Lions Clubs are community service organizations that provide services and programs at the local and international levels. The organization has 45,000 clubs and 1.3 million members worldwide. Members are volunteers, and they engage in activities such as diverse as tutoring programs and international disaster relief efforts. The Lions Clubs are most famous for their ongoing campaign to save the eyesight of people throughout the world.
Melvin Jones, a Chicago businessman, decided that his local business club should have a greater purpose. He suggested that the club work to serve the community and improve the state of the world. In 1917, he invited business groups from across the country to a meeting. The Association of Lions Clubs attended the meeting. Jones liked the name and took it for the greater organization. By 1920, Lions Clubs opened in other countries. Helen Keller asked the Lions Clubs to help fight blindness in 1925, and that became its hallmark mission.
Members are volunteers from the local community. There are three levels of membership: individual, family and student. Membership is by invitation only. Interested candidates must attend a meeting and request membership.
Sight First Program
The Sight First Program is the Lions Clubs' most famous program. The program offers free exams to the public, provides education about eye disease and runs the Lions Eye Bank. The Lions Eye Bank houses eye tissue, which is used for medical research, education and 30,000 surgeries each year. The Lions Club also has a program to recycle eyeglasses for the needy and provides assistance for people who need eye surgery.
The Lions Clubs work to educate the public about environmental issues. Lions Clubs volunteers also run recycling programs, plant trees and remove graffiti from neighborhoods. The clubs offer cleanup programs to clean trash from roads, help with cleanup after natural disasters and rake leaves. Lions Clubs members also work on landscaping projects for public spaces.
Lions Clubs raise awareness of a variety of health issues. They run camps for deaf children and run a hearing aid recycling program. They conduct educational campaigns for diabetes and breast cancer awareness. The Leo Program is a volunteer service for children under 18. Volunteers help other children. The Leo Program offers tutoring, hospital visits and food drives for homeless children. Lions Clubs provide scholarships to area youth. They also offer recreational and mentorship programs.
Lions Clubs International 300 W. 22nd St. Oak Brook, IL 60523-8842 630-571-5466
Heather Potter has more than 10 years experience as a writer. She specializes in travel writing, and her writing has appeared on national websites, including USA Today. She attended Boston University.