The Amarillo Downtown Lions Club is a part of the world's largest service organization. There are 1.3 million Lions in 193 countries. Our club is one of the oldest, serving Amarillo since 1919. In 2009 we celebrated our club's 90th Anniversary! The International Association of Lions Clubs started as a dream in the mind of Melvin Jones, a young Chicago insurance agent. Most “civic clubs” in the early 1900’s were dedicated solely to promoting the business interests of the membership. Jones believed that such groups could provide worthwhile community service while also benefiting themselves. He proposed that, in fact, a “civic” club’s primary function should be to serve the community as a whole…that a side effect of community service would be a general improvement in the economic and social climate, ultimately resulting in development of better business conditions for all citizens.
Jones’ concept met with strong approval from other civic-minded businessmen. And in 1917, Lions Clubs International was formed. The member clubs adopted the motto “We Serve”. The positive ideals set forth by the founding clubs attracted our society’s finest leaders. Now, there are nearly 1.3 million Lions in 193 countries.
In 1925, Helen Keller delivered a speech to a convention of Lions, challenging them to become “Knights of the Blind”. Lions accepted the challenge and sight-related projects became a major activity of Lions Clubs.
On September 20, 1919, twenty-nine Amarillo businessmen formed the first Lions Club in the Texas panhandle. In their own words, “in response to a growing demand for the betterment of society” they provided aid for a cleaner city and wider streets, helped start the Tri-State Fair, and gave aid to crippled children, the blind, and any other citizens who needed their help.
Through the years, the Amarillo Downtown Lions Club has sponsored seven other Lions Clubs. Six International Presidents have visited the club. Several of its members have served as District Governor. One member, Lion Edwin Flood, served on the International Board of Directors 1976-1977.
For nearly a century, the Amarillo Downtown Lions Club has been one of the largest and most prestigious civic clubs in the city.