A Roaring Devotion
The Encinitas Lions Club is 92024’s local branch of the world’s largest service club organization. Though based in Encinitas, the club serves wherever there is a need, holding true to the idea of “Where There’s A Need, There’s A Lion.” With a mission to meet humanitarian needs, the club empowers volunteers to serve their communities, encourage peace, and help promote international understanding. Since the chartering of the Encinitas Lions Club, club members have strived to uphold their mission and have met much success in aiding Encinitas and other local communities. Join us as we speak with President Sue Tankersley and former President Rinkie Pollack to learn more about how their club helps to serve those in need.
Q&A with President Sue Tankersley & Past President Rinkie Pollack
For the benefit of those who are not aware, what is a Lions Club? Can you give us insight on Lions Club International?
Our 46,000 clubs and more than 1.4 million members make us the world’s largest service club organization. We’re also one of the most effective. Our members do whatever is needed to help their local communities. Everywhere we work, we make friends – with children who need eyeglasses, with seniors who don’t have enough to eat, and with people we may never meet. With clubs practicing philanthropy from earthquake-devastated Nepal to the firestorms in the western U.S., Lions are helping financially and with human power to aid their fellow man.
Can you tell us about the history behind the Encinitas Lions Club? Who were its founding members?
Cal Ellisor, Tom Hardabeck, Dick Walworth, and Dr. John Zach are the original four charter members who are still active in our club today. Together they formed the Encinitas Lions Club to support those in the Encinitas community who needed assistance. Pat Drew, a former Encinitas city employee, is also a longtime member.
What is the mission of the Encinitas Lions Club?
Our mission statement reads: “The Encinitas Lions Club is a nonprofit service organization dedicated to those in need in the local community and others outside the community that are in need. All monies raised go to projects and activities that support that goal.”
The Lions motto is “We Serve.” Our mission is to help the blind, deaf, and people in need. Helen Keller once said she was “happy and proud to be a Lion.”
What types of activities is the Lions Club involved with? What are some of the projects you have worked on in the past?
Student Speaker Contest: The topic this year was “Water Conservation: Reclaim, Reuse, Recycle.” Five students from La Costa Canyon High School participated in our student speaker’s contest. Our local winner went on to win the zone event. He is a high school junior and is anxious to participate again next year. The students receive a monetary prize for participating.
Over the past few years we had been working with the City of Encinitas, helping them to develop a new 44-acre city park. The park opened Jan. 10 with a large Lion water fountain, three concrete benches, 10 trees, and five paver bricks. These were all donated by our local club. We attended the grand opening ceremonies, accepting thanks from City officials. A large number of our members were proud to be on the pitcher’s mound of the new ballpark for the official dedication.
Our biggest project to date, and true to our mission of serving the visually impaired, was installing audible traffic signals in Encinitas. A $40,000 donation by the Encinitas Lions Club underwrote the purchase and installation of four audible traffic signals on the corner of El Camino Real and Encinitas Blvd., and the corners of D, E, and F Streets on Highway 101.
Name: Sue Ellen Tankersley
Community: North County
Education: B.S. in Accounting from SDSU
Family: Happily married with three step-children, six grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren
Interests: Volunteering, golf, travel, literature
Favorite Lions Club Memory: Blind Surf is the most rewarding event, sharing our beautiful beach and ocean with visually-impaired youngsters and the young-at-heart. Gift of Sight Day was also very special, with kids seeing clearly for the very first time.
Name: Rinkie Pollack
Education: B.A. in Accounting from University of the State of New York
Family: Husband – Ron; two children, the best daughter-in-law ever, and three grandchildren
Interests: Travel, volunteering with the Lions Club, Hadassah, AARP tax aide, taking OSHER classes at Cal State San Marcos, playing bridge, swimming, cooking and entertaining, and being the best grandma I can be
Favorite Lions Club Memory: Gift of Sight Day; on that day, I saw a 10-year-old child fitted with his first pair of glasses. You could see him looking around the room in awe – he could see all kinds of things clearly for the first time. Words cannot express how inspiring it was.
Which areas of San Diego do you work with?
We are based in Encinitas but as part of District 4L6 (covering San Diego and Imperial Counties) we serve whenever and wherever we are needed.
Do you hold fundraisers throughout the year? If so, when?
Most definitely. Our sole fundraiser is the Community Theater Night at the vintage La Paloma Theater. April 23 was our 4th Annual Theater Night fundraiser. This year’s featured classic film was Casablanca. This year’s event set an attendance record for this function. We added a silent auction to the event and raised more funds than ever before. We would love to fill the house. All proceeds from this fundraiser are used for charitable purposes, primarily in our community.
How many members does your current Club have?
Our membership growth has been phenomenal. We began the 2014-2015 year with 35 members and ended the year with 45 members! We have taken our PDG Mary Rynerson’s message of: “Fun, Fellowship, and Feeling of Fulfillment” as our inspiration.
Please tell us about how someone can become a Lions Club member.
For membership, contact our membership chair Shelly Marcus at firstname.lastname@example.org or attend a meeting. The only requirement for membership is a willingness to volunteer your time and energy to advancing the Lions Club mission of “We Serve.” There is a nominal annual fee and commitment to support our fundraiser.
Due to an outstanding year of providing so much for the Encinitas community, the Encinitas Lions Club was awarded the honor of District 4L-6 Lions Club of the Year in May 2015.
What sets the Encinitas Lions Club apart from other Lions Clubs worldwide?
Through our signature white cane project, we provided about 40 pair of glasses and eye exams to Encinitas elementary school children who were unable to afford them. We collected over 16,000 pairs of glasses from members of the community for recycling through strategically placed collection containers. A $7,000 reading machine was purchased and donated to the Blind Community Center of San Diego. And in July 2015, our club donated $2,250 to the Scripps Neonatal ICU.
What type of work do you do within the community of Encinitas?
Of all the achievements we’re proud of, the one that had the most impact on our community was our March 7 Gift of Sight Day, which was co-sponsored by the Encinitas Branch of the San Diego Library. In addition to providing 358 eye exams, each of the participants was issued a pair of recycled glasses without charge. Our members did 91 hearing screenings and I understand we have had a number of those people now getting help with their hearing issues.
We were proud to have members of many other clubs from our district join us in providing over 200 blood pressure tests, 35 Vial of Life packets, and many flu and tetanus booster shots as well as diabetes screening. This generated a great deal of positive publicity for our club, District 4L6, and Lionism. As a result of observing the dedication and energy of our members, the manager of the Encinitas Library, Sheila Crosby, was inspired to join our club during this time and has become an active, involved, and valuable member.
Just this September the Encinitas Lions Club purchased two near vision screening machines for the Encinitas Union School District. School District nurses will use these machines to test 2,400 to 2,500 students, including preschoolers and those in Individual Education Plans.
At-A-Glance | Encinitas Lions Club
What are some previous projects the Club has worked on?
Our signature Blind Surf Event, which we have sponsored for over 20 years with Swami’s Surfing Association, hosted more than 50 sight-impaired participants from the San Diego, Los Angeles, Riverside, and Orange Counties! Blind and sight-impaired participants are given instruction and assisted in the water by 100 Lions and local surfing instructors as they challenge themselves to balance atop surfboards. Each had the opportunity to experience our famous shorelines from a surfer’s point of view. Hansen’s, the local surf shop, supported us by financially sponsoring this event for our full costs.
The Encinitas Lions Club also provides transportation for its guests and serves a BBQ lunch to over 150 participants and volunteers.
To top off a rewarding and successful year, the Encinitas Blind Surf Event was chosen as the centerpiece of the 2015 Lions International Rose Parade Float, spreading the word of Lionism around the world to hundreds of millions of TV viewers. One of our young blind surfers was featured and rode through the parade on the front of the float. A great honor for our club! It was our privilege to make a $1,000 club donation to the Lions Float Committee. In addition, 15 of our members enjoyed two days of decorating the float and attend the International President’s Reception.
Are there any exciting new projects, developments, or programs coming to the Club?
We are always looking for ways to improve our community. We plan on outreach at the Encinitas Street Fair in April 2016. We are sponsoring a Wounded Warrior and his/her family in the 2015 Encinitas Holiday Parade on Dec. 6. We also are taking a group up to Pasadena to decorate the 2016 Lions Rose Parade Float. We continue to plan for the 2016 Community Movie Night, 2016 Blind Surf Event, etc.
What’s the most exciting aspect of being a Lion?
To quote one of our newer members Debbie Sanford, “I was excited to join and am impressed with the size of Lions Clubs International and the services that Lions provide all over the world. I appreciated helping at the Encinitas Club Lions Gift of Sight Day, the Special Olympics World Games San Diego North County Host Cities Day at Encinitas Park, and look forward to the Blind Surf Event and decorating the 2016 Lions Rose Bowl Float, ‘A Camp for All Abilities.’”
Can you tell us where and when your meetings are held?
Meetings are held at Cicciotti’s Trattoria (1933 San Elijo in Cardiff-by-the-Sea) on the second and fourth Monday of the month from 12 to 1 p.m. Everyone is welcome to join us!
Is there anything else that you would like for our readers to know?
The Encinitas Lions Club sponsors the La Costa Canyon High School Leo’s Club. With a Lion mentor attending all of their meetings and functions as a Leo, the students take part in service projects that not only improve their community but also provide them with valuable leadership experience. The Lion Richard Walworth Scholarship was awarded to Leo Cole Kraus. This $1,000 scholarship is awarded annually to a Leo who has demonstrated commitment to the mission of Lions Club International through service in her or her community.
Where should readers go if they are interested in learning more about the Encinitas Lion Club?
Come to a meeting or visit www.encinitaslions.org.