More than 70 years ago, the Lions Club of New Brunswick co-founded the Home News Tribune’s Needy Cases Fund with a vision of helping local disadvantaged people. Those in need of eye care are referred by organizations such as schools, churches and local clinics, and Dr. David Weininger, an optometrist based in New Brunswick, is there to help.
For more than three decades, Weininger has been helping those in need see. The optometrist has been supporting the efforts of the Lions Club of New Brunswick and the Home News Tribune’s Needy Cases Fund by correcting the vision of those who may not be able to afford it.
The patients he sees have a range of different issues, but Weininger is always there to lend a hand.
“We have the knowledge to help them,” said Weininger, 70. “It makes us feel good in terms of helping our fellow man.”
Needy Cases Fund 2020:How to help your neighbors in need
Founded in 1917, the Lions Club is best known for its fight against blindness, but the nonprofit also volunteers for many different kinds of community projects — including caring for the environment, feeding the hungry and aiding seniors and the disabled.
Today, Lions Clubs International is the world’s largest service club organization with more than 1.4 million members in approximately 46,000 clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical areas around the world.
By conducting vision screenings, equipping hospitals and clinics, distributing medicine and raising awareness of eye disease, Lions work toward their mission of providing vision for all. Lions Club community projects also often support local children and schools through scholarships, recreation and mentoring.
As part of a global service network, Lions Clubs do whatever is necessary to help local communities, such as during natural disasters by providing for immediate needs such as food, water, clothing, medical supplies and helping with long-term reconstruction.
Weininger said the Needy Cases Fund has evolved over the years, and insurance coverage has become more accessible, but the need has always been there.
“In my office, we try to do the best we can to give the patient the visual abilities to function out in the real world,” said the former Lions Club president.
This year was different than most, Weininger said. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, he saw fewer Lions Club patients than previous years — though he knows the need is still there.
“Most of the referrals come from schools and local clinics, but they were closed for months and nurses were not doing screenings,” he said. “Because of that we are still getting referrals but not in the same numbers as before. It will be interesting to see what happens going forward to see what we can do.”
The Lions Club, in conjunction with Needy Cases, also funds local Holiday Wish List packages. Weininger hopes the program will continue this year in some form though the recipients — school children — are not physically in school. Those wish lists, he said, can “really break your heart.”
“The times are strange and unusual,” he said. “I expect if things shut down again, there may be an unmeetable need. All the things we used to do are not happening. But the need remains. The people that don’t have are in really bad shape.”
Weininger encourages those who can to donate to the Lions Club and Needy Cases Fund.
“Because God forbid you end up in the same situation and you may need my help, and you no longer have the wherewithal or the knowledge to solve whatever problem it is you have,” he said. “You need to help your fellow man because your fellow man might be helping you tomorrow.”
For more about Lions Clubs, go to www.lionsclubs.org.
How to support the Needy Cases Fund
From Nov. 29 to Dec. 6, the journalists of the Home News Tribune, Courier News and MyCentralJersey.com are focusing on 12 organizations serving Central Jersey as part of the annual Needy Cases Fund project.
The Needy Cases Fund is a Central Jersey holiday tradition, stretching back more than seven decades. The community service project has been sponsored by the Home News Tribune and its predecessor, the Daily Home News, working with the Lions Club of New Brunswick. In 2020, during a year unlike any other, the Courier News is joining the Home News Tribune in sponsoring the charity.
Send donations (checks made out to the Needy Cases Fund or cash) to: Needy Cases Fund, Home News Tribune/Courier News, 92 E. Main St., Suite 202, Somerville, NJ 08876. Please do not make checks out to the Courier News Wish Book program this year. Please indicate with a note whether you want to be acknowledged in a wrap-up story about the program, or whether you wish to remain anonymous.
Donations will be gratefully accepted through the end of December.
For any questions, contact Carolyn Sampson at 908-243-6624 or email@example.com.
Cheryl Makin is a features and education reporter for MyCentralJersey.com, part of the USA Today Network. To get unlimited access to her award-winning work, please subscribe or activate your digital account today by clicking ‘Subscribe Now’ at the top right hand corner of this page. Contact: Cmakin@gannettnj.com or @CherylMakin.