San Diego Moms: Dedicating Your Life to Community Service

Alicia Delon Tours
Alicia Delon Tours. Photo courtesy

Welcome to the founding column of Moms in San Diego! I am excited to present to you a column in which I highlight stories, topics and events that are most important to local mothers and families.

As a mom to a 5 year old boy and a 3 year old girl, I hope to bring you a space where information meets inspiration and compassion (a rare thing on the internet nowadays!). Have a cup of coffee and join me every Saturday morning before the parenting frenzy begins.

For the founding column, I wanted to focus on the mother who is rarely in the spotlight but often helps others. One name quickly came to mind: Alicia Delon Tours. Torres, a longtime nonprofit leader, jokingly describes her career as an “accident,” but there are few people I know who care so much about the well-being of others, especially minority communities.

DeLeon Torres, a product of the Navy family, attended Mira Mesa High School before going to San Diego State University, where she earned a degree in sociology. Once an ambitious journalist, Daleon Torres said she was offered a job at Operation Samhan – a health center focused on the Filipino community and low-income families – where her mother worked.

After Operation Samhan, Deloon Tours continued to serve San Diego through other charities including the Association of Pan-Asian Communities, National Families in Asian-Pacific America Against Drug Abuse, and Torture Survivors, just to name a few. She said she has remained in the non-profit world for more than 30 decades because she believes in work.

Alicia Tip:

Set goals for yourself, instead of just writing an annual goal – write down a daily or weekly goal to help you reach your bigger goal.

“It’s easier to reach your goals when you can break it down into small, bite-sized pieces.”

“I stay because I believe in the lifestyle,” said Dalion Torres, who currently serves as deputy director of the Nemeth Foundation. “I stay because I work mostly with Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders and Hawaiians – I want to help my communities and guide others to do the same.”

Dalion Torres also made an impact. She said one of her greatest accomplishments in her career is building a program, through UPAC, to help Filipino American women, who at the time had the highest rate of suicidal thoughts. The program was budgeted for 250 participants, but they managed to stretch the dollars to help 1,000 people.

Decades later, a student from the University of San Diego said she studied about the Delon Tours and the program in the university library archives.

“It opened the eyes (of the student) to what our community is going through and how it can help,” Dalion Torres said.

When DeLeon Torres devoted her career to serving others, she learned she had the same impact on her daughter.

“I used to take my daughter with me to work or when I spoke at conferences and workshops,” Dalion Torres said. “I talked about tobacco, drugs, teen pregnancies, gangs – she would sit under the table all the time. When she grew up, I realized she listened all the time – she learned to never get involved with it all.”

So how does Deloon Tours get the inspiration to dedicate 30 amazing years to serving others? She said her daughter is one inspiration. Other sources of inspiration include Theresa Lucas, who set up the first program to serve developmentally disabled people in the Filipino community of San Diego, and Susan Emery, a former Mira Mesa High School teacher and community leader in Pauai – both of whom have passed away.

“There are a lot of people who have inspired me in my life,” DeLeon Torres said. “There are a lot of good moms who do the best with what they know and have. Their love never goes away.”

If you know someone in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Center at 800-273-8255. For more resources, go to nimh.nih.gov.

San Diego Moms is published every Saturday. Do you have an idea for a story? Email hoaq@timesofsandiego.com and follow her on Instagram at @hoawritessd.

Leave a Comment