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Wednesday, November 5th, 7:00p.m. at Nulli's Italia
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Wednesday, December 3rd, 7:00p.m. at Nulli's Italia.


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Mike Michaud


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 organizations from 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 its object."

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 charitable 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 clubs 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 decade.

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.


  • 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.


  1. TO CREATE and foster a spirit of understanding among the peoples of the world.
  2. TO PROMOTE the principles of good government and good citizenship.
  3. TO TAKE an active interest in the civic, cultural, social and moral welfare of the community.
  4. TO UNITE the Clubs in the bonds of friendship, good fellowship and mutual understanding.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.


    President Barbara Gouchoe read the speech.

    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.

    Barbara Gouchoe

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