International History

The International Association of Lions Clubs was founded in Chicago, Illinois, USA in 1917.
While the youngest of the major organizations of service clubs, Lions Clubs International has become the largest in the world.
Its 1.3 million members are among the clubs in over 205 countries and geographic areas.
The headquarters of Lions Clubs International are located in Oak Brook, Illinois, USA.

For the Lions, "We Serve" is not only a slogan, but a purpose and a guiding principle.

Lions Clubs International
Headquarters of the International Association of Lions Clubs
300 22nd Street, Oak Brook, IL60523-8842 USA
Tel. : (630) 571-5466 - Fax: (630) 571-8890
offices are open to visitors from 8 am to 16.30 pm

The first convention in Dallas in 1917
During the Convention in Dallas in 1917, a name was not immediately found and it took lengthy discussions to find a new name to the Association. It was in 1919 that the option of Melvin Jones won and the "Association of Lions Clubs" became the new name. This was also the name of his business circle in Chicago, which was inspired by the great stone lion located in front of the Chicago Institute of Arts. The Club also took photographs in front of the lion.
The lion was in the business circle a symbol of brotherhood, friendship and strength.
The intervention of a brilliant young lawyer from Denver, Halsted Ritter, was decisive
He proposed that the name LIONS was not only the king of animals and exceptional qualities of brotherhood, friendship and strength, but argued that the letters were very precisely the message of American citizenship: "Liberty, Intelligence, Our Nation's Safety ".
Our emblem (the pin) with a lion who looks alternately back and forward, was taken from the the French artist Rose Bonheur in 1920.
The motto "We Serve" will come much later.

History of Lions Club International

The International Association of Lions Clubs was founded on the idea of a businessman from Chicago, Melvin Jones.

He was convinced that local business clubs should go beyond mere professional considerations to commit to improving their community and the world in general.
He received the approval of his group, the Business Circle of Chicago. After he contacted counterparts in all groups the United States, a business meeting was held on 7 June 1917 in Chicago, Illinois, USA. This new group took the name of one of the groups invited, the "Association of Lions Clubs, and a national convention was held in Dallas, Texas, USA in October of that year. A constitution, statutes, objectives and a code of ethics were approved.
Melvin Jones Memorial (English).

One of the goals adopted at the time stated: "No club can have as its purpose the financial enrichment of its members." This requirement of selflessness remains a fundamental principle of the association.

Three years after its inception, the association became international, with the institution of the first club in Canada in 1920. This considerable expansion continued in the 50s and 60s with the establishment of new clubs, mainly in Europe, Asia and Africa.

In 1925, Helen Keller addressed the Lions at the International Convention of the Association in Cedar Point, Ohio, USA. She challenged Lions to become "knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness." Therefore, Lions clubs have been actively involved in service to blind and visually impaired. Helen Keller Life-story (English)

Broadening its international role, Lions Clubs International helped the United Nations to establish the Non-Governmental Organizations in 1945 and maintains a consultative status with the United Nations.

In 1990, the Lions began their work in the most aggressive program to safeguard sight, SightFirst. This program, whose budget totals $ 143.5 million, aims to rid the world of preventable and reversible blindness.

In addition to sight programs, Lions Clubs International is committed to providing services for youth. Lions clubs also work to defend the environment, building homes for the disabled, support information campaigns on diabetes, implementation of programs to assist hearing and, through their foundation, the international relief in times of disaster.

Lions Club International now includes 1.3 million men and women in 45 000 clubs in 205 countries and geographical areas.