Union, SC – Union resident, philanthropist, and civic leader Barbara Rippy has made a $100,000 gift to Lions Vision Services. The gift is a major investment in the organization’s Catalyst Campaign – a two-year capacity building initiative that will decrease preventable blindness, increase resources for the blind and visually impaired, and advance LVS as a statewide leader in vision health. In recognition of this gift, LVS has established the Barbara Harter Rippy Society to recognize lifetime gifts to the organization of $100,000 or more.

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There are an estimated 147,752 South Carolinians with blindness or vision difficulty, according to experts at the American Foundation for the Blind, a number that is expected to double by 2030 without effective intervention. Rippy’s gift is providing that intervention to curb this trend.

“This gift to Lions Vision Services is about helping the blind and visually impaired and strengthening our communities to improve vision health for all South Carolinians,” said Mrs. Rippy. “We face huge challenges with the growing number of people who are blind, and we can do something about it.”

LVS President & CEO, Daniel Prohaska, said that “we are honored to become stewards of Mrs. Rippy’s namesake – a name which is synonymous with generosity and forward-thinking community investment. The Barbara Harter Rippy Society will serve as a perpetual reminder to those who give generously to LVS that they are not alone, that they are part of a community that cares and invests in our future. We are tremendously grateful for this gift.”

Rippy has an endearing legacy as a philanthropist to many causes and organizations that serve Union County. Most recently, the University of South Carolina Union dedicated their Science and Nursing Building “The Rippy Building” after a generous donation from Mrs. Rippy, bringing a state-of-the-art facility and unique academic program to Union. Many programs at the South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind also bear Mrs. Rippy’s name.

In February of last year, Mrs. Rippy was injured after being struck by a car in downtown Union. Her recovery from the injury played a part in her decision to continue giving back. Rippy believes “God had more work for me to do here if He let me recover from this accident. I firmly believe that making this gift to Lions Vision Services to help the blind and visually impaired is part of that work.”

Mrs. Rippy’s longtime membership in the Union Lions Club and passion for specific projects that create healthy communities, empower the blind and visually impaired, and help children made the Catalyst Campaign and Lions Vision Services the perfect partner for Mrs. Rippy to continue her mission.

There is an urgent need to provide adequate vision health to economically disadvantaged communities in Union County and throughout South Carolina. Vision is the key to addressing a range of other health issues and remains a primary concern in measuring our quality of life and connectedness to our community. The Catalyst Campaign is an initiative that addresses these needs and will expand a well-established, highly collaborative, successful organization.

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LVS Board Chair, Spencer Hill (left), and CEO, Daniel Prohaska (right), present Lion Barbara Rippy (center) with the inaugural Barbara Harter Rippy Society plaque at the 32-S District Convention in Spartanburg on April 10, 2021.

Prohaska sees a deeper meaning to this work, and to Mrs. Rippy’s gift. “Beyond the practical implications of the gift of sight, Mrs. Rippy is doing a profound thing through this gift – she is changing the way people see themselves, and the world. That change will have an immeasurable impact on our children, our grandchildren, and generations to come.”

Part of Mrs. Rippy’s gift will serve as matching funds for Lions Vision Services on their upcoming May Giving Day. On Tuesday, May 4, 2021, everyone can join Mrs. Rippy by donating through the LVS Midlands Gives page at www.midlandsgives.org/lionsvisionservices as part of Central Carolina Community Foundation’s Midlands Gives campaign.

The Catalyst Campaign is expanding LVS’s Affordable Eye Surgery, Low Vision Equipment, and Hearing Aid Programs. The campaign also allows LVS to pilot and test new initiatives based on emerging client needs and lead statewide efforts to expand access to vision health for all.


About Lions Vision Services
Lions Vision Services (LVS) was created by the Lions Clubs of South Carolina in 1969 and exists today to empower the under-served blind and visually impaired in South Carolina to live safe, meaningful, and fulfilling lives. LVS offers a range of programs and services to low income South Carolina residents who apply for need-based financial assistance with obtaining affordable eye surgeries, low vision equipment, health screenings, and hearing aids. To learn more about LVS’s services, visit www.lionsvisionservices.org.

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