25 YEARS AGO ON AMBERGRIS CAYE BY ANGEL NUÑEZ
The Lions Clinic Silver Anniversary
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.
|Lion members constructing the|
Lions Clinic in 1977.
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.
Las Leonas As Strong As The Lions
Las Leonas- this was how the wives of the Lions were referred to when the San Pedro Lions Club was founded in 1975. These lovely ladies certainly don’t look like ‘Leonas’ or Lioness but they certainly worked hard along with the Lion members to make of this club a success. Seated at the front of Ovidio Guerrero’s Skin Diver’s Club at the front were distinguished Sanpedranas like Leni Alamilla, Elma Gonzalez, Addy Gomez, Argelia Forman(+), Nila Munoz, Sylvia Gonzalez, Lala Alamilla(+), Mathy Gonzalez, and Neydy Salazar. Indeed their husbands were founding members of the San Pedro Lions Club. Skin Diver’s was a bar located downstairs of Martha’s Hotel where Publics Two is presently located. Those were happy days for Lions and moments when they were considered the top club among sixteen other clubs in the country. Many Lions are sadly missed today like: Adolfo Ayuso, Arturo Mora, Allan Forman, Reynaldo Squires, Felipe Paz, Tabito Alamilla, Fedo Alamilla, and Joe Alamilla.
Back in 1975 when the San Pedro Lions Club was chartered, one of its first big projects was to build a clinic and equip it with a resident doctor and registered nurse. Three years later this building was completed with the sweat and blood and skills of the Lion members.
The San Pedro Lions Clinic opened its doors with Dr. Otto Rodriguez R.I.P and Nurse Burns R.I.P. attending to the health needs of the community of San Pedro. At the time it was the greatest thing to happen to San Pedro. The Lions soon expanded the clinic facility and added a second floor to this building which served as living quarters of the resident doctor.
Most important, the Lions gave this service free of cost and only asked for a ten dollar contribution to help make ends meet. Due to the tremendous success of this health clinic, the Lions then boldly moved on to initiate the construction of the present day Poly Clinic which then received the aid and collaboration of government that is now in charge of staffing and administration. It can safely be said that good health services exist in San Pedro thanks to the vision and passion of the Lions Club.