LION'S CORNER: History of women and families in Lionism
In 1917 Lions International was founded by Melvin Jones as a strictly men in service organization. Then in 1925 Helen Keller and Ann Sullivan were honored as the first and second ladies of Lionism. Helen Keller challenged Lions at the 1927 International Convention to be Knights of the Blind. That challenge was accepted.
Until 1975 Lions was a men only service organization. Then the Lioness Program began as a sub-group. In 1987 the first group of women was approved for Lion’s membership as a sole entity.
In 2003 the women’s initiative began with a push to have women join Lions. At that time women made up only 14 percent of the membership with 1 percent of them being District Governors.
There was a push to develop training for these new women members. Worldwide workshop took place to educate the women. They adopted neutral gender language, membership development and chair positions.
In 2007 concessions were discussed for family units. In 2010 Lions Family clubs were developed to encourage families to volunteer together. The Youth Club Program gives children the opportunity to be guided into a lifelong dedication to helping those in need.
The youth clubs are divided into three age categories which are called Cubbies: Level I under 3, Level 2 Age 4-7 and Level 3 Age 8-12. These children attend club meetings and events with their parents and siblings. Leo Clubs are age 13-18 and work with sponsoring clubs and their own community projects.
Past International President Tam developed the Women’s & Family Membership Development Force to promote more women in Lionism. This program continues today. By March 2013 Women comprise 25 percent of Lions.
Your local clubs hold medical fund raisers, vision screen at the State Fair, health fairs and in the elementary schools, hold food drives, participant in Bear Paw events, Tree of Giving, raise money for school supplies, Beannie Boxes for the homeless, support ARCH home, scholarships for local high school students, and purchase playground equipment for the handicapped in Eagle River Town Square. The list of volunteer opportunities is extensive.
I hope this information encourages you and your family to join a local Lions Club.
We all have facebook pages where you can find information about us or upcoming events. Call me at 242-1129 if you want more information.