Lions Club International – 100 years and still making a difference
IN 1917, Melvin Jones, a 38-year-old Chicago business leader, asked a simple and world-changing question – what if people put their talents to work improving their communities? Almost 100 years later, Lions Clubs International is the world’s largest service club organisation, with 1.35 million members in more than 46,000 clubs and countless stories of Lions acting on the same simple idea: let’s improve our communities.
In 1920, the Lions Club grew and expanded internationally when the first club was established in Canada. Mexico followed in 1927. The 1950s and 1960s saw the growth of the movement accelerate internationally with new clubs in Europe, Asia and Africa.
ERADICATING BLINDNESS OUR SIGNATURE PROJECT
In 1925 Lions Club International was challenged by Helen Keller, who addressed the Lions Clubs International Convention in Cedar Point, Ohio, USA, and asked Lions to become “knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness”. Since that time, Lions worldwide have worked tirelessly to aid the blind and visually impaired. Through SightFirst, launched in 1990, Lions are restoring sight and preventing blindness on a global scale. Through the initiative, Lions have raised more than $346 million to help fight the major causes of blindness: cataract, trachoma, river blindness, childhood blindness, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma.
Today, Lions Club International is the world’s largest service club organisation, with 1.35 million members in more than 46,000 clubs worldwide in over 200 countries. Our motto is ‘We Serve’. Lions are part of a global service network, doing whatever is necessary to help our local communities. Lions are everywhere and continue to extend our mission of service every day – in local communities, in all corners of the globe. The needs are great and our services broad, including sight, health, youth, the elderly, the environment and disaster relief.
Lions give sight – By conducting vision screenings, equipping hospitals and clinics, distributing medicine and raising awareness of eye disease, Lions work towards their mission of providing vision for all.
Lions serve youth – Our community projects often support local children and schools through scholarships, recreation and mentoring.
Lions award grants – Since 1968, Lions from Regions 1 and 4 attend a leadership development workshop hosted by the Clarendon Leo Club. The Leos are being addressed by Past District Governor Lion Tony Smatt.
the Lions Clubs International Foundation has awarded more than US$700 million in grants to support Lions humanitarian community projects around the world. Together, our Foundation and Lions are helping communities following natural disasters by providing for immediate needs such as food, water, clothing and medical supplies – and aiding in longterm reconstruction.
We are committed to serve others for the next 100 years! A Leo from St Andrew, Grenada, teaching a class of youngsters. Lion District Governor Errol Lee (centre) poses with the Leos from the newly formed Alpha Club of John Gray High School, Grand Cayman. THE LEO Programme is a project of the Lions Club and began in 1957 when Jim Graver, baseball coach of the Abington High School in Pennsylvania, USA, chartered the first Leo Club. Out of this first Leo Club, the meaning of the Leo acronym was created – Leadership, Equality, Opportunity. Later, Equality was changed to Experience.
In October 1967, the board of directors of Lions Clubs International adopted the Leo Club Programme as an official programme of the association.
Over the years, the Leo Club Programme has expanded and Leos now constitute an international network of approximately 144,000 Leos and 5,700 Leo clubs in more than 140 countries worldwide. Community service remains the cornerstone of the programme, Zone Chairperson – Zone 3A, Barbados, Lion Shonda Forde, makes a donation to a worthy charity.
fostering a lifetime commitment to helping others.
The Leo Club’s objective is: to provide the youth of the world with an opportunity for development and contribution, individually and collectively, as responsible members of the local, national and international community.