|Frostburg Lions Club
Frostburg, MD 21532
Frostburg Lions Members Center...
Melvin Jones Biography...
Helen Keller Speech...
Melvin Jones was born on January 13, 1879 in Fort
Thomas, Arizona, the son of a United States Army
captain who commanded a troop of scouts. Later,
his father was transferred and the family moved east.
As a young man, Melvin Jones made his home in
Chicago, Illinois, became associated with an insurance
firm and in 1913 formed his own agency.
He soon joined the Business Circle, a businessmen's luncheon group,
and was shortly elected secretary. This group was one of many at that time
devoted solely to promoting the financial interests of their membership. Because of their limited
appeal, they were destined to disappear. Melvin Jones, then a 38-year-old Chicago business
leader, had other plans.
"What if these men," Melvin Jones asked, "who are successful because of their drive,
intelligence and ambition, were to put their talents to work improving their communities?" Thus,
at his invitation, delegates from men's clubs met in Chicago to lay the groundwork for such an
organization and on June 7, 1917, Lions Clubs International was born.
Melvin Jones eventually abandoned his insurance agency to devote himself full time to Lions at
International Headquarters in Chicago. It was under his dynamic leadership that Lions clubs
earned the prestige necessary to attract civic-minded members.
The association's founder was also recognized as a leader by those outside the association.
One of his greatest honors was in 1945 when he represented Lions Clubs International as a
consultant in San Francisco, California, at the organization of the United Nations.
Melvin Jones, the man whose personal code – "You can't get very far until you start doing
something for somebody else" – became a guiding principle for public-spirited people the
world over, died June 1, 1961 at 82 years of age.
Helen Keller's Speech at 1925 International Convention
Cedar Point, Ohio, USA
June 30, 1925
Dear Lions and Ladies:
I suppose you have heard the legend that represents opportunity as a capricious lady, who
knocks at every door but once, and if the door isn't opened quickly, she passes on, never to
return. And that is as it should be. Lovely, desirable ladies won't wait. You have to go out and
I am your opportunity. I am knocking at your door. I want to be adopted. The legend doesn't say
what you are to do when several beautiful opportunities present themselves at the same door. I
guess you have to choose the one you love best. I hope you will adopt me. I am the youngest
here, and what I offer you is full of splendid opportunities for service.
The American Foundation for the Blind is only four years old. It grew out of the imperative needs
of the blind, and was called into existence by the sightless themselves. It is national and
international in scope and in importance. It represents the best and most enlightened thought
on our subject that has been reached so far. Its object is to make the lives of the blind more
worthwhile everywhere by increasing their economic value and giving them the joy of normal
Try to imagine how you would feel if you were suddenly stricken blind today. Picture yourself
stumbling and groping at noonday as in the night; your work, your independence, gone. In that
dark world wouldn't you be glad if a friend took you by the hand and said, "Come with me and I
will teach you how to do some of the things you used to do when you could see?" That is just the
kind of friend the American Foundation is going to be to all the blind in this country if seeing
people will give it the support it must have.
You have heard how through a little word dropped from the fingers of another, a ray of light from
another soul touched the darkness of my mind and I found myself, found the world, found God.
It is because my teacher learned about me and broke through the dark, silent imprisonment
which held me that I am able to work for myself and for others. It is the caring we want more
than money. The gift without the sympathy and interest of the giver is empty. If you care, if we
can make the people of this great country care, the blind will indeed triumph over blindness.
The opportunity I bring to you, Lions, is this: To foster and sponsor the work of the American
Foundation for the Blind. Will you not help me hasten the day when there shall be no
preventable blindness; no little deaf, blind child untaught; no blind man or woman unaided? I
appeal to you Lions, you who have your sight, your hearing, you who are strong and brave and
kind. Will you not constitute yourselves Knights of the Blind in this crusade against darkness?
I thank you.
Frostburg, MD 21532
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