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!

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

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


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!


Message from the Chairperson: LCIF is Working Hard Today for a Brighter Tomorrow

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Dear Lions,

Sometimes, as Lions, we can get caught up in the moment. Sometimes it can be hard to imagine beyond today. Sometimes we might even get discouraged by the staggering amount of need and despair in the world.

As a medical doctor for more than 30 years, I have witnessed the heartbreak of families who have lost a loved one. The grief of family member is magnified when the individual is a child – their child. It happens every day around the world, regardless of wealth, gender or race. Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) is stepping forward to find a breakthrough that will help secure a brighter tomorrow for all of us.

Recently I visited the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney, Australia. Our Foundation has awarded a US$2 million grant to support the Lions Kids Cancer Genome Project. Together with the Garvan Institute, the Australian Lions Children’s Cancer Research Foundation and other partners, this pilot initiative will improve outcomes for hundreds of children with high-risk cancer through whole genome sequencing. This could eventually serve as model for the development of personalized cancer prevention and treatment.

The Lions Kids Cancer Genome Project is another way that LCIF is demonstrating its commitment to global health. Perhaps one day, we will eliminate deaths from childhood cancer. In order to realize that dream, we need everyone to support our Foundation. No need is too large, and no gift is too small.

Thank you for your generous support of a brighter tomorrow.


Dr. Jitsuhiro Yamada
Chairperson, Lions Clubs International Foundation

Read the rest of the October LCIF newsletter online.


Help Wanted: Club LCIF Coordinator

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The Club LCIF Coordinator is an ambassador for Lions Clubs International Foundation in your club. This person will share LCIF stories, motivate fellow Lions to support LCIF, and enable LCIF to advance its humanitarian work both locally and globally. This new position is crucial to the promotion of our foundation and we need all club presidents to actively recruit within their clubs to enable its success!

Take this quiz to see if this is the job for you. If it is, tell your club president you’re interested!

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