and marketing at Williamstown Commons, that prompted the idea of donating the lights.  Kline had suggested replacing a specialty bulb on one of the older magnifiers that had burnt out and was difficult to replace. 
"Putting together one of our [Lions Club] primary focuses is sight, Artie and I talked about that," she said, and had come back to the facility asking what it needed. "One thing we talked about was readers, having folks come to the facility and read, but he wanted to know what can we do now ... Perhaps they'd like to donate a bulb. Then it was a light, and then why not three and it went from one lamp to five lamps."
McConnell chuckled at the idea the club would donate just a light bulb. 
"All of Massachusetts Lions donate to Mass Lions Eye Research to fund research at $1 million a year," he said. "Since 1968, Lions International has donated over a billion dollars for relief aid in most disasters."
The local Lions are most known for their focus on vision — funding eye research, running a mobile eyesight van that has so far served 12,000 people and providing eyeglasses and hearing aids through another foundation. It also sponsors the Hoosac Valley High School Leo Club and awards scholarships.
"We've increased to go to diabetes awareness, childhood cancers, and emergency sight and hearing that we also deal with," McConnell said. "We're the largest service organization with 1.5 million members in over 200 countries."
The district is looking strengthen the smaller North Adams club and do more service projects in the immediate community, like donating to nursing homes and first-responders. 
"North Adams has been noted to give money to all of these organizations," he said. "They give scholarships each year ... they were the first ones to buy the Jaws of Life for the North Adams Fire Department."
McConnell has been recruiting for North Adams over the past couple weeks and a luncheon is planned for potential members on Thursday, April 11, at Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in the city. Those interested in learning about the Lions or attending the lunch can contact McConnell at 413-822-7309 or
Anyone interested in reading to residents at Williamstown Commons can contact the activities director at 413-458-2111.
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