About 65 men and women strong today, the Reno Host Lions Club has a long and illustrious history. Chartered by the Oakland Club in 1920 just three years after the Lions movement was founded, Reno Host is the oldest, largest and most active club in Nevada. During its entire existence, the Reno Host Lions Club has worked to promote the extension of Lionism. It has sponsored numerous Lions clubs throughout the Silver State along with the Truckee Club in neighboring California. The Club celebrated ninety years of service to the Reno community in December 2010.

The motto of Lions Clubs International is "We Serve" and the Reno Host Lions have made service their focus for over 90 years. Since 1925 when Helen Keller stood before the International Convention and challenged members to become "Knights of the Blind in the campaign against darkness," Lions have given the highest priority to sight conservation programs. A Lion invented the White Cane and Lions started the first school for guide dogs for the blind.

The Reno Host Lions Club is a member of the California/Nevada Lions Eye Foundation. Our Club helped found the Washoe County Lions Sight Conservation Committee, which provides free eye examinations and corrective glasses to needy school children and seniors, and was instrumental in forming the Northern Nevada Lions Eye and Tissue Bank, which, in cooperation with the UC-Davis Medical School, harvests corneal tissue for transplantation.

Together with other Lions around the world, Reno Host Lions joined in the success of Lions Campaign SightFirst, an international program that raised $146 million in the effort to eradicate curable and treatable blindness on this planet. Reno Host Lions, through Club and individual gifts and pledges, raised $32,000 in support of the program, far exceeding the contributions of any other Lions Club in the state. From those funds raised by Reno Host Lions, more than 4,250 cataract operations can be performed or 80,000 children spared the blindness and likely death from xerophthalmia (Vitamin A deficiency).

Recently, many Reno Host Lions have volunteered to assist in eye clinics sponsored by the Lions in Sight Foundation, which organizes clinics in Mexico and other developing areas where volunteers give preliminary vision tests and fit recycled eyeglasses to correct a range of vision problems. Eighteen Reno Host Lions have participated in one or more clinics, including clinic trips in 2001, 2005, and 2008 to Mexico where all the volunteers came from the Club.

Reno Host was instrumental in forming the Reno Community Chest, which has now grown into the United Way of Northern Nevada. During World War II, the Club raised more than a million dollars for war bonds through a gigantic buffalo barbecue!

Following a disastrous downtown fire in 1948, Reno Host Lions led a community drive to raise money for the widows and families of the five fire fighters who were killed fighting the conflagration. Headlining one major event were movie stars Rudy Vallee, Loretta Young and Van Johnson.

During the early 1950s, Reno's transition to an urban community led to numerous child drownings in area irrigation ditches. The Reno Host Lions led the way to fund a program to fence those ditches, saving many children from the danger of those "attractive nuisances."

Reno Host Lions have always been strong supporters of service for children. They have provided for the establishment of several Reno children's parks, oratorical contests and scholarship endowments for area high school and community college students, and the club is always active in its support of Junior Achievement, Ronald McDonald House Charities, and other youth programs. Reno Host Lions were the driving force in forming Lions Camp Dat-So-La-Lee, a summer recreational camp for disadvantaged 10- and 11- year-olds in spectacular Lamoille Canyon in the Ruby Mountains of Elko County, and a number of Host Lions volunteer in June of each year to put on the week-long camp.

Fund raising to support the Lions' numerous charitable programs has been varied. The Club has sponsored festivals, variety shows, auto shows, professional basketball exhibition games, horse shows, community fairs, and participated in organizing the first the Miss Nevada Pageant, later sponsoring it for two years.

More recent fund raising projects have included the assembly and sale of fruit baskets during the Christmas season; the maintenance of bins to recycle newsprint; and a pancake breakfast during the annual Reno Rodeo Parade festivities. Fund raising projects permit the Club to distribute more than $30,000 yearly in charitable support.

As the first Lions Club in the state, Reno Host Lions has always led in the Nevada District and beyond. Ten Reno Host Lions have served as Lions District 4-N Governor, more than any other Club. The Club was named the "Outstanding Service Club in Reno/Sparks" by the J. C. Penney Golden Rule Foundation and more recently received the "Adelante Award" as the Outstanding Service Club in the Truckee Meadows as designated by Northern Nevada Hispanic Services. In February 2005 the club received perhaps its most prestigious award, winning the "Service Club in a Leading Role" category from the Education Collaborative.

The Reno Host Lions Club eagerly looks forward to continuing its role of exemplary volunteerism throughout the 21st century.

Lions Clubs International News
Connect with Us Online