During a hot July in Rancho Mirage, Barbara and I took long weekends in Orange County and enjoyed the sun on the beach at the Balboa Bay Club daily.

The new club ownership has made some noticeable, positive changes, including eliminating the "guard gate" at the Pacific Coast Highway entrance, remodeling and expanding the Members Grill and eliminating the monthly Resort Fitness Center fee.

The new chef at the Members Grill is Grant Lawson, who has developed a new menu, and now members can have their own wine locker. The power burger on the beach is still a great burger! After a 12-year absence, I got to visit the club's Six O'Clockers, or what's left of the longtime fitness center group that gathers daily for coffee and cards or to read the newspapers and shower and shave for the day. Some of the newer Six O'Clockers actually work out!

Longtime Balboa Bay Club and Six O'Clockers member Jack Wright was helpful in updating me on many of the longtime members. It was good seeing some friendly Six O'Clockers faces, meeting newer club members and, of course, experiencing the great staff at the Balboa Bay Club!

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Harbor Mesa Lions Club serves

The motto of Lions Clubs International is "We Serve," and the Harbor Mesa Lions do just that, states Carol Van Holt, past president and Daily Pilot Community & Clubs Hall of Fame honoree.

The club, chartered in 1992, has all women members, some of whom were originally Lionesses in the Costa Mesa-Newport Harbor Lions Club. They dedicate their time and talents to serving the community by donating money to many charitable organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club; Share Our Selves Medical/Dental Clinic; Someone Cares Soup Kitchen; Youth Employment Service; Alzheimer's Family Services; Second Harvest Food Bank; Orange Coast College scholarships; Orange Coast Interfaith Shelter and many more. Money is raised through a casino night, candy sales, fashion shows, garage sales and the annual Costa Mesa Fish Fry.

They have "hands-on" service projects such as assembling school boxes filled with tools students will need. The boxes are given each year to first-graders in two Westside grade schools in Costa Mesa. They collect books for school libraries and participate in a reading program at Rea Elementary School that helps the students advance their reading skills.

Members also present Flag Day programs at two schools each year to inform the students of the history and meaning of our flag. At Christmas time, club members wrap gifts for children at the Boys and Girls Club and fulfill wish lists for families.

A Peace Poster Contest is held each year for grade-school children and a Student Speaker Contest is held for high school students. Collecting used eyeglasses to recycle is an important part of helping those in need, and the club has a collection box at the Costa Mesa Senior Center. The members also collect used hearing aids.

Are they busy? Ask a member and the answer will be, "Yes, but we always have fun doing it all!" New members are enthusiastically welcomed. See the website at nhcmlionsclub.com.

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Solving crimes to help community

The Harbor Mesa Lions are raising funds by having a murder mystery dinner Aug. 17 at the Garden Grove Lions clubhouse in Garden Grove. The audience will participate and try to uncover the "Killer in the Kitchen."

The cast includes members of the club who portray the widow, her daughters, a priest, employees and relatives of the Italian restaurant owner. Members of the cast are Carol Van Holt, Marianne Allen, Eileen Jensen, Marianne Hahn, Lynn Seaholm, Cathy Waters, Charlotte McNamara, Debbie Karlson, Gina Stansbury and Dewey Linehan, who is a member of the Huntington Beach Host Lions Club.

Italian food, prizes and a lot of laughs will make this event a fun-for-funds evening. Tickets are $25. Check out the details at nhcmlionsclub.com.

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Service Club Meetings This Week

WEDNESDAY