The Lions of District 50 Hawaii are a dedicated group of men and women that identify a number of critical community needs, then work together to raise the funds & manpower to fulfill those needs. Celebrating our 85th year of service in the state, the 1,800+ Lions of District 50 Hawaii are members of 66 different local Lions Clubs throughout the islands. Our Hawaii Lions relentlessly and unselfishly volunteer their talents, time, skills, and donations to assist and serve the people of Hawaii as well as assist & support charitable efforts throughout the world.
With nearly 1.4-million members in 46,000 clubs worldwide, Lions Clubs International is the world’s largest volunteer service organization. Our members live the Lions’ motto everyday: “We Serve!” Here are some historical facts about the Lions Clubs in Hawaii:
1) The Pan Pacific Club was chartered 10/11/26 as the Lions Club of Honolulu, opening Lionism worldwide to all races and nationalities after the “whites only” clause of the Lions International constitution was eliminated through the relentless lobbying of club Secretary, Colbert Kurokawa.
2) Kona Lions Club becomes first in Lions history to accept a “woman” member - Madame Pele (Goddess of the volcano) - after an earthquake hits during Kona’s charter night, June 17, 1934.
3) Nolle R. Smith Sr., Lions Club of Honolulu, elected 2nd District Governor of Hawai`i Lions in 1937, becomes first African-American District Governor in the United States.
4) Helen Keller visits Honolulu in 1937 and personally urges the Hawai`i Lions to fully embrace the title of “Knights of the Blind” and to help “…make things right…” for the handicapped.
5) 1938, Hawai`i Lions lobby the Territorial Legislature for $35,000 to assist the Bureau of Sight Conservation establish meaningful jobs for the blind by operating dozens of newspaper vending stands in several government buildings. Hawai`i Lions would continue to raise millions more over the decades to help establish and support the Ho`opono Rehabilitation Center for the Blind. The Hawaiian word “Ho`opono” means “…to make things right.”
6) After 1941 Pearl Harbor attack, Hawai`i Lions restricted for remainder of the War due to military blackouts and lack of meeting places, but tirelessly assist in civil defense and clean-up efforts. PDG Nolle Smith also heads a hugely successful nationwide “Bullets For Hitler” war bond drive.
7) In the 20 years following WWII, over 40 new Hawai`i Lions clubs were chartered in District 50.
8) Kamehameha Lions Club (chartered 11/10/48) became the first Lions Club in the world chartered by Lions Clubs International to be named after a person instead of a location.
9) In 1949, Kamehameha Lion George Akau first coins the phrase “We Serve”, later adopted in a worldwide contest as the new motto of Lions Clubs International in 1954. Hawai`i would lose official credit for Akau’s entry in the contest because it was postmarked one day late!
10) First snowball fight ever on Waikiki beach, March 28, 1952, held as a fundraiser by the Honolulu Lions and Waikiki Lions when they shipped in tons of snow via military transport from the Hawai`i summit of Mauna Kea. Broadcast worldwide on radio, the stunt raised thousands of dollars for the blind as tourists & locals gave donations for throwing snowballs.
11) The Lions International Pledge, authored by Thomas Shields of Lions Club of Honolulu, was officially approved in 1974 by Lions Clubs International for use by all members worldwide.
12) The 1976 International Lions Convention was held in Honolulu, drawing 35,000 delegates from all 50 States and over 125 Countries. It coincided with the 4th of July holiday that celebrated America’s Bi-Centennial. With the support and showmanship of Honolulu Mayor Frank Fasi, the Lions sponsored a massive & elaborate Waikiki celebration that still stands as the largest and most expensive parade in the history of Hawai`i.
13) Every Governor of the Territory and State of Hawai`i since the 1920’s has been an active or honorary member of a local Hawai`i Lions club.
Updated November 2010