JACKSONVILLE Long before she ever joined the Jacksonville Lions Club, Terri Duran had respect for Mid-South Lions Sight and Hearing Service in Memphis because of its efforts to help her great-grandmother.
This summer, the Lions Club recognized Duran with the Edwin Dalstrom Distinguished Service Award, the highest honor that a club or district can bestow through the Mid-South Lions Sight and Hearing Service. A club must make a $1,000 contribution to Mid-South to be allowed to select a member for the award, according to the Dalstrom Award website.
“They sent my great-grandmother to Mid-South with macular degeneration; that was back in the ’80s,” Duran said. “It was too far gone at that time.” Duran’s great-grandmother, Vinnie Music, lived in the Hardy area, she said.
Although her great-grandmother went blind, she remembers her family talking about the facility and the woman’s good care.
“I guess that’s why I work so hard today for the Lions — I come back and remember that,” Duran said.
She also worked with Bob Williams, now secretary of the Jacksonville Lions Club, and his wife, Dianne, who started the Leo Club in Pulaski County middle schools.
Duran, who is disabled, said her husband, Gerry, was a Pulaski County schoolteacher at the time and sponsored the club. He retired about five years ago, she said.
“I helped him and did all the events with him,” she said. For example, she cooked all the food for a fun day for the Leo Club members at Dupree Park.
Leo Clubs are sponsored by the Lions Club for students in middle or high schools, and community service is part of the requirement for members. Duran said that when the Leo Club started, the girls and boys had separate campuses in the Pulaski County School District, and the club started on the girls campus.
Projects included a city cleanup with the girls, and the club continued when the boys and girls campuses merged, before the Jacksonville School District was established.
“[Students would] clean teachers’ rooms at the beginning of the year. We did the Christmas parade in Jacksonville; they’d come decorate the float, and they’d ride on the float,” she said.
The Leo Club, with the help of a middle school art teacher, participated in a peace-poster contest sponsored by the Lions Club. Duran recalled that one year, the club had a student whose artwork made it to the state competition.
Bob Williams said Duran is a worthy recipient of the Dalstrom Award.
“Terri’s been involved in a lot of things in our club,” Williams said. “She’s served on lots of different projects; she’s just an exceptional member.”
Duran said the Jacksonville Lions Club works to help people with diabetes and hearing problems, as well as vision problems, and sponsors eye exams in elementary schools in the community.
“We go a little bit everywhere,” she said. “I helped with the kindergarten and first-grade eye exams this year in all our local schools and did those. We did right around 775 kids.”
Duran also started and organizes a bake sale each summer in conjunction with a train show in a Jacksonville hobby shop.
“I started that baby, and I keep it going,” Duran said. She said William’s wife, Dianne, helps make cashew brittle. “That’s what we sell he most of,” Duran said, adding they made more than 100 bags this year.
Duran said she also helped with a golf tournament in May. The tournament honors a different person in the community each year, she said, and the most recent tournament was in the name of Katie Fink, an active member of the Lions Cub for years, who is in a Jacksonville nursing home.
“I went by and got her and took her to the golf tournament, then took her home,” Duran said. “She loved it.
“I’ve also made quilts for us to raffle off and donated one to Mid-South to auction for the hospital.”
At Christmastime, she and Dianne Williams dress up as elves when Santa, who is also a Jacksonville Lions Club member, visits students in kindergarten through the fifth grade.
“We plan on dressing up this year,” she said.
Duran said she’s working on the Jacksonville Lions Club Ball Drop, which will be Dec. 18 at a place to be determined. Numbered golf balls are sold for $5 each and dropped from a dump truck. The ball closest to the X wins $1,000. Tickets can be purchased from any Lions Club member, she said, and more information is available by calling Bob or Dianne Williams at (501) 912-3213.
Duran, who grew up in the Hardy area, said she’s lived in Jacksonville for 14 years.
She said she is proud to be the club’s pick for the Dalstrom Award.
“It’s an honor,” Duran said, “knowing that I’ve helped my community here after I moved down here, and we’ve changed the life of some kids.”
Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-5671 or email@example.com.