Touchstone Story #70–Serving the Elderly

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The Essendon Lions Club in Essendon, Australia, had the land. 

The Coburg Lions Club in Coburg, Australia, had the money. 

They came together with a vision: to build a caring community for elderly people in need. 

Lionsville was founded in 1966, built on “crown land” owned by the government but under the management of the Essendon club. It began with a modest eight units, each one housing a single occupant. But within three years, the success of Lionsville attracted government grants, allowing the community to expand to 39 buildings.  

A chance encounter between an Australian Lion and a friendly stranger in Canada led to Lionsville’s further expansion. The Australian Lion was the victim of a pickpocket while vacationing, and the Canadian loaned him some cash. The stranger asked about the Lions Clubs International pin on his lapel, and he was so impressed with the Lions philosophy of service that he took his gift one giant leap forward: the stranger sent a $20,000 donation to Lionsville to establish a recreation hall, to be called Ruthville in honor of the stranger’s late wife. 

Lionsville has continued to grow. Today, it consists of 84 units, a lakefront cycling and walking path and a full schedule of activities. The Essendon and Coburg Lions continue to volunteer at Lionsville, and visitors from as far as Japan have come to take note of how Lionsville serves its residents. 

“We’ve been able to develop from small beginnings to a project that really does deserve worldwide recognition,” said Lion Neil Baudenette, former secretary of Lionsville. “We stepped into and filled a gap that was very visible—and nobody seemed to be trying to fill it.” 

Care for the elderly is a priority for Lions clubs around the world. Offering assistance with care and dignity is an honor and a privilege among the many services Lions provide.  

Explore the exciting history of Lions Clubs International with our exclusive Touchstone Stories series. They’re a great resource for promoting service at your club meetings!


Leo Club Program: Year in Review 2016-2017

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Young people play a critical role in the success of our association. Through the Leo Club Program, young people serve as critical thinkers, changemakers, innovators, communicators and leaders. Leos continue to expand their impact and broaden our organization’s network of young partners in service. Check out the Leo Club Program Year in Review Infographic to see all of our 2016-2017 achievements.



SightFirst Continues to Have a Dramatic Impact on Timor-Leste

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Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) provides support for preventing avoidable blindness and restoring sight for people around the world. With a focus on building comprehensive and sustainable eye care systems, SightFirst provides funding for projects that deliver eye care services, build or strengthen eye care facilities, train professionals and build awareness about eye health in underserved communities.

The Lions of District 201-Q4 in Australia, in partnership with the Lions Club of Timor-Leste and the East Timor Eye Program, received a SightFirst grant for US$465,512 to help develop the local eye care system in Timor-Leste.

As part of this project, 3 trainees who were Senior Registrars completed an 18-month training program in the capital city of Dili and earned their Post Graduate Diploma of Ophthalmology. The graduation of Dr. Bernadete, Dr. Julia and Dr. Valerio brings the total number of ophthalmologists in Timor-Leste to 4, dramatically increasing possible access to eye care for the people living on the island.

SightFirst support to Timor-Leste is ongoing with a second grant for US$600,000. Human resource training is also a focus of this project, which aims to further develop the eye care system in order to ensure sustainability by 2019.

Lions Donate to Flood Victims in South Africa

LCIF Awards Disaster Grants, June 2017

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Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) offers a variety of funding options to support various stages for disaster relief operations, including Disaster Preparedness, Emergency, Community Recovery and Major Catastrophe Grants.

For districts impacted by a natural disaster including tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, and tsunamis, Emergency Grants provide up to US$10,000. Lions district governors may apply for disaster relief funds to help meet immediate needs such as food, water, clothing and medical supplies. LCIF typically awards more than US$2 million in Emergency Grant funding each year. Community Recovery Grants aid districts interested in supporting short-term clean-up and repair efforts in situations where other organizations have already addressed immediate needs. Lions district governors may submit proposals for community recovery grants.

In June 2017, LCIF awarded 8 Emergency Grants totaling US$80,000. These grants are addressing immediate needs in:

The Republic of Bangladesh, District 315-B4 
US$10,000 for cyclone relief

Brazil, District LA-3
US$10,000 for flood relief

The Republic of South Africa, District 410-D
US$10,000 for fire relief

Brazil, District LD-5
US$10,000 for flood relief

MD300 Taiwan, District 300-C3
US$10,000 for flood relief

Uruguay, District J-1
US$10,000 for flood relief

Portugal, District 115-CS
US$10,000 for wildfire relief

Greece, District 117-A
US$10,000 for earthquake relief


Please consider making a donation to LCIF’s disaster fund today.

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Touchstone Story #64–Matteo’s Dream

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Matteo and his parents shared a dream. Lions helped make that dream come true.

Matteo’s Dream is a real place now, a special park filled with the sound of playing children, in the town of Concord, California, just outside of San Francisco. It exists because the hopes of a boy with disabilities inspired an entire community to act.

Adopted in 2000 as an infant by Lions Liz Lamach and Rene Henderson, Matteo faced many challenges. He yearned to be able to play with the other children at the playground. But conventional parks couldn’t accommodate a boy with multiple disabilities who used a wheelchair.

What Matteo needed was an “all-abilities” park. Such parks are carefully designed so that children with limitations on their abilities to walk, see or hear are able to play alongside other children. His parents wanted the same thing. “When I was a kid, playgrounds were one of my favorite things,” said Lamach. “I couldn’t imagine him going through life not experiencing that.”

Bolstered by a US$75,000 grant from Lions Clubs International Foundation, Lions in Northern California raised more than half a million dollars for a playground over a period of three years. The project gathered momentum in 2005 when the City of Concord donated US$220,000 and the land for the proposed park—to be named Matteo’s Dream.

In 2007, the long-planned dream came together. Over eight days, 3,000 local volunteers erected the 12,000-square-foot playground. Lions from 45 different clubs were among the many volunteers.

“It was like a barn-raising, when the whole community would come together to help a neighbor,” said Concord Director of Parks and Recreation Joan Carrico. “It was just very special.”

The park accommodates children with many disabilities, giving them a chance to play shoulder-to-shoulder with other children. A rubber surface and extra-wide ramps allow children in wheelchairs to maneuver easily. Slides are specially treated so they don’t generate static that interferes with cochlear implants or other hearing devices, and a tactile slide lets children with visual impairments feel different surfaces.

Matteo was seven years old when the park named after him was built, and he loved to visit. He was especially fond of sitting in the giant rocking-boat structure. Matteo died in 2011 when he was just 11, but he left behind a legacy: a playground where all children can have fun.

The high-profile success of the Concord park energized other towns to build their own inclusive parks. Lions posthumously honored Matteo as a Melvin Jones Fellow, citing “the lives that Matteo has touched around the world through his playgrounds.”

When Lions learned that the theme of the 2014 Tournament of Roses parade—a huge annual event held near Los Angeles that is broadcast to hundreds of millions of people around the world—was “Dreams Come True,” Lions planning the Lions’ float took action. They built their float to resemble the special park and named it “Lions Built Matteo’s Dream.” The float captured the parade judge’s attention and won the Tournament Special Trophy.

The Lions helped to create something special in Concord. “There would be no Matteo’s Dream without the Lions Club,” said Lamach.

Explore the exciting history of Lions Clubs International with our exclusive Touchstone Stories series. Don’t forget to share these stories with new members so they gain an understanding of Lions history!


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