‘That’s Amore’ at La Mesa Lions Club’s annual fundraiser

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The La Mesa Lions Club “That’s Amore” fundraiser dinner took place on October 19, 2017 at the La Mesa Community Center. To the tune of Italian songs played by accordion Howard Kantorowski, hundreds of Lions Club members, friends and guests happily ate their dinner of pasta, salads and bread, prepared and served up by Cupid’s Catering. 

The La Mesa Lions Club “That’s Amore” fundraiser dinner took place on October 19, 2017 at the La Mesa Community Center. To the tune of Italian songs played by accordion Howard Kantorowski, hundreds of Lions Club members, friends and guests happily ate their dinner of pasta, salads and bread, prepared and served up by Cupid’s Catering. 

People went up to the silent auction tables offering everything from a box of good wine to salon services. Lynnette Wilson had put her bid in for several silent auction items. She has attended this annual Italian dinner for more than ten years. 

“It’s always a nice occasion. And I like the fact that I’m helping the Lions in all of their community efforts,” Wilson said.  

As the people ate and talked among themselves, they watched Amy Burkman paint a picture of Mt. Helix up on the stage. “Now that’s being on deadline,” people joked.

Burkman put away the painting, and Mike Hogan, the evening’s auctioneer, stepped up. “You’ve got to watch Amy do this,” he said.

Everyone turned to see Burkman put up a fresh canvas. She moved like a dancer with the brush on the canvas. After five minutes, she stepped back from her finished work. Everyone clapped at her portrait of a lion’s head. The highest bidder got it for $450.

When Cupid’s Catering put out dessert plates of cannoli on each table, it was time for the people to watch a short video of all the service projects that the Lions Club takes part in. 

At the end of the video, first-time attendee Suanne Dewey-Hoffman wrote a check as a donation to the Lions.

“I did not realize all the Lions did. I’ve known for years about their donating of eyeglasses and helping the blind. But all these other things—fighting hunger, helping the environment—this is all new to me. I’m impressed,” Dewey-Hoffman said.

The proceeds from the Amore Spaghetti dinner, which is the club’s major fundraiser of the year, go to all of those projects as well as the Lions Club International Foundation, which sends disaster relief all over the world.

The LML Club was chartered April 29, 1949. Lions Clubs International is an international secular, non-political service organization founded by Melvin Jones in 1917. 

La Mesa Lions has more than 45 members, both men and women, meeting each Tuesday at noon at the La Mesa Community Center. 

The club takes on a wide variety of service activities including the collection of eye glasses for the Lions in Sight Project, yard work at Sharp Hospice Care’s LakeView Home; Lions Student Speakers Contest, Lemon Avenue and La Mesa Dale Elementary School Sponsorship, Lions Youth Exchange Program, Blood Drives for the San Diego Blood Bank and the collection of hearing aids and books for the disadvantaged. 

While the club does stress the work of service in the community as its mission, its members understand the value of fellowship and fun. At the very heart of “Lionism” is fellowship, and its social event such as the Amore dinner was a perfect example. 

LML members reflect that heart. David Shaw, who joined the LML in 1976 when he began his career in the financial services industry, followed in the Lion footsteps of his father, Dr. Ernest Shaw. 

“I grew up in the club practically so it didn’t take much convincing,” said Shaw, adding that his father, now 95, is still active in the club. 

Shaw, like other members, values the La Mesa Lions as a social and community network. 

“I have made many wonderful friends, do many service projects, and the club has helped me develop my leadership skills, which is very helpful in life,” he said.

A friend invited a member since 1990, Kelly Sinclair when she was new to the area. “I wanted to get involved in the community. The people I met were so impressive to me that I was drawn to join the club,” said Sinclair. 

“I own two businesses so I am around people all day long but to serve people in the community is the most rewarding thing a person can do,” Shaw said. 

 LML also participates in La Mesa’s Octoberfest, Park Appreciation Day and the Flag Day Parade. A High Tea fundraiser is a popular LML event in February, as well as the annual Golf Tournament in September, in memory of Lions members Jack Hardebeck and Dr. Bill Soldmann, Jr. 

The Club undertakes a wide variety of service activities including the collection of eye glasses for the Lions in Sight Project, yard work at Sharp Hospice Care’s LakeView Home; Lions Student Speakers Contest, Lemon Avenue and La Mesa Dale Elementary School Sponsorship, Lions Youth Exchange Program, Blood Drives for the San Diego Blood Bank and the collection of hearing aids and books for the disadvantaged. 

Prospective new members and guests are always welcome to the luncheon meeting each Tuesday at noon at the La Mesa Community Center. For more information, go to www.e-clubhouse.org/sites/lamesaca.

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