Celebrating 60 Years of Leos: Connected by One Goal

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December 5th is the 60th Anniversary of the Leo Club Program. To celebrate 60 years of Leo history, we will feature stories from former Leos around the world on what being a Leo has meant to them. Our fourth feature comes from Lina Barsoum from Heliopolis, Egypt. As a new Leo, she was intimidated by the large number of Leos from all different backgrounds. However, she quickly learned that the shared Leo goals of serving others bonded them together. At the end of her time as a Leo, she had gained the confidence and international network of friends that has continued to follow her today.

When Lina first became a Leo, she felt intimidated by the diverse group of people in her club. “I remember meeting young people from different backgrounds, politics and religions. It was daunting as a new member to engage with everyone, but I was able to overcome my shyness as I realized that we had all come together for the common goal of serving our community.” A few months later, Lina traveled to a Leo workshop in Cairo, where she was asked by one of the organizers to present to the group. “I was petrified. I was not confident in my public speaking abilities, and was afraid to mess up in front of strangers, especially people from all over Europe and Asia. I remember as I tried to refuse, he smiled and said to me, ‘We are all Leos here with the same goals. There is nothing to be nervous about. We will support you no matter what.’ That gave me the confidence to present to the workshop, and I have continued using those skills today in my professional work.”

For the next 5 years, Lina would become a leader, helping to run service projects and traveling to area forums as a representative for her club. She found that the common goal allowed her to connect with people all over the world and created an international network of friends. “I have met so many wonderful Leos from all over. We became the strongest of friends, even visiting each other outside of Leo events. I’ve slept on couches in Vienna, Paris, Budapest, Augsburg, and Amsterdam and had my house called the Egyptian Leo hotel. Even though it’s been 7 years since I’ve been a Leo, whenever I reconnect with any of my Leo friends, it’s like we pick up where we left off.”

Of advice she has to Leos today, she speaks to how that common Leo goal can bond you for life. “Leos can be a life changing opportunity. The Leo friends you make today will last a life time. I’ve found that no matter what stage we are in life, single, married, starting families, we remain united and friends forever!”


For more information on becoming a Leo or to sponsor a Leo Club, visit our website at


Touchstone Stories–Club Twinning

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Lions Clubs International club twinning fosters friendship and understanding by linking clubs across international borders. Two clubs from two different countries enter a formal agreement of friendship and cooperation, working together on mutual mission statements, organizing identical service projects in their respective local communities and even traveling together to another location in need of service that Lions can provide. Whenever possible, club members are encouraged to visit their twin club’s location, attend meetings and stay in the homes of Lions from their twin club.

“In Europe, we all have national borders within five or six hundred miles, along with other languages, old rivalries and a history of hunger, misery, and wars,” said Dr. Rudolf Rahn of Düsseldorf, Germany, a member of the Lions Clubs International Board of Directors from 1962-64. “Thus we consider it our first and decisive duty to overcome such old barriers of blood and hatred and, following the terms of the first Object of Lions International, to create and foster a spirit of generous consideration among the peoples of this old continent.”

The shortest path to understanding strangers is surely by walking in their shoes—or by shaking their hand. Rahn related a secondhand story of a French Lion who reached a more peaceful understanding, not only of himself and his fellows but also of the entire world, through twinning:

“My father was killed in the First World War. I myself was a German prisoner in the Second World War. I thought I could never again shake hands with any German. Then I consented to accompany my club to Wiesbaden, Germany, for a Lions meeting. There I made friends with the German fellow-Lions. Let me tell you that since that meeting my life and the world have been, for me, in order again.”

Club twinning led to another long-running Lions Clubs International program. Seeing the beneficial relationships that came from club twinning, the International Board approved the Lions Youth Exchange Program in 1961. In the first five years, the program would send 2,000 young people ages 15 to 21 to spend a few weeks with a Lions family in another country. Today, thousands of young people participate in the program or attend a Youth Camp, learning valuable leadership skills and meeting the next generation of Lions firsthand. In 2010, the Lions and Leo clubs of Ipoh, Malaysia, and the Lions and Leo clubs of Valenzuela, Philippines, held a formal twinning ceremony and launched a joint hunger relief project to feed homeless children in the Philippines.

Twin clubs have a single purpose: working together to serve.

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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LCIF 50th Anniversary Celebration: Enter the Together We Can Contest Series

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Lions serve, and for 50 years Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) has been serving alongside them. Please join in the celebration of LCIF’s 50th anniversary by visiting, and participating in the Together We Can contest series!

Because of Lions’ willingness to give, LCIF has much to celebrate. Together, we’ve restored sight to millions of people and prevented blindness in millions more. Together, we’ve connected the world’s children with lifesaving vaccines and tools for healthy social emotional development. Together, we’ve been there for our communities when disaster has struck. Together we can do so much, and that is what these contests are about.

The first contest in the series, which is now live on, focuses on LCIF’s important work in saving sight, and illustrates how the foundation has improved the quality of life for millions of children and adults worldwide. A new contest will launch every month through April 2018, featuring measles prevention, Lions Quest, disaster relief and LCIF’s partnerships.  Enter now and keep coming back for more chances to win!

Each month, contest winners from around the world will receive an exclusive LCIF 50th Anniversary medal, plus the opportunity to be recognized at the 2018 Lions Clubs International Convention in Las Vegas (travel and convention registration not included).

Millions of lives have been improved through the efforts of Lions and LCIF over the last 50 years.  We have so much to celebrate.  Join in at!



Touchstone Story–Winston Churchill

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Sir Winston Churchill, popularly known as “the Last Lion,” was prime minister of the United Kingdom from 1940-45 (and again from 1951-55).  

Known for his masterful turns of phrase (“If you are going through hell—keep going”) almost as much as his wartime leadership, Churchill was also an animal lover. During his lifetime, admirers from around the globe sent him animals as gifts. Churchill, in turn, gave the animals to the London Zoo, where he and the British public could visit them.  

But in 1956, one of Churchill’s favorites—a lion cub—died suddenly in the London Zoo. American Lions decided to honor Churchill, who they called “the greatest lion of them all,” with a new lion, named Rusty.  

Dennis Venning of the Park Forest Lions Club of Illinois, an editor of LION Magazine, was among those who delivered Rusty to the London Zoo. Venning also visited Churchill at his estate, remembering, “Sir Winston remarked it was a good thing we had not brought Rusty along to his home.”  

Rusty the lion lived at the London Zoo before passing away in 1960. Churchill returned the hide of the majestic lion to Lions Clubs International founder Melvin Jones. Today, Rusty proudly resides in Melvin Jones’ office at Lions Clubs International headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois.  

When recounting the wartime leadership he offered his country, Churchill said, “I had the luck to be called upon to give the roar.” Lions all around the world can relate.

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!


Celebrating 60 Years of Leos: The Power of Youth

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December 5th is the 60th Anniversary of the Leo Club Program. To celebrate 60 years of Leo history, we will feature stories from former Leos around the world on what being a Leo has meant to them. Our third feature comes from District GLT Coordinator Andreja Stojkovski, who as a Leo realized the power young people have to make a difference in their community. As a member of the Skopje Leo Club in Skopje, Macedonia, his club raised over $7,500 to build a library for their city’s orphanage. Now a Lion, he continues to support and encourage young people’s abilities to effect change, acting as a Leo club advisor for over a decade.

When District GLT Coordinator Stojkovski became a Leo in 1999, he knew he wanted to help his community in any way he could. “I joined Leos because I wanted to spend more time out there serving my community, even by doing simple acts of kindness.” However, it wasn’t until his second year in the club that he saw the true impact he could have as a Leo. As part of his club’s service project, the Leos organized a classical music concert, with a book drive and CD sale, to benefit the building of a library for their city’s orphanage. “The music concert we organized for the orphanage was the first time I understood the power we had as youths. We sold out an entire concert hall of 880 seats, booking 3 opera singers and arranging for the audio recordings which we later sold as CDs. We also worked with corporate sponsors to arrange a book drive, collecting over 5,000 books that day. The whole project brought in $7,500.” He came away from the event with the knowledge that as a Leo, he could do something truly impactful. “Knowing that a group of twenty-something year olds could manage a project of such magnitude was an eye opening experience. Seeing the children with their books made all our efforts worth it.”

After becoming a Lion in 2005, he immediately took on a role as Leo club advisor, and continued to mentor Leos for over a decade. When asked what advice he would give to Leos today, he stressed the impact that being a Leo can have not only for the communities they serve but also for the Leo. “Being a Leo is a life changing experience, not only for the people that you serve, but you as the volunteer. Be the change you want to see in society and become a Leo today!”

For more information on becoming a Leo or to sponsor a Leo Club, visit our website at


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