Lions club members from around the world gather in Chicago June 30- July 4 for the Oak Brook-based association’s Centennial International Convention. Some 30,000 members and their families from 110 nations join in the festivities at the McCormick Place for one of the most internationally diverse conventions in Chicago’s history. Founded in Chicago in June, 1917, Lions International is the world’s largest volunteer organization with 1.4 million members in over 47,000 clubs in 200 countries. Story opportunities below:
Friday June 30th – Local service projects, hundreds of volunteers from around the world roll up their sleeves and do good work in Chicago. Times vary between 9am – 2:45pm email media contact for details.
Adult & youth volunteers will:
- pack food for the hungry at Greater Chicago Food Depository – 4100 W. Ann Lurie Pl
- urban garden at 1.75 acre student farm/rooftop garden at Gary Comer Youth Center – 7200 Ingleside Ave
- maintain trails and help upkeep Chicago Park District Burnham Nature Sanctuary – 47th St. & Cornell
- cook for & share meals with homeless at Breakthrough Shelter – 402 N St. Louis Ave
- work on graffiti art & beautify living conditions for homeless at Heartland Alliance – 4250 W. North Ave
- garden to help distribute produce to the needy at Chicago FarmWorks Urban Farm – 400 N Albany Ave
- remove invasive vegetation & litter & sort recycling along riverbanks at River Park – 5100 N. Fransisco Ave
- clean debris & help improve water quality & environmental safety for swimmers & wildlife – 63rd St. Beach
Saturday July 1 – State Street Parade of Nations – Photo Opportunity 9am
Lions from around the globe, many in native dress, Parade down State Street. See dozens of floats, 25 marching bands, and young Leos passing out kindness bracelets encouraging others to do something kind that day. The parade starts at State and Wacker and ends at State and Van Buren.
Sunday July 2 – NBC’s Little Big Shots Star Gavin Stevens Performs – 12:30pm
Seven-year-old Gavin Stevens suffers from a rare disease that has left him almost completely blind, Leber’s Congenital Amaurosis (LCA). LGA has not stopped Gavin from some big-time performances and after singing the National Anthem at a Los Angeles Kings hockey game, he was asked to perform on Steve Harvey’s TV show, “Little Big Shots.” He will perform at the Lions opening plenary in honor of Lions work to help the blind, a plight that began 100 years ago with Helen Keller calling on them to become the “knights of the blind.”
Local Service Projects – Sunday July 2nd 2-4pm at McCormick Place. Adult & youth volunteers will:
- assemble toiletry kits for Chicago’s most vulnerable citizens – Rm N139
- pack meals for CPS students who might otherwise go hungry this summer without school meals – Rm N140
Monday July 3rd – Local service projects, 2-4pm at McCormick Place. Adult & youth volunteers will:
- pack meals for schools in developing countries – Rm N139
- make fleece blankets for kids of Ronald McDonald Homes in Chicagoland – Rm N140
Tuesday July 4th – Announcement of Lions Clubs’ New Signature Health Cause – 9:30am
Lions International will announce their new signature health cause, on which their 1.4 million volunteers worldwide will focus during their next century of service. LCI leadership interviewed volunteers around the world to assess the most critical community needs before identifying a new health cause to put their global army of volunteers behind.
General Chicago Story Opportunity, Chicago as a Hub of Volunteerism
Since its early days, Chicago has inspired its residents to roll up their sleeves and extend a helping hand to those in need. A wide circle of civic, service and educational organizations were founded in Chicago, such as Jane Addams’ Hull House, Lions and Rotary International, and over the last 150 years volunteers have flocked to join thriving chapters of such groups as the YMCA, the Hibernians and many other religious, women’s and business clubs and neighborhood associations. LCI, the group that was to become the world’s largest service organization, was formed in this culture in June 1917—the fulfillment of a dream of business leader Melvin Jones to bring his peers’ talents and resources together to make positive change in their communities.
To celebrate their members who are known as “Good Samaritans,” LCI placed ads around Chicago on 40 L trains, in numerous bus shelters and other high-traffic areas along the Magnificent Mile and in front of Millennium Park, at O’hare International Airport and in CTA stations such as the Midway and McCormick Place, each one echoing what Lions clubs have been saying for a century, “kindness matters.” With messages such as “Things are looking up because of kindness,” or “Kindness matters: At home in Chicago and around the world,” the ads were designed to inspire others to perform random acts of kindness, which they say can go along way to combat anger and hate. A list of 100 easy acts of kindness is available for anyone to try and Lions will encourage Chicagoans to pass on their message with random acts of kindness throughout the city this week and by passing out Kindness Matters bracelets at the parade and other select locations.
Since 1917, Lions clubs have aided the blind and visually impaired, championed youth initiatives and strengthened communities through hands- on service and humanitarian projects. Their focus on vision began when, during its first decade, Helen Keller challenged Lions to become “knights of the blind.” Lions now provides vision screening for millions of people and blindness-prevention treatment, run eyeglasses recycling centers, and support pediatric eye-care centers and eye banks that provide eye tissue for surgeries.
LCI extended its service to other areas and the organization’s Centennial Service Challenge set a goal for members to serve 100 million in hunger, vision, environmental and youth causes in over four-years. Lions surpassed their goal in less than 2 years, and is now estimating hitting the 200 M mark by June 2018, putting them 100 M over target.
Lions’ members play a big role in communities around the world, helping an estimated 96 million people around the world each year and donating tens of millions of dollars. For every 1 Lion member, 70 people around the world are helped. Already the world’s largest volunteer organization – LCI just announced it surpassed its previous global membership record of 1,425,310 set in 1996 by growing to 1,445,591 members. To achieve the mark, Lions added 214,417 new members over the past 12 months.
Statistics indicate that an additional 15 million this year alone based on membership growth. At a time when many service organizations are experiencing lower membership numbers, the growth of Lions International is unprecedented.