Australian William R. Tresise was about to exceed the age limit of his national volunteer organization in the mid-1940s when he stumbled upon the opportunity to bring the service programs and international friendship of Lions Clubs International to his home country.
A builder with a keen interest in volunteering, Tresise, for many years, had been an active member of Apex, a young people’s service organization in Australia. But Apex had a strict age limit of 40. In 1946, as Tresise neared the milestone birthday, he tried unsuccessfully to form a senior organization for former members. Soon, he would be forced to retire from the group, even though he was eager to continue serving his community.
In his last year with Apex, Tresise traveled to San Francisco to represent the organization and his country at a 1946 service clubs conference. A chance meeting in California with Fred W. Smith, a Lion who went on to serve as international president from 1947 to 1948, couldn’t have been better timed.
Lions Clubs, Tresise discovered, had no age limit. The organization was dedicated to service, and it was expanding around the world. Both men saw an opportunity that shouldn’t be missed. Tresise spoke with other Lions leaders—including Melvin Jones, the organization’s founder and secretary-general, and soon found himself appointed a provisional district governor of Lions Clubs charged with founding a Lions club in Australia.
Tresise went home to Lismore, New South Wales. Although the city was small, he had plenty of business contacts in his hometown, and he invited many of them to hear about the Lions organization. His enthusiasm for Lions and its mission was infectious. Within a year, the Lismore Lions Club organized, and on September 29, 1947, the club received its charter, making Australia the 18th nation to join Lions Clubs.
Tresise continued to spread the news about Lions, serving as a Lions district governor and in other positions. “There was the satisfaction of seeing the result,” Tresise said, “together with meeting and working with kindred spirits: men and women of such a high caliber.” At the time of Tresise’s death in 1975, almost 1,000 clubs could be found all over Australia.
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!
As Lions, we believe that kindness matters. We are guided by our founder, Melvin Jones, who said “you can’t get very far until you start doing something for someone else.” That’s why when disaster strikes, whether it be in Texas, India or anywhere else around the world, we take action.
Hurricane Harvey struck the south and central coast of Texas on Friday, August 25 with 125 mile per hour winds, then lingered onshore for 5 days, gathering moisture from the Gulf of Mexico. Rain, in some areas over 50 inches, laid waste to over 50 counties in Texas, overflowing rivers and levees. To make matters worse, the storm briefly returned to the Gulf of Mexico, regained strength, and made a second landfall near the Texas and Louisiana border. Authorities have used the words “epic” and “catastrophic” to describe the devastation.
By Sunday, August 27th, LCIF approved a major catastrophe grant of US$100,000. We are working closely with Lions leaders in the area of destruction to determine how we can utilize our resources to make the highest possible impact.
Currently, local, State and Federal agencies are conducting search and rescue operations. Many areas are inaccessible. As search and rescue comes to an end, the recovery phase will begin. The recovery phase could last for weeks, months, or even years.
The Hurricane Harvey disaster radius encompasses four districts, 2-A3, 2-S1, 2-S2, 2-S4, with two others on the periphery, 2-S5, 2-X3. The District Governors of the four hardest hit districts have formed a Disaster Committee, which will conduct a needs assessment and coordinate relief efforts as the flood waters recede. They are calling on Lions everywhere to support Lions Clubs International Foundation’s disaster response efforts by making a donation.
Lions who wish to offer their support by providing supplies or volunteering should reach out via firstname.lastname@example.org to coordinate with the local response efforts.
Because we are global, we respond wherever there are people in need. Even as we address this current disaster in the United States, parts of India, Nepal and Bangladesh are being deluged by monsoon rains. In Mumbai alone, over 1,000 people have been reported killed in the floods. In the past 3 months, LCIF has approved twenty emergency grants to South Asia, totaling US$125,000. Lions of India who wish to donate, and have any questions on how to do so, should contact the ISAAME Secretariat office in Mumbai at LionsIndia@lionsclubs.org.
I know you join me in keeping the victims of Hurricane Harvey and flooding in South Asia in your thoughts and prayers.
Chancellor Bob Corlew
Chairman, Lions Clubs International Foundation
“We Serve” is the Lions Clubs’ motto, and the truth behind those words can be seen whenever Lions embark on a humanitarian mission to help those in need.
One of the Lions’ “vision missions” was held in Ensenada, Mexico, in 2009. Eighty miles south of San Diego, California, Ensenada is a tourist destination and cruise ship port, but many of the locals have never had an eye exam. Lions clubs in the United States and Mexico teamed up to change that.
“Missions are rewarding because they’re hands-on service,” said Bill Iannacone of the Walnut Creek Host Lions Club of California. About 700,000 pairs of eyeglasses were collected in California, then shipped across the border, where Ensenada Lions received them, set up a location for the mission event and publicized it locally.
Over the course of two days, more than 800 locals who couldn’t afford health care received eye exams, free eyeglasses and even eye drops to treat allergies and conjunctivitis from four doctors, six technicians and dozens of Lions.
Elena Galindo and her young son both received glasses. “Not only will this help my family financially, but I was able to see the smile on my son’s face, and he was able to see better,” she said.
Missions around the world offer the chance for clubs in neighboring countries to work together. Club members travel together, work together and meet new friends. As Sue Topf of the Clermont Lions Club in Indianapolis, Indiana, said, “These missions change your life. Last trip we fit a 100-year-old man with his first pair of glasses. He had walked down from the mountain in his Sunday best.”
Vision missions are a major part of the Lions’ humanitarian work, but that’s only one way of serving. The year 2015 marked the 40th anniversary of an annual medical, dental and ophthalmic mission jointly organized by Lions clubs in Japan and the Philippines, providing teeth cleaning, information on oral hygiene, and vision and medical screenings to more than 1,000 people in the Philippines. Other clubs team up for one-time missions, such as the Roma Castel Sant’Angelo Lions Club of Italy, which helped build a well and provided hygiene training to a village in Benin, Africa; and the Mijas Lions Club of Spain, which equipped two Bolivian schools with furniture and school supplies.
“I get more out of it than I give,” said Jim Ashcraft of the San Diego Missions Lions Club, who was on hand in Ensenada. That feeling of service shows that these gestures, both large and small, can have a big impact—and not just for the recipients.
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!
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease, spread through close contact with infected persons. If there is just one person with measles on a crowded bus of 100 people, 90 others will become infected if they are not vaccinated. In 2013, it was reported that more than 50% of measles-associated deaths in the world occurred in India.*
Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) remains committed to the fight against this deadly – but preventable – disease. The Lions of Multiple District 316 in India recently received a US$150,000 grant to support their efforts in a statewide measles-rubella (MR) vaccination campaign. Throughout August 2017, the campaign has vaccinated millions of children between 9 months and 15 years of age across the state of Andhra Pradesh.
Lions are known for their work in social mobilization and advocacy. For this campaign, local Lions worked with school administrators and parents to raise awareness around the importance of all children being vaccinated for MR and to allow government vaccination teams to vaccinate children who attend private schools. For the first two weeks of the month, the campaign focused on schools, immunizing one school, one village, each day. The later half of the month focused on community-based vaccine centers for children who do not attend school.
LCIF continues efforts to help children around the world committing to raise US$30 million by the end of 2017. If Lions and LCIF meet this goal working alongside Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the contributions will be matched by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, allowing LCIF and Lions to provide US$60 million for vaccinations.
*Measles mortality in high and low burden districts of India: estimates from a nationally representative study of over 12,000 child deaths.
Morris SK, Awasthi S, Kumar R, Shet A, Khera A, Nakhaee F, Ram U, Brandao JR, Jha P, MDS Collaborators.
Vaccine. 2013 Sep 23; 31(41):4655-61.
My Dear Lions,
On Friday, August 25th, Hurricane Harvey made its way ashore on the central Gulf Coast of Texas with winds of 125 miles per hour. As I draft this letter, the central coast of Texas, including metropolitan Houston, is still being affected by unprecedented amounts of rain fall and potentially devastating flooding. The nearly 17 million residents in the path of the storm will be dealing with the aftermath for weeks and possibly months to come.
Lions Clubs International, through our Foundation (LCIF), has responded with emergency catastrophe grant in the amount of US$100,000. The grant will allow Lions in the area of impact to provide life-saving supplies of food, water, blankets and other necessities.
We never know when or where disaster will strike. But when it does, LCIF emergency and major catastrophe grants enable local Lions to respond, making an immediate impact in the hardest hit areas – around the world.
Your donation to LCIF makes it possible for us to respond at a moment’s notice to this and other disasters as they strike. Lions members are the most generous people in the world. Please consider a donation to LCIF to assist Lions in short-term and long-term disaster response.
I know you join me in keeping the victims of this latest natural disaster in your thoughts and prayers. Together we make a significant difference.
Dr. Naresh Aggarwal
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