By Marlena Chavira-Medford
The Del Sol Lions Club is inviting the community to join in a Mardi Gras-themed celebration on Saturday, May 14, complete with live entertainment, casino games, a silent auction, and dinner — all to raise money for two worthy local charities.
The first annual fundraiser at Lomas Santa Fe Country Club will benefit Reality Changers, a nonprofit that helps disadvantaged youth become first-generation college students; and Saint Leo’s medical and dentals clinics, a volunteer-run operation that provides care to patients in extreme financial need. Both of these organizations were selected because they align with the Del Sol Lion’s goal of helping local disadvantaged youth and families at risk.
“Teens completing Reality Changers are tomorrow’s success stories,” said Maria McEneany, a co-chair for the event. “They have demonstrated a lowered high school drop-out rate, increased college graduation rates, defied local homicide rates, broken the cycle of incarceration, decreased teenage pregnancy, and have no involvement with drugs or alcohol.”
“Learning there is a lengthy waiting list for the Solana Beach Reality Changer Program and with concern over local youth drug and gang involvement, Reality Changers was chosen to provide at-risk teens the opportunity to participate in this program realizing they are our future leaders,” added Roz Hodgins, the other co-chair for this event.
Though Saint Leo’s medical and dental clinics have a different mission, they are equally deserving of community support, added Del Sol Lions program director Linette Page.
“We selected the clinics recognizing they are in immediate need of costly equipment, medications, professional volunteers, specialists, and the ongoing support of Del Sol Lions as they service over 5,000 patients annually,” she said.
“St. Leo’s Medical and Dental Clinics, through an all volunteer team of doctors, dentists, and medical professionals, provide comprehensive medical and dental services to the poorest of the working poor without insurance, who, except for emergencies, would be unable to obtain such services,” said Deacon Al Graff, one of three clinic founders.
Both of these charities depend heavily upon support from the outside sources, and during the May 14 gala, the community will have a chance to give back to them in a big way. The festivities kick off with a 6 p.m. silent auction, which includes appetizers and a complimentary glass of champagne that patrons can enjoy while browsing the more than $15,000-worth of items up for bid, including: dinner for eight in the VIP room of Tommy V’s; diamond earrings from the Diamond Boutique; golf lessons and a round at Lomas Santa Fe County Club; passes to the Turf Club; a day of sailing for four; and weekend getaways at Viceroy Hotels, Del Mar Hilton, Carmel Valley Double Tree, and L’Auberge — all prizes that will be auctioned-off to raise money for the beneficiary charities.
After the auction there will be dinner with a complimentary wine pour and the “Fund-a-Need” portion of the evening where patrons can donate toward specific items the beneficiary charities need. Each charity has put together a “wish list” that highlights basic needs, so, for example, if the St. Leo’s Medical Clinic needs a blood-pressure cuff, someone can donate specifically toward that. This will also be the time when the audience can learn more about each organization and hear from youths who have been through the Reality Changers program, and the volunteers who run Saint Leo’s medical and dental clinics.