History traced back on how a gentleman visiting from Chicago attended the “Hello Phoenix” cultural show sponsored annually by the City of Phoenix. The Filipino Club of Arizona (FCA) and the Philippine Senior Center jointly participated in this event as a fundraiser for the Philippine Community Center. The gentleman will be known as our Club’s Guiding Lion and PDG of 21-C, Lion Harold Guerevitz. Lion Harold He met with Dr. Bienvenido Simuangco at the food fair and after several meetings, started the ground work to form a Filipino-American Lions Club. It was then in 1985 that the club was chartered and become known as the Phoenix Phil-Am Lions Club.
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Phoenix Phil-Am Lions Club History Part II
Through the years the Phil-Am Lions Club has been in the forefront of service and participation in most of District 21 functions and events. As the number of members increased in endless bounds, in 1996 during the Presidency of Lion Vic Camua, who later on became the first Filipino District Governor of D21 C, plans were laid down for a very ambitious project; an eye cataract surgical mission to the Philippines. With the assistance and support of the Southwestern Eye Institute headed by Dr. Luther Bluth, the first ever cataract mission was conducted in Pakil, Laguna on February 17-23, 1997 headed by the then President of the Club, the Late Lion Doctor Rey Vito. 97 of the poorest of the poor indigents of Pakil and surrounding communities were successfully operated on with return of functional vision to all thus making them once again productive, independent and happy members of local society. This has become a biennial signature project of the Club with matching grants from LCIF for the succeeding missions in Naga, Tarlac, Daet, Bacolod, Kawit, Cavite, Candelaria, Zambales, San Pablo and Gapan, Nueva Ecija. In between we have conducted missions to Mexico, in Benjamin Hills twice, Rocky Point, Hermosillo and Caborca. We have thus done about 3000 cataract surgeries, completely pro bono. We were able to do all these because of matching grants from LCIF and the generous donations of almost all of our surgical and medical supplies by ALCON, USA through Mr. Dave Bergsma. We have through all these missions brought with us thousands and thousands of both prescription and non-prescription glasses that have helped the locals improve their vision, again pro bono through the generosity of the AZ Lions Vision Center headed and directed by Lion Jeanette Russell.
With the end of partial subsidy from LCIF and the hardening, stiff restrictions by the Philippine Academy of Ophthalmology the format of the conduct of the mission has dramatically changed. We can no longer bring our very efficient and compassionate American-based team and now are dependent on the services of local Philippine Surgeons, who, however are as good and as efficient. In the last 2 Philippine missions we have implemented feeding programs and distribution of slippers and school supplies. With the blessings of God and the continuing generosity of the members and others we may be going to the Philippines in Tacloban, Leyte in 2021.
The Club has flourished and thrived through the dedication, harmony, camaraderie, generosity, compassion and initiative and most of all effective, pro-active leadership of our officers and the continuing cooperation and support of the members. At one point in time, the Club has been the largest club membership in the whole D21. The Club is heavily and actively involved in the implementation of Lions Club International global causes of: Diabetic Awareness, Vision, Relieving Hunger, Saving the Environment and Childhood Cancer. For the longest time we have adopted adequately vetted poor families here in Phoenix and gifted them with clothes, shoes, toys and food to brighten up somewhat their otherwise bleak holidays. Additionally we support Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Phoenix Dream Center and also Project C.U.R.E.org. A lot of the members have volunteered their time and resources at the St. Vincent De Paul warehouse helping prepare the food to feed the homeless; we have volunteered our time to Feeding the Hungry program to package food to be distributed to the hungry peoples around the world. We have been very conscientious in cleaning the Philippine Community Center and the streets in front of it.
In order to help finance all of our activities and especially the huge expenses in the conduct of medical missions, the Club successfully formed a 501-c 3 IRS approved legal entity the: Phil-Am Lions Charity Foundation. Anything donated to the Club through this foundation will be totally and completely tax deductible.
The Phil-Am Lions Club has been a well-recognized and highly respected Lions Club in D-21C. We have always believed and subscribed to the idea that When and Wherever there is a need, we the Lions are there, and with the continuing dedication, compassion, unflinching thirst for service of its members, the Club will continue to be a strong advocate and totally compliant to our motto:
We’d like to extend a tremendous thank you to Lion Conrad Ballecer for updating and documenting the recent Phoenix Phil-Am Lions Club History. We appreciate his time and tireless dedication in striving to make our Club the best it can be!