Lions History

In 1917, a Chicago business leader 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 1.3 million members and countless 
stories of Lions acting on the same simple idea:  let's 
improve our communities.  That business leader was 
Melvin Jones. He convened an organizational meeting of 
clubs that formed Lions Clubs International on June 7, 1917, 
in Chicago. Later that year, Lions held the first national 
convention in Dallas and created a constitution, by-laws, 
objects and a code of ethics.
1920: Going International
Just three years later, Lions went 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. 
1925: Helen Keller and the "Crusade Against Darkness" 
One of our earliest and most influential causes has been 
eradicating blindness. That began in 1925, when Helen Keller
addressed the Lions Clubs International Convention in Cedar Point, 
Ohio, USA.  She challenged us to become "knights of the blind in the
crusade against darkness. " Since then, we have worked tirelessly to 
fulfill her charge to aid the blind and visually impaired.
1945: Uniting Nations
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.
1957: Establishing Youth Programs
In the late 1950s, we created the Leo Program to provide the
youth of the world an opportunity for personal development and 
contribution.  There are now more than 5,500 Leo clubs in more 
than 130 countries, with more than 140,000 Leos worldwide. 
1990: SightFirst
In 1990, we launched our most aggressive sight preservation effort, 
SightFirst. This US$215 million program aims to rid the world of 
preventable and reversible blindness by supporting desperately needed
health care services. In 2008, Lions completed Campaign SightFirst II, 
which raised more than US$200 million to expand the program.
Today: Local and Global Service
Lions Clubs International grows stronger and extends our 
mission of service every day – in local communities, in all corners 
of the globe. In 2002, we were the first international service club
to be granted permission to organize and operate clubs in 
mainland China. And in 2007, a Lions club was formed in Iraq. 
These clubs join an international network that has grown to
include 45,000 clubs located in more than 200 countries across the globe.

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