The Madison Lions Club, organized in March, 1922, Chartered May 16, 1922, was established with the purpose of bringing to our community the service and activities of civic minded individuals through the concepts of Lionism. One of our founders, Ted Herfurth, never let pass an opportunity to remind us of this purpose and to caution us that, should we ever permit ourselves to become a “knife and fork” club, our reason for existence would be nil. From its inception, our Club has made every effort to remain on the course of Service to all.
Our first major project, initiated soon after the Club was formed, was an Americanism Program. Weekly classes were held over a period of years at Lowell School, attended by the foreign-born of this area who wanted to know more about their obligations to this Country and to become better citizens. This program was so effective that it was eventually taken over by the Vocational School.
In September, 1972, the Club launched its first drive for donors to the Eye Bank. We were highly successful in obtaining over 700 donors. More recent drives have greatly increased the number of donor pledges on file at the Madison Eye Bank. In 1978, the State of Wisconsin began printing the Uniform Donor Card information on the back of driver’s licenses. The emphasis then changed from our signing up donors to our publicizing the program and encouraging donors to sign on their licenses.
Our Club continues to support the Eyeglass Recycling Program, collecting used eyeglasses in boxes around the city and transporting them to the Eyeglass Center at Lions Camp. We also read, sort and package recycled glasses in preparation for their use by medical teams that travel to underdeveloped countries to distribute them. We also continue support of the Leader Dog program and the Lions Youth Exchange program.
When the disastrous tsunami struck Asia in 2004, we sent a substantial contribution to Lions Clubs International Foundation as it responded with special grants to be used by Lions in the devastated area for relief work and the restoration of housing. Similarly, in 2005, our Club and several individual members sent a total of $1000 to LCIF to assist in the relief work in the areas of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama which suffered severely from Hurricane Katrina. As members of the largest service organization in the world, we are able to help those in need worldwide through LCIF.
In 2005, the UW Hospitals proposed a major expansion of their eye clinic, which, if the fund drive was successful, would be designated the Lions Pediatric Eye Clinic. Our Club contributed $10,000 to this effort.
In 2005, we made the first change in our meeting schedule since the Club was founded, shifting to meetings twice a month, in order to reduce the demands on the time of our members, most of whom travel a considerable distance from all directions to attend meetings.