Touchstone Story: Diabetes Awareness

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When International President Sten Akestam wanted to help raise awareness about diabetes, he turned to one of the most influential women in the world for help: Eppie Lederer, better known as advice columnist Ann Landers.

For decades, her syndicated column, “Ask Ann Landers,” helped readers tackle every human problem imaginable. Millions flipped through their newspapers each morning to read Landers’ thoughts on parent-child relationships, disputes with neighbors, moral quandaries, health problems and the feelings of the lovelorn. If Lions could get a letter about diabetes printed in Landers’ column, they could quickly reach a wide audience with important information.

Akestam, who served as international president from 1986 to 1987, wrote to Landers, explaining the risk factors, warning signs and consequences of diabetes—one of the leading causes of vision loss in adults in industrialized counties. “Please print this letter,” he wrote. “Millions of people need to see it, and if it runs in your column, they will.”

Akestam explained that Lions worldwide were involved with diabetes screening. Readers who wanted additional information about the disease or screenings could call their local Lions club or Lions Clubs International headquarters.

In January 1987, Akestam’s wish was granted. His letter and Landers’ response appeared in the more than 1,100 newspapers carrying her column. “I’m delighted to print it,” Landers wrote. “It will save lives. I hope you have a good number of trunks on that phone and many volunteers who are willing to answer it.”

Her advice to Akestam was spot-on. Lions headquarters received more than 1,000 phone calls asking for more information. Public interest was so high that headquarters printed thousands of brochures on diabetes and made them available to clubs.

Lions’ efforts to help control and treat diabetes and related complications, such as sight loss, have never ceased. Clubs host diabetes screenings in their communities, participate in annual events for diabetes awareness and raise funds for research and treatment. And with the number of people living with the disease estimated to grow to 592 million by 2035, the work of Lions will continue to be a vital part of preventing and treating diabetes.

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


Touchstone Story: Lions Clubs International Foundation

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After a half-century of global expansion, Lions established Lions Clubs International Foundation in 1968 as a way to amplify the power of Lion giving.

Since 1917, individual Lions clubs and districts had achieved remarkable success in providing service to people in need. But as Lions expanded around the world, a new way of funding Lion service was needed.

The solution: LCIF, which serves as Lions Clubs International’s charitable arm. The foundation supports the compassionate work of Lions worldwide, by providing grants for local and global projects that help people to see and hear better, combat measles, provide disaster relief, support youth and improve communities.

In keeping with the phrase, “Lions Helping Lions Serve the World,” the foundation allows Lions to respond collectively by channeling funds to humanitarian projects around the globe. The structure helps Lions to help others on an even larger scale than clubs can do on their own, according to Past International President Joe Preston, who served from 2014 to 2015.

It is a “logical extension of the Lions’ model,” Preston said. Just as individuals join a Lions club “because our service is more valuable when we unite with like-minded others, we support LCIF because our funds go a lot further when put into a common pool,” he said.

Because it is centralized, and big enough to collaborate with other nonprofit groups as well corporate partners, the foundation can move quickly and effectively. Major corporations cited that efficiency when they ranked LCIF as the “best nongovernmental organization to work with” in a 2007 Financial Times survey.

Among the foundation’s most prominent successes is its SightFirst program, which funds efforts to fight the major causes of preventable and reversible blindness, and provides services to persons who are blind or have a visual impairment.

As part of that global program, LCIF supports eye screenings and sight-restoring surgeries, as well as the distribution of medications to help prevent eye diseases plaguing developing nations. Since 1999, through a high-profile partnership with former U.S. President Jimmy Carter’s nonprofit organization The Carter Center, LCIF has provided more than 271 million treatments to stop the parasitic infection known as river blindness, saving the sight of millions of people.

Its humanitarian efforts also include long-term funding to fight measles, a disease that claims millions of lives yearly in developing nations. LCIF raised US$10 million for vaccinations in 2012 through its One Shot, One Life measles initiative, and in the following year it committed to raising an additional US$30 million for immunization programs by 2017.

The foundation’s capacity to provide financial help has swelled dramatically over the years, as LCIF’s widely admired disaster-relief program demonstrates. Its first grant came in 1973, when it provided a modest US$5,000 to help flooding victims in South Dakota. By 2010, when an earthquake devastated parts of Haiti, LCIF mobilized US$6 million in immediate and long-term relief efforts. And when an earthquake and tsunami struck Japan in 2011, the foundation provided US$21 million in aid.

LCIF also has programs designed to help young people by building schools and day care centers, and it helps youngsters learn critical life skills through the Lions Quest program.

While it is best known for funding large-scale humanitarian efforts, LCIF puts most of its dollars to work each year in the form of grants that help local Lions clubs improve their communities.

In Minnesota, for example, the foundation helped local Lions renovate the dormitory at a camp for people with mental and physical disabilities. And in the African nation of Burkina Faso, Lions of District 403A1 used an LCIF grant to build a new school for children in the remote town of Kyon.

International President Wing-Kun Tam, who served from 2010 to 2011, told LION Magazine that with its efficiency and broad focus, “LCIF is an incredible vehicle for Lions to serve both across borders and in their own communities.”

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

Flood Victims in India

LCIF Awards Disaster Grants, December 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 December 2016, LCIF awarded 12 emergency grants totaling US$95,000. These grants are addressing immediate needs in:

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

Costa Rica, District D-4
US$10,000 for hurricane relief

Italy, District 108-L
US$10,000 for earthquake relief

Tennessee, USA, District 12-O
US$10,000 for tornado relief

Thailand, District 310-B
US$10,000 for flood relief

Indonesia, District 307-A2
US$10,000 for earthquake relief

India, District 324-A5
US$5,000 for cyclone relief

India, District 324-A6
US$5,000 for cyclone relief

India, District 324-A1
US$5,000 for cyclone relief

Zimbabwe, District 412
US$10,000 for flood relief

Philippines, District 301-A2
US$5,000 for typhoon relief

India, District 324-A8
US$5,000 for cyclone relief

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

Donate to LCIF


Touchstone Story: CARE

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The traditional 50th anniversary gift is something made of gold. However, for Lions Clubs International’s 50th anniversary in 1967 the Lions decided to give rather than receive.

In the 12 months leading up to the 1967 Golden Anniversary Convention, Lions around the world collected food, medicine and building supplies for communities in need in Central and South America. On July 4 of that year, the Lions-CARE Friend-Ship set out from Navy Pier in Chicago, Illinois, one of many ships funded by Lions Clubs International and CARE to carry the supplies donated and gathered for the Friend-Ship mission to ports in Guatemala and other locations in Central and South America..

The year 1967 marked the 10th anniversary of the partnership between Lions and the Cooperative for American Relief Everywhere (CARE). Originally established to rebuild Europe following World War II, CARE began working with Lions after the Korean War to distribute food to South Korean communities in need. The two organizations also built temporary tent-cities to house and feed refugees and families displaced by flooding of the Han River. As winter approached, CARE and the United States Lions worked with the Lions of Seoul, South Korea, to build new, permanent homes made of traditional ondol bricks.

Lions and CARE continued to work together, including raising funds for a mobile unit where volunteers could make and distribute hot meals to schools in poverty-stricken areas. Lions and CARE worked in Honduras, India, Greece, Panama and elsewhere around the world to build community centers, maintain medical schools and teach vocational skills to men and women who are blind.

The partnership between Lions Clubs International and CARE was built on a 50-year tradition of Lions serving communities in need at home and abroad. This tradition continues today. The year 1968 saw the creation of the Lions Clubs International Foundation, which is dedicated to supporting Lions’ worldwide mission to carry out essential humanitarian service projects. LCIF has expanded Lions Clubs International’s scope and ability to serve, offering grants for education and much-needed funds for emergency services and humanitarian missions. LCIF has built on Lions’ foundation of service ever since.

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



Message from the Chairperson: Supporting LCIF is Supporting Lions’ Service

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Dear Lions,yamadacranes

Earlier this month, a 6.5 magnitude earthquake struck Indonesia. While the quake lasted only 15 seconds, more than 100 buildings collapsed and more than 100 people have perished. Thousands of people were left homeless and rescuers used their bare hands to pull people from the rubble. Hospitals were overflowing and patients were being treated outside in tents. The situation is still dire.

Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) responded immediately, issuing a US$100,000 Major Catastrophe grant to assist with both immediate and long-term needs. Local Lions sprang into action, offering food, blankets, medical supplies and clean water to the victims. Lions around the world have continually supported LCIF’s disaster relief area of funding, which has allowed the foundation to respond with immediate financial support. Thank you for your dedication to helping those in need.

Our thoughts go out to the victims of the Banda Aceh earthquake and to the Lions still working to help them. Please consider making a donation to the disaster relief fund so we can continue offering aid in times of catastrophe.


Dr. Jitsuhiro Yamada
Chairperson, Lions Clubs International Foundation

Read the rest of this month’s LCIF newsletter online.


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