The Lions Eye Research Foundation of NJ, Inc.
A Brief History
The Foundation was incorporated on December 14, 1972 and it was originally
called The Lions Sight Foundation of New Jersey (LSF). In May 1988, the
name was changed to the Lions Eye Research Foundation of New Jersey (LERF).
The early years of fundraising were a struggle, but several important contributions to Lions in NJ were made by the Foundation. In 1974, the Foundation held the first White Cane sale in New Jersey. Since that time, White Cane days have become popular fund raising events for many of the clubs throughout our state. In 1979, the Foundation distributed 50,000 eye donor cards with the names of the two Eye Banks in the state listed on the card. The prospective donors had the choice of checking off which of the eye banks should receive the cards. In May 1979, the Lions Eye Research Center was founded and was located on H level at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of NJ in Newark (now Rutgers, New Jersey Medical School). In August, groundbreaking for the new building on the grounds of UMDNJ which would house the Lions Eye Research Center took place, with the Lions Eye Research Foundation pledging $250,000 towards the new Center. In 1994, after many different fund raisers, LERF was able to complete their pledge. Some of these projects were the selling of Brick Shares, LERF Pins, Specialized License Plates, and taking Mint(candy)Orders for the State, as well as procuring a $50,000 Grant from the Eye Institute of New Jersey towards the Lions Eye Research Center.
During the 1980's, the Foundation gave token donations of $500 each to the 14 State Sight Projects. The Foundation also gave a $60,000 matching Grant toward the purchase of a $140,000 Scanning Transmission Microscope for UMDNJ. In 1981, the Foundation published the first statewide Lions newspaper. They were able to print 5 issues with a cost of $2,000 per issue. The newspaper was sent to every Lion in our state. A few years later, the Council of Governors took over the publication of the newspaper. In 1986, the Foundation started the statewide mint program to help raise enough funds to endow a Lions Ophthalmology Chair at Rutgers, New Jersey Medical School, which is estimated to cost $1.5 million. The interest derived from the Chair would support research efforts to develop new treatments for the major causes of blindness (e.g. provide seed money to support new research projects in age-related macular degeneration, corneal scarring, management of complex eye trauma, diabetic retinopathy glaucoma and retinitis pigmantosa and to purchase research equipment as needed).
In 2004 the Foundation of UMDNJ and LERF signed an agreement to have the Foundation of UMDNJ manage the money raised for the Chair. The Foundation is autonomous and independent of the University and the State of New Jersey. It is governed by Trustees who are from the most prestigious firms in our State such as Prudential, Aventis, Robert Wood Johnson, Beckton Dickinson, and Merck. The Resources of the Foundation are intended and used to complement, not replace, the States Obligation to provide budgetary support to Rutgers, New Jersey Medical School. In the latest 2005 financial report, the assets of the Foundation have risen from $180 million to $211 million, a gain of 17%. The value of Investments rose from $161 million to $185 million, a gain of 15%. LERF Fundraising Chair donations are included in these figures.
The Lions Eye Research Foundation is a non-profit organization for Multiple District 16. There were five sub-districts in MD-16. The Foundation has its own Board of Trustees consisting of the governors of each sub-district and five trustees from each sub-district, that are appointed to the Board by the current District Governor.
In 2014, MD-16 was reorganized into three sub-districts (N, J, & L), with three district governors, and trustees in each district. The Foundation still has the responsibility of allocating funds as approved by the Trustees.
The transition from five sub-districts to three was completed under the leadership of Executive Director, Jim Hynes. However, Jim stepped down for health reasons, and Melvyn Bray took over the Executive Director's Position. Jim Hynes passed away in early autumn of 2014.
The Lions Eye Research Foundation of NJ is entirely separate from the Eye institute of NJ, the Eye Research Center, the two state Eye Banks, and Rutgers, New Jersey Medical School, (formerly UMDNJ).
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