As 2010 gives way to 2011, the Rotary Club of Paradise looks back on a year in which our 85 active members worked hard to make a difference on the Ridge and beyond.The Paradise club, one of Rotary International’s 33,000 worldwide, sponsored local events, conducted fundraisers and partnered with other organizations to meet as many needs as possible. “Service above self” wasn’t just a motto on the Web site (www.paradiserotary.com); it was a call to action.
Highlights for the year include:
• Smoke detectors: Ahead of fire season, Paradise Rotarians conducted a smoke detector project, in which a dozen club members installed or replaced smoke detectors and batteries for residents in the Paradise/Magalia area. The Rotary Club worked with The Town of Paradise and Feather River Hospital to identify residents who could use assistance. Rotarians visited 57 households to replace batteries in existing smoke detectors or to install new detectors, plus explained the need to check the units each year.
• Community Clean-up: In May, Rotarians joined other community members in a two-week-long project in and around Paradise High School that included clearing brush and debris between the bike path and the athletic fields.
• Chocolate Fest: Jackie Gitman became the fifth straight Paradise Rotarian to be crowned Queen of the annual Paradise Chocolate Fest, which raises money for local youth organizations. She succeeded Alice Smith, whose passing was mourned later in the year.
• Relay for Life: At the annual fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, the Rotary Club of Paradise was the third-leading organization in terms of dollars raised, and club member Kiley Patterson was the second-leading individual. All told, the event at Paradise High raised $120,000.
• Help Portrait Paradise: Local photographers, including Paradise Rotarians, offered photographs to families that could not afford them this holiday season. Alain Tomatis Photography, in conjunction with The Paradise Ridge Family Resource Center, organized Help Portrait Paradise, which took place Dec. 4. Volunteers helped families with their hair and makeup before photographers took their picture, and each family received a framed 8×10 portrait.
• Grants and goods: Through funds earmarked for community projects as well as individual members’ own initiatives, Rotarians made numerous donations in 2010. Examples include purchasing an ice machine for Community Park in downtown Paradise, 400 dictionaries for third-graders in the Paradise Unified School District and gift baskets for needy families over the holidays. In addition, the club awarded four mini-grants of $500 each to local teachers.
• Youth programs: Along with helping in schools, Paradise Rotarians sponsor a service club for teens called Interact. This year, Paradise Interact drew two-dozen members and participated in a range of community events, including the Paradise Recreation and Park District’s Easter Egg Hunt, Halloween Haunted House and skate-park fundraiser, as well as Rotary’s annual Crab Feed and Salsa de Border. In addition, Paradise Rotary hosted an exchange student from Chile for the 2009-10 academic year and is hosting a teen from Spain for the 2010-11 school year.
• International outreach: Paradise Rotarians held a bowling fundraiser to support Rotary’s Wheelchair Foundation, which provides mobility to housebound people throughout the world. The Paradise event raised enough money to buy 10 wheelchairs, and club members took a trip to Monterrey, Mexico, to help distribute wheelchairs. (For more information about the Wheelchair Foundation, contact Brian Gray at BigBrian@gray-matter.net or check www.wheelchairfoundation.org.)
• Paul Harris Fellowships: Rotary International’s endowed foundation collects money from members to fund club projects locally and internationally. Rotarians donate annually to the Rotary Foundation, and those who reach the $1,000 milestone are designated Paul Harris Fellows, in honor of Rotary’s founder. This year, the Paradise Club inducted 23 Paul Harris Fellows. Eighty-six percent of Paradise Rotarians now hold that distinction.