Jamestown Lion’s Club started in 1922 and is one of the oldest Lion’s Clubs.
The International Association of Lions Clubs started as a dream in the mind of a young Chicago Insurance Agent. That man was Melvin Jones. His simple, yet world-changing question – “What if people put their talents to work improving their communities” was the catalyst for the Lion’s Club. His dream came to fruition on June 7, 1917 with the founding of the Association. In October of that same year various independent groups came together and they held their first convention in Dallas TX with 23 Clubs participating.
Just three years after the founding of the Organization they went international with the first club being established in Canada, then followed by Mexico in 1927. In the 1950’s and 1960’s clubs in Europe, Asia and Africa were added to the roster. Today our Association is in 205 different countries with 45,663 clubs and 1,317,351 members.
In 1925 Helen Keller attended the Annual Lions Clubs International Convention in Cedar Point OH. She spoke about Blindness and challenged the Lions Club to become “Knights of the Blind” in the “Crusade against Darkness”. The Club accepted her challenge and has worked tirelessly since to aid the blind and visually impaired through the collection of used glasses to be restored and distributed to the needy, funds for our local communities to assist with eye glass exams and purchases, vision screenings for pre-school age children, and in general providing companionship and social opportunities to our friends in the community.
We offer financial support to the Lions International Foundation who works on a global scale with humanitarian projects, including the SightFirst program which aids in restoring sight and preventing blindness through treatments and therapies to third world countries, including the eradication of River Blindness one of the leading causes of vision impairments in Mexico and Latin America.
Our club the Jamestown Lions Club is a part of District 20N, which consists of 60 clubs and 2600 members in WNY. It was chartered in 1922 with 57 Charter Members. In 1926 the Jamestown club planted 40,000 trees on a parcel of land in the town of Gerry and erected a club house, fondly know as the “Jungle”.
The main concern of the Jamestown Lions Club in the 94 year history has been the blind and visually handicapped people in our Community and most recently we have included speech and hearing concerns to the areas we can offer assistance.
We have sponsored Little League Teams for 65 years, and Babe Ruth World Series for the past 35 years. Youth related programs, including outings for the Randolph Children’s Home.
Thousands of used glasses have been collected in our area in the boxes that we have placed in strategic locations including WalMart, Eye Doctor’s offices, City Hall, Banks and many more. These are packed and sent to a distribution center, where they are delivered by the truck load to locations where they are restored and then sent via missionarys to numerous underdeveloped countries around the world.
The Chautauqua Blind Association provides us with the names of those they serve who are interesting in participating in our social events. We then visit with them, offer assistance such as rides to the doctors or help with groceries, and provide them with a variety of gifts and events throughout the year. At Easter and Thanksgiving everyone on our list receives a fruit basket, at Christmas time we provided a Dinner with Entertainment which has been provided by Bill Chandler and his Church Choir, now known as the “Holy Apostle’s Choir” for many years. In the summer we enjoy a Corn Roast/Picnic with our “Blind Friends”.
We raise funds for these events through our Annual White Cane Sale held during Labor Day Weekend. This is an opportunity for our members to reach out to the community, educate them on the service we provide and ask for support for those we serve.
We are proud of our 94 years of service to the Jamestown/Lakewood Community and plan to serve for many more!