The Lions’ Clubs
Nicaraguans in South Florida have four organizations that operate under the Lions Club umbrella: the Miami-Managua Lions Club, the Miami-Nicaragua Lions Club, and two other clubs that have been formed very recently known as the Miami Camoapa Lions Club and the Bluefields Caribbean Lions Club.
Edgar Roa, the regional district governor of the Lions Club organization, which encompasses South Florida and other areas of Florida, is a Nicaraguan who has worked in close partnership with the well-established Miami-Managua Lions’ Club in sponsoring the formation of new clubs run by Nicaraguans and with specific goals related to humanitarian projects there.
Some Nicaraguans who have been assisting their communities of origin through non-registered Hometown Associations have integrated their informal efforts and personal interests through formal organizational structures and this has been the rationale behind the emergence of some of the Lions Clubs.
Two of the Lions Clubs run by Nicaraguans, the Miami Camoapa Lions Club and the Bluefields Caribbean Lions Club which are focused on specific localities of origin of their founders, operate as a combination of Hometown Association and Lions Club.
The Miami-Managua Lions Club, led until recently by Cesar Lacayo, Nicaraguan intellectual and community activist and currently by Alexander Solano, the former secretary of the club, has built up a program of free wheelchairs. It has sent shipments with 550 wheelchairs each at a cost of approximately $100,000 and they are organizing the shipment of a similar container to the Atlantic Coast.
The Miami-Managua Lions Club is the organization most actively engaged in the activities of other Nicaraguan immigrant organizations. It is not uncommon to see their leaders in the fundraising events and other events of several other organizations.
The plan, Mr. Lacayo and Mr. Solano explain, is to have sustained predictable shipments for over a decade. They have partnered with Free Wheelchair Mission for these endeavors and will be sending similar shipments to other countries of Central America, Colombia, Haiti, Ecuador and Peru.
Although Popos Hormiguitas Foundation is not part of the Lions Club, it is a nonprofit organization that was founded by Nicaraguan immigrant Maria Elena Mendoza that also focuses on collecting and transferring shipments of humanitarian aid to Nicaragua (smaller in this case) based on her personal initiative and the support of friends and relatives.
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