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February 8, 2011 > History: The Lions Club of Union City

History: The Lions Club of Union City

By Myrla Raymundo

In 1917, Chicago business leader Melvin Jones asked a simple and world-changing question - what if people put their talents to work improving their communities? Almost 100 years later, Lions Clubs International is the world's largest service club organization with 1.35 million members in more than 45,000 clubs and countless stories of Lions acting on that simple idea.

Just three years after its founding, Lions became international when they established the first club in Canada. Mexico followed in 1927. In the 1950s and 1960s, international growth accelerated, with new clubs in Europe, Africa and Asia.

Leaders in Union City, California started the Lions Club of Union City in 1963. Charter President was Kenny Garcia and Jim Duncan was Charter Secretary. The emphasis was on building membership and creating a solid place in the community for Lion Club efforts.

Numerous projects were initiated. The Club donated $725 towards building a scoreboard for the Washington High Unified School District stadium and sponsored Boy Scout Troop #177. The first Lions BBQ Dinner was held in July 18, 1970. Club members assisted with Rubella inoculation efforts in which 1490 people were vaccinated.

Lions participated in Flag Day programs and passed out flags to fourth graders. The Club held a Flea Market and a Special Children's Party at Union Square Mall, a Blood Drive, and Annual Founders Day Parade for Union City's 20th birthday. The Club has hosted Thanksgiving dinners for senior citizens and Christmas parties for special needs kids. They have held crab feeds at Veterans Hall in Niles and served Pancake Breakfasts at Gladiola Festivals. Casino Bus Trips and Make a Difference Day activities are also part of Lions Club accomplishments.

Union City Lions Club have donated to a wide variety of community causes including construction of the memorial to Korean and Vietnam War Veterans in Union City, the Union City Police Department Bicycle and Canine Unit and Tri-Cities Shelter. Union City Lions have walked in the American Cancer Society Relay for Life and sponsored Scholarships for Logan High School students. When Union City celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 2009, the Club organized the City's parade and car show. They also participated in the Gathering in the Park event and Concert and Fireworks show.

Union City Lions have visited many U.S. and foreign cities. In 1967, President Al Roderigues visited Lions Clubs in Texaco and Acapulco, Mexico. Tom Kitayama represented the Club at the International Convention in Tokyo, Japan and President Manuel Seoane represented the Club at an International Convention in Las Vegas. Lion families hosted Youth Exchange students from Japan. A Union City Lions delegation visited the Philippines, twinned with the Pasay City Host Lions and donated 400 pounds of schoolbooks and supplies.

Helen Keller addressed a Lions Clubs International convention at Cedar Point, Ohio, challenging Lions to become "Knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness." Since that meeting in 1925, Lions have worked tirelessly to aid the blind and visually impaired. As part of this effort, Union City Lions have actively participated in the "Sights Program" supporting an eye clinic in Guaymas, Mexico and collecting used eyeglasses for underprivileged countries.

In 1978, the Lioness Club of Union City was chartered; the first president of the club was Joan Honebein.

The Union City Lions Club is always ready to help - in Union City and around the world - with unmatched integrity and energy. When Lions gather, problems get smaller and communities get better.

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