A Friday night ‘meet and greet’ hosted by the Escalon Sunrise Rotary Club at Leonardo’s Café on Main Street gave prospective members the chance to learn more about the organization from the current members. The group’s primary focus is service, both to the community in which they live and the world at large. Rotary International was a huge contributor in the effort to eradicate polio and local members have also gone on a number of work trips to help build schools and playgrounds, work in hospitals and clinics and help bring water to communities.
President for the Escalon group this year is Andreas ‘Tiny’ Witt, and he said the members all want to bring something extra to their community. It’s a great way to get involved, he said, and the local high school also offers an Interact Club for students looking for a way to do some community service. The Interact kids are gearing up for their annual ‘Kids in a Box’ fundraiser, said Witt, in which they spend the night on the Escalon High School football field, constructing shelters out of cardboard boxes to bring attention to the ongoing plight of the homeless. Funds raised benefit local efforts to feed and house the homeless and women and children in crisis.
Witt said Friday night’s dinner meeting was the first of what Rotary members hope will become a regular occurrence.
“We thought this would open things up more, involve more of the community and we want to have the local businesses get a feel for the group,” Witt explained.
Regular Rotary meetings are on Thursday mornings, 6:45 a.m., at the Escalon High School cafeteria and since not everyone interested can get to those early morning sessions, Witt said rotating an evening dinner meeting seemed a good way to go. They chose Leonardo’s for the first, but will move it to other restaurants in the community as the dinner meetings continue.
“We do a lot of programs with the local seniors, schools, we sponsor the high school Student of the Month program,” Witt added.
Many Rotary members also get involved in the Read Across America program each year and spend time reading to local elementary school children.
“We have our Oktoberfest coming up, that’s on Oct. 5 at the Community Center,” Witt said of the popular annual fundraiser. “Just a lot of great things and all the money that we raise goes back to the community.”
Thanksgiving baskets and Christmas gifts for those less fortunate are efforts the Rotary has been involved with over the years as well. Escalon’s club has been recognized as an outstanding Rotary in its district over the years and Witt said they want to continue to be a viable, active part of the community.
“I believe in giving back,” he said.
Serving with Witt this year are President Elect Romy Damiles, Past President Joe Terra, Sergeant-at-Arms Jordon Freitas, Secretary Debby Renfroe and Treasurer Diane Alcorn.
“We are very fortunate,” Witt added, noting that work projects around the world have shown local Rotary members the great difficulty that other countries face just in meeting basic needs. “We really don’t know how good we have it.”Witt also wants to help meet the needs in the local community and said there are plenty of good service organizations, including the local Lions and Kiwanis in addition to Rotary, that can all work together in completing projects to benefit the area.