Jefferson Award Winner Helps Detect Vision Problems in Area Children | Jefferson Prize

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) — Art Marson is the Jefferson Prize winner for March, and he has a very simple reason to volunteer.

“I guess the reason I volunteer is because that’s how I was raised. My family has always volunteered in the small community I grew up in,” Art said.

While working at his very first job, Art met a member of the Lions Club and says that brief encounter gave him the tools he needed to continue volunteering.

“He took me out to lunch and asked me to be a Lion, and Lions gave me the tools to do all kinds of volunteer work,” Art said.

Art’s favorite volunteer work, which he does through the Lions, is in area schools.

“I think I love doing vision screening with kids more than anything because kids are curious and they’re open in their feelings and stuff.

“You know, it’s just more rewarding to work with young kids,” Art said.

Although Art is a gentle man, he is bold when it comes to asking organizations for money to help those in need.

“It only takes you about 30 seconds to screen someone’s eyes with this tester and so I wrote a grant again, I got three testers for our Lions Club here and we do free eye screening in all schools,” said Art.

The Lions Club even selects athletes for the Special Olympics and provides them with protective eyewear if they need it. Part of the reason for Art’s longevity in volunteering can be attributed to the fact that volunteering has become a family affair.

“A TV station once interviewed my daughter at Aquinas on a service project. They asked her why she was volunteering. She said, ‘That’s what our family does. We volunteer and help people,'” Art said.

These children, now adults themselves working as social workers and police officers, began Art’s grandchildren’s volunteering through the simple belief that everyone has something to give.

“It doesn’t take much to make a difference. Sometimes a smile at a stranger or helping someone get groceries out of the store. You can do all sorts of things that are a bit insignificant but really help people in need There’s always something to do,” says Art.

Art is also a corneal carrier. When someone dies and donates their eyes to the Lions Eye Bank, they bring that donation to Gundersen Health System or Mayo Clinic Health System.

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