West Penn Township Lions Club recently presented Melvin Jones Fellowships to Lions Patricia Bednarik, David Krall, Barbara Lushia, Jack Triano and LeRoy Wentzel by making a donation of $1,000 in each of their names to Lions Clubs International Foundation in recognition of their humanitarian work.

They join 21 other West Penn Lions who had previously received that same honor.

Since 1986 individual West Penn Lions and the West Penn Township Lions Club have made donations totaling $89,000 to that foundation.

A Melvin Jones Fellowship is an honor but it is not considered an award because the recipient may and is encouraged to make the donation himself. It is an honor that is all the more appreciated, though, because it represents service to those in need not only in the local but also the world-wide community.

Lions Clubs International Foundation is the charitable arm of the International Association of Lions Clubs. Service has been the hallmark of Lions Clubs International since it was founded in 1917.

Lions Clubs International Foundation was begun in 1968 to take that service to new levels by tackling global problems as well as assisting Lions with large-scale local humanitarian projects.

Since the first grant of $5,000 in 1972 for flooding, the Foundation has awarded $700 million in grants to improve the lives of people worldwide.

From modest beginnings, LCIF has evolved to become an internationally recognized humanitarian organization and the largest blindness prevention organization. The majority of funding comes from Lions. LCIF is able to leverage its funds by partnering with other non-governmental organizations and corporations that share a common mission. The Foundation grants, on average, $30 million annually.

LCIF is particularly proud of its SightFirst program, launched in 1990 to reduce and eliminate the causes of preventable blindness worldwide. Lions have raised over $346 million for this initiative. Through SightFirst, Lions are restoring sight and preventing blindness on a global scale. SightFirst targets the major causes of blindness: cataract, trachoma, river blindness, childhood blindness, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma.