Lions Club Awards Scholarships


Five accomplished local students were presented with scholarships by the Fort Myers Beach Lions Club last Thursday evening. Selected by an impartial committee that evaluates their community service, academic achievement and need for assistance, the winners are all heading off to college in the next few weeks and appreciated the extra assistance. More than financial help, the Lions hope to convey that the local community supports them in their academic endeavors.

“I hope you all know that when you head off to college that a whole bunch of people here care about you and are pulling for you to do well,” said Darby Doerzbacher, Scholarship Chairman.

Lions Club Awards Scholarships
Scholarship winners and their families join Beach Lions Darby Doerzbacher and Jerry Tatarian.

Shown in the photo taken last Thursday are Lion Darby Doerzbacher and Lion Jerry Tatarian with scholarship recipients (back) Johan Elrubaie – Florida Gulf Coast University, Jason Freeman – University of Kentucky, Emily Hendry – University of Florida, Sarah Swiersz – University of Central Florida Burnett Honors College and W. Holt Wallace – University of Florida. Their supportive families are in front of the winners. Not pictured are winners Laith Elrubaie – Florida Gulf Coast University, Sarah Bestrom – Florida SouthWestern State College and Karen Jahuey Garay – Florida SouthWestern State College. Garay is the recipient of the Shirley Semmer WE SERVE Scholarship.

The Beach Lions have been awarding scholarships for over 20 years in an effort to relieve the financial burden of higher education. Lion Jerry Tatarian shared the history of the program with the winners last week, explaining that it all began with a fire at the Lions clubhouse. Rather than invest in property to rebuild, the club chose to offer scholarships and have been doing so ever since.

The Beach Lions Club has been hosting the Shrimp Festival for almost 60 years and using the entire proceeds to support Lions’ and local charities.

The money raised each year at the Shrimp Festival is used to support a variety of charitable causes including: Local Eye Sight Cases, Scholarships, Florida Lions Foundation, Lions Clubs International Foundation, Leader Dogs for The Blind, Conklin Center For The Blind, Guide Dogs For The Deaf, Bonita Springs Lions Eye Clinic, Fort Myers Beach Elementary School, Southeast Guide Dogs, Fort Myers Beach Library and WGCU Radio Reading Service.

This partial list reflects the breadth of community support and the dedication to vision causes that is the hallmark of the Beach Lions Club. A small but vibrant club, they are always looking to welcome new members.

“As a member of the worlds largest service club organization, each member of our club can do more together than by themselves, and they meet new neighbors and friends at the same time. Anyone considering joining the Lions is invited to attend our dinner meeting. Information on our Club can be found at,” Lion Darby Doerzbacher said.

During their meeting last week, Island Sand Paper Publisher Bob Layfield presented a $4331 check to the club, representing a portion of the proceeds of the March SAND LIFE magazine that serves as the official Shrimp Festival Guide.

Lions Club Awards Scholarships
Lions President Ted Clifton receives a check from Sand Paper Publisher Bob Layfield.

“Advertisers and the Sand Paper crew strive to make the March issue the largest and best issue of the year, knowing that the Lions Club charities benefit,” said Layfield. “ We are proud to support the Beach Lions.”

The 59th Annual Beach Lions Shrimp Festival will be held the weekend of March 11 & 12, 2017. Watch for more information.


Staff Report