Lions Club donates to Vogue for hearing, visual assistance devices

Manistee Lions Club donates $6,000 to the Vogue Theatre for audio and visual assistance devices. The presentation was made at the Fish Boil event on Friday. 

MANISTEE — When it comes to accessibility, the Manistee Lions Club and Vogue Theatre both have a common goal.

With that, the Lions Club recently donated a $6,000 grant match to the Vogue Theatre to aid in the cost for new, upgraded hearing and vision assistance devices.

Dave Mix, Vogue board of directors vice president, said a grant from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs was secured, and matched funds were needed to move forward. The Lions Club was more than willing to donate funds toward the cause.

The total cost for the equipment was more than $14,000, Mix said.

“We got an operational grant, it was a little over $6,000,” said Mix. “The Lions Club, of course, is donating funds toward that. It has been working out. It was requested that all theaters upgrade their equipment, and we were happy to do that.”

To be accessible to all patrons, Jim Snoeyink, Vogue manager, said movie theaters must provide closed captioning devices for those with vision and hearing loss. These devices often are hand-held or clip to the back of the seat, only visible to the patron in need.

Snoeyink said for the hard of hearing, the devices play an audio description track. The devices aim to enhance and amplify audio, provide closed captioning or a narration of the visuals on the screen.

“We had some hearing devices in the past, but this money we got from the Lions Club went toward closed captioning devices so people who are deaf have the option,” he said. “It also includes an audio description, so you can put one on during the movie and it describes what is going on.

“We have six of the closed captioning devices, and we have about 16 of the hearing audio description devices.”

Mix said the devices will be put to good use, given the accessibility it provides for some patrons who visit the Vogue.

“The Lions Club was wonderful to work with,” said Mix. “It has been extremely important to have the equipment, even if it means just having it there and knowing we can accommodate anyone at the theater.”

When the Lions Club was asked to assist the cause, Michael Szymanski, Lions Club president, said the members felt it represented their overall mission in assisting those with hearing and vision loss, as well as giving back to the community.

“When the Vogue came to us and mentioned the fact that they were trying to raise money to buy equipment for the visual and hearing impaired, we decided it was a very worthwhile charity,” said Szymanski. “Helen Keller is the woman responsible for suggesting the Lions Club take up vision impairment as their charity, so that tradition has been kept forward ever since.”

Funds were derived from the Lions’ annual Fish Boil, which was held on Friday during the Manistee National Forest Festival kick off weekend.

“We donated all of the revenues from this year’s Fish Boil, plus we will make up any difference that we did not make in order to meet that obligation to the Vogue Theatre, and for the patrons who have vision or hearing problems,” said Szymanski. “The Fish Boil is our biggest fundraiser. We did pretty well, and we had a silent auction this year — something we have never done before.”

Those interested in learning more about these devices or who need to use one, Snoeyink said should contact a staff member at the Vogue.

“We have trained most of the volunteers on how to set the devices up for people, but if somebody would like to get more information they could come into the Vogue and talk to the staff personnel,” he said. “We can go over the device and show them how it works. We feel that we are able to have anybody come in to watch a movie, at this point and time.”

Not all titles are compliant with the closed caption and audio description devices, according to the Vogue. To find out which shows are compliant, check whether the showtime displays the audio description or close captions symbols, or ask a manager or volunteer for help.

Visit for more details, or call (231) 222-5199.

Posted by Ashlyn Korienek

Ashlyn is the cops & courts and city reporter for the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach her at (231) 398-3109 or