Here is an interesting story that came to mind just this weekend as the Lions celebrated their 28th anniversary, and it is a story that perhaps even a few Lions are not aware of. The San Pedro Lions Clinic this year celebrates its 25th anniversary. It was inaugurated under our third president, Lions Betito Marin, but the project actually got started under our first and second presidents, Lions Pete Salazar and Wil Alamilla Sr.
The Lions Clinic actually started with very little funds. However it went very far because materials were cheap and labour was free. Concrete blocks were selling at thirty cents back then and lumber was 28 cents a square foot. Our little fund raisings were used to buy cement at four dollars a bag and blocks and steel also at four dollars for a half inch by 40 foot length. For the foundation stages, we were using Mr. John Belisle, who was not a lion but a good friend. For the wood work we were using Mr. Norman Eiley, who was a Lion and a very experienced carpenter. So the labour cost us nothing. Every evening there were teams of Lions breaking rocks to make gravel. There were competitions of who was the “rock breaker” and we can recall Mr. Santiago Vasquez Sr. and Mr. Bernabe Badillo (deceased) who gave their sweat and their love for the clinic. Norman Eiley and myself along with Abel Guerrero, Manuel Ancona, Baldemar Graniel, Wil Alamilla, Francisco Verde, among others spent tireless hours pounding nails and cutting lumber with hand saws, while the brick layers came up with the walls. There were the good guys like Lions Dick Hays (deceased) who kept the tacos coming for the workers who spent long Sundays working and enjoying the progress of the clinic. Lions meetings were held at the site so that we could put in hours of work on the building itself.
Then came a wise idea. Mr. Ritchie Woods, the same Ritchie we have around San Pedro today, came up with the offer to collect funds from the few tourists that happened to land in San Pedro at the time. He took a photo album and made his first contribution of one thousand U.S. dollars, placing it in the album. He then went around to visitors asking them to write checks for the album. And would you believe it, we got dozens of checks amounting to thousands of dollars, all of which was invested for material for the clinic. Windows, doors, furniture, everything just kept coming in smoothly after the Ritchie Woods idea. Labor was not the problem, for the Lions and friends were determined to build it for the community. The government public clinic had just burnt down, and we knew we needed to complete this one for our people. It was a project of love for our San Pedro. We built it with the sweat of our brows – the Lions at that time and friends of the Lions Club.
It was during a national Lions Convention in San Pedro that the governor of District 59, Lion Pete Lizarraga, along with Lions President Lion Betito Marin, along with District Queen Alma Staines, cut the ribbon to officially give this clinic to San Pedro. It was almost a religious moment for the lions had labored for two full years to give to San Pedro a project of love. Lion Otto Rodriguez was the first doctor hired to work at our clinic and he too served with passion and commitment. Nurse Burns, who was one sweet nurse, also gave part of her life in the service of the clinic. Only a general practitioner first served the clinic but pretty soon there were volunteers from the U.S. giving up to a week of their precious vacation time as dentists, oculists, heart specialists, etc. All cases, big or small, went to the Lions Clinic. It was a miracle of love for the island. And all of this happened 25 years ago. I know of this clinic for I was there, and I was waiting patiently for this moment to include this accomplishment in the records of the history of San Pedro. LONG LIVE THE LIONS CLINIC AND CONGRATULATIONS TO THE LIONS.