By Denise Gary
Photos by Mesa Host Lions Club, Kristy Siefkin, Bruce Matsunaga, and Denise Gary

Kids Need to Read has had the great fortune to be a beneficiary of the Mesa Host Lions Club’s community support for several years. The club, in service since 1928, previously donated $300 to the Kids-N-Peace program, contributing $10 in the name of each speaker toward a new hard cover book for the program and providing book plate stickers honoring each of those speakers.


Club members then joined Kids Need to Read to present those books to the lower elementary classrooms at Children First Academy in Tempe. It was fun to introduce the students to the great community service work of the Lions.



I was privileged to present the book plate honor to two of the club’s speakers, both of whom provided terrific programs. 3TV Traffic Reporter Gina Maravilla presented an emotional program regarding her experiences obtaining assistance for her deaf child.

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Fox 10 Weather Anchor Kristy Siefkin’s spoke about how her family started training guide dogs and her time working for Guide Dogs for the Blind.

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Although I am a proud member of the club, I was also afforded an opportunity to be one of our speakers, presenting about literacy issues and how the Kids-N-Peace program addresses those problems while encouraging peaceful conflict resolution. Lions Clubs International encourages each of its clubs to support literacy initiatives through its Reading Action Program, a ten-year commitment to increasing reading and literacy rates. It was an honor to receive a certificate from the club for my work on behalf of children’s literacy through Kids Need to Read.

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This school year, the Mesa Host Lions are supporting the READ Together program, again donating $300 in honor of its speakers.


The club’s members visited Kids Need to Read to affix 4,000—yes, four thousand—READ Together book plates inside every book used in the program! Each student in the 70 participating classrooms across the country takes home a different book to read with their caretakers every night and each book will encourage parents with these words, “If you want children to follow their dreams, show them how … READ Together!”


Amity joined us for good measure, although she didn’t contribute to placing any stickers in the books!


What a fun time we all had together! There were many laughs, for sure! We promised them all ice cream and we delivered, including the requested Rocky Road for Mesa Host President Keith Hackney. A little ice cream love goes a long way!


We plan to have these wonderful Lions help distribute summer reading packs to Mesa-area READ Together students in May. The Lions Club motto is “We Serve” and this club lives up to the slogan admirably! We thank my fellow club members for their kindness to Kids Need to Read and look forward to our continued partnership into the future. ROAR!

I apologize there were so many pictures of me in this blog! I would have preferred more of the other club members and less of me.

If you would like to learn more about the work of Mesa Host Lions Club, please visit their GoFundMe campaign page, web site, or Facebook page.


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