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home : our community : more town news
February 4, 2023

11/17/2022 12:45:00 PM
Rotarians Help Make Englewood Stronger
A fellow in Michigan donated 82 pallets of cleaning supplies. Pictured here l-r: Gary Vasbinder and J.D. Preston are moving pails of cleaning supplies for distribution.
A fellow in Michigan donated 82 pallets of cleaning supplies. Pictured here l-r: Gary Vasbinder and J.D. Preston are moving pails of cleaning supplies for distribution.
Alfred Current

On September 28, 2022, technically a category 4 hurricane, but for us, clocked as a category 5, Ian washed ashore and terrorized SW Florida including our beautiful Englewood community and peninsula with howling winds, blinding rain, and surging water for over eight unrelenting hours, resulting in imploding windows that allowed rainwater to pour in, twisted metal from falling gutters and destroyed lanais that screeched across lawns, roofs ripped apart as shingles and tiles flew, trees snapped and toppled like toothpicks, communication towers tumbled to the earth, and fear struck the hearts of those riding out the storm. The carnage proved to be enormous, unbearable for the multitudes that lost everything. No electricity, water, phone, or internet. No access to gasoline or working ATMs; only flooded streets and neighborhood exits blocked by fallen trees and blown debris greeted those trying to escape the prisons of their homes. Our quiet, tropical paradise had been hit hard and left devastated.
There are five Rotary clubs in Englewood totaling 243 members that form The Rotary Club of Englewood, The Englewood Lemon Bay Sunrise Rotary Club, The Englewood Sunset Rotary Club, The Englewood Sunset Impact Club and The Rotary Club of Rotonda.  Like siblings, each has its own personality and sense of purpose.  They are different ages, enjoy various activities, and sponsor different fundraisers.  The competition between them is healthy, but their hearts are all about service above self.  Many businesses in Englewood are owned or managed by this prestigious group of Rotarians.  The membership rosters read like a Who’s Who list.
One may not know much about Rotary, what it is and what it does.  You may, however, recognize an annual arts festival, July 4th fireworks, a farmer’s market on Dearborn, a seafood festival, high school scholarships, Josh the Otter water safety events and free swim lessons, backpack funding, school supply drives, shopping with a cop, sponsoring an Interact club, RYLA, S4TL, RotaKids, and exchange students, both inbound and outbound. All of these and much more are from the efforts of Rotarians in our community.
While one may want to know more about what Rotary is, it may be more proper to understand why we do what we do.  Rotarians believe in giving back and making a difference in the human condition.  Through our passion for service, we are able to use our time, talent, treasure, and connections to get things done. When Hurricane Ian blew into town and knocked us to our knees, Rotary responded.  The collective efforts of our five community clubs made a huge difference to many in need.  All five clubs came together for the common good leaving behind individual club cultures in order to make a unified relief effort efficient and effective.
Immediately, through the generosity of one Rotarian that owns a shopping plaza, we were able to set up a collection point for donations that came from places far and wide.  Rotary, an international organization, used its connections to bring in an estimated $500,000 worth of donations to help begin the cleaning up process.  Donations required sorting, staging and distribution to the public in need.  For two weeks following the storm’s appearance, Rotarians showed up to unload semi-trucks full of supplies. One day, two trailers appeared that had 82 pallets, each with 40 cleaning buckets per pallet, which required a forklift.  The call for help went out and thirty minutes later we had three forklifts delivered by Rotarians.  
Englewood is blessed with many giving souls with huge hearts.  Rotarians are also quick to partner with other community stakeholders such as neighborhood associations, and community programs.  Results happen quickly when it doesn’t matter who gets the credit. We all have our hurricane stories and are eager to share.  My purpose is to share a glimpse of Rotary and to say thank you for the numerous volunteer hours given with sweat and tears by so many that have come together to make it better.  My heart is full of an attitude of gratitude.

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