“You can’t get very far until you start doing something for somebody else” – Melvin Jones, Founder of Lions Club
The International Association of LIONS Clubs is the largest and most active service club organization in the world. Comprising more than 1.4 million members from over 170 countries, The International Association of LIONS Clubs is dedicated to serving those that are less fortunate.
Founded in 1917 by Melvin Jones, a Chicago insurance man, the Association of LIONS clubs became an international association in 1920. The proper name is “The International Association of LIONS Clubs”, which is often abbreviated ” LIONS Clubs International.” One of the main tenets of Lionism is that “No Club shall hold out the financial betterment of its members as its object.”
LIONS stands for “Liberty, Intelligence, Our Nation’s Safety.”
LIONS clubs are organized in districts which are often based on national, state or provincial lines. There are 680 districts in the world. If the number of clubs in a district is large, the larger district is called a Multiple District (Ohio is Multiple District 13). In Ohio, there are 10 districts.
LIONS membership is by invitation only. Membership is open to persons of legal majority who have demonstrated high moral character and a commitment to community betterment. Usually, an active LIONS member, the “sponsor”, will invite a potential member, the “guest”, to his or her LIONS club meeting. Meeting usually occur twice per month. If interested, the guest will be invited to join the club and become an active member.
LIONS clubs and their members conduct a variety of humanitarian projects to better their communities as well as the international community, in general. The major service commitment is toward the prevention of and recovery from blindness. Toward this goal, the LIONS support research into the prevention, treatment and cure of eye disease. However, as noted below, LIONS clubs undertake a wide range of projects and services for the betterment of mankind. Service commitments include:
- SightFirst – An international program dedicated to fighting blindness worldwide. Clubs work individually and through their districts to prevent and treat blinding eye disease.
- Sight Conservation and Work with the Blind – LIONS clubs establish glaucoma screening programs, eye banks, eye glasses collection drives and rehabilitation institutes. They help individual visually impaired and blind students, help pay for scholarships for blind students as well as guide dogs. Each year thousands of pairs of eye glasses are collected and sent to third world countries to provide clear vision to those who would otherwise not be able to afford or acquire eye glasses.
- White Cane – The familiar white canes for the blind were introduced by the LIONS.
- Diabetes Awareness – Diabetes is one of the major causes of blindness and many people are not aware that they have the disease. LIONS educate people about the disease and the early warning signs of diabetes. Through the LIONS Club International Foundation (LCIF), the LIONS support medical facilities and research into the prevention, treatment and cure of diabetic retinopathy, a leading cause of blindness.
- Hearing and Speech Action and Work with the Deaf – Auditory equipment is furnished to schools with hearing-impaired students. LIONS conduct hearing screening programs, support rehabilitation programs and repair hearing aids for needy children and adults.
- Drug awareness – LIONS provide educational programs designed to prevent drug abuse and allow children to make healthy decisions about their lives.
- Health Services – LIONS provide extensive medical relief to underdeveloped countries and organize a wide range of prevention, detection and treatment programs. Medical research institutions receive a great deal of contributions from LIONS clubs and districts.
- Public Services – LIONS distribute information about the latest methods of food production and protection in third world countries. Other programs relate to traffic, home, farm, school and recreational safety.
- Environmental Services – LIONS work with other organizations to promote a clean and healthy environment. LIONS members clean litter from roadways, clear rubbish from streams and promote a healthier environment for the next generation.
- Citizenship Services – LIONS work with veterans’ organizations and participate in patriotic and civic community programs.
- Educational Services – LIONS award thousands of scholarships every year. LIONS also promote literacy and vocational programs in underprivileged areas.
- Recreational Services – LIONS build playgrounds, swimming pools, gardens, town squares and donate equipment to needy organizations.
- Social Services – LIONS sponsor many programs for the physically and mentally handicapped, aged and underprivileged. LIONS have constructed homes for orphans and the elderly as well as rehabilitation institutes for the handicapped.
- Leo Clubs – LEO (Leadership, Experience and Opportunity) clubs are designed for older school-aged children to engage in activities that are aimed at the underprivileged at the local level.