2016-17 International President
The Meaning of Lions—Same Today as Before
The pages of LION Magazine during the early years of Lions in the 1920s were filled with stories such as “The Purpose of Lions,” “The Meaning of Lionism” and “The Value of Lions.” A businessman’s club dedicated to service was still a novel concept, and it was as if Lions had to convince themselves that they were on the right track. The uncertainty led Lions to question whether Lions Clubs would even survive. “During my lifetime I have seen organizations formed with the highest ideals flourish for a time, then drop into comparative unimportance. Will that be the fate of Lionism? I hope not,” wrote District Governor A. Baker of Cheyenne, Wyoming, in January 1922.
But Lions stayed the course. They stuck with service. Fellowship was part of membership. But service was paramount. “Activities Make the Club” was the headline for a column in 1927 by International President Irving Camp of Johnstown, Pennsylvania. “Show me a club that simply meets and eats, and I will show you a club that has failed to respond to the call of service as invited in the very principles of our great, unselfish organization,” he wrote.
Rapidly approaching our Centennial in 2017, we now know that our forebears were right. Service is what makes a Lion. It’s what we do. It’s who we are. That has never been more evident than over the past couple of years. We set a goal to serve 100 million people by June 30, 2018. The four campaigns have been Engaging Youth, Sharing the Vision, Relieving the Hunger and Protecting the Environment.
We wondered whether we’d reach the goal because clubs typically had reported to Lions Clubs International serving 8 million people annually (but we knew the true figure was higher). I’m elated to tell you that in early September we reached our goal of serving 100 million people. Take pride in being part of an association that lives up to its amazing ideals.
Like Lions of yesteryear, we put service first. But unlike them, we are confident we will be here for a long, long time! Thank you for all you do as a Lion, and I hope to see you at the 100th International Convention in Chicago June 30-July 4, 2017.
Chancellor Bob Corlew
Lions Clubs International President