For Children To See

BURLESON, TX —  The day Harold Moore moved to Burleson was a good day. The year was 1971, and he arrived as the new Burleson Independent School District assistant superintendent. He served in that position for 11 years and, then as principal of what is now known as Academy at Nola Dunn for 14 years. He also began another special journey.

Harold joined the Burleson Lions Club and devoted many years to helping children who needed eyeglasses to see more clearly and whose parents could not afford to provide them. Harold is retired now from the Burleson Independent School District, yet his involvement with the Lions Club Children’s Eyeglass Program and the program itself are more energized than ever. “I moved to Burleson when Bill Stribling was named superintendent,” he smiled. “Bill and I had worked together in Mt. Vernon where I was the elementary and junior high school principal.”

The two friends and educators had each been members of the Rotary Club in Mt. Vernon, so as newcomers in Burleson they quickly searched for a local service club and decided to join the Burleson Lions Club. The Lions Club is a huge international organization with a membership of 1.35 million and some 46,000 chapters. In fact, it is the world’s largest service club. At their 1925 international convention in Chicago, Illinois, it was Helen Keller who challenged the membership to become knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness.

Providing vision for all continues to be the primary Lions Club mission. “The Burleson Lions Club was chartered in 1945, so it’s been here much longer than I have,” Harold said. “Each chapter manages its own programs. My association with the Burleson schools gave me an inside opportunity to be effective in the Children’s Eyeglass Program.” Through the years, Harold has also served as the Burleson Lions Club president three times and filled just about every office. In addition to the vision program, the club maintains a scholarship program, contributes to the Texas Lion’s Camp in Kerrville, Texas, and facilitates White Cane Days for raising awareness about blindness. The club also helps local services and events like Meals on Wheels, Special Olympics and American Cancer Relay for Life. “Our biggest fundraiser is the Fourth of July Parade,” Harold commented. This July marked the ninth year for the annual Burleson event. “We raise funds by selling sponsorships and parade entries,” he explained. Funds raised from the general public are only used to support the club’s charitable purposes. “Another funding source is our membership,” he smiled. Each Lions Club has a member who is designated as a “Tail Twister,” whose role is to define and administer fines to members for violations like not wearing the club vest or allowing a phone to ring during a meeting or whatever the Tail Twister defines as a violation. “We also have a door prize at our meetings,” Harold added. “Tickets are sold, and the prize is awarded to the winning ticket.” The Burleson Lions Club meets at noon on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month at Burleson’s First United Methodist Church with a general attendance of 60 to 70 people.

While the fines are all in fun, the Tail Twister serves quite a purpose because the fines contribute a fair amount of the club’s funds. A major portion of the Burleson chapter’s budget goes toward the Children’s Eyeglass Program. “We pay for children’s eye examinations, eyeglasses and, in rare cases, for surgeries,” he explained.

813burAs Burleson grows and more schools are being added, the need for the program is expanding. “Tana Howell, a fellow Lions Club member, works on the program too,” Harold said. “This year, we’ve reorganized the process and expect to serve more children.” The process begins with school nurses and teachers. “They are our best outreach,” Harold said. “Nurses may discover a vision problem during a child’s health screening, or a teacher may notice a student struggling to read.” If it is determined a child needs to be referred to an optometrist, the nurse will contact the parents. “Most of the time, the call takes care of it,” he said. “For parents who just can’t afford a professional eye examination or eyeglasses, the nurse has an application, which will determine if the family qualifies for the Children’s Eyeglass Program.” The program is based on financial need with the understanding that need may also result from a family’s catastrophic medical emergency or property loss due to fire or natural disaster. The Children’s Eyeglass Program is confidential.

“The person who pays the bill is the only one to know the child’s name,” Harold said. “We now have a voucher that looks like a credit card. Participating clinics are printed on the back of the card, and parents may call any participating clinic to make the appointment, where they present the card for payment. Ultimately, when we pay for the service, we can let the nurse know by the card number that the process has been completed.” The eyeglass program is open to all children living in the Burleson school district area. “Clearly, the majority of children are enrolled in public schools,” he said. “The program, though, is also open to private school and preschool students. Children need to be able to see and to feel good about themselves. This program exists to help families who cannot afford to provide eyeglasses when they are prescribed.” In addition to the Children’s Eyeglass Program, the Burleson chapter has a very active Eyeglass Recycling Program. “We collect several thousand pairs of used glasses each year,” Harold explained. “The glasses are delivered to a recycling center, where they are washed and sanitized, analyzed, labeled according to prescription and, ultimately, distributed to people who need them in countries around the world.” Harold was born in Edinburg, Texas.

He is the seventh child in a family of six brothers and three sisters. He finished his undergraduate degree at Pan American University in Edinburg and earned his master’s degree at the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas. His tenure as an educator spanned 36 years. To date, his tenure as a husband to his wife, Nina, has spanned 51 years. “We celebrated our anniversary in June,” he smiled. He and Nina are the proud parents of Debra and Donald and the happy grandparents of six grandkids, from age 2 to 25.