Lions help visually-impaired through radio reading service

PLATTSBURGH The visually-impaired will continue to enjoy what is considered a valuable service to many thanks to a $2,500 donation from local chapters of Lions Club International. Lions Club members in Peru, Beekmantown, Chazy and Plattsburgh recently presented a check to Alan Bechard, coordinator of the Northeast Radio Reading Service. The service provides access to volunteer-recorded readings of local newspapers, national magazines and other periodicals to people throughout the Clinton-Essex-Franklin-Library System. The donation will allow for the purchase of much-needed equipment, said Mr. Bechard. The programs current computer system is severely outdated, with the donation making an upgrade possible. Its like a miracle. I never expected it, Mr. Bechard said of the donation. Bill Wilson, acting zone chairman and member of the Lions Clubs Peru chapter, remarked the radio reading service goes along with the Lions Club focus on aiding the visually-impaired. We felt that it was a project that served the whole county, so it was well representative of the zone, said Mr. Wilson. We do a lot of other projects to help other folks with special challenges but our main goal is to help the visually- and hearing-impaired, added Raymond L. Devins, president of the Lions Clubs Chazy chapter. It was nice to be able to help Alan with his program. Its what Lions are all about. The Northeast Radio Reading Service serves about 250 listeners in Clinton County, said Mr. Bechard. That number is an increase of approximately 30 percent over the past two years, citing the need to continue the program, he said. The way it works is simple, said Mr. Bechard. Libraries within the Clinton-Essex-Franklin Library System have special receivers they distribute through the program. Those wishing to sign out a receiver must go through an application process and once approved, may borrow the receiver for as long as they like, free of charge. The radio reading service exists thanks to the generosity of organizations such as Lions Club International and others like the Free and Accepted Masons and the Benevolent and Protected Order of Elks, said Mr. Bechard. The program also exists because of the ongoing partnership of the North Country Center for Independence, the Clinton-Essex-Franklin Library System, Mountain Lake PBS, and WAMC Public Radio, he added. Mountain Lake PBS provides the studios where recordings are made while WAMC provides the subcarrier on which the service is broadcast. All are important, because without them, the radio reading service doesnt exist, said Mr. Bechard. For more information about the Northeast Radio Reading Service, including how to make a donation to the service or volunteer, contact Mr. Bechard at 562-1732 or send him an e-mail to alanbechard@aol.com .

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