2018-19 in Review
In 2018-2019, our Sebastopol Rotary Club anticipated some relief from the devastation created by the fires of October 2017.  Sadly, Mother Nature had other ideas. There were more challenges with additional fires and then torrential storms and flooding in February of 2019. These disasters created even greater demands on the social and community service agencies that Rotary traditionally supports, while our fundraisers were tested to generate the funding for the ongoing relief. 
Rotarians stepped up again to support our neighbors’ recovery from all these disasters.  We gave real meaning to our commitment to “service above self.”  By the end of the year, we had raised over $166,000 for our projects and programs, and we put every one of those dollars to good use.
One of our most significant efforts was an expansion of the “hands on” activities, when we took up our saws, hammers, and paintbrushes to keep community assets in first-class shape.  We collaborated with other Rotary clubs on repair and maintenance projects at the Laguna Environmental Center, Ives Pool, Sebastopol Regional Library, Redwood Empire Food Bank, and the YWCA shelter.
 On top of these projects, club members spent hundreds of volunteer hours in the schools and in youth projects.  The club sponsored Interact clubs at two west county schools.  The clubs teach students about citizenship and community responsibility, and the students made real contributions to others.  For example, Interact at Brook Haven Middle School raised $3500 for local charities while Twin Hills donated $2000 to several good causes and non-profits. Grant funding for The Tool Box Project helped implement  a social emotional learning program for preschoolers in West County.  We spent both hours and dollars on the Ending Domestic Violence in partnership with YWCA to provide needed resources to the victims in our community.  
Club members also worked with 72 students at Parkside and Brook Haven schools as part of the Learn with Me program, which tutors students in reading and math.  Members Greg Jacobs and Rick Wilson oversaw the 35th year of the “Learn to Swim” program at Sebastopol’s Ives Pool.  This year 375 second graders from all 10 of the Sebastopol area schools joined the 10,000 plus kids who’ve learned water safety from the club-sponsored program.
On top of this work, the club has always supported excellence in education.  As it has done for many years, through its affiliated Sebastopol Rotary Education Foundation, it has honored three teachers from west county schools who have distinguished themselves by their commitment to learning. The club has also honored six west county students who have overcome adverse circumstances to achieve real success in high school. We have gone beyond the high school level as well; it expanded its program to provide scholarships to west county students who are attending Santa Rosa Junior College.  This year four $4000 scholarships went to outstanding students.
In addition, we turned our traditional Trade Path Awards program in a new direction.  We recognized the five West County high school students who have completed the North Bay Building Alliance Construction Corps program, and the club and the Education Foundation are working on expanding that support to bring the complete Construction Corps program to West County – all in furtherance of our goal of helping students who want to pursue careers that do not require a four year college education.
The club also supported community organizations and teachers.  It gave over $40,000 to support over two dozen community organizations, including the Sebastopol Area Senior Center, the Ceres Community Project, Food For Thought, Analy High School Band Wagon and KOWS Community Radio.  It also gave over $23,000 in Mark Sell Teacher Mini Grants in amounts of up to $500 to teachers from west county schools so that they could undertake projects to improve their students learning which could not be funded out of school monies.
Rotary as an international service organization is determined to eradicate polio from the planet. Our members have donated $13,580 this year for this effort alone while donations of over $107,000 have been made to support Health, Education and Clean Water worldwide as a roadmap to world peace.     
I look back on the past year of my Presidency with great pride. Because of our work and our love and respect for one another, we have grown our membership to become the largest Rotary Club among the 47 clubs in District 5130.   I thank my fellow Rotarians for their hard work, diligence, commitment, and good humor.