According to locals, Quito, a city in Ecuador, is la Mitad del Mundo, “the Middle of the World.” Located just a few miles from the equator, it is home to more than 2 million people. Just as it’s possible to stand with one foot in the Northern Hemisphere and the other in the Southern Hemisphere in Ecuador, it’s possible to get a taste of the past (colonial-era cathedrals) and the future (a brand-new subway system).
In 1973, a 100-bed children’s hospital and rehabilitation center were constructed in Quito, sponsored by the Quito (Sixth of December) Lions Club, which raised $20,000 from club members and local businesses. The center was designed with special consideration for children whose parents could not otherwise afford medical treatment. In addition to providing surgical care, the center also offered treatment for polio and birth defects that had been nearly wiped out in other parts of the world. More than that, the center provided classes and instruction in basic reading, writing and mathematics skills to the patients, in some cases the first opportunity for these children to attend such classes.
In addition to offering basic education, the rehabilitation center taught older children how to repair broken appliances. Some youth used this opportunity as vocational training, and others became instructors themselves at the center.
Lions Clubs International sponsors humanitarian missions, first-response disaster relief and vision screenings around the world, but projects like the rehabilitation center in Quito can become a hub for even larger initiatives. In 1947, the Panama City Lions Club in Panama, began raising money for the construction of a children’s hospital, built entirely without government funding. In 1962, a cancer detection center opened in Mumbai, India, inside the Tata Memorial Hospital, sponsored by the Bombay Lions Club. It was the only center of its kind in India.
In 2014, Stella Agbogun, an administrator of the Radiotherapy Department at Lagos University Teaching Hospital in Lagos, Nigeria, and the district 404 B governor, coordinated efforts between the Lagos University Teaching Hospital and the Lions Clubs International Foundation to build Mercy Home, which offers temporary accommodations for patients and their families who have traveled hundreds of miles or more to receive treatment in Lagos and have nowhere else to stay.
Care comes in many forms: prevention and screening, surgery and rehabilitation, a safe and affordable room to sleep in while a loved one receives treatment. Around the world and for a hundred years, Lions Clubs International members have been pioneers of care.
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!
Thank you for your most generous donations to LCIF. Just this year, your donations have enabled LCIF to respond to the disasters from Japan to South Asia to the U.S. Gulf Coast, Mexico and several Caribbean islands.
Earlier this month, Hurricane Harvey devastated the south central coast of Texas and areas of Louisiana. More recently, Hurricane Irma struck Florida and other areas of the Southeast United States, and laid waste to islands in the western Atlantic and Caribbean Sea. Mexico has been rattled by its strongest earthquake in 100 years. Together, LCIF and Lions are supporting relief efforts for all of these disasters.
We have been working directly with Lions in the affected areas to ensure they have what they need to respond in these emergencies, and disaster relief funds have been made available for Lions in all of the affected areas. In turn, Lions are coordinating their efforts with local agencies to determine the greatest need and how Lions can address those needs.
Your donations allow LCIF to respond to disasters at the moment they happen, and ensure we can respond when called upon for future emergencies.
Together, we are making a significant difference.
Chancellor Bob Corlew
Chairman, Lions Clubs International Foundation
There is no more powerful example of someone lighting a candle rather than cursing the darkness than Helen Keller.
Standing on the stage at the Lions Clubs International Convention in 1925, blind and deaf, Keller challenged Lions to become crusaders against the darkness and commit to preventing blindness. This passionate appeal set our organization on a new course, with a renewed purpose: Knights of the Blind. Since that time, Keller’s heartfelt plea has impacted hundreds of millions of lives around the world through the vision-related work that Lions do every day.
To honor the extraordinary legacy of Helen Keller, the Lions in Multiple District 34 in her home state of Alabama undertook a larger-than-life Legacy Project. They commissioned world-renowned sculptor Craigger Browne, president of the Sylacauga Lions Club, to create a life-size statue of Keller and her teacher, Anne Sullivan. The women are portrayed standing at a water pump, which is where Keller uttered her very first word—“water.” The statue has a working water feature, with water coming out by the women’s hands and trickling into a bucket.
“We wanted to honor Keller for the extraordinary work she did,” said Johnny Tuten, past district governor of MD 34, and one of the original proponents of the statue. “But we also wanted to pay proper tribute to Anne Sullivan, because without her, Keller would not have been able to accomplish nearly as much as she did. Sullivan, herself an orphan and partially blind, overcame her own set of challenges.”
The statue was carved in white marble from Sylacauga, Alabama, considered to be some of the finest marble in the world. Six months into the process, Browne discovered a major flaw in the area of the marble that was to be Sullivan’s skirt. So he procured a new block of marble and started all over. After more than two years in the making, the statue now occupies a place of honor at Keller’s birthplace, Ivy Green, in Tuscumbia, Alabama.
“Last year, more than 38,000 people from all over the world visited Helen Keller’s birthplace,” remarked Ron Seybold, Multiple District 34’s Centennial Coordinator. “We wanted them to experience this emotionally moving statue that portrays the moment when the world of communication opened for Keller. Visitors have been moved to tears while viewing the statue, and it has become one of the most photographed icons at Ivy Green.”
The official unveiling and dedication ceremony was held in September 2017. IPIP Chancellor Bob Corlew delivered the keynote address, saying, “This statue depicts an amazing moment in time that changed the world—and Lions Clubs International. And now this moment has been captured in stone so that it can be shared for generations to come.”
Helen Keller continues to be an inspiration to millions of people around the world—those who are unable to see or hear, and those who can. She taught us that we could accomplish anything and everything we wanted—no matter our challenges—as long as we understood that each of us holds the key to our own happiness and success. The Multiple District 34 Lions clubs’ statue of Keller will endure as a lasting tribute to her spirit of irrepressible perseverance and eternal optimism.
What will your Lions club legacy be? This is the last year to celebrate the Centennial with a Legacy Project, so start planning yours today!
In 2012, Superstorm Sandy struck the eastern coast of the United States, claiming at least 125 lives and resulting in US$62 billion in damage and losses. Thousands of people were displaced, left without water, electricity or food. Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) responded by awarding a US$100,000 Major Catastrophe grant to help local Lions rebuild their communities.
But, when your home is underwater and your family has lost everything, rebuilding your community might not be at the top of your to-do list. Instead, you are trying to find shelter, food, water and clothing. That is where Lions really shine!
In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, Lions from all over the world – including Texas – stepped up to help those reeling from the disaster, mobilizing an additional US$827,505 for relief efforts. Now, five years later, the Lions of New York are returning the favor. Working directly with Lions in Texas to determine the best ways they can help, Lions in New York have been working tirelessly to collect, package and ship goods to Texas. Last Monday, more than 200 Lions and community volunteers packed a truck with US$40,000 worth of non-perishable food, mini refrigerators, school supplies, water and clothing, and sent it to Lions in Conroe, 40 miles outside of Houston. That was only the first truck, and more are expected in the coming weeks. There are 18 collections sites across Long Island where people can drop off their donations and trust that Lions will get those donations to the people who need them most. If your club would like to coordinate with local relief efforts in Texas, you can contact the districts affected at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lions around the globe are stepping up to help, as well. The Bremerton Central Lions Club in Washington, USA, recently held a fundraiser to benefit hurricane victims. Lions clubs around the world are doing all they can to send their support to hurricane victims in the USA. If your club is supporting Hurricane Harvey relief, you can share your story by contacting LCIFstories@lionsclubs.org – we’d love to hear from you!
Remember, making a donation to LCIF is a great way to amplify the power of your gift. Your donation, combined with those of your fellow Lions, allows LCIF to continue to meet the needs of communities around the world as soon as disasters occur. Please consider making a contribution to LCIF’s disaster relief fund today.
Australian William R. Tresise was about to exceed the age limit of his national volunteer organization in the mid-1940s when he stumbled upon the opportunity to bring the service programs and international friendship of Lions Clubs International to his home country.
A builder with a keen interest in volunteering, Tresise, for many years, had been an active member of Apex, a young people’s service organization in Australia. But Apex had a strict age limit of 40. In 1946, as Tresise neared the milestone birthday, he tried unsuccessfully to form a senior organization for former members. Soon, he would be forced to retire from the group, even though he was eager to continue serving his community.
In his last year with Apex, Tresise traveled to San Francisco to represent the organization and his country at a 1946 service clubs conference. A chance meeting in California with Fred W. Smith, a Lion who went on to serve as international president from 1947 to 1948, couldn’t have been better timed.
Lions Clubs, Tresise discovered, had no age limit. The organization was dedicated to service, and it was expanding around the world. Both men saw an opportunity that shouldn’t be missed. Tresise spoke with other Lions leaders—including Melvin Jones, the organization’s founder and secretary-general, and soon found himself appointed a provisional district governor of Lions Clubs charged with founding a Lions club in Australia.
Tresise went home to Lismore, New South Wales. Although the city was small, he had plenty of business contacts in his hometown, and he invited many of them to hear about the Lions organization. His enthusiasm for Lions and its mission was infectious. Within a year, the Lismore Lions Club organized, and on September 29, 1947, the club received its charter, making Australia the 18th nation to join Lions Clubs.
Tresise continued to spread the news about Lions, serving as a Lions district governor and in other positions. “There was the satisfaction of seeing the result,” Tresise said, “together with meeting and working with kindred spirits: men and women of such a high caliber.” At the time of Tresise’s death in 1975, almost 1,000 clubs could be found all over Australia.
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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