History of Lions Clubs

1917: The Beginning of Lions Clubs International

In response to social problems created by World War I and rapid industrialisation, a Chicago businessman named Melvin Jones invites business clubs from around the USA to a meeting where the association of Lions Clubs is formed.

Melvin Jones

1920: Lions Go International

Just three years after founding, Lions becomes International when the Border Cities Lions Club in Windsor, Canada is established.  At the time Lions were active in 23 US States with a total of 6,400 members.


1925 : Becoming Knights of the Blind

Helen Keller addresses Lions at the International Convention in Cedar Point, Ohio, USA.  She famously challenges Lions to become “knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness”.  This begins a century long mission – impacting hundreds of millions of lives through vision related work.


1945: Uniting Nations

Lions and other representatives from 46 Nations meet to help establish the NGO section of the United Nations (UN), underscoring Lions International’s commitment to a “certain and lasting peace for the world.” Today Lions continue to work with the UN at the annual Lions Day with the United Nations.


1955: New Zealand joins Lions

Lions Clubs were introduced to  New Zealand in 1955 with the first club established in Auckland. Today there are 9,500 members and 350 Lions Clubs in seven Districts throughout New Zealand and the South Pacific.


1957: Leos are Introduced

The Leo program is developed to provide the youth of the world with an opportunity for personal development through volunteering.  Today there are more than 175,000 Leos and 7,000 Leo Clubs in over 140 countries worldwide.


1968: Establishing our Foundation

Lions Clubs International Foundation is created, with the mission “to support the efforts of Lions clubs and partners in serving communities locally and globally, giving hope and impacting lives through humanitarian service projects and grants.  Today our foundations has awarded more than $1 billion USD in grants.


1990: Launching SightFirst

Lions Launch a campaign to help restore sight and prevent blindness on a global scale.  The effort raises more than $346 million, setting the stage for SightFirst II in 2005, which raises $205 million more for the cause.


2017: Lions Turn 100

The 100th year of serving local communities and the globe is celebrated at the Lions Clubs International Centennial Convention in Chicago, Illinois, USA – the same city where the association began.

Lions Club 100 Years

Kindness Matters

We are 10,000 men and women serving in clubs across New Zealand, Tonga, Samoa, American Samoa and Fiji.

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