SALMON CREEK — The Salmon Creek Lions Club recently awarded a Melvin Jones Fellowship Award to Colleen Wahto, BSN, RN, currently the Health Services Director for ESD 112. Colleen is the first person who is not a member of the club to receive this honor in their over 40-year history in the Salmon Creek/Felida area.
In 1917, Melvin Jones and other Chicago businessmen founded Lions Clubs International. It is now the largest service club organization in the world with 1.4 million members worldwide. The award honors the recipient “for dedicated humanitarian services.”
In 2015, the Salmon Creek Lions accepted the challenge given by Helen Keller to Lions Clubs International in 1925 to be “Knights of the Blind.” Since that time, the members of the club have been going to preschools, private schools, ESD 112 schools, and community events to screen the eyesight of children, students and adults using state of the art machines that resemble cameras. The primary focus has been those between 5 and 18 years of age.
About 10 percent of the school-age children the club has screened have been referred to eye care professionals for further testing. The club relies heavily on school nurses for coordination with school staff and follow-up with parents.
In 2017, the club began working with ESD 112. One of the first and most supportive school nurses they contacted was Colleen Wahto. At that time Colleen was the school nurse for Stevenson and Carson.
Although those schools have only a few hundred students each, Colleen shared that student vision screening could take school nurses and volunteers as much as a full school day. Now, with the help of the Lions, it can be done at the rate of about six minutes per class.
Salmon Creek Lions will proudly continue this important work and continue to serve our community with dedicated partners like Colleen Wahto.