Aug 31, 2009 07:41AM
● By Wendy Sipple
Photo by Dante Fontana
With our economy on shaky ground, service organizations have become more important than at any time since the 1930s.
Fortunately, area Rotary clubs, built on the very foundation of service, and numbering over 30,000 clubs nationally, are here to help.
The Rotary Club of Folsom, whose members number 100, has been serving neighbors for over 50 years. While most of the club’s community-service projects focus on area schools, members are especially proud of their international work, according to Public Relations Chairperson Bev Stehli. Projects like Polio Plus, which is one of Rotary International’s primary focuses – with a goal to eradicate Polio from the planet in the near future – is a project that couldn’t be more important to humanity.
In addition, the club is involved with water projects in Peru, and hosts a Peace Scholar from Colombia who is a student at UC Berkeley, and an outbound high school youth in the Rotary Youth Exchange Program. Locally, the club is helping Sutter Middle School create outdoor classrooms, which will provide a hands-on sustainable farming experience and life-cycle education for students. The “classroom” will include planter boxes with irrigation and tables for outdoor instruction.
“The club coordinates about five to seven fundraisers each year to support local and international projects, plus obtains additional funds from sponsors and Rotary International matching grants,” Stehli says. The group recently hosted their 16th annual “Folsom Wine and Dine,” and participated in numerous service opportunities like assisting the Folsom Lake Food Bank, coordinating blood drives, building structures for Folsom Zoo Sanctuary and more. “Members come from a variety of professions, with ages spanning late 20s to 90s. It’s a great mix,” Stehli says. The Club has also pledged $100,000 to the Jeff Mitchell Memorial Ball Field within the next five years.
Founded in 2004, the Rotary Club of Historic Folsom is another community-minded group (40% female membership!) making a difference in the area. Just this past June, the Historic Folsom club “played for a purpose” at their fifth annual Gold Rush Invitational Golf Tournament benefitting the many local groups that the Historic Folsom Rotary Foundation supports, as well as the Wheelchair Foundation. In addition to hosting foreign exchange high school students and outbound globe trotters, the club is an instrumental force in the planning and building of Folsom’s first universally-accessible playground for children of all abilities. The project was awarded a grant from “First 5,” which will allow (in combination with other monies raised) for the first phase (for kids five years and younger) to break ground this fall!
El Dorado Hills Rotary
The Rotary Club of El Dorado Hills has been making a difference in the community since 1990. With 50 members, the group is a mix of “long-time” and new members. According to Roberta Long, the club’s public relations chair, the most notable international service project they’ve done involved securing $500,000 in used dental equipment for underprivileged communities in Mexico. In addition, the group has been involved in a clothing drive for citizens in war-torn Bosnia.
On a local level, the El Dorado Hills Rotary has helped complete a teen center and skate park, and also this year the club sponsored a new Interact Club for Oak Ridge High School students, a partnership that allowed 100 students to see service first-hand. The group also recently hosted their 15th annual “Wine at Town Center” in concert with Rotary Club of Cameron Park – billed as “the social event of the year,” and looks forward to the annual crab feed this winter. Club President Kathy Witherow says, “We join Rotary for many reasons, but once you jump in, get involved and start seeing the results of your combined efforts, you know that you are part of something much greater than yourself.”
Rotary Club of Historic Folsom Community Service Project
Rotary Club of Historic Folsom’s 2009 “Rotarians at Work Day”
For more information about the Folsom Rotary Club, call 916-983-7378; for the Historic Folsom Rotary Club, visit historicfolsomrotary.org; and for the El Dorado Hills Rotary Club, visit edhrotary.org.