Lions Club International is a service organization that raises money and runs campaigns for many different humanitarian causes. While it supports several causes, many know the Lions Club International through its work of supporting and empowering the blind and visually impaired. The club only supports secular humanitarian causes, and it has no religious or political affiliations.
Lions Club International began operations in 1917, when Melvin Jones, a Chicago businessman, encouraged several of his peers to support humanitarian causes in their community. The group was originally called the Business Circle of Chicago. The group selected several different potential names before voting on a secret ballot. The majority chose the lion for the animal's associations with strength, fidelity and courage.
Lions Club International's long campaign to support and empower the blind began after a speech by Helen Keller at the organization's International Convention in 1925. Keller, herself blind and deaf, implored the Lions to work on behalf of the visually impaired. Keller's words convinced the Lions Club International, and its work on behalf of the visually impaired became one the organization's main campaigns.
Through education and employment programs, the club works to provide dignity and independence for those afflicted with blindness, and it also has several programs that fight conditions that cause preventable blindness. These programs include training vision professionals, distributing medications and fighting parasites and microorganisms that cause blindness throughout the world.