Touchstone Story #81–Digital Connections

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During Lions Clubs International’s 50th anniversary celebration in 1967, an article appeared in the LION Magazine predicting how technology would change the way people communicate by the Lions’ 100th anniversary. Sharing news would be instantaneous. “Walking along the streets of Chicago, you’ll be able to talk to a friend in Hong Kong and see him in full color at the same time,” the article said. The author was right. In the 21st century, staying connected with Lions around the globe has never been easier.

Through Lions’ digital channels and social media, members can gather ideas, express their Lions pride, exchange tips and share the results of projects and events immediately. With more than 1.35 million members across 210 countries and geographic areas, Lions Clubs International is truly a global network of service and friendship.

“We do live in a world community,” Past International President Jim Ervin said. “We share together, we learn together and we help each other together.”

Staying connected has always been key to the health of Lions Clubs. It is why, early in Lions’ history, the organization established a “News from the Clubs” section in the LION Magazine, hosted conventions and maintained extensive written correspondence.

Today, communication between Lions is just as likely to occur on Facebook or Twitter as by email, phone or newsletter. Minute after minute, Lions somewhere in the world are sharing snapshots of their work—a vision screening, a blood drive, cleaning up trash, planting a tree, hosting a fundraiser.

In Indonesia and Hong Kong, Lions use the free mobile messaging app WhatsApp to communicate the latest Lions news and to call meetings. On the Channel Island of Jersey in the United Kingdom, Lions share their latest fundraising news on Twitter: “Jersey #LionsClub Swimarathon raises more than £133,000 for local charities.”

Conventions, newsletters and traditional forms of communication aren’t going away. But increased digital communication means that Lions can connect quicker than ever. For example, when the Barasoain Host Lions Club in the Philippines donated eyeglasses to students in March 2015, the club posted a photo of their project on the Lions Facebook page. Instantly, Lions worldwide could see the project and share the news with others. Hundreds of followers expressed their enthusiasm for the project, encouraging the club to keep up the good work.

As the world gets smaller, Lions are making sure members know how to stay connected. Lions Clubs offer workshops on how to effectively use technology to engage with club members and the local community. In 2012, Lions in Europe began Social Media in Lions Europe (SMiLE) seminars on the best practices of social media. The program quickly spread to the entire Lions organization and continues to educate members.

No one knows what technology will develop during Lions’ next 100 years to help members better connect with each other. Social media may soon be a relic of the centennial celebration era. But whatever the method, robust communication among members will remain a hallmark of Lions Clubs International.

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!


U.S. Veterans Celebrated by Martins Ferry Lions Club Legacy Project

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It’s easy for Americans to take the freedoms we all enjoy for granted. But members of the Martins Ferry Lions Club in Martins Ferry, Ohio, were determined not to forget about the sacrifices that U.S. veterans have made so that millions of people could live in freedom.

For their club’s Centennial Legacy Project, Martins Ferry Lions designed and built a dedication wall to honor veterans from the five branches of the U.S. military—those who have served, those who are now serving and those who will serve in the future.

“This was a great project for our club to undertake,” said Paul Riethmiller, president of the Martins Ferry Lions Club and former mayor of the city. “We built the wall together, and designed the landscaping, creating a visually stunning project that will endure forever. We located the wall in our city park, which is a very busy part of Martins Ferry. When people drive by, the wall will remind them of our veterans and what they’ve done for us and for our country.”

Club members erected a five-wing stone wall using 2,500 landscaping stones to create a 37-foot long, eight-foot tall structure. Each wing sports a 32-inch round logo of one branch of the U.S. military, and 16-foot tall flag poles displaying all the flags of the military stand at attention behind the wings. Lions poured a concrete pad and sidewalks around the wall to finish the project. Every night, large spotlights illuminate the wall.

Through pancake breakfasts, spaghetti dinners and other local events, the Lions raised nearly $12,000 to complete their Legacy Project. They are proud of the fact that every dollar to build the wall was spent in Martins Ferry. Lions, area residents and an array of local dignitaries were all on hand when the wall was dedicated last year during the Memorial Day holiday.

“This project has brought a great sense of pride to our club and our community,” observed Riethmiller. “Our club supports the Lions motto ‘We Serve’ in all that we do. And we sincerely appreciate the brave men and women who have served our country, and are willing to pay the ultimate price to ensure that we have all the freedoms we enjoy today.”

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!


Touchstone Story #92–The Lions Vest

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There is no mystery about the origins of the now ubiquitous Lions vest. It was simply a new apparel item in the 1951 club supplies catalogue that met with wild success and became a Lions icon.

The “No. A-28 Vest,” made of wool gabardine in Lions gold with Lions purple trim, was advertised as “the newest Lions apparel for convention, bowling and meeting wear.” It sold for US$1.75. Pictured in early ads with the “No. A-25 Change Apron” in gold and purple canvas, the vest-apron ensemble soon became standard Lions gear at community fundraising events.

Members were quick to see the vest as a unique way to show their Lions pride in public. Sales soared in the early years. And it remains a perennial bestseller, with about 10,000 vests shipped annually to clubs and individual members worldwide.

Lions vests have undergone many changes in design and materials since 1951. The original vest was a short-waisted, bolero-style garment designed to be worn with a dress shirt and necktie. In 1960, satin replaced wool as the fabric. The standard vest was redesigned in 1973 to extend below the beltline. Two handy coin pockets were also added.

As more women joined the clubs in the late 1980s and 1990s, a specially-tailored women’s vest debuted in 1997. And for disaster relief efforts and potentially hazardous community service projects—such as cleaning up roadside litter—a line of emergency vests in bright yellow or orange, some with reflective stripes, was added in 2011.

Emergency vests are fastened with Velcro. But no standard vest has ever had a button or a zipper. No problem. An elegant gold-plated vest guard with alligator clips and a pendant Lions emblem is also available. It makes the perfect accessory to the pins, badges and other regalia Lions are proud to display on their trademark vests.

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!


Five Reasons to Sponsor a Lions Peace Poster Contest

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For 30 years, millions of children have colored the world in peace through the Lions International Peace Poster Contest. Purchase a kit at

By sponsoring a Peace Poster contest, Lions have the opportunity to:

1. Encourage children to express their feelings through art.

By giving children a creative outlet for their thoughts, they can discover new ways to speak their mind.

2. Boost kids’ self-esteem, and let them know that their ideas matter.

The recognition that children receive from participating and winning the Peace Poster contest can change their attitudes about life. Children gain the confidence they need to become leaders and peacemakers.

3. Give your club an opportunity to promote peace in a world of conflict.

Social media feeds are noisy with world news items that break hearts and ignite anger. Share a child’s image of peace and bring a smile to someone’s day.

4. Increase your club’s visibility in the community.

Work with local school districts and youth groups. Get community leaders involved. Contact news outlets to announce the winners. Let your town know that Lions club is committed to youth engagement and international peace, and tell them how they can help, too.

5. Give children and adults hope for a peaceful future.

Make a difference in a child’s life. Promote peace in your community. Purchase your Peace Poster kit today at


Touchstone Story #38–Expanding to Africa

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Not long after Lions Clubs International entered the Middle East in 1952, the organization expanded to North Africa. The popularity of Lions was spreading in the 1950s, and Africa quickly joined the movement to serve.

Morocco and Algeria can both claim to have Africa’s earliest Lions clubs. In February 1953, the Casablanca Club in Morocco was organized. The club, however, did not receive its charter until later in May. Sponsored by the Vichy Lions Club in France, the Alger Doyen Lions Club in Algeria accepted its charter on March 27, 1953, making it the first chartered Lions club in Africa.

By Lions Clubs International’s 50th anniversary in 1967, Lions could be found throughout the continent in 36 countries, focusing their service activities on health programs and education. By 2014, Africa boasted clubs in 48 countries and geographic areas, and more than 25,000 members, one third of whom were women.

Although still part of the ISAAME (India, South Asia, Africa and the Middle East) constitutional area, Lions clubs in Africa may soon reach the 30,000 members necessary to form a separate constitutional area. From Tunisia to South Africa, Lions are filling the continent and serving their neighbors.

In Algeria, the site of Africa’s earliest chartered club, Lions are sponsoring computer classes for people who are blind and visually impaired, planting trees, hosting an annual diabetes awareness run and feeding people who are hungry. Lions and Leos are also coming together to provide diabetic retinopathy screening and referral programs. With a grant from SightFirst, Lions were able to provide more than 15,000 retinal exams and laser treatments in one year alone.

“What began as a small dream has grown to a nationwide program that will help many more people,” said Malika Bouri, a doctor and Lion in Algeria in 2011.

In Morocco, Lions are also changing lives every day by managing health centers, assisting with eye and dental clinics and supporting education and job training centers, such as the Princess Lalla Meryem Center in Casablanca and the Lions Sidi Makhlouf Center in Rabat. At the centers, children without other resources receive an education and a hot meal, sometimes the only one they will have all day. Meanwhile, their mothers learn vocational skills and how to read and write. Local Lions serve as role models, mentors, and tutors, helping women and children to build a better future.

“These are men and women who give meaning to our motto: ‘We Serve,’” said Past District Governor Abdou Moukite, a Lion and business leader in Casablanca.

“Lions physically help when they can,” Moukite said. “With heart, they often offer talent and know-how, and, of course, time to feel, hear, understand, share and act.”

Whether they serve in clubs that are decades old or a few months old, Africa’s Lions are committed and ready to make a difference.

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!







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