The History of Lions
The International Association of Lions Clubs began as the dream of Chicago businessman Melvin Jones. He believed that local business clubs should expand their horizons from purely professional concerns to the betterment of their communities and the world at large.
Jones’ group, the Business Circle of Chicago, agreed. After contacting similar groups around the United States, an organizational meeting was held on June 7, 1917 in Chicago, Illinois, USA. The new group took the name of one of the invited groups, the “Association of Lions Clubs,” and a national convention was held in Dallas, Texas, USA in October of that year. A constitution, by-laws, objects and code of ethics were approved.
Among the objects adopted in those early years was one that read, “No club shall hold out the financial betterment of its members as its object.” This call for unselfish service to others remains one of the association’s main tenets.
Just three years after its formation, the association became international when the first club in Canada was established in 1920. Major international expansion continued as clubs were established, particularly throughout Europe, Asia and Africa during the 1950s and ’60s.
In 1925, Helen Keller addressed the Lions international convention in Cedar Point, Ohio, USA. She challenged Lions to become “knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness.” From this time, Lions clubs have been actively involved in service to the blind and visually impaired.
Broadening its international role, Lions Clubs International helped the United Nations form the Non-Governmental Organizations sections in 1945 and continues to hold consultative status with the U.N.
The Colleyville Lions Club was charted in 1982.
In 1990, Lions launched its most aggressive sight preservation effort, SightFirst. The US$143.5 million program strives to rid the world of preventable and reversible blindness by supporting desperately needed health care services.
In addition to sight programs, Lions Clubs International is committed to providing services for youth. Lions clubs also work to improve the environment, build homes for the disabled, support diabetes education, conduct hearing programs and, through their foundation, provide disaster relief around the world.
General Membership Information
Through membership in a Lions club, people not only help those in need, but have opportunities to develop personal friendships and gain valuable leadership skills.
Membership is open to men and women of legal majority and good reputation in the community, and is by invitation only. Clubs meet at least twice a month and elect officers annually. The association is governed by an international board of directors. Each year, approximately 20,000 Lions attend the international convention to discuss new ideas, share experiences and reaffirm friendship and fellowship.
Lions International Purposes
- 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 community.
- To Unite the clubs in the bonds of friendship, good fellowship and mutual understanding.
- 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 people 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.
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 others, 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 another, but that true friendship demands nothing but accepts service in the spirit in which it is given.
- Always to bear in mind my obligations as a citizen to my nation, my state, and my community, as to give them my unswerving loyalty in word, act, and deed. To give them freely of my time, labor and means.
- To Aid others by giving my sympathy to those in distress, my aid to the weak, and my substance to the needy.
- To Be Careful with my criticism and liberal with my praise; to build up and not destroy.