When Gary Babcock and Robert (Bob) Sturgis, two devoted Eversight Board members, became Lions more than four decades ago, it was never for personal recognition or public gratitude. They just wanted to make a difference in their communities and state.
In acknowledgement of their significant impacts on Lionism, Gary and Bob were inducted into the Lions of Michigan Hall of Fame on Saturday in Grand Rapids.
“Eversight is incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to work with Bob and Gary and benefit from their leadership,” said Alison Claerhout Wright, Eversight Director of Philanthropy. “The passion each of them have to serve, along with the knowledge and experience they offer to our organization, is irreplaceable.”
Sturgis, the Board Chair of Eversight in Michigan, saw first-hand how local clubs are invested in their communities when he joined the Lennon Lions Club in 1975. In the past 42 years, he has served on numerous district and state committees and received International President’s Leadership Medals and International President’s Certificates of Appreciation.
“It’s a great pleasure seeing that you help people. We do Christmas food and gifts for needy people every year,” Sturgis said. “Early on, we’d take the stuff right to their house. You’d walk and see young kids running around, excited at everything, and you felt good. It brought tears to your eyes.”
Babcock is part of the Napoleon Lions Club and the current Treasurer of the Eversight Board of Directors. He first linked up with the Lions in 1977 and has been awarded numerous Lions medals and fellowships, while holding leadership positions with both the Michigan Lions and the Lions of Michigan Foundation.
“The reason the Lions have been such an important part of my life is because of the friendships I’ve acquired,” Babcock said. “And it’s been the opportunity to serve. I’ve wanted to give back to the place that has provided to me all these years.”
As much as Sturgis and Babcock have meant to the Lions, they have had just as large of an effect on Eversight. Both have held numerous positions of leadership in the past 15 years and helped Eversight become one of the largest providers of corneas for transplant and research in the world.
“The similarities between Eversight and the Lions is the need to serve,” Babcock said. “At Eversight, our mission is to provide the gift of sight, and that is one of the backbone projects of the Lions organization.”
Sturgis added, “The eye bank has continued to grow and flourish since I first joined. You see that you’re helping transform people’s lives in so many different places, and that’s meant a lot to me.”