By Marlena Chavira-Medford
The Del Sol Lions Club is only eight months old, but at almost 70 members strong, it’s already the third largest out of the 65 groups in the county. That remarkable success earned charter club president and Solana Beach city councilmember David Roberts a leadership medal, the third highest honor awarded by Lions Clubs International (LCI).
“It’s unheard of for a new Lion to get such an award,” said Julie Crawford, the Immediate Past District Governor for LCI. She went on to add that Roberts is the only charter club president in the almost 100-year history of the Southern California region of Lions to be awarded this medal. Crawford has been involved with LCI for more than 15 years, and now she’s charged with the task of serving as the young group’s “Leading Lion,” a mentor of sorts. But she said she’s actually learned a few things from the Del Sol Lions Club, which is comprised of Del Mar, Solana Beach and Carmel Valley residents.
“I thought my group up in Encinitas was the best, but then I came here. Each group has its own character, and this one has a great energy. My role with this group is a two-year commitment, but I just may stay. The people in this group continue to inspire me.”
The Del Sol Lions Club has hit the ground running, already volunteering to help several efforts associated with the environment, youth, and providing healthcare to those in need. The group also plans on partnering with St. Leo’s Clinic in Solana Beach and Reality Changers. Members are also gearing up to help with the Community Resource Center’s holiday program, and they’re planning a major gala in May.
Roberts said he’s encouraged by the progress the group has made since its early days of five-member meet ups at Denny’s. Now, the club meets twice a month at Sam’s Place off Lomas Santa Fe, and closer to 30 members show up. At one such recent dinner, club members heard from St. Leo’s clinic founder deacon Albert Graff. He talked about the work his clinic does, sharing the story of one woman who came to Solana Beach from Mexico with dire circumstances.
“She had wed when she was just 13, and at the age of 23 she left her seven children with their grandmother so she could come here to find work. She earned about $30 a week, and sent about $25 back home to her children.”
After years of doing that, and now in her 60s, she was in need of a life-saving triple bypass open heart surgery that would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“But because of St. Leo’s, she was able to get that surgery for $10,” Graff said. “St. Leo’s is the single most important thing I’ve been involved with in my life.”
It’s those stories that speak to the heart of the Del Sol Lions Club, said Roberts.
“That illustrates the need we have right here in our backyard, and it’s what we’re going to be putting our energy into,” he said. And it’s precisely why he’d like to see the group grow even more.
“The more helping hands we have, the more we can do,” he said. “If we can grow our membership, our impact grows. I see this group becoming the community service hub for this entire area, and I’d encourage anyone nearby to come see what we’re about.”
It is $85 for an annual membership to the Del Sol Lions Club, and there are no attendance requirements. The group meets the second and fourth Tuesday of the month at 6 p.m. inside Sam’s Place, 141 Lomas Santa Fe. For more information, visit