MERCURY SERIES: MAKING A DIFFERENCE
When the Austinmer-Thirroul Lions Club came to the aid of Matt and Kylie Roodenyrs and their youngest son Wyatt, the family's life was changed in many ways.
Not only did the donation of a specialised change table make the Roodenyrs' lives physically easier, but the club's 30 members became like 30 special uncles for Wyatt.
Two-year-old Wyatt has a rare genetic condition.
He will never walk or talk and is unable to sit by himself, so needs specialised and expensive medical equipment and 24-hour monitoring and care.
Mrs Roodenyrs devotes almost all her time to caring for her young son, but was suffering physical strain from constantly lifting him in and out of his cot.
And that's where the Lions Club came to the rescue, paying for a state-of-the art change table that allows Wyatt to receive all the care he needs in one place.
"With the tenacity of Kylie and Matt to provide the best of care for Wyatt, they were able to source a specialised supplier of the change table [DB Health] at a very competitive price [$3852]," secretary Bob Ascoli said.
Mr Ascoli said it was not only able to improve the care the family was able to provide their youngest son but ease the emotional and financial strain.
And the look of Wyatt's face the first time he was able to sit propped up made it all worthwhile.
Mrs Roodenyrs said she could not speak highly enough of the club and the change table they bought.
"It is also a bed that can go up and down and we can use it as a change table as well," she said.
"With the special mattress Wyatt can sit up. He is a lot more comfortable because he is much bigger now. It is like he has got his own five-star bed."
Mrs Roodenyrs said when Wyatt was unwell with a chest infection it was even more important to be able to sit him up.
The club's donation to the family is just one of many examples of its work in the northern suburbs over more than half a century.
It began in 1959 as the Austinmer Lions Club, but in 2000 changed its name to the Austinmer-Thirroul club.
Their raising of funds, which began on a small scale such as a weekly raffle at Ryans Hotel, Thirroul, ranging up to its annual Thirroul Seaside and Arts Festival, have allowed the club to help a wide variety of causes.
Since the mid-1960s, the club has offered a cottage it owns to people affected by natural disasters and personal tragedy while they get back on their feet.
Club members have used funds raised through the seaside festival to help local schools, provide art equipment and buy an IRB for a local surf club.
Members also helped convert two vehicles to allow wheelchair access for seriously ill children, at a cost of $30,000.
The international organisation of which the club is a part also aids people around the world, including providing humanitarian relief after natural disasters such as the earthquake in Haiti, floods in Pakistan, floods in Queensland and tsunamis in Japan.
"When the tsunami hit Japan last year the very next day $60 million went straight into relief work," club member Warren Woods said.
"They have given in grants since 1968 in excess of $800 million."
Local Lions Club members also volunteered to go to Aceh after a tsunami hit Indonesia, to help rebuild schools.
Fellow member Brian Cummins said nothing raised from the public was spent on their own club.
"For example all the money we raise from the seaside festival goes back to the community 100 per cent," he said.
They also give money to help a wide range of community and charitable organisations.
Mr Ascoli said all who join Lions enjoy the satisfaction of being able to make a difference in the community.
"I feel like we are doing something that is really worthwhile" Mr Ascoli said.
Mr Woods said joining Lions is the best thing he has done.
"Our motto is we serve ... and I got so much satisfaction from helping people who need help," he said.