Since 1917, Lions clubs have offered people the opportunity to give something back to their communities. From involving members in projects as local as cleaning up an area park or as far-reaching as bringing sight to the world's blind, Lions clubs have always embraced those committed to building a brighter future for their community. Today with more than approximately 45,000 clubs in 200 countries and geographical areas, Lions have expanded their focus to help meet the ever-increasing needs of our global community. Our programs are continually changing to meet new needs and greater demands, but our mission has never wavered: "We Serve."
"You Can't get very far, until you do something for someone else."
~ Melvin Jones ~
"The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision."
~ Helen Keller ~
The International Association of Lions Clubs began as the dream of Chicago businessman Melvin Jones. He believed that local business clubs should expand their horizons from purely professional concerns to the betterment of their communities and the world at large. Jones' group, the Business Circle of Chicago, agreed. After contacting similar groups around the United States, an organizational meeting was held on June 7, 1917 in Chicago, Illinois, USA. The new group took the name of one of the invited groups, the "Association of Lions Clubs," and a national convention was held in Dallas, Texas, USA in October of that year. A constitution, by-laws, objects and code of ethics were approved. Among the objects adopted in those early years was one that read, "No club shall hold out the financial betterment of its members as its object." This call for unselfish service to others remains one of the association's main tenets. Just three years after its formation, the association became international when the first club in Canada was established in 1920. Major international expansion continued as clubs were established, particularly throughout Europe, Asia and Africa during the 1950s and '60s. In 1925, Helen Keller addressed the Lions international convention in Cedar Point, Ohio, USA. She challenged Lions to become "knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness." From this time, Lions clubs have been actively involved in service to the blind and visually impaired. Broadening its international role, Lions Clubs International helped the United Nations form the Non-Governmental Organizations sections in 1945 and continues to hold consultative status with the U.N. In 1990, Lions launched its most aggressive sight preservation effort, SightFirst. The US$143.5 million program strives to rid the world of preventable and reversible blindness by supporting desperately needed health care services. In addition to sight programs, Lions Clubs International is committed to providing services for youth. Lions clubs also work to improve the environment, build homes for the disabled, support diabetes education, conduct hearing programs and, through their foundation, provide disaster relief around the world. Lions Clubs International has grown to include nearly 1.4 million men and women in approximately 45,000 clubs located in over 200 countries and geographic areas.
In 1918 at the Second International Convention it was decided to parcel the United States into districts, and each was to have a District Governor. They were numbered from the west coast to the east coast, and the state of Kansas and Oklahoma became District 6. At that time, Kansas had no Lions Clubs. On December 4, 1919, the first Lions Club was chartered in Wichita. An earlier club was started in June of 1917, in Wichita, but it disbanded after its second meeting. In 1921, Kansas became a separate District, and John H. Boys became the District Governor. In 1922, he became an International Director. The first convention was held April 27, 1922, in Hutchinson. However, in International records, Kansas did not become District 17 until July 1921. On June 30, 1921, Kansas had nine clubs, and 340 Lions members. However, convention records show 23 clubs in April 1922. Kansas today is District 17. In July 1937, Kansas had 102 clubs and at that time Kansas subdivided into three districts. They were districts K, A, and N. In 1947, a need for another district was recognized, and Kansas was subdivided into districts K, A, N, and S. Four years later, in 1951, the need again arose, and Kansas was subdivided into eight districts. The four previous districts were each divided into an east and west subdivision, thus creating Districts NE-NW, SE-SW, KE-KW, AND AE-AW.
Another drawing of boundaries occurred on July 1, 1965. In 1994 another district configuration was approved at the State Convention in Topeka and took effect July 1, 1995. This configuration changed the total district to seven and is designated K1 (Southeast), K2 (South Central), K3 (Southwest), K4 (Northwest), K5 (Northwest Central), K6 Northeast Central, and K7 (Northeast). Then in 2008 the latest configuration was implemented, resulting in only five districts: L, I, O, N, & S. When six or more clubs in a nation or territory have been chartered, Lions International can grant a status of "provisional district" and appoint a District Governor to that area. When the district reaches 20 clubs, it can then hold a district convention and elect its own District Governor. However, the district still must remain a provisional district and has three years to add 15 more clubs. This would bring the total clubs to 35, and the membership must be 1250 Lions members in good standing. Should a district nor have 35 clubs or 1250 Lions, a District Governor shall not be elected, but will be appointed by the International Board. Provisions in the Constitution of Lions Clubs International provides for redistricting a Multiple District where provisional districts exits for more than three years. The governing body of the Lions of Kansas is the State Council. The State Council is composed of seven district governors, the council chairman, State Treasurer and State Secretary. The current District Governors and the District Governor Elect elect the Council Chairman. The Council Chairman is chosen from the current District Governors as an organizational meeting just prior to the State Convention. The Council chooses the Treasurer after advertisement of the position and applications filed. The Treasurer generally serves until resignation or being replaced. The State Secretary is the only paid employee of the Multiple District and serves until resignation or replacement. The State Office is located at 231 South Tyler, in Wichita. This process of filling the Council Chairman position was started in 1954. Before that time, the state convention was rotated among the districts, and if the convention was in your district, you were the council chairman. The state council did not exist before 1937: however, it is not exactly sure when it did come about. It is fairly certain that the first state council met during the 1938-39 Lions year. The state council holds four meetings annually, besides any special meetings that may be called. The meetings are generally held in August, October, January, and June. These may vary into July, November, February, and May. The third council meeting is held in conjunction with the Mid-Winter Rally, and the fourth in conjunction with the state convention. An organizational meeting is held at the state convention each year to select the new council chairman and to make the committee appointments. The state council is the custodian of all state funds, it selects the state convention site, and it is responsible to maintain, promote, and extend Lionism in the state or Multiple District 17. Any and all statewide activities are under the supervision of the state council.