Lions Clubs International is the world’s largest and most active service club. With its motto “We Serve”, its members volunteer their time to humanitarian causes in 200 countries and geographic areas.
1.1 Lions International
The International Association of Lions Clubs began as the dream of a Chicago businessman, Melvin Jones, and was initiated on June 7, 1917 when he inspired an organisational meeting of several existing business clubs to form a service club.
Lions Clubs International is today the world’s largest and most active service club, with over 1.4 million men and women in 40,000 clubs located in 200 countries and geographic areas. The members are men and women who volunteer their time to humanitarian causes.
The volunteer organisation’s motto is “We Serve” and its mission statement is “To create a spirit of understanding among all people for humanitarian needs by providing voluntary services through community involvement and international cooperation”.
In 1945, Lions Clubs International helped the United Nations form the Non-Governmental Organisations section and continues to hold consultative status with the UN.
The International Association’s headquarters remains in Chicago and is managed by an elected Board of 34 members representing all parts of the globe. Major policy matters are determined by delegates to the annual International Convention.
1.2 Service to Others
Based on a recent report of Lions clubs worldwide, it is estimated that each year the clubs donate approximately US$506 million and 71 million hours of volunteer labour which is equivalent to 34,000 people working full time.
Internationally, Lions clubs are recognised for their service to the blind and visually impaired through their worldwide SightFirst program. This unprecedented US$202 million global initiative begun in 1990, joined Lions volunteers with experts and governments to fight the major causes of preventable and reversible blindness. SightFirst has provided more than 3.4 million cataract surgeries, built or expanded 154 eye hospitals, supported more than 114 million treatments to prevent river blindness and improved eye care in 91 countries. A global campaign SightFirst II was initiated in 2005 to continue and expand the SightFirst work and has to date raised over US$200 million.
Lions make a strong commitment to young people through youth outreach and international youth programs such as Leo clubs, Youth Exchange, Youth of the Year and children’s camps and work to improve the environment, build homes for the disabled, support diabetes education and conduct hearing programs.
The charitable arm of Lion Clubs International, the Lion Clubs International Foundation (“LCIF”) has a strong record of helping those in need. LCIF has three major objectives: humanitarian services, vocational assistance and disaster relief. LCIF also oversees the funding and progress of major Lions programs. Lions clubs can apply to LCIF for assistance with major projects such as hospitals, schools and youth facilities. Since LCIF began in 1968, it has awarded nearly 9000 grants totaling US$640 million.