Without a doubt, one of the more memorable moments of reporting the Floyd Mayweather profile came my last night in Vegas.
Spent the bulk of the night waiting around to try to talk to Mayweather about his life and his domestic violence and to just try to get to know him, and as I wrote here, it did not go well.
But one of the brightest spots of an otherwise frustrating night was The Serenity Club.
I thought it was a coffee shop. I’d gone in there to get a Mountain Dew during media day the day before (because even though Mayweather’s people had the event catered, I had an annoyingly pretentious idea that I didn’t want to take anything they had to offer for free), and realized it was 24 hours, so I just hung out in there with my wife, Katie. (She was in Vegas for the NAB show.) Mostly because it was weirdly cold. Windy.
Man, I’m glad we did.
Turns out the place isn’t a coffee shop at all — I mean, they have coffee, and snacks and other stuff, but really, it’s a hangout spot for recovering addicts. There were dozens, maybe more than a hundred, groups and meeting times on a whiteboard on a big wall. (Here’s a meeting schedule from their website, serenityclublv.com.)
We hung out and shot pool for a couple hours and talked with the guy working behind the counter. Mike P was his name. He was half-titanium, it seemed like — he’d had some operations to replace a shoulder and a hip and he was a little rough around the edges at first, when he thought we were just a couple of dumb millennials hanging out there for no good reason. But he turned out to be one of the nicest guys I’ve ever randomly met, especially for midnight in Vegas.
Mike P. told us that Mayweather and his entourage will go in there all the time to buy Powerade and candy. And he always sees Mayweather rolling up to his gym in one of his many luxury cars, and going for his runs at 2, 3 in the morning. (When I asked him what he thought of Mayweather, Mike P. chuckled and shook his head and said, “Floyd’s just Floyd.”)
There was a pool table and lots of snacks and items for sale at cost, like sobriety chips and pins and all sorts of great inspirational swag. There were arcade games and there was a computer. And there was coffee, and it was good.
It was one of the coolest little places I’ve ever seen. Love stuff like that. It’s open 24 hours to give addicts a place to go when they think they’re going to go to a bad place. Or just to hang out with others in recovery like themselves. Just people helping people.
It was started by Carol Solomon, a tough, loving woman everyone called “Bootsie.” She died in 2013.
Her obituary, and a big picture of her, hang in the Club. Her obit says:
“Love All – Serve All”
Carol Ruth Solomon, “Bootsie” to her multitude of friends, entered this world March 6, 1946 in Cleveland, and transitioned to eternal life July 19, 2013 at 7:05 p.m. in Las Vegas. She was the eldest of four and was preceded in death by her parents and two siblings. … She leaves many, many friends mourning at her passing with feelings of gratitude and being blessed by her presence and largesse. Bootsie graduated from Ohio State University with a bachelor of arts in elementary education. She recently found enjoyment in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) program at UNLV. Bootsie began her Las Vegas career in the gaming industry in 1979 at the Hilton showroom and became a dealer at the El Cortez in 1980; she dealt for Caesar’s Casino on a cruise ship and in Las Vegas for 27 years. Traveling extensively, her most recent trip was to China in 2013.
On any given Saturday, you could find her feeding the homeless and encouraging substance abusers of all kinds to work at recovery. She founded the Serenity Club in 2008 with one meeting, and now the three meeting rooms in Chinatown host countless program meetings; likewise, a snack bar is a gathering place 24 hours a day. She established the Serenity Men’s Recovery House, Men’s Condo and Women’s living facility. Carol Solomon passionately embraced all of life with fastidiousness, dignity, exuberance, generosity, tenacity and bravery. She was a lionness of a woman if ever there was one; now her roar is silenced upon succumbing to the ravages of cancer.
Her spirit has been indomitable and exemplary to all who have known her. To be blessed with her truly remarkable friendship is a gift of a lifetime. Passionate in ever giving, her final salute was to donate her bones to medical science to teach by example. Cremation will follow with innurnment in Cleveland.
There will be a celebration of life from 7 a.m. – midnight Saturday, Aug. 24, at the Serenity Club, 3990 Schiff Drive, Las Vegas to honor this renaissance woman.
In lieu of flowers, donations to the Club will be appreciated.
Love that line “A lionness of a woman if ever there was one.”
Wish I’d known her. I’m glad I at least got to know of her. Because what a great place, warm for people on cold nights.