I have the honor of being the Centennial District Governor for 42 Lions Clubs and approximately 1500 members in Southeast, Southwest and Southcentral Alaska. This is the Centennial year for Lions Clubs International. We were founded by a Chicago Insurance executive, Melvin Jones in 1917, we have grown to become the world largest service organization with 1.4 million members in 214 countries and regions. Lions were the first service club to admit women into full membership and leadership roles. Our motto is “We Serve.”
A bit of history. You know us best for our work in sight conservation. Early in our history Helen Keller challenged Lions to be the “Knights of the Blind”. Our response has been to help restore sight to 30 million people world-wide. We fund research and have established eye hospitals throughout the world. Our mission in Alaska is to eliminate Amblyopia, or lazy eye.
In Alaska each year we provide vision screening for thousands of school children and our clubs work with school nurses to provide glasses for low income adults, children and youth. This year local lions clubs have provided 5 therapy dogs for veterans and others suffering from emotional distress and PTSD. This is being accomplished through Midnight Sun Service Dogs.
We are Lions Clubs International. We have a special relationship with the United Nations. Melvin Jones was one of the first national leaders to stand with Eleanor Roosevelt in her fight for the Declaration of Human Rights when the United Nations was founded.
Our Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) partners with clubs on major projects: we furnished the recovery room at the new Alaska Blood Bank and provided disaster relief for those impacted by
the 2015 Willow wildfire.
Our largest gift in Alaska was $1 million in 1965 (real money then) to relocate villages on Kodiak Island from the tsunami that had claimed 50 lives in 1964 quake to the new community is now known as Port Lions.
In this centennial year we are celebrating our tradition of service with the phrase “Where there is a need, there is a Lion.” The Anchorage School District has a need for a quality SEL curriculum. We are proud to fill this need through the Lions Quest Program. This program will be rolled out in September 2017 in all middle school in Anchorage, Eagle River and Chugiak.
If you would like to learn more about being a Lion, visit www.lionsclubs.org, www.eagleriverlions.com or www.sleepingladylions.org. ; Find the Eagle River Lions and Sleeping Lady Mountain Lions on Facebook for a list of events and projects. Come join us on a project and see what we are about.
Lion Karen Burns, District Governor