Lions Clubs Celebrating 100 Years

Celebrations in Bologna of the themes dear to Lions: relieving the hunger, engaging our youth, protecting the environment and sharing the vision.
Alberto Borghi

Lions Club is celebrating this year its 100th anniversary. Lions Club LogoThe Club was founded on June 7, 1917, in Chicago, USA, thanks to the initiative of Melvin Jones who wanted to build a structure where driven, intelligent and ambitious people would put their talents to work improving their communities for everyone, not only the members of the association. He opted for the name "Lions" because the animals evoke strength, courage, loyalty, and initiative. The idea soon turned into a logistical success, of passion and ideas, gathering numerous associates and spreading outside the US territory (to date, 45,000 clubs and 1.35 million members are present in 206 nations), sharing universal values. The volunteers' activism finds its motto in the expression "we serve," which in turn translates into "services," meaning voluntary activities led outside the Clubs in order to meet the general needs of communities in which members live and in society in general. Volunteering and the efficiency of the initiatives are characterized by the absence of costs eroding the funds raised, also thanks to the personal and professional knowledge of each member. The structure of the Lions Clubs is divided into several territorial sections and Bologna was the first city in Italy where a Club was founded in 1954. It distinguished itself right from the beginning with initiatives which, in time, became true traditions of the entire Bolognese community.

We only need to mention the Golden Neptune, established in 1971, a prize conferred to young Bolognese artists (of birth or adoption) who stand out in a particular art field: among them, were honoured flutist Giorgio Zagnoni, Enzo Biagi, Pupi Avati, Lucio Dalla, Ezio Raimondi, Ruggero Raimondi. Since 2009, the prize City of Bologna has been awarded to the winner of the international lyric contest to support new talents. Capable young people are also recognized in the field of scientific research through the annual cash prize awarded to university researchers in Bologna who distinguished themselves for their academic activities.

Bologna's city centre - photograph by Silvia Zaniboni

Consistent with the idea, on February 11th, at Palazzo Re Enzo, under the leadership of Dr. Anna Ardizzoni Magi, Director of the Bologna Centre for Studies 108TB District, a conference was dedicated to the themes that have always been dear to the Lions Club, relieving the hunger, engaging our youth, protecting the environment and sharing the vision. Dr. Magi was inspired by Helen Keller, who in 1925 challenged Lions to become "knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness." Among the speakers who were part of the 500-guest forum in the centre of Bologna were Dr. Mario Barbuto, former director of the Cavazza Institute, now National President of the Italian Blind Union. Dr. Barbuto addressed the issue of blindness. The theme of hunger was under the care of Dr. Denis Pantini, Director of Nomisma's agriculture sector, while Dr. Enrica Gentile (President of the young entrepreneurs' group at Unindustria Bologna) and attorney Giuseppe Farina addressed themes relating to youth and the environment, respectively. Prof. Stefano Zamagni also gave a conference on the occasion of the forum, and the adjournment of the activities was celebrated with musical entertainment by talented young musicians. The forum was another opportunity to highlight the themes dear to the Chicago-based organization one hundred years ago in the context of Bologna, which has always endeavoured to actively implement specific actions.

As an example, the campaigns against measles, which also attracted the attention and support of full-time philanthropic Bill Gates; but also local initiatives, such as the Lion's Day on April 9th when used glasses are collected for the needy, as well as the international competition "A poster for peace" and the "Leo club" program dedicated to youth aged 12 to 28. One cannot forget the commitment of the Cavazza Institute to facilitate its institutional activities, but also the fundraising initiatives for the purchase of guide dogs for the blind (the last of which was delivered to a person from Porretta Terme). The anniversary will therefore be in the full Lions spirit, another opportunity to put in practice the values dear to every member of the Lions Club.

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