Helen Keller profile

"This is the opportunity I offer you, Lions—to foster and sponsor the work of the American Foundation for the Blind. Will you not help me hasten the day when there shall be no preventable blindness, no little deaf blind child untaught, no blind man or woman unaided? I appeal to you, Lions—you who have your sight, your hearing, you who are strong and brave and kind—will you not constitute yourselves Knights of the Blind in my crusade against darkness?"

 Hellen Keller
1925 Lions International Convention
Cedar Point, Ohio

Ever since Helen Keller challenged Lions to become the "Knights of the Blind", Lions Clubs from around the world have initiated programs aimed at helping vision- and hearing-impaired people.

One such program is the Lions Eyeglass Recycling program. This program collects and processes used eyeglasses and makes them available to people in need around the world. Today there are six centers in other countries and thirteen in the United States. The Lions Eyeglass Recycling Center of Northern Virginia, Inc. (LERCNOVA) is one of them.

In 1998 at the suggestion of the Dr. Byers of Arlington Hospital, who was experiencing difficulty in obtaining a sufficient supply of glasses to take on medical missions, members of Falls Church and Arlington Host Lions drove to Roanoke to learn about their Center. Those Lions were John Ferguson and Clark Erikson of Falls Church, and Tom Caruso and Ed Ablard of Arlington. On their return, Clark wrote a Lions Club International Foundation grant request for $10,000 to start a center in Northern Virginia. The grant was approved. The center soon became operational. It began in the basement of Shreve McGonegal Plumbing Supply in Falls Church, VA. When the housing bubble crashed, Shreve McGonegal needed to rent the space. LERCNOVA had paid $1.00 annually. LERCNOVA couldn’t afford the new rent, which caused the center to find a new location. Dr. Byers arranged for a location on S. Carlin Springs Road which was home for the LERCNOVA for many years.  In January 2019, the LERC NOVA relocated to 919 South Monroe St, Arlington, VA 22204. It is currently under renovation.

The Center is staffed totally by volunteers. Since established, there have been four Executive Directors: Lions John Ferguson, Chuck Mendelbaum, Roy Davis, and John Karinshak.  The current Chief Operations Director is Lion Pam Martinov.

Since inception, through June 2018 LERCNOVA has shipped over 3,000,000 pairs of eyeglasses to those in need. The center has many photos showing the smiles of those who have received their eyeglasses.

Proof that the Center’s work is CHANGING LIVES, ONE PAIR AT A TIME!