Lions Club International
Lions Club International was founded by Chicago businessman Melvin Jones
FIRST INTERNATIONAL CLUB
The first International Club was formed in Ontario, Canada
At the yearly convention, Lions member John Henley pushed for the establishment of the Lions Medical Research Foundation to support kidney disease research
Women were granted membership for the first time
As of April, there were 1.4 million Lions Club members
“You can’t get very far until you start doing something for somebody else.”
-Melvin Jones, founder Lions Club International
Lions Club 100 Years Ago
Melvin Jones founded the Lions Club International in June of 1917 in Chicago IL (headquartered in the suburb of Oak Brook). His background included a career in insurance and membership in the Freemasons* and a local business group. Ultimately Jones invited other local men’s groups/clubs around Chicago to put their talents to work in the community service arena. The focus on community service evolved from his credo, “You can get very far until you start doing something for somebody else.”
Jones asked his colleagues, “What if these men who are successful because of their drive, intelligence and ambition, were to put their talents to work improving their communities?” “We Serve” became the motto of the Lions Club International, and Lions serve without regard to politics or religion. As of April 2015, there were over 1.4 million members in 46,000 clubs and 200 countries internationally (the first international Club was established in 1920 in Ontario Canada). Lions programs include blindness prevention**, hearing and speech conservation, diabetes, and international relations. The Lions have eight stated purposes that involve outreach, service to other Lions and the community without regard for monetary reward, and matters of public interest and good citizenship.
The Lions Medical Research Foundation (LMRF)
In 1963, John Henley a Lions member who was on the board of the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane Australia, put forth a motion that the LMRF support research in kidney disease. It took 40 clubs three years to successfully the project. Since then, the LMRF has researched topics including: immunology, gastroenterology, tissue matching, diabetes and associated medical conditions, and molecular genetic screening.
Can I Join the Lions?
A person must be sponsored by a current member in order to receive an invitation to join a Lions Club. Members are encouraged to attend meetings every month (timing may be Club-specific). Members are also expected to contribute time and money, so the commitment should not be taken lightly. There is the opportunity to advance from local to zone to district to international levels within the Lions. Women were granted permission to join in 1987 by amendment to the Lions constitution.
The Lions Family
The Lions Club is not just for business men and women; there is the Lioness Club, mostly disbanded as women can join the Lions Club, Leo Clubs are for young people interested in community service (18 to 30 years old), Campus Lions Club, which target college students to develop leadership skills, and finally the Lion Cubs – students 8 to 12 – and too young to be a Leo Club member.
Did You Know?
- The acronym LIONS stands for Liberty, Intelligence, Our Nations’ Safety.
- Lion Pups, a variation on the corn dog, has been sold by the Lions Club at the Smithfield Blue Sox (Utah) field for over 50 years.
- Ian Frazer, Translational Research Institute Australia, developed the HPV vaccine against cervical cancer with funding by the Lions Medical Research Foundation.
- India is 2nd largest country supporting Lions Clubs – they have 240,000 members in 6,400 clubs.
* A Lion may be a Freemason and a Freemason may be a Lion, but the organizations share little else except for community service.
** A goal of the Lions is wipe out blindness due to the tropical disease, trachoma.
Have a centennial suggestion? Let us know!