In June 1978, the International Association of Lions Clubs introduced a program called “Hearing and Speech Action and Work with the Deaf” In response to this initiative, Lion Kenneth S. Hitch contacted Dr. Robert W. Cantrell, then Chairman of the Department of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery at the University of Virginia Health Sciences Center in Charlottesville, Virginia.

They desired to explore the formation of an organization dedicated to supported research on deafness. Interested in pursuing this idea, a committee was formed with representatives from each of the six Lions Clubs districts in Virginia along with three medical personnel. A resolution to form the “Lions of Virginia Hearing Foundation & Temporal Bone Bank” resulted from these meetings and it was unanimously approved by the Lions of Virginia. The Hearing Foundation is solely supported by the Lions Clubs of Virginia.

Since this Foundation was formed, the Lions of Virginia have contributed over $1,200,000 to the Foundation in support of their objectives. In August 1989, the words “temporal bone bank” were dropped from the name due to the fact that through research it was discovered that artificial ear bones are better used for transplants than human ear bones due to the risk of transferring diseases. The emphasis had shifted from being a “temporal bone bank” (a facility that houses temporal bones) to more of a “research center”, thus the name change.