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It Takes A Lion

We Are Lions Clubs – Ready to Help, Worldwide

Whenever a Lions club gets together, problems get smaller. And communities get better. That's because we help where help is needed – in our own communities and around the world – with unmatched integrity and energy.

We Are The World's Largest Service Club Organization

Our 46,000 clubs and 1.35 million members make us the world's largest service club organization. We're also one of the most effective. Our members do whatever is needed to help their local communities. Everywhere we work, we make friends. With children who need eyeglasses, with seniors who don’t have enough to eat and with people we may never meet.

Learn More About Lions Clubs

Lions Clubs International History

Lions Clubs Facts

View a Slideshow of the History of Lions Clubs International

Beginning in 1917

Chicago business leader Melvin Jones asked a simple and world-changing question – what if people put their talents to work improving their communities? Almost 100 years later, Lions Clubs International is the world's largest service club organization, with more than 1.3 million members in more than 45,000 clubs and countless stories of Lions acting on the same simple idea: let's improve our communities.

1920: Going International

Just three years later, Lions went international when we established the first club in Canada. Mexico followed in 1927. In the 1950s and 1960s international growth accelerated, with new clubs in Europe, Asia and Africa.

1920: The "Born On Day" for Multiple District 35

December 15th, 1920 if the day for organizing the Orlando Lions Club is used or April 9th, 1922 if the date of charter is used. The first club in Florida was organized by R.J. Lewis of Cincinnati, Ohio. The first Convention of District 35 was held in Orlando, May 28th and 29th 1925 and there were 13 clubs in the State.

Franklin O. King was selected as the District Governor by Lions Clubs International for this convention and was then elected to serve again the following year. The following clubs were represented at the first convention of the district.

1. Orlando
2. Daytona Beach
3. Tampa
4. West Palm Beach
5. Miami
6. St. Augustine (Cancelled 4/30/36)
7. Jacksonville (Cancelled 5/25/45)
8. Fort Lauderdale (Cancelled 4/30/34)
9. St. Petersburg
10. Lake Worth
11. Miami Beach
12. Redland’s District
13. Fort Myers (Cancelled 6/30/27)

Even though some of these original clubs surrendered their charter, it is worthy of noting that all organized at a later date and are still providing service to their communities.

By the time the second Convention was held in West Palm Beach, the number of clubs had grown to sixteen with 698 members around the state. The main goal at this convention was to draft and approve a constitution and bylaws for the district.

Millard Conklin was the only District Governor to be elected to two terms of office, 1936/1937 and 1937/1938. He then served as International Director the years of 1938/1940. The only other person to serve as Governor twice was the first governor Franklin O. King, who was appointed by Lions International and than elected to serve a second term.

By the time the 15th Annual Convention was held in St. Petersburg, the clubs in the district now totaled 67 and the number of members stood at 2,097. So a resolution was adopted for Florida to have two District Governors, Districts S (South) and N (North), with the approximate dividing line just South of Orlando, thereby designating District 35 now as Multiple District 35.

At the 23rd Annual Convention held in Sarasota, May 4-6, 1947, a resolution was placed on the ballot that the Gulf Beach Lions would underwrite the cost of a Florida State magazine for the first year, with the members paying $1.50 for a year subscriptions fee. If at the end of the year, it turned out to be a good thing, it would then become a permanent item. This passed and the magazine was born.

At the 24th Annual Convention held in St. Augustine, May 9-11, 1948, with the membership up to 5,609 and the number of clubs at 107, the delegates voted to change and divide the Florida districts into five, L,I,O,N and S.

At the 35th Annual Convention, held in Jacksonville, the membership had grown to 11,542 and the number of clubs was now 289, thereby bringing forth a resolution to divide the State of Florida Multiple District 35 into seven districts, F, L, O, R, I, D and A. During this year fourteen  new clubs were organized.

Although the Multiple District had many International Directors, it wasn’t until 1965 that Dr. Walter H. Campbell, Past International Director from Florida, served as our Associations International President.

At the 50th Annual Convention held in Jacksonville May 16-18, 1974 the delegates voted to include the Freeport Lions Club of Grand Bahama Island making it a part of District 35-D, thereby making Multiple District 35 an International District. In May 2007 at the 83rd State Convention in Orlando, the delegates again voted to expand the Multiple by including all of the Bahama Islands as part of District 35-D.

Multiple District 35 is alive and vibrant, welcoming many from all over the world daily and inviting all Lions from other areas to become a part of our great tradition when they retire and move to Florida.

1925: Eradicating Blindness

One of our earliest and most influential causes has been eradicating blindness. That began in 1925, when Helen Keller addressed the Lions Clubs International Convention in Cedar Point, Ohio, USA. She challenged us to become "knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness." Since then, we have worked tirelessly to fulfill her charge to aid the blind and visually impaired.

1945: Uniting Nations

The ideal of an international organization is exemplified by our enduring relationship with the United Nations. We were one of the first nongovernmental organizations invited to assist in the drafting of the United Nations Charter and have supported the work of the UN ever since.

1957: Organizing Youth Programs

In the late 1950s, we created the Leo Program to provide the youth of the world an opportunity for personal development and contribution. There are now more than 5,500 Leo clubs in more than 130 countries, with more than 140,000 Leos worldwide.

1968: Establishing Our Foundation

Lions Clubs International Foundation assists Lions with global and large-scale local humanitarian projects. Through our Foundation, Lions meet the needs of their local and global communities.

1990: Launching SightFirst

In 1990, we launched our most aggressive sight preservation effort, SightFirst. This US$215 million program aims to rid the world of preventable and reversible blindness by supporting desperately needed health care services. In 2008, Lions completed Campaign SightFirst II, which raised more than US$200 million to expand the program.

Today: Extending our Reach

Lions Clubs International grows stronger and extends our mission of service every day – in local communities, in all corners of the globe. In 2002, we were the first international service club to be granted permission to organize and operate clubs in mainland China. And in 2007, a Lions club was formed in Iraq. These clubs join an international network that has grown to include 45,000 clubs located in more than 45,000 Lions Clubs across the globe.