Lions Clubs – Where There's A Need There's A Lion
Whenever a Lions club gets together, problems get smaller. And communities get better. That's because we help where help is needed – in our own communities and around the world – with unmatched integrity and energy.
The World's Largest Service Club Organization
Our 46,000 clubs and 1.4+ million members make us the world's largest service club organization. We're also one of the most effective. Our members do whatever is needed to help their local communities. Everywhere we work, we make friends. With children who need eyeglasses, with seniors who don’t have enough to eat and with people we may never meet.
To empower volunteers to serve their communities, meet humanitarian needs, encourage peace and promote international understanding through Lions clubs.
To be the global leader in community and humanitarian service.
In 1917, Melvin Jones, a 38-year-old Chicago business leader, told members of his local business club they should reach beyond business issues and address the betterment of their communities and the world. 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 a code of ethics were approved.
Within three years, Lions became an international organization. Since then, we've earned high marks for both integrity and transparency. We're a well-run organization with a steady vision, a clear mission, and a long – and proud – history.
Melvin Jones asked a simple and world-changing question – what if people put their talents to work improving their communities? Almost 100 years later, Lions Clubs International is the world's largest service club organization, with 1.35 million members in more than 46,000 clubs and countless stories of Lions acting on the same simple idea: let's improve our communities.
Just three years after our founding, Lions became international when we established the first club in Canada. Mexico followed in 1927. In the 1950s and 1960s international growth accelerated, with new clubs in Europe, Asia and Africa.
Helen Keller addressed the Lions Clubs International Convention in Cedar Point, Ohio, USA, and challenged Lions to become "knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness." Since then, we have worked tirelessly to aid the blind and visually impaired.
The ideal of an international organization is exemplified by our enduring relationship with the United Nations. We were one of the first nongovernmental organizations invited to assist in the drafting of the United Nations Charter and have supported the work of the UN ever since.
In the late 1950s, we created the Leo Program to provide the youth of the world with an opportunity for personal development through volunteering. There are approximately 144,000 Leos and 5,700 Leo clubs in more than 140 countries worldwide.
Lions Clubs International Foundation assists Lions with global and large-scale local humanitarian projects. Through our Foundation, Lions meet the needs of their local and global communities.
Through SightFirst, Lions are restoring sight and preventing blindness on a global scale. Launched in 1990, Lions have raised more than $346 million for this initiative. SightFirst targets the major causes of blindness: cataract, trachoma, river blindness, childhood blindness, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma.
Lions Clubs International extends our mission of service every day – in local communities, in all corners of the globe. The needs are great and our services broad, including sight, health, youth, elderly, the environment and disaster relief. Our international network has grown to include over 200 countries and geographic areas.
Purpose and Ethics
- To Organize, charter and supervise service clubs to be known as Lions clubs.
- To Coordinate the activities and standardize the administration of Lions clubs.
- 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 Clubs 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 to 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, and 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.
Melvin Jones Biography
Melvin Jones was born on January 13, 1879 in Fort Thomas, Arizona, the son of a United States Army captain who commanded a troop of scouts. Later, his father was transferred and the family moved east. As a young man, Melvin Jones made his home in Chicago, Illinois, became associated with an insurance firm and in 1913 formed his own agency.
He soon joined the Business Circle, a businessmen's luncheon group, and was shortly elected secretary. This group was one of many at that time devoted solely to promoting the financial interests of their membership. Because of their limited appeal, they were destined to disappear. Melvin Jones, then a 38-year-old Chicago business leader, had other plans.
"What if these men," Melvin Jones asked, "who are successful because of their drive, intelligence and ambition, were to put their talents to work improving their communities?" Thus, at his invitation, delegates from men's clubs met in Chicago to lay the groundwork for such an organization and on June 7, 1917, Lions Clubs International was born.
Melvin Jones eventually abandoned his insurance agency to devote himself full time to Lions at International Headquarters in Chicago. It was under his dynamic leadership that Lions clubs earned the prestige necessary to attract civic-minded members.
The association's founder was also recognized as a leader by those outside the association. One of his greatest honors was in 1945 when he represented Lions Clubs International as a consultant in San Francisco, California, at the organization of the United Nations.
Melvin Jones, the man whose personal code – "You can't get very far until you start doing something for somebody else" – became a guiding principle for public-spirited people the world over, died June 1, 1961 at 82 years of age.
Born in Tuscumbia, Alabama, USA, in 1880, Helen Keller developed a fever at 18 months of age that left her blind and deaf.
With the help of an exceptional teacher, Anne Mansfield Sullivan of the Perkins School for the Blind, Helen Keller learned sign language and braille. A few years later, she learned to speak. As an adult she became a tireless advocate for people with disabilities. And in 1925, she attended the Lions Clubs International Convention and challenged Lions to become "knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness."
The Lions accepted her challenge and our work ever since has included sight programs aimed at preventable blindness.
Helen Keller Day
In 1971, the Board of Directors of Lions Clubs International declared that June 1 would be remembered as Helen Keller Day. Lions around the world implement sight-related service projects on Helen Keller Day.
Helen Keller's Speech at 1925 International Convention Cedar Point, Ohio, USA June 30, 1925