Nov
18

Touchstone Story: Making a Mark

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The earliest civilizations left behind clues that revealed what mattered to them, in the form of artifacts or buildings that have stood the test of time: pyramids rising from desert sands, or stone monoliths in grassy English fields.

Often, the first thing people see when visiting a community is the familiar Lions Clubs International logo. The logo represents a promise of service and a commitment to community. It is perhaps the most familiar marker associated with Lions Clubs International, but it is far from the only one.

Lions Clubs Friendship Arches, designed by Past International Directors Howard Grimm and Vern France, are monuments to friendship between neighboring nations. Made of stone and built to last, the first Friendship Arch was erected in 1966 on the U.S.-Canada border by the Abbotsford Lions Club of British Columbia, Canada and the Sumas Lions Club of Washington.

Many Friendship Arches were erected in the 1960s as symbols of peace and hope in the midst of the Cold War. In 1967, a Friendship Arch was sent overseas and placed on the border between Germany and Belgium. The dedication was attended by Lions from Germany, Belgium and the United States. Dr. Albert Soenen of the Sint-Truiden Lions Club in Belgium, remarked that Sint-Truiden itself was a crossroads for Europe, and that the Friendship Arch was “at the crossing point from London to Vienna, and from Paris to Bonn, uniting four Western European nations—England, France, Belgium and Germany. Perhaps the time has come for Lions to consider placing arches in places where ‘Bridges of Friendship,’ and the conversations that they inspire, are so sorely needed.”

Lions also erect memorials to those among their ranks. When Ray Evans, a member of the Shawnee Lions Club of Oklahoma, was killed by a hitchhiker in 1936, the Lions erected a simple roadside stone monument in his honor. In 1963, to honor the memory of all those who had gone before, Lions from 38 clubs in Rhode Island worked together to raise funds for a stone statue of to honor Rhode Island’s deceased Lions. Lions Clubs International founder Melvin Jones is memorialized both at his place of birth—an official historic site in Fort Thomas, Arizona—and for his service to others, with a display of memorabilia at the Lions Clubs International headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois.

Driving into town and being greeted by a familiar leonine face on a sign, or strolling past a stone arch dedicated to friendship across international boundary lines  sends a signal of comfort and service to all who see them.

Read the entire collection of Touchstone Stories at Lions100.org!

Nov
17

Carterton Lions Club Honors City’s Founder with Legacy Project

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On a trip to Belgium several years ago, Carterton, NZ, Lions Club secretary Allan Renall had an epiphany. Witnessing a large group of people in a town square crowding around a seated bronze statue of a man, a light bulb went off.

As men, women and children lined up to have their pictures taken in the pouring rain with the distinguished metal figure, he knew right then and there how he was going to accomplish two goals with one project. He and his fellow Lions would pay homage to Carterton’s philanthropist founder and create a memorable Legacy Project for the Lions’ Centennial Celebration with a larger-than-life bronze replica of Charles Rooking Carter.

Renall returned home to New Zealand, and proposed the idea to the Carterton Lions. He eventually won their support, and the club embarked on a series of fundraising activities for several years. One hundred thousand dollars was raised for the project, and production got underway.

The defining moment arrived on 11 February 2016 when the prime minister of New Zealand himself—the Right Honorable John Key—unveiled the striking bronze of Charles Rooking Carter at a ceremony attended by more than 500 people.

“The statue is by far the largest project our club has ever undertaken,” Renall noted, “and has basically put Lions Clubs International on the map here in New Zealand. It has proven to be a very popular tourist attraction, bringing people into town from all over the country.”

Although Carter lived and died before Lions Clubs International was founded, the characteristics he embodied were clearly Lionesque. He was empathetic to the plight of England’s working class, where he was born, argued against social inequality and willed funds for the establishment of a home for “aged poor men.” Charles Rooking Carter was truly a Lion in spirit if not in name.

The legacy of Carterton’s founder is now officially preserved forever in time through the dedicated efforts of these local Lions.

What will your Lions club legacy be? Start planning your Legacy Project today!

Nov
11

Touchstone Story: The Impulse to Serve

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Melvin Jones had been a member of the Business Circle of Chicago, a lunch club for business men, for several years when he began pondering a question: “What if these men, who are successful because of their drive, intelligence and ambition, were to put their talents to work improving their communities?”

His club, like hundreds of others across America, was focused on helping members create a business network. The U.S. economy was growing in the early 1900s and opportunities abounded. Yet landing new business still often depended on whom you knew.

In prior generations, associations focusing on religious groups, industries or communities filled the need for socialization and networking among businessmen. But, by the early 20th century, that began to change. Business luncheon clubs promised social and business connections across industries, usually over a hot meal, with a large and eager membership from the growing middle class. Hundreds of these organizations popped up in towns across the United States.

By the time Jones joined the Business Circle of Chicago in March 1913, the competition among clubs for membership was intensifying, and the Business Circle was losing members. Jones realized that for his club to survive, it would have to join together with other smaller clubs. He was also convinced that it had to offer something different.

“I’m finding out that you don’t get very far until you start doing something for somebody else,” Jones said. “And I’m beginning to believe it might help some of these clubs, like The Circle, to take that to heart.”

Larger organizations such as the Elks, the Loyal Order of the Moose and Rotary International, had charitable-service components to their clubs. But Jones wanted to do more. Communities had many needs that called out for someone to take responsibility and help. Youth needed mentors. The hungry needed feeding. The ill needed medical care. Jones envisioned a way to help individuals and communities through volunteer service.

“Any association that presumes to leadership in the community will have to offer something more than business reciprocity among the members,” Jones told his club.

In 1917, Jones had the chance to make service part of the core of an organization. When his Business Circle met with other like-minded clubs at the LaSalle Hotel in Chicago, the groups united to become a greater force for good under the name International Association of Lions Clubs. While fellowship and fun remained a hallmark of each meeting, Lions Clubs took a giant step forward by emphasizing the need to serve.

Read the entire collection of Touchstone Stories at Lions100.org!

"Where there's a need, there's a Lion."
Nov
7

LCIF Awards 21 Emergency Grants, October 2016

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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 that has affected at least 100 people, 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.

In October 2016, LCIF awarded 21 emergency grants totaling US$195,000. These grants are addressing immediate needs in:

India, District 316-H
US$5,000 for flood relief

Mexico, District B-2
US$10,000 for flood relief

Colombia, District F-4
US$10,000 for flood relief

MD300 Taiwan, District 300-E2
US$10,000 for typhoon relief

Dominican Republic, District R-1
US$10,000 for hurricane relief

Haiti, Undistricted colombia
US$10,000 for hurricane relief

Republic of Korea, District 355-A
US$10,000 for typhoon relief

Republic of Korea, District 355-C
US$10,000 for typhoon relief

Republic of Korea, District 355-D
US$10,000 for typhoon relief

Republic of Korea, District 355-E
US$10,000 for earthquake relief

Dominican Republic, District R-3
US$10,000 for hurricane relief

North Carolina, USA, District 31-N
US$10,000 for hurricane relief

Thailand, District 310-E
US$5,000 for flood relief

MD300 Taiwan, District 300-C2
US$10,000 for typhoon relief

Philippines, District 301-D2
US$5,000 for typhoon relief

South Carolina, USA, District 32-B
US$10,000 for hurricane relief

North Carolina, USA, District 31-O
US$10,000 for hurricane relief

Canada, District N-3
US$10,000 for hurricane relief

Republic of Korea, District 354-G
US$10,000 for typhoon relief

Brazil, District LD-9
US$5,000 for windstorm relief

North Carolina, USA, District 31-S
US$10,000 for hurricane relief

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

Donate to LCIF

Nov
3

Touchstone Story: Melvin Jones

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Melvin Jones was a dreamer, a doer and a pragmatist. He was an energetic, extroverted salesman who in private hours would reread Shakespeare. What better man to found the world’s largest association of service clubs?

The Lions International Board of Directors officially designated Jones as the founder of Lions Clubs in 1958—more than four decades after Lions Clubs held its first meeting. But, no matter what his official title, Jones’ impact on the Lions has been far-reaching. He provided the leadership, the organizational ability, the tenacity and the muscle necessary to establish the foundation for Lions Clubs International to become what it is today.

Jones was born on Jan. 13, 1879, at Fort Thomas, Arizona, a remote U.S. Army cavalry post where his father was a scout for the Army. At age 7, Jones’ family moved east and settled in Illinois. Gifted with a fine tenor voice, he considered making his career in music. Instead, he became an insurance salesman.

By 1913, Jones had formed his own insurance agency in Chicago. When he joined a networking luncheon club for businessmen in Chicago called the Business Circle, he quickly took the lead in recruiting new members and persuading backsliders to rejoin. But something about the club’s business-only focus didn’t square with Jones’ different, larger vision.

“What if these men who are successful because of their drive, intelligence and ambition, were to put their talents to work improving their communities?” Jones asked. He saw a new kind of club with the desire to help others.

As Business Club secretary, Jones, with help from his wife—the championship golfer Rose Amanda Freeman—wrote scores of letters to clubs nationwide inviting them to take up his idea for a service-centered organization. Businessman interested in membership convened in Chicago, Illinois, and on June 7, 1917, Lions Clubs International was born.

Later that year, at Lions’ inaugural convention in Dallas, Texas, Jones was elected secretary-treasurer, a title he would hold for many years. Eventually, the board bestowed upon Jones the title of secretary general for life.

Jones was a prolific writer who could be clear and forceful on some occasions, flowery and sentimental the next. His hand can be seen in founding documents like the Lions Clubs Objects and Code of Ethics. His columns in LION Magazine, which are still quoted today, helped articulate the organization’s principles and values.

He also loved aphorisms. Never one to sugarcoat the truth, Jones had one favorite saying neatly framed in his office: “Truth and roses have thorns about them.”

Jones gave up the insurance business in 1926 to become Lions’ de facto CEO and global goodwill ambassador. He played both roles brilliantly—building and managing an expanding headquarters operation and travelling constantly for club visits and speaking engagements. The pace never stopped.

Read the entire collection of Touchstone Stories at Lions100.org!

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