Latest News!!

-- Update, July 9, 2004


The Florida Lions Conklin Centers for the Blind is proud to be celebrating 25 years of service to multihandicapped blind children and adults throughout all of 2004! Our celebration began with a open house reception at the Center on Wednesday, January 21st. The reception date was chosen to commemorate the Center's Grand Opening in January 1979 as the first and only facility of its kind. About 200 new and old friends attended.

The celebration has continued (and will continue) through additional public relations and activities incorporated into our annual fund raising and volunteer appreciation events. These include our: motorcycle drawing, poker run (September), and White Cane Awareness 5K Run (October). It will reach its peak with a special gala 25th anniversary banquet on October 8, 2004. Past Lions International President Frank Moore will be the keynote speaker for this occasion. As additional details become available about the banquet, they will be posted on our web site.

Other recent news........ Our Board of Directors and management revised the Center's calendar of events to improve outcomes of some of our fund-raising events and better coordinate timing of Board training activities with the beginning of our fiscal year (which is July). Our 5K Run event will continue to take place in October (October 9th in 2004) in Ormond Beach.

Of interest to our Lions friends, we also plan to move our annual open house for Governors and Vice District Governors from October to coincide with the new Walk-a-Thon date in June. Training for members of the Center's Executive Fund-Raising Committee will also move to this weekend. This change will help us hit the ground running at the beginning of our fiscal year in July with our annual fund-raising and outreach campaign to Lions and other donors throughout the state.

The Center's Board of Directors also recently approved to replace our aging cooling tower and improve the efficiency of the Center's heating, cooling, and lighting systems. Partial funding for this project was generously provided through the Florida Lions Foundation for the Blind.

Technology Upgrade Project. Thanks to generous donations from the Lions Clubs Internationals Foundation (LCIF) and several Lions Clubs throughout Florida our new computers and network will arrive sometime this summer! This is a much-needed upgrade for the Center to continue being as efficient as possible and do great things for those we are serving. Thanks to all the wonderful people that made a successful completion to this very important project possible.

Collaborative Public Relations Efforts with some Funding Partners. The Conklin Center is pleased that Darden Restaurants Foundation featured our supported employment program and a success story about a Conklin Center graduate in its 2003 annual report. The Darden Restaurants Foundation, which is associated with Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Bahama Breeze, and Smokey Bones BBQ Restaurants, has been a long-term funding partner for the Center's community-based adult services.

The Foundation awards grants largely on the recommendation of restaurant employees involved in local community causes. We are appreciative of support we receive from general managers of local Red Lobster and Olive Garden restaurants who are involved with the Center as employers of some of our graduates. We are honored that our program was chosen to be highlighted in the annual report under the Foundation's Social Services category from among a field of 36 other social service grantees. The annual report can be found at Darden Restaurant's web site.

Last fall, another long-term funding partner, The Able Trust, asked us to share some insights on its web site about our community-based supported employment services. The Able Trust's mission is to enhance employment opportunities for Floridians with disabilities. It devotes a portion of its web site to providing information about successful programs so organizations looking to improve their employment services could learn from the experiences of others, or employers could learn about programs that they might contact to seek qualified employees. The Center is proud to have been "interviewed" and as of this update (March 23, 2004) our information can be found at The Able Trust's web site.

Summary. As the Florida Lions Conklin Center continues our 25th year of helping multihandicapped blind citizens live independently, our most important challenge is to ensure the Center has adequate resources to have a positive impact on the lives of those who depend on our services. To achieve this, we are concentrating efforts on strengthening our outreach to individual Lions, Lions Clubs, and to our loyal supporters locally and regionally. We are proud of what the Florida Lions Conklin Center has achieved as we celebrate our 25th anniversary, and we look forward to at least another 25 years of helping those less fortunate.

For more information, please contact the at 386-258-3441.




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