Touchstone Story #84–Special Interest Clubs

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No matter what the circumstance, if there is a need, there is a Lions club to meet that need. A fast-growing alternative to the traditional Lions club model, special interest clubs are attracting new members with shared interests.

In contrast to standard clubs, which draw from a cross section of their communities, special interest clubs bring together Lions with common interests or similar circumstances. Some clubs focus on helping people with diabetes, for example. Others focus on professions, such as educators or law-enforcement workers.

There are clubs for veterans, environmentalists, snowmobile fans, professional women and people with shared ethnic backgrounds. There is a ballroom dancing club in Hawaii. And there are cyber clubs that meet and conduct club business primarily online, with members logging in from around the world.

Lions have been forming special interest clubs for decades. The Benton Bay Athletic Lions Club in Anchorage, Alaska, USA, was chartered in 1984 to support local college and youth sports. The growth of specialty clubs has accelerated in recent years as societal shifts put more demands on peoples’ limited free time. Special interest groups offer a flexible format that lets Lions accommodate today’s volunteers in a way that fits their ever-changing lifestyles.

Just as with any newly formed Lions club, special interest clubs need to be sponsored by an existing club and go through a charter process. Like Lions everywhere, the members get together to perform service projects and help others, but often the projects reflect the specialty club’s area of expertise.

The El Paso Executive Women’s Lions Club in Texas, USA, offers mentoring and computer-skills training to disadvantaged young women.

Similarly, in Middletown, Virginia, USA, a group of elementary teachers, concerned about children missing preschool education, formed the Middletown Children First Lions Club. The club works with 3- to 5-year-olds to help them prepare to be successful in kindergarten. The club’s Little Lions Preschool classes have made a big difference in children’s readiness. Parent Chrissie Sison said her daughter Annalise “enjoyed every minute” of her time at Little Lions and, thanks to the Lions, “Annalise just loves school,” she added.

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!

A child in Zimbabwe receiving his measles vaccine.

LCIF’s US$30 Million Committment to Gavi is Complete

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At the 2013 Lions Clubs International Convention in Hamburg, Germany, LCIF made a commitment to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to raise US$30 million to help protect tens of millions of children in the world’s poorest countries against measles. If we could accomplish this ambitious goal, these funds would be matched by the Gavi Matching Fund, whose primary contributors are the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the UK Department for International Development.

LCIF is pleased to announce that thanks to the generosity and service of Lions, this goal has been reached, bringing the total amount raised to US$60 million. Thank you, Lions.

With support from LCIF and the Gavi Matching Fund, 87.7 million children have been immunized in communities across the world. 97.8 million doses of the potentially life-saving measles or measles-rubella vaccine has been procured. This means the prevention of 61,000 future deaths.

For the first time in known history, the annual measles death rate has declined to less than 100,000 deaths per year. LCIF applauds this achievement, and is proud to have contributed to this success.

If you would like to continue to protect children across the world from this terrible disease, please consider making a donation to LCIF.

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Touchstone Story–Scouting

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In the steadily pouring rain, a tent city near Missoula, Montana, kept its inhabitants mostly dry. Six field kitchens staffed by Army cooks kept them fed, and hospital tents stood ready for any illnesses or injuries.

But this was no army. The inhabitants were not soldiers—they were boys from the ages of 10 to 18, who had gathered to test their skills, make new friends and put on a show.

This was a Boy Scouts Camporee.

The Boy Scouts of America’s mission is to teach boys to become responsible young men. Scout Law states that “a scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.” It only makes sense that so many Scouts have grown up to become Lions.

“Scouts and Lions foster the same ideals,” said David Cox of Bridgewater, Massachusetts. The Bridgewater Lions Club is one of many that have organized traditional pancake breakfasts, served up by local Boy Scout troops.

The Boy Scout Camporee outside of Missoula was held in 1939, but a scene from that rainy day could have taken place at any point over the past century. The Missoula Lions Club was on hand to sponsor the Scouts and support the circus show the Scouts put on as a fundraiser. Some Boy Scouts who become Lions serve as Scoutmasters, taking a direct hand in guiding the next generation of Scouts. By the early 1930s, the Berkeley Lions Club in California was sponsoring the first Boy Scout troop for blind boys. In 1950, three Lions led a troop made up entirely of Scouts who were blind, combining Lions’ long-running commitment to helping people who are visually impaired with their mentorship of Scouts.

The Girl Scouts of the United States of America likewise has a long history of support and cooperation with Lions. From sponsorship to joint fundraising efforts, Girls Scouts and Lions have worked together throughout the past century to “Do a Good Turn Daily,” as the official Girl Scouts slogan states. 

Lions clubs sponsor more scout troops in the United States than any other secular organization. Lions and youth scouting organizations share common goals, so it’s only natural that they’ve forged such a strong bond.

“Scouts learn leadership, but it ends after high school,” said David Cox. “That’s where Lions can step in.”

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! 


Touchstone Story #37–Expanding to ISAAME

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In 1952, Lebanon became the 39th country to join Lions Clubs International. Sponsored by the Mexico City Lions Club, the Beirut Lions Club received its charter at a ceremony on Sept. 4 from international director Miguel Abed, a Mexican Lion with Lebanese heritage, and immediately began working on a project to construct a school for the city’s blind.

While the entry of a new country into the Lions family is always cause for celebration, this occasion also marked Lions expansion into new territory: the Middle East. Lions soon began to spread to other nations in the region and became known as ISAAME (India, South Asia, Africa and the Middle East), with Morocco, Jordan, and Algeria joining in 1953. As of 2015, approximately 20 percent of all Lions clubs resided within the ISAAME constitutional area.

The first Lions nation in the region, Lebanon, has maintained its enthusiasm for service through more than six decades. In the 1970s and 1980s, Lebanon went through a time of severe unrest, yet Lions endured and remained one of the only service organizations in operation during the war. When a Lebanese boy, Mustapha El Tawokji, won the first Lions International Peace Poster Contest in 1988-89, Lions in the country couldn’t have been more delighted.

“I was just a child who didn’t know the meaning of peace,” said El Tawokji. Years later, he still proudly recalls the scope of his achievement, “showing the world that someone from Lebanon, this small country that didn’t know anything about peace, could win this prize and put our country on the world map for peace.”

In December 2013, after thousands of people fled to Lebanon as civil war escalated in Syria, Lions in Norway and Lebanon connected over the Internet to organize support for the refugees Soon Lions from the two countries delivered a caravan of goods to the Arsal refugee camp where basic necessities were in short supply, making Lions the first foreign nongovernmental organization, other than the United Nations, to arrive at the camp.

In addition to bringing relief to refugees, clubs across Lebanon can be found planting trees, hosting health screenings, launching disease awareness campaigns, supporting child abuse prevention, donating hearing aids, providing care for the blind and funding cataract surgeries. It is this Lions spirit of service, international understanding and friendship that Lions in Lebanon and all over the ISAAME constitutional area will continue to bring to their region for years to come.

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!

A Lion delivering supplies in Puerto Rico

Lions and LCIF Provide Relief to Hurricane-Stricken Puerto Rico

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In the wake of the worst natural disaster in Puerto Rico’s history, Lions are doing all they can to bring much-needed relief to the area. Lions in  Multiple District 51 are supporting their communities by distributing food. Districts 51-C, 51-E, and 51-O are each distributing food to more than 6,000 people per day in many different communities around the area with funding from Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF).

Lions leaders in Multiple District 51 are currently making plans to provide further relief by accessing the ongoing needs of the communities. If you would like to help bring relief to those who need it most, consider donating to our disaster relief fund.

Donate to LCIF



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