Monday, March 27, 2017

100 Years of Lions

The following article was published in the 71st Gold Medal Basketball Tournament program honoring our 100 Years of Lions:

100 Years of Lions
The distinguished history of the Lions Clubs International forms the foundation for nearly everything Lions clubs do today.  From our humble beginnings to our commitment to sight initiatives, there is a significant basis for all our humanitarian services.  Knowing and understanding our history gives us perspective and helps us keep our dedication and community thriving.

Lions have been helping people since 1917.  That year, Melvin Jones, a Chicago businessman, encouraged his club, the Chicago Business Circle, to go beyond promoting good business practices.  He convinced the members that selfless service to others would create a better community -- a better world -- for all.

Melvin Jones also saw that a network of clubs working together could do much more than individual clubs acting alone.  He invited similar groups from around the United States to a meeting on June 7, 1917 in Chicago, Illinois, USA.  There, the Association of Lions Clubs was born.  Later that year, a convention was held in Dallas, Texas, USA to formally adopt a constitution, by-laws and a code of ethics.  The fledgling group became the International Association of Lions Clubs just three years later in 1920 when a new Lions club was formed in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.

Perhaps the single event having the greatest impact on the association's service commitment occurred in 1925, when Helen Keller addressed the Lions at the international convention in Cedar Point, Ohio, USA.  It was there that she challenged the Lions to become "knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness."

Broadening its role in international understanding, the association was one of the first nongovernmental organizations invited to assist in the drafting of the United Nations Charter in 1945 and has supported the work of the UN ever since.

In 1957, the Leo Program was created to provide the youth of the world with an opportunity for personal development through volunteering.

In 1968, the Lions Clubs International Foundation was established to assist Lions with global and large-scale local humanitarian projects.  Through our Foundation, Lions meet the needs of their local and global communities.

In 1987, Lions Clubs International became the first major service club to admit women as members.

In 1990, Lions launched their most aggressive sight preservation effort to date, SightFirst.  The program strives to rid the world of preventable and reversible blindness by closing the gap between existing health care services and those that remain desperately needed.

In the 100 years since its founding, the association -- usually called Lions Clubs International (LCI) -- has spread to all corners of the globe, where Lions are welcomed and respected for their vision, integrity, and dedication to our official motto:  "We Serve."

On July 17, 1917, at the invitation of Melvin Jones, delegates met in Chicago.  The only point of contention was the selection of a name for the new organization.  Melvin Jones researched the idea of calling the new organization Lions.  The name Lions was chosen on a secret ballot over several others because the lion stood for strength, courage, fidelity and vital action.  The official name of the association is "The International Association of Lions Clubs" or simply "Lions Clubs International."

The Lions emblem (or logo) is a recognized and respected symbol all around the world.  Although it has been modified and modernized, the basic design dates back to 1919.  It consists of a gold "L" on a blue field surrounded by a gold circle.  On either side of the circle is the profile of a lion's head, one looking back upon a proud past and the other looking optimistically toward the future.

Various forms of the emblem may be downloaded for member and club use from the LCI website.  You should know, however, that the emblem is a registered trademark in most countries and should only be used in accordance with the Lions Club International Trademark Policies, which may be found on the LCI website.

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