Touchstone Story #54–Lions and Little League

Author: Leave A Comment

Little League is the largest youth sports organization in the world, but it started with one man, two kids and a lilac bush.

In the summer of 1938, Carl Stotz, a clerk at an oil company in Williampsort, Pennsylvania, tossed a baseball around the yard with his two young nephews.

Chasing a runaway ball, Stotz scraped his ankle on the pointy stems of a trimmed lilac bush. In frustration, he asked his nephews, “How would you like to play on a regular team, with uniforms, a new ball for every game, and bats you could really swing?”

Stotz’s nephews loved the idea, of course. But they asked, “Who would we play?”

Thus, the idea for Little League was born. Stotz called in a squad of volunteers and business sponsors. He carved the first Little League home plate himself, and the plates for first, second and third base were white canvas stuffed with wood shavings. When Little League’s coffers came up short, Stotz poured his own money in to make up the difference. He had considered the ministry in his younger days, but with Little League—and this particular service to his community—he’d found his life’s purpose.

A decade of service, naturally, brought him to the Lions. Stotz joined the Williamsport Newberry Lions Club in 1949, and the Lions in turn worked to support Little League. Both organizations saw unprecedented growth in the 1950s and ’60s. The pages of LION Magazine featured numerous articles on support for the League:

    • The Elyria Lions Club built the first Little League field in Elyria, Ohio, in 1950.
    • A Little League park was built on the Navaho-Hopi Indian Reservation with funds from the Tuba City Lions Club in Arizona in 1957.
    • The Leavenworth Lions of Kansas visited a nearby federal penitentiary for an exhibition game in 1959.

More recently, Lions donations and a grant from the Lions Clubs International Foundation helped build a Little League tournament stadium in Panama.

Stotz parted ways with the Little League organization in 1956, but today there is a statue of Stotz at Volunteer Stadium in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania, part of the Little League World Series stadium complex. Stotz’s lifetime of service lives on with every crack of the bat and every cheer from the stands, win or lose, during a Little League game. And of course, all around the country, Lions-sponsored teams and Little League parks are emblematic of the continuing partnership between Little League and Lions.

Explore the dynamic history of Lions Clubs International with our exclusive Touchstone Stories series. They’re a great resource for promoting service at your club meetings!


Leos and Young Lions Facilitate Session at District Governors-Elect Seminar (DGE)

Author: Leave A Comment

In June, 26 Leos and young Lions will serve as facilitators at District Governors-Elect (DGE) Seminar. This prestigious opportunity is the first time Leos and young Lions will participate and host a session at DGE Seminar.

The session, titled “Our Future: Leos and Young Lions,” will discuss inter-generational relationships in the organization and encourage Lion leaders to discover how young people can act as partners in their clubs. Each selected young person will be matched to a distinguished DGE Seminar Group Leader to prepare to facilitate the session over the next few months. Leos and young Lions bring a fresh perspective to clubs with new ideas and innovation that can challenge and advance our service goals. By understanding the importance and worth of young people, the District Governors-Elect can mentor the clubs in their district and move Lions towards the future.

The Leos and young Lions were selected exclusively because of their individual ideas and accomplishments. The application consisted of an extensive questionnaire that assessed their strengths and experience in leadership as well as their thoughts about bridging gaps and collaborative work in service across generations. The applications were then reviewed internally in a first round by LCI staff with final selection given by 1st VP Gudrun Yngvadottir.

From the competitive process, 26 Leos and young Lions were selected from 18 countries, speaking 14 different languages. Please join us in congratulating the 2018 – 2019 DGE Leo and young Lion facilitators.


Leo/ Young Lion Facilitator Name Country
Bonnie McKenzie Australia
Othmar Fetz Austria
Pieter Hens Belgium
Shahenda Refaat Egypt
Teemu Laitinen Finland
Stephane Miquel France
Aayush Bagla India
Valentina Pilone Italy
Mengzhen Lim Japan
Shehzan Luhar Kenya
Joe Lim Chuan Zhou Malaysia
Ka Kai Fong (Potter) Malaysia
Wong Tze Cheng Malaysia
Marco Guzmán Romero Perú
Wong Cheng Yung Bobby Singapore
Rajitha Abeygunasekara Sri Lanka
Emma Björk Sweden
Juan Manuel Cáceres Uruguay
Jee-Ho Kang USA
Marifel Frances Gabriel USA
Paul Fugate USA
Amanda Silibaziso Moyo Zimbabwe
Liberty Robbie Martinson Zimbabwe
Pritchard Muzanarwo Zimbabwe
Tanyaradzwa Shanitah Nzvengende Zimbabwe
Wilson Tafirenyika Chadzamira Zimbabwe


Join us in Las Vegas for the 101st International Convention. Register for LCICon: 2018 Las Vegas today!


Leos at a measles event in Madagascar

Leo Service Grants Now Available for Application

Author: Leave A Comment

Leos, the good news you have been waiting for has arrived; Leo service grants are now available for application! Leos, you can now reach more people and create bigger impact with your own service projects, bettering the communities around you or across the world.

Grants may be awarded through Lions districts or multiple districts, up to US$2,500 for districts or US$5,000 for multiple districts. Grants will fund service projects that have a community-wide impact, and meet an unmet humanitarian need. Priority consideration will be given to projects that align with our global causes; diabetes, environment, hunger, vision, and childhood cancer.

This is your chance to let your community know that Leos are a force for positive change! What are you hoping to accomplish? Is there a river in your neighborhood that needs cleaning? Could your town benefit from a community garden? Has a natural disaster damaged your community center?

To learn more about this exciting new opportunity, click the link below, which will provide you with information and the application, or visit the Leo service grant webpage.

Leo Service Grant Criteria & Application– In English


Touchstone Story #21–One Vision

Author: Leave A Comment

Blinding trachoma, one of humanity’s oldest and most stubborn diseases, is the world’s leading cause of preventable blindness. The disease spreads easily, entering the eye along several common pathways–unwashed hands and faces, close contact between mothers and children and flies feeding on the discharge produced by infection. Untreated, trachoma follows a long and agonizing progression from irritation and swelling of the eyelid, to gradual loss of vision and, eventually, blindness.

Long absent in the developed world, trachoma remains endemic in wide areas of Africa, Asia and Central and South America. An estimated 41 million people are infected with the disease, and nearly 8 million suffer from its late stages or are blind because of it.

In Ethiopia, 75 percent of the population is at risk of infection. In many remote villages, trachoma affects whole families for generations, leaving them trapped in poverty. As First International Vice President Jim Ervin noted on a 1998 fact-finding mission hosted by the Lions of Ethiopia, “I came back and said, ‘God, what can we do? We’ve got to do something.’”

A longtime member of the Albany Lions Club, Ervin turned to another Georgia Lion for help: former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. At the time, The Carter Center in Atlanta had been actively engaged in the fight against trachoma for several years. Ervin asked Carter if he would help secure supplies of a powerful and easily administered antibiotic Zithromax for Lions’ grassroots eradication efforts in Ethiopia.

Proudly wearing their Lions pins, Carter and Ervin were soon sitting down to meet with top international executives at New York-based Pfizer Inc., maker of the drug. They shared the history of Lions’ long involvement in sight-related causes and described the campaign against trachoma in Ethiopia and other African countries. “We need the Zithromax for what we’re trying to do,” Carter said. Heads nodded. And an answer came back at once: Pfizer would donate the sight-saving drug.

Ten years later, on Jan. 23, 2008, Ervin who served as international president from 1999 to 2000, was back in Ethiopia to take part in celebrating a milestone in the fight against trachoma: the administration of the 10 millionth dose of Zithromax in that country. The ceremony included Lions Clubs International Foundation Chairperson Jimmy Ross, representatives of Pfizer and The Carter Center, government officials, health care workers and Lions from Ethiopia. But the most important person there was Messeleche Tilahun, 16, who received the milestone dose. Like millions of Ethiopians, her future was suddenly brighter. And she would see every moment of it.

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!


Touchstone Story #86–Support Behind the Scenes

Author: Leave A Comment

Launched in 1990, the SightFirst project was the largest, most ambitious campaign Lions Clubs International had ever undertaken. In partnership with governments and nonprofits around the world, Lions aspired to greatly reduce preventable and reversible blindness. Such a massive undertaking would require the enthusiastic participation of as many Lions and clubs as possible. The association estimated it would need to raise at least $130 million from Lions. Lions Clubs International Foundation issued a challenge to raise the funds by June 1994.

But Lions faced another more subtle but vitally important challenge. How would LCIF handle the accounting side of the campaign and process all these gifts and pledges?

“Lions had never done anything to this scale before,” said Yvonne Novak, LCIF donor services analysis coordinator. “We were building the system to handle pledges at the same time they were coming in.”

LCIF did not have a computer infrastructure ready to track everything for a campaign of this size. Reminders would have to be sent and pledges collected in addition to the initial recording. The process would last for years. In the meantime, every pledge and donation had to have a number, and it all had to be done by hand. LCIF struggled to keep up, overwhelmed with paperwork, especially during the final year of the campaign when the majority of the pledges and donations arrived.

Word went out to the entire Lions headquarters staff asking for help. Lions staffers worked extra hours during the week and on Saturdays and Sundays to make the campaign possible. Additional workers were hired and quickly trained to assist.

By the time the campaign ended in July 1994, Lions exceeded the initial goal, raising more than $146 million to help rid the world of preventable blindness. While the rest of the organization celebrated, the LCIF donor services staff didn’t pause long. They remained hard at work for months making sure every pledge was properly recorded. And during the next several years, the accounting department collected and processed the payments against the pledges.

The results were more than worth the effort. Millions of people worldwide had their sight restored or preserved because of the efforts of Lions—and the behind-the-scenes efforts of LCIF staff.

“We raised a lot of money, proved we could do it, survived it, and helped so many people around the world,” Novak said. “The programs are still going strong.”

“People every year now [are] getting their sight restored because of our SightFirst program through cataract surgery,” said Past International President Austin P. Jennings, who served as president from 1988-89 and served as the International Lead Gifts Coordinator for the campaign.

“It was most encouraging to know what can happen when we all decide that we are going to do [something], do it the right way and do it together,” said Jennings.

When Campaign SightFirst II began 10 years later, LCIF knew the challenges that might arise. This time, the staff was better prepared, and LCIF introduced a brand-new computer system to help handle the even bigger campaign. It was a smart move—Campaign SightFirst II raised more than $200 million.

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!



#LDUN Spotlight on Gender Equality and Lions Quest

Friday, January 15, 2016

“They can be what they want to be and not try to fit into the stereotype that has been created for them by parents and society.” – Ratna…

#LIONS100 Video: Growth and Expansion

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

“Lionism is a tremendous force…As Lions we are all going far beyond our political boundaries, building up a brotherhood among the citizens of our several countries.” – Dr….

LCIF’s Microenterprise Project is Changing Lives in Kenya

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) and Lions are working to reduce poverty. Through microenterprise, small loans are awarded to individuals to help them purchase supplies and equipment needed…

Villagers line up to receive relief materials from Lions club members

Update on Chennai Flood Relief

Monday, January 4, 2016

Recently, Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) awarded US$200,000 to aid in relief efforts for the flooding in Chennai, India. Click on the video below to see the devastation caused…