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The Club Newsletter
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The International Association of Lions Clubs began as the dream of a Chicago
insurance man Melvin Jones, who wondered why local business clubs -- he was an
active member of one -- could not expand their horizons from purely business
concerns to the betterment of their communities and the world at large.
Jones' idea struck a chord within his own group, the Business Circle of
Chicago, and they authorized him to explore his concept with similar
around the United States. His efforts resulted in an organizational meeting at
a local hotel on June 7, 1917.
The 12 men who gathered there overcame a natural sense of loyalty to their
parent clubs, voted the "Association of Lions Clubs" into existence, and issued
a call for a national convention to be held in Dallas, Texas, USA in October of
the same year.
Thirty-six delegates representing 22 clubs from nine states heeded the call,
approved the "Lions Clubs" designation, and elected Dr. William P. Woods of
Indiana as their first president. Guiding force and founder Melvin Jones was
named acting secretary. Thus began an association with Lionism that only ended
with his death in 1961.
That first convention also began to define what Lionism was to become. A
constitution and by-laws were adopted, the colors of purple and gold approved,
and a start made on Lionism's Objectives and Code of Ethics.
One of the objects was startling for an era that prided itself on mercenary
individualism, and has remained one of the main tenets of Lionism ever since.
"No Club," it read, "shall hold out the financial betterment of its members as
Community leaders soon began to organize clubs throughout the United States,
andthe association became "international" with the formation of the Windsor,
Ontario, Canada Lions Club in 1920. Clubs were later organized in China, Mexico,
and Cuba. By 1927, membership stood at 60 000 in 1 183 clubs.
In 1935, Panama became home to the first Central American club, with the first
South American club being organized in Colombia the following year. Lionism
reached Australia in 1947 and Europe in 1948, as clubs were chartered in Sweden,
Switzerland, and France. In 1952, the first club was chartered in Japan.
The International Association of Lions Clubs is today the largest service
organization in the world with over 1,4 million members in more than 43 300
clubs in 714 Districts covering 182 countries and geographic areas. Lions Clubs
are not social clubs, although there are social benefits to membership. Lions
Club members give their time, skills and resources to raise funds for
giving both in their communities and internationally.
The major focus of Lions fund raising activities is sight conservation, although
other projects are pursued such as drug awareness programs in high schools,
diabetes awareness programs and other programs that are specific to individual
Clubs and Districts. Lions took up sight conservation as their major goal after
a speech given by Helen Keller at the Lions International Convention held at
Cedar Point, Ohio, in 1925. At that time, Helen Keller challenged the Lions to
become "Knights of the Blind", a challenge that has become a rallying cry for
Lions projects around the world. (Goto Sight Conservation links)
Lions work in the area of sight conservation is carried out at many levels from Guide Dog Programs to
individual Clubs sponsor free eye screening programs using mobile eye clinics.
In many countries, Clubs sponsor eye surgery camps where cataract surgeries are
performed at no charge for those that can't afford this medical care. Many
collect old eye glasses for distribution to the needy in other countries.
The International Association of Lions Clubs is the largest non-governmental
organization associated with the United Nations and was called upon by the
United Nations and the World Health Organization to raise funds for an
international program of sight conservation. It has been estimated that 40
million cases of curable and preventable blindness exist on this planet today.
Without intervention, this is projected to become 80 million by the end of the
The International Association of Lions Clubs began a program of fund raising
that they called "Campaign Sight First" in order to cure/prevent 40 million
cases of blindness worldwide. Over $148,600,000 have been raised by Lions all
over the world for this program. Eye hospitals are being built in the places
that most need them. In India alone, over 300,000 cataract surgeries have been
performed and that number is rapidly growing. Lions services to humanity range
from purchasing eyeglass for a child who's parents can't afford them to
multimillion dollar programs to cure blindness on a worldwide scale.
Although the youngest of the world-wide service clubs, Lions International is by far the
largest, with more than 1,415,600 members in 42,732 clubs in 178 countries on six
continents. Lions International, officially named The International Association of Lions
Clubs, was formed on June 7, 1917, after a merger of business luncheon clubs in Chicago
with the Lions Clubs of Indiana. Melvin Jones, a young Chicago insurance agent, is
considered the Founder of Lionism and served for more than forty years as the first General
Secretary of the national organization.
The first national Lions convention was held on October 8, 1917, in Dallas, Texas, with 23
clubs participating. International Conventions are now held annually during July, with more
than 15,000 Lions from around the world voting as official delegates. The 1997 Convention
will be held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The Association is a non-profit corporation governed by a volunteer Board of Directors. All
of Lionism serves under the Lions Code of Ethics and the Clubs are governed by the Objects
of Lions Clubs International
Since the International Convention of 1920, when Helen Keller challenged the Lions to
become "Knights of the Blind in the battle against darkness," sight conservation has been a
high priority of Lions service. The first white cane was invented by a Lion, and the first
school to train guide dogs for the blind was started by Lions. Lions established the first eye
banks to harvest corneal tissue to give sight to those who suffered blindness because of
injury or disease. In 1993, the efforts of Lions culminated in the Lions SightFirst
Campaign, a fundraising drive to raise funds to restore the sight of the 32,000,000 people in
the world who have curable blindness and to prevent blindness from occurring to an equal
number who might lose their sight in the next 25 years. The campaign, which raised more
than $146 million, will accomplish those goals around the world.
Lions International Headquarters
300 22nd Street
Oak Brook, Illinois 60521-8842 USA
(630) 571-5466 - Fax (630 571-8890
Office Hours: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Central Time,
during which visitors are always welcome.
LIONS CODE OF ETHICS:
TO SHOW my faith in the worthiness of my vocation by industrious application to the end
that I may merit a reputation for quality of service.
TO SEEK success and to demand all fair remuneration or profit as my just due, but to
accept no profit or success at the price of my own self respect lost because of unfair
advantage taken or because of questionable acts on my part.
TO REMEMBER that, in building up my business, it is not necessary to tear down
another's; to be loyal to my clients or customers and true to myself.
WHENEVER a doubt arises as to the right or ethics of my position or action towards my
fellow men, to resolve such doubt against myself.
TO HOLD friendship as an end, and not a means. To hold that true friendship exists not on
account of the service performed by one to another, but that true friendship
demands nothing but accepts service in the spirit in which it is given.
TO AID my fellow men by giving my sympathy to those in distress, my aid to the weak,
and my substance to the needy.
TO BE careful with my criticisms and liberal with my praise, to build up, not to destroy.
LIONS CLUBS OBJECTS:
TO CREATE and foster a spirit of understanding among the peoples of the world.
TO PROMOTE the principles of good government and good citizenship.
TO TAKE an active interest in the civic, cultural, social and moral welfare of the
TO UNITE the Clubs in the bonds of friendship, good fellowship and mutual
TO PROVIDE a forum for the open discussion of all matters of public interest; provided,
however, that partisan politics and sectarian religion shall not be debated by Club members.
TO ENCOURAGE service-minded men and women to serve their community without
personal financial reward, and to encourage efficiency and promote high ethical standards in
commerce, industry, professions, public works and private endeavors.
Our history starts back in the year l980 when a group of gals decided they wanted to travel on the Volunteer Train; giving of themselves to work without expecting payment or reward. Thus formed the Bolton Lioness Club and over ten years were dedicated to helping and supporting the community. Then in l992 the Volunteer Train made a stop but only long enough to make a transfer to a Lions Club. Over the past I0 years we've made a lot of stops-picking up many members, honoring 4 members with Melvin Jones Fellows, having a Zone Chairman and receiving a Lions International President's Award.
Blessed are we to have one male member and he is a jewel and gives IOO% of himself to all projects. Our club prides itself with having a member who for each meeting, special events or holidays writes in her own words a prayer flowing with feelings that stay with us long after our evening ends.
Memories of all our club events are captivated by a club member on a camera and are stored away for future viewing.
The "We Serve Train" has stopped for every International and District 23-C projects. We have also stopped to purchase hearing aids, harness's for the Feldelco dogs, made sure our seniors were not in need and collected holiday and comfort cards for local shut-ins and patients in local nursing homes.
We are a very strong club with I00% participation in all projects and functions. As you can see over the years the train travels along making needed stops when we are called to serve. The hardest stop we made was the day the world stood still and in shock. We cried, we prayed and we were united. Our club sold American flag pins and donated the profits where needed. And just like a train we just keep on rolling along stopping only when help is needed.
Our club and myself are proud to be among the many thousands of Lions that do stop, do help, do listen, do care and do serve.
President, Barbara Gouchoe
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