Lions Clubs International

In 1917, a Chicago insurance executive named Melvin Jones asked his business club to expand their horizons.  By uniting and working together, he said, the business groups around the country could contribute to the betterment of their communities and the world at large.  One of these business groups was named "The Lions Club" which became the name of the larger group.  On June 7, 1917 they held an organizational meeting and The Lions Club was born.  The club went international just three years later when Canada joined them.  Later, Mexico, China and Cuba all joined as well as over 200 other countries and regions of the world.

Just a few years later, in 1925, a blind and deaf woman by the name of Helen Keller addressed the Lions at the international convention in Cedar Point, Ohio.  During that address, she asked the Lions to focus their energies on ending preventable blindness wherever it is found.  She challenged the gathered Lions to "be her knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness".

In 1945 with the formation of The United Nations, The International Lions Club became the only non-governmental agency (NGO) to sign the charter that established the UN.  To this day, The International Lions Club remains a consultee member of the UN.  Each year in March, the UN holds its annual Lions Day at the UN where the winner of the Lions International Peace Poster Contest is announced.

Massachusetts Lions

The Mass Lions have over 9,000 members in over 275 clubs.  Each of these clubs works singly and in unison at times with other clubs and districts to eliminate blindness and help in their community in any way they can.  In 1952 the Massachusetts Lions made Eye Research our official project.  The Lions of Massachusetts have dedicated themselves to this one primary statewide project ever since, EYE RESEARCH.

We are fortunate to have some of the premier eye research facilities of the world, in our back yard.  Among others, we have; Harvard Medical School, Howe Laboratory at Mass Eye and Ear Infirmary, Schepens Eye Research Institute, Joslin Diabetes Center, and The Mass Lions Eye Research Laboratory at BU Medical Center.  Because of the Lions support over the years, Boston has become one of the leading Eye Research and Diabetes Treatment centers in the world!

The Boston laboratories have made many discoveries in diseases and pioneered instrumentation used for both surgery and diagnostic purposes.  Some of the major findings include; laser beam treatments, upside-down tables for detached retinas, corneal transplants, soft contact lenses, specular photomicroscope, and recently, the scanning laser ophthalmoscope. 

All of this started for the Mass Lions because in 1951 we became aware that each year, 2,500 premature babies were losing their sight at birth from "baby blindness".  The Lions at that time formed "Mass Lions Eye Research Fund" dedicated to funding research.  The very first grant of $5,000 was given to Dr. Ingalls of Harvard Medical School who was instrumental in discovering that the cause of "baby blindness" was too much oxygen being used in incubators for premature babies.  Today, over 125,000 adults can see because of the foresight and concern of these Lions. 

The Lions of Massachusetts have awarded grants totaling over $20,000,000.  We are continuing to find needs for our help all over the world.  Today, the leading injury for all servicemen and women serving in the Middle East is eye injury.  The lions are sponsoring many laboratories that are working on new treatment methods.  One exciting branch being investigated is a "living tissue" bandage that may be used shortly to recover eyesight lost to traumatic injury.

We cannot do this alone.  We, The Lions of Massachusetts and the world, are asking you for help.  How can you help? Support your local Lions Club as they continue on their "journey for sight".  Ask a Lion how you can help, it is not only painless, but it also gives you a great feeling of belonging and community.

We Serve, will you?

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