Club History
El Paso Downtown Lions Club
Last updated for our 85th Charter Anniversary

On May 10, 1923, the International Association of Lions Clubs
Granted a Charter to the Lions Club of El Paso containing the
names of 52 original members.  Two and 1/2 months later, on
August 19, 1923, a formal presentation was made by Lions Int’l Vice
President W.J. Higgins to the then 117 members of the Club, all of
whom were acknowledged as charter members.  Under the
leadership of the Club’s first President, Gowan Jones, these new
Lions undertook their first project, raising funds to help build a
$500,000 Mill to process El Paso Valley cotton for shipment
throughout the United States.































Now, after 87 Presidents, 5 District Governors, over 2500
members, more than 4000 regularly scheduled meetings, and
having helped to sponsor six new Lions Clubs currently in
existence, our Club is celebrating its 85th Anniversary.  In memory
of those Lions who have served and to those who currently state,
“We Serve”, our Club now proudly acknowledges the dedication of
our members throughout its history.

One of the first public service projects for the Lions Club of El
Paso was the annual canned goods party, where children from
throughout the area were invited to the Plaza Theater and
attendees received candy, goodies, door prizes and a movie, all
for the price of a can of food.  During the tenure of this project, the
Club collected & distributed tons of food to the less fortunate in
our city.

Upon Chartering the Fabens Lions Club in 1937, the Lions Club of
El Paso became the El Paso Downtown Lions Club.  In 1939, our
Club, joining with other Civic Clubs in El Paso, helped officially
open the Annual Sun Carnival activities, mainly by overseeing the
Sun Carnival Parade and our support & participation in the Parade
has continued to the present.  El Paso Downtown Lions Club is the
only organization in El Paso that has built and entered a float every
year since the parade began.

In 1941, the Downtown Lions helped sponsor the Ysleta Lions Club
and during this period, though many of our Lions departed for
Active Military Service, we continued as vigorously as ever.  As
part of the World War II effort, members bought $50 worth of
Defense Stamps at each weekly meeting and our participation in
that one project helped to raise more than $100,000 worth of
Stamps & War Bonds sold.  Other war time projects included the
gathering of 365,000 pounds of scrap rubber, entertaining enlisted
men from Ft. Bliss at our meetings, operating football concession
stands to sponsor bingo parties for disabled Veterans at William
Beaumont Hospital, and the paying for phone calls for Military
members to call their families.

On February 16, 1945, the El Paso Downtown Lions Club sponsored
the El Paso Five Points Lions Club and in 1948 the largest project
up to that time was begun with the first annual Minstrel Show,
which raised $1000 and became a major source of annual funding
for our Club Charities.  During this time period, the Downtown
Lions joined with 88 other Lions Clubs throughout the Country in
forming a project called the “Pony Express”.  These Clubs chipped
in & bought a pony in Maryland, shipped it through El Paso and on
to California where it was donated to a visually handicapped girl
who had recently moved there from Maryland.

Upon Chartering the Fabens Lions Club in 1937, the Lions Club of
El Paso became the El Paso Downtown Lions Club.  In 1939, our
Club, joining with other Civic Clubs in El Paso, helped officially
open the Annual Sun Carnival activities, mainly by overseeing the
Sun Carnival Parade and our support & participation in the Parade
has continued to the present.  El Paso Downtown Lions Club is the
only organization in El Paso that has built and entered a float every
year since the parade began.

In 1941, the Downtown Lions helped sponsor the Ysleta Lions Club
and during this period, though many of our Lions departed for
Active Military Service, we continued as vigorously as ever.  As
part of the World War II effort, members bought $50 worth of
Defense Stamps at each weekly meeting and our participation in
that one project helped to raise more than $100,000 worth of
Stamps & War Bonds sold.  Other war time projects included the
gathering of 365,000 pounds of scrap rubber, entertaining enlisted
men from Ft. Bliss at our meetings, operating football concession
stands to sponsor bingo parties for disabled Veterans at William
Beaumont Hospital, and the paying for phone calls for Military
members to call their families.

On February 16, 1945, the El Paso Downtown Lions Club sponsored
the El Paso Five Points Lions Club and in 1948 the largest project
up to that time was begun with the first annual Minstrel Show,
which raised $1000 and became a major source of annual funding
for our Club Charities.  During this time period, the Downtown
Lions joined with 88 other Lions Clubs throughout the Country in
forming a project called the “Pony Express”.  These Clubs chipped
in & bought a pony in Maryland, shipped it through El Paso and on
to California where it was donated to a visually handicapped girl
who had recently moved there from Maryland.

Also, it was at this time that one of the most successful Youth
Projects ever in El Paso was started, the School Safety Patrol
Program, which covered all schools in El Paso County.  This
Program continues to this day, sponsored by the Downtown Lions
Club, along with the assistance of the El Paso Police Dept.,
whereby top school safety patrol Persons from throughout the
area are honored at each weekly meeting with a certificate, badge
& meal.  In 2007, when it became difficult for the school patrol
persons to attend a noon meeting, an annual picnic was started to
honor the students.

Having sponsored a Boy Scout Troop, our next project was to
organize the first mile of pennies, collecting over $1000 for
charity.  In the same year, the Club bought a bus for the McCall Day
Nursery, initiating the Student Lion of the Month Program,
sponsored the Local Soap Box Derby & hosted the accompanying
banquet, sponsored a County-wide “Go to the Church of your
Choice Campaign”, held their 1ST annual picnic & sponsored their
1ST Baseball Team, which took Fourth Place and won the
Sportsmanship Award.

In 1959, in cooperation with the El Paso Ministerial Alliance, our
Club began participation in Easter Sunrise Services, eventually
taking over sole sponsorship and moving it to McKelligon Canyon.  
Thousands attended throughout the years, but with many area
Churches now conducting their own Sunrise Services this Project
was eventually phased out.  

During February 1960, our Club sponsored the Skyline Lions Club
and in 1968, the Downtown Lions joined with the Juarez Clubo de
Leones, the District Governor, and Lions Int’l President. Dave
Evans and local dignitaries in a ceremony dedicating the Lions
Placita Park, designed & built by Club Members at the foot of the
Paso Del Norte Bridge in Downtown El Paso.  That same year, the
Club met with advance Secret Service Agents & received
permission to distribute Mexican & American Flags to spectators
who lined what is now the bridge of the Americas into Mexico, to
watch & welcome Presidents Johnson & Diaz as they shook hands
and signed the Chamizal Treaty.


On September 27, 1969, the Downtown Lions sponsored the Sun
City Lions Club.  Our Club continued its numerous fund raising
activities with Super Bowl Raffles, selling refreshments at the Fox
Plaza swap meets, light bulb sales and sponsoring a mile of
quarters which brought in $5,966.00 for Charity.

On December 18, 1973, our Lions Club helped sponsor the
Mountain Lions Club and the original Dinner with the Miners was
begun in 1974.  This annual event, which has continued to this
date, has raised more than $100,000 for the Downtown Lions
Athletic Scholarship Fund at UTEP & then in 1994, a second fund
was established called the Downtown Lions/John Phelan Endowed
Academic Scholarship Fund.  Currently (2008), the market value of
these funds is nearly $500,000. It was during this time that Rose
Day Sales began, which was our largest annual fundraiser for many
years.

Our fundraising activities have enabled the Downtown Lions Club
to make numerous generous donations, to include furnishing The
Lighthouse for the Blind Library & Resource Center, rebuilding a
dormitory cabin for disabled & diabetic children at the Texas Lions
Camp, building a seal enclosure and bringing various animals into
the El Paso Zoo, and continuous 100% participation every year for
the District Governor’s Charities, just to name a few.  

The Downtown Lions have always taken deep pride in our motto,
“We Serve”, through our long standing commitment to helping our
fellow Citizens.  Whether serving meals at the El Paso homeless
shelter, answering telephones to raise funds at KCOS Public TV or
the black tie & tennis shoes fund-raisers at UTEP, facilitating the
export of donated ambulances, eyeglasses or medical equipment
at the border, to be used by the Mexican Red Cross, assisting at
Goodwill clothing drives, ringing bells for the Salvation Army or
being involved in numerous other community projects, you will
find the men & women of our Club ready to assist.  

Additionally, throughout the years, following Helen Keller’s charge
to be “Knights for the Blind”, our Club has never lost its focus
supporting sight programs, such as Lions for Vision, the West
Texas Lions Eye Bank & Eye Health Foundation, Leader Dog for the
Blind and Lions World Services for the Blind.

Our members come from diverse backgrounds & occupations
which allows us to benefit greatly from their expertise &
generosity.  Whether it involves the donation of a large meat
smoker for preparing  bar-b-q meals to be used as charity
fundraisers, finding the manpower  & materials to build a children’
s playground at the Battered Women’s Shelter, obtaining a float
frame and jeep to be used in the Sun Carnival Parade, having an
architect to design our projects, building a Gift Shop at the El Paso
Zoo, or numerous other projects, there are always Downtown Lions
ready to insure that the material is available and the job is done.

Members of the Downtown Lions Club have served and continue
to serve as leaders & Directors on many boards and with many
diverse agencies throughout the City.  Just a few organizations
included in this group are the Sun Carnival Association, Salvation
Army, Rescue Mission, United Way, Battered Women’s Shelter and
the El Paso area Law Enforcement Association.

In 2002, we sponsored the El Paso University Lions Club at UTEP.  
May of 2007, a Lions Habitat for Humanity House was dedicated.  
Downtown Lions led the way with Lions from the El Paso area in a
brisket fundraiser, which enable a matching grant from LCIF to
sponsor the home for a family with a disabled member.  Lions from
the greater El Paso are helped draft plans, dig trenches, hammer,
paint, move furniture, and fed volunteers over a 5 month period.

As we look forward to our next 85 years of service to Lions
International, the State of Texas, District 2-T3 and our community,
we continue to recruit men & women who will keep our proud
tradition alive.  With 5 Past District Governors, 33 Melvin Jones
Fellows, plus two partners in service also being so honored for
their outstanding contributions to Lionism, 19 Texas Lion Fellows,
2 Jack Weich Fellowship Awardees, 5 Cullen Akins recipients as
the District Lion of the Year and a member having been inducted
into the Texas Lions Hall of Fame, we have a past to be admired.

While these past accomplishments are noteworthy, we remain
secure in the knowledge that they will simply serve as a challenge
to all members of the Downtown Lions Club.  We take justifiable
pride in our history, while at the same time remembering that
tomorrow we must continue the journey of service, commitment &
tradition for the next 85 years of the El Paso Downtown Lions
Club.    

“IT’S GREAT TO BE A DOWNTOWN LION!”


Below is an abbreviated Club history created for the
Dinner with the MIners event

The El Paso Downtown Lions Club is a nonprofit service
organization with the motto  "We Serve". Our Lions Club serves El
Paso, Texas and the World through physical efforts and donations.
Lions Clubs’ International Mission is to empower volunteers to
serve their communities, meet humanitarian needs, encourage
peace and promote international understanding through Lions
clubs.

Since our creation in 1923, El Paso Downtown Lions Club members
have had a proud tradition of service and commitment to our
community. Civic projects have included organizing food drives,
war efforts during the early 1940s and starting an Easter Sunrise
Service.  The Downtown Lions Club was one of the original civic
clubs that formed the Sun Carnival Association. In 1995, the Sun
Bowl Association requested that the Downtown Lions Club
temporarily take over organizing the historic Sun Carnival
Thanksgiving Day Parade, which we did for a five year period. The
Downtown Lions Club is also the only organization in El Paso that
has built and entered a float every year since the Parade began in
1936. In 2002, we sponsored the El Paso University Lions Club at
UTEP, and in 2006 we were recognized as the “Outstanding
Philanthropic Organization” in the Region.

Throughout the years, the Downtown Lions Club fundraising
efforts and physical support have consistently assisted local
charities and organizations. This list includes the Boy & Girl
Scouts,  Rescue Mission, School Safety Patrol Program with the El
Paso Police Department, El Paso Zoo, Child Crisis Center and
Opportunity House just to name a few.  Our projects have ranged
from ringing bells every December for the Salvation Army to assist
their efforts in providing food, shelter and clothing to the needy,
to sponsoring a baseball team for children with special needs in
the Miracle League.  In addition, our Lions helped to organize and
build a house in 2006, for an El Paso family with a disabled member,
through Habitat for Humanity, and we participate yearly in the El
Paso area school “Uniform Swap” program.  

Further, Downtown Lions are also deeply involved in Sight
Projects and Hearing & Speech Programs.  We collect used
hearing aids to be refurbished and provide donations to the
Speech and Hearing Center. We also furnish free eye exams &
glasses through the “Lions for Vision” initiative, financial
assistance for eye surgeries through the “West Texas Lions Eye
Health Foundation”, give assistance in developing social & work
skills with our “Lions World Services for the Blind” program, as
well as furnishing support to the Lions “Leader Dog” program to
train dogs and recipients to navigate as an unit.

Our Club is an integral part of the Lions Clubs International
Foundation and Texas Lions Foundation, providing immediate
relief to filling humanitarian needs and disaster relief that cause
significant mortality, injury and property damage or loss, both
locally and worldwide.  With 90 Club presidents and thousands of
members throughout our proud history, today’s Downtown Lions
are extremely pleased to support UTEP through student athlete
scholarships, as we continue to remain strongly committed to the
motto,
“We Serve”.