"I am only one, but still I am one, I cannot do everything, but still I can do something"

Helen Keller

The Youngstown Lions Club was chartered on October 11, 1920, following the organization of Lions International in 1917 as the 12th Lions Club organized in Ohio. Carl Ullman, past President of The Dollar Savings and Trust Company, was our first President; George F. Malloy, First Vice-President; E. Wolfe, Second Vice-President; and John P. Barret, Secretary-Treasurer. There were 59 original members. Meetings were held every Thursday at noon at the Elks Club for the first year. Since then, meetings have been held at the YWCA, the YMCA, the Strouss Department Store, the Wick-Pollock Inn and the Youngstown Club. Meetings are currently being held at the Youngstown YMCA in downtown Youngstown. Our club is in the top one hundred of the oldest lions clubs in the world.

The project of sight conservation and aid to the blind was first introduced to Lions International in 1925 by our past President and then District Governor Albert Elton at the State Convention at Cedar Point as a project for the Ohio Lions. He was aided by Helen Keller's passionate speech to the Ohio Lions to become "Knights of the Blind". Sight saving was adopted by the Ohio Lions at that State Convention and later that same year in Texas at the International Convention as the Lions International project. Our club is most proud of the fact that, in 1922, when our club was only two years old, we were the first organization to take up sight saving as a community project at the urging of Helen Keller. Within four years of our initial involvement, a special class for blind children was established at Chaney High School with our club as its "guardian angel". Since that time, our members have taken Ms. Keller’s plea to heart, and many dollars and countless hours have been spent fighting blindness and bringing aid to the visually impaired. Today, Lions Club International Foundation and over 1.3 million lions worldwide in over 46,000 clubs are engaged in a global campaign to eliminate avoidable blindness and to assist the sight impaired.

The Youngstown Lions Club has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars since its founding to assist many charitable organizations in the valley. Nearly all of the funds raised are used by local charities. The club's major fund raiser is the annual Turtle Derby which has been held annually for over 50 years. Prior Youngstown Lions Club fund raisers include: the Mahoning Bridle and Saddle Show (5 years); Sight Saving Stamps (4 years); Minstrel Shows; and other benefits including pancake breakfasts and sponsoring a nationally aired radio talent show, the "Major Bowes" show. Funds raised have been utilized for eye examinations, eyeglasses, operations, facilities, and equipment for the Society for the Blind and its successor Goodwill Industries. Purchases have included equipment for the Low Vision Center, Optacon machines, Visutek machines, a Video Eye Magnification Machine, computers, projectors, talking calculators, counting scales, radios and broadcast equipment for Goodwill’s Radio Reading Service, and several vans and trucks to transport the blind. Mentor Slit lamps were purchased for the emergency rooms of St. Elizabeth's Hospital and the Youngstown Hospital Association. The YMCA and YWCA have received many "free memberships" for handicapped and needy children, plus the sponsorship of swimming classes for multi-handicapped students. Our club has been involved in many other areas. These include Ohio Eye Research, the Melvin E. Jones Eye Bank, the Pilot Dog program, Campaign Sight First II, Hurricane Katrina Lions Relief fund, the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program, the Beatitude House, Easter Seals, the Goodwill Eyeglass and Radio Reading service, Needles Eye, the Rescue Mission, the Second Harvest Food Bank, Hope House, Rich Center for Autism, St. Vincent DePaul Society, Sister Jerome fund, YSU Scholarship Program, Lions Diabetes Research, the Salvation Army, Camp Echoing Hills, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, CARE, the Youngstown Safety Council, and the Lions Club International Foundation. Over the years, we have assisted many other civic projects too numerous to mention.

The close association of our club with the Society for the Blind, and its successor, Goodwill Industries, started with an original donation of $1,000 to help them purchase their first home on Bryson Street. A portion of those funds was also used to purchase the Society’s first piece of equipment, a broom stitcher. The Youngstown Club, in association with the our club’s Lady Lions, organized in 1928, assisted the Braille and sight-saving classes by purchasing thousands of pages and hundreds of books which were bound at the Braille Transcribing Service and mailed throughout the world. Several braille typewriters, reading machines, and "talking books" were also purchased for the Braille Transcribing Service. Our past Lady Lions group contributed thousands of hours transcribing and binding "free" braille books not only for local schools but schools around the country. They also hosted several holiday parties each year and provided special "food packages" to each student and every teacher at Christmas.

In the local education field, the club supported the efforts of Dr. Pauline Powers as she set up the area’s first complete facility for the blind and sight impaired children at Rayen High School. In her memory, and for her many dedicated years of service, the Youngstown Lions Club gave a  scholarship to special education students at Youngstown State University through the YSU Foundation. A second scholarship, named after long time Lion John Callos, was also established at YSU in 2011. The club has been involved with sponsoring school children for the Blind Swim Club at the YMCA, as well as purchasing three Visutec and other magnification machines for the Youngstown Board of Education, the Youngstown Public Library, and the YSU Library to aid the visually impaired. In the early years, the club paid for the services of a music appreciation teacher for sight-saving classes, and furnished milk for braille classes which were held at Chaney High School and then at Rayen High School.

Every Christmas, the Youngstown Lions hold their major event, the annual Christmas party for visually impaired and special needs children in Youngstown. The party is held at the Saxon Club with over 120 special needs children attending, along with Goodwill adults, other special guests, and Lions from our club as well as Ohio Lions District 13D, including the District Governor. The event has been ongoing since the club was founded in 1920. The party includes a meal, Christmas music, and a gift for each child. Santa makes a visit and lions assist him in passing out the gifts. Christmas carols are sung and a good time is had by all at this very rewarding experience.

We have honored our responsibilities in Lions International by sponsoring six additional local clubs: Campbell in 1928; Southside Youngstown in 1951; Lowellville in 1956; New Middletown in 1957; Boardman, in conjunction with Southside Lions in 1968; and most recently, the Canfield Lions Club in 1978. We have had at least four Past District Governors as members of our club: Albert Elton (1923-25); V.E. Vanvolkenberg (1941-42); Ed Gilronan (1952-53), who was also an International Counselor; and Ron Clifton (1997-1998). Our club member, Charles Wolfe, was a Senior Deputy Governor. Members who have held the position of Zone Chairman include: Ed Beuchler, Ed Gilronan, Charles Wolfe, Tony Vivo, Allen Scott, Odelin Kraja, Jack Mavrikis, Howard Vari, Steve Bukovac and Ron Clifton. We were there in Bloomfield, Ohio, when the Melvin E. Jones Eye Bank was organized by Willard Kerr from the Youngstown Southside Club. Our own Anthony Vivo was the first Ohioan elected a Director of the Eye Bank of America.

Those that organized this club in 1920 vowed that "no youngster in this area would go without glasses"; that was only the beginning. We are justly proud of our club’s history, and pledge to continue to expand our involvement with unselfish service to our community.

Our Motto: WE SERVE

Our Slogan: Liberty, Intelligence, Our Nation’s Safety

They serve God well, who serve His creatures. (1 Corinthians 13:2) Rev.5/13


Lions Clubs International News
Connect with Us Online