Sunday, November 28, 2021

Wheel of Rotary turns back to basics

Cindy Love. Photo by Val Simon

Cindy Love. Photo by Val Simon

Rotary Clubs span the globe with a 1.2 million members worldwide. It is a humanitarian service organization known for its charitable efforts and charitable giving, both locally and internationally. Rotary is known for the ethical standards by which members agree to conduct themselves. It sets out to build goodwill and peace throughout the world. Marco Island has two Rotary Clubs. Each club’s president addresses the vision, goals and struggles of their term.

Cindy Love, President Marco Island Noontime Rotary Club:

“Rotary’s theme this year is ‘Building Communities and Bridging Continents.’ I personally relate well to the theme.   There are many similarities between my work as Executive Director of the YMCA and my role as president of the club.   The YMCA’s motto is ‘building strong communities, building strong families and building strong kids.’

This year our club will be work to bridge the gap between the younger and older generations of our membership. We will work on business networking and what we can do internally to promote business for our working members.  Business networking can be cause driven and socially responsible at the same time. Communications are a big factor, Rotary works both locally and globally and we need to let everyone know what is happening at all levels. Rotary gives us the opportunity to be a part of something greater than ourselves. Our weekly speakers add to the value of membership and allow us see what is happening in our own backyard. Rotarians in general are very caring, dedicated, philanthropists with a great set of values and principles. Those are the same types of people I like to surround myself with at work.

Our club will continue to focus on eradicating polio in the world, providing shelter boxes in disaster struck areas, and supporting local charities such as St. Matthew’s House and the Shelter for Abused Women. We will continue to offer scholarships to local students. We have, along with others, a Kids Against Hunger project coming up soon. This project will be held at the Marco Island Charter Middle School and many of the meals packaged that day will stay within Collier County. This year we will also work to support the Rotary district-wide efforts to combat Juvenile Diabetes, again much like the Y promotes and offers services for healthy living.

At the YMCA, on September 20th, we will be unveiling a new ‘branding’ of our base structure which will be kicked off at a Community Picnic with open house on the Y grounds. Lots of activities will be going on that day for all islanders to enjoy, in a way it will bridge the gap of generations. We will continue to concentrate on youth development through nurturing the potential of every child, healthy living and being socially responsible. The ‘Y’ Reads program is a good example of giving back to the community in the same way Rotary does. Cindy continues, “Rotary wants to get back to the basics of their core values which are fellowship, service, diversity, integrity and leadership. The “values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility can be added. These values are our driving force and at the heart of all we do. A community with Rotary and the YMCA is a much better, wholesome community than one without these clubs

Dr. Greg Spain. Photo by Val Simon

Dr. Greg Spain. Photo by Val Simon

and organization!”

Dr. Greg Spain, President of the Sunrise Rotary Club of Marco Island

“Worldwide, with 1.2 million members in 33,000 clubs, maintaining Rotary’s membership base in these economic times is a challenge. The U.S. is losing members. At club level we are looking into the perceived value of membership.  What is the return on investment so-to-speak? To that end, we are getting back to our roots. Rotary is a service organization, but it is also business networking organization. Through membership and volunteering, your name gets out in the community, that in turn, helps grow your business. Through Rotary I’ve seen my practice grow.    My experience proves this principle works. Our club goal is to increase membership by 10% which comes to five new members this year.

Our goals are to continue to support the humanitarian efforts of Rotary International. Our club works with the Gift of Life Project which addresses the medical needs of children who suffer from congenital heart defects and other similar conditions. We’ve applied to the district for a matching grant which can double what our club gives. In October, we will be working with the 9th child we’ve had in this project. We work directly with Sister Judy who resides in Haiti.  Sister Judy identifies a child who requires surgery. She works out who will accompany the child throughout their stay in the U.S. and she processes all of the necessary documentation not only for surgery, but for the travel here as well.  The club is responsible for the transport as well. We meet them at the airport in Miami and bring them to the hospital in Tampa. These are children that would die without surgery. We are saving lives.

We’re working on a new program through one of our members called the Wounded Warrior Project. We would collect personal items for injured soldiers. This project would work through Walgreen’s stores. It’s on track to be a district-wide program covering 51 clubs. It’s a tremendous effort by all involved especially our member who came up with the idea, Eugenio Cardenas, who manages the local Walgreen’s on San Marco.

Of course, the Sunrise Club will continue to support the Kids against Hunger project, alongside the Noontime Club.   Some of those meals will go to our neighbors in Immokalee. The two clubs on Marco Island work together in supporting dictionary day which provides and deliveries dictionaries to each third grade student at Tommie Barfield, Manatee Middle, and Corkscrew Elementary. We also hold a golf-outing fundraiser for the Marco Island Charter Middle School. Another local cause our club focuses on is the Salvation Army.

Rotary is synonymous with the End Polio Now campaign. We champion that cause. Polio is still leaving people crippled. Those struck by polio still need mobility to survive. Our club provides wheelchairs to those handicapped not only by this, but other diseases as well.

To support these endeavors, we rely on our members to assist with fundraising projects. Major financial support comes from the Annual Seafood Festival which is held by both Rotary Clubs on the island as well as the local Kiwanis Club. Through these efforts, we are able to realize the ambitious goals of being a service club, providing not only where there is need in this community, but also bridging continents.

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