About Lions Clubs International

Internationally, Lions have 45,000 clubs and more than 1.3 million members worldwide making us the world's largest service club organization.  We are also one of the most effective to get the job done.   The International Association of Lions Clubs (LCIF) began as the dream of a Chicago insurance man Melvin Jones, who wondered why local business clubs could not expand their horizons from purely business concerns to the betterment of their communities and the world at large.

Jones' idea struck a chord within his own group, the Business Circle of Chicago, and they authorized him to explore his concept with similar organizations from around the United States. His efforts resulted in an organizational meeting at a local hotel on June 7, 1917.  The 12 men who gathered there overcame a natural sense of loyalty to their parent clubs, voted the "Association of Lions Clubs" into existence, and issued a call for a national convention to be held in Dallas, Texas, USA in October of the same year.

Thirty-six delegates representing 22 clubs from nine states heeded the call, approved the "Lions Clubs" designation, and elected Dr. William P. Woods of Indiana as their first president. Guiding force and founder Melvin Jones was named acting secretary. Thus began an association with Lionism.  Melvin Jones died in 1961 but his dream of Lionism continued.   The first convention began to define what Lionism was to become. A constitution and by-laws were adopted, the colors of purple and gold approved, and a start made on Lionism's Objectives and Code of Ethics.

One of the objects was startling for an era that prided itself on mercenary individualism, and has remained one of the main tenets of Lionism ever since. "No Club," it read, "shall hold out the financial betterment of its members as its object."  Community leaders soon began to organize clubs throughout the United States, and the association became "international" with the formation of the Windsor, Ontario, Canada Lions Club in 1920. Clubs were later organized in China, Mexico, and Cuba. By 1927, membership stood at 60 000 in 1,183 clubs.

In 1935, Panama became home to the first Central American club, with the first South American club being organized in Colombia the following year. Lionism reached Australia in 1947 and Europe in 1948, as clubs were chartered in Sweden, Switzerland, and France. In 1952, the first club was chartered in Japan.

The International Association of Lions Clubs is now the largest service organization in the world with over 1.4 million members in more than 43,300 clubs in 714 Districts covering 182 countries and geographic areas. Lions Clubs are not social clubs, although there are social benefits to membership. Lions Club members give their time, skills and resources to raise funds for charitable giving both in their communities and internationally.

 



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