The Waxahachie Lions Club had a history lesson during their Tuesday meeting as Hillsboro Lion Bill Auvenshine talked about the organization’s beginnings and the importance of service. 

“The Lions Club was started in 1917 by a Chicago businessman named Melvin Jones. There were other clubs that existed at the time but Melvin was not satisfied at what he saw with them,” Auvenshine said.

“He thought that it should be more than patting each other on the back and one profession helping another,” Auvenshine said. “He thought that maybe we should be doing something for our fellow man, so he came up with the idea of a service-oriented club.”

Auvenshine said the next milestone came in 1925 at the international convention when a challenge was presented by Helen Keller for the Lions to become the “knights of the blind.” Since that time, clubs have taken up the mission of sight preservation. According to their website, Lions have saved the sight of more than 14 million children by providing eye screenings, prevented serious vision loss for more then 30 million people worldwide and established 17 eyeglasses recycling centers around the world.

Another achievement for the club was in 1949, when Texas Lions recognized the need for a summer camp for children with disabilities at the height of the polio epidemic. The camp was established in Kerrville and formally dedicated in 1953. Through the years, the camp has grown to provide camping to more than 1,000 children every summer. The camp offers six one-week camping sessions for children with physical disabilities and a three-day day camp. Two sessions are offered for children with diabetes.

Since opening, the Texas Lions Camp has been instrumental in the maturation and social development of more than 50,000 children with physical disabilities. The camp is free of charge to the children who attend.

Auvenshine challenged the Lions to volunteer at the camp because “it is an experience that will stick with you.”

He became a Lion when he began teaching for Chico ISD in 1957 and was encouraged to join the club by the district’s superintendent. He said it’s important to remember that, as Lions, “we serve our community to help others so when a new member joins, get them involved right away.”

“To me, Lionism is a philosophy of life. It is not my religion but it is part of my life. If you read Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he said things that are seen are transient and things that are not seen are eternal. Anything that you see is going to dust eventually,” Auvenshine said. “With the things that aren’t seen, he is talking about your character, your love and, to me, he is talking about service to your fellow man. I hope that I will be remembered through the work that I have done for others. That is why I’m a lion.”

Contact Andrew at andrew.branca@wninews.com or 469-517-1451.