Most people associate Lions Clubs with eyesight and preventing blindness, and that is certainly a large part of what Lions do.
They are also involved in diabetes education, relieving hunger, helping with disaster relief, protecting our environment, youth activities and much more. This year the Lions Clubs are celebrating 100 years of service, and their founder, Melvin Jones was born on Jan. 13, 1879.
What better way to ring in the Centennial than by celebrating the man who started it all? One hundred years ago, Melvin Jones’ vision became a reality when delegates of the first Lions Club met to inaugurate what would become an international movement to improve the lives of vulnerable people around the world. As of this year, 133,734,859 people have been served by the volunteer members of Lions Clubs.
Jones’ devotion to service embodied the values that have grown Lions Clubs International into the world’s largest service organization. His work began with a group of businessmen in Chicago who met regularly at lunch to promote their business interests. But he had a better idea and encouraged them to serve others.
“What if these men,” Melvin Jones asked, “who are successful because of their drive, intelligence and ambition, were to put their talents to work improving their communities?” Thus, at his invitation, delegates from men’s clubs met in Chicago to lay the groundwork for such an organization, and on June 7, 1917, Lions Clubs International was born.
Melvin Jones, the man whose personal code – “You can’t get very far until you start doing something for somebody else” – became a guiding principle for public-spirited people the world over, died June 1961 at 82 years of age. His legacy lives on in 46,000 Lions Clubs all over the world with more than 1.4 million members.
There are several local clubs in the area including Lewisburg, Alderson, White Sulphur Springs, Union, Ronceverte, Marlinton and Durbin and many more in all 50 states. If there is not one near you, why not contact one of these clubs about starting one in your community? Contact White Sulphur President Mary Ann Hensley at 304-536-4041 or visit their club any second or fourth Monday at 7 p.m. at the St. Thomas Episcopal Church on Main Street in White Sulphur Springs.