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April 19, 2011 > Honoring Rotary Clubs of the Tri-Cities

Honoring Rotary Clubs of the Tri-Cities

Submitted By the Ohlone College Foundation

This is the third in a series of articles individually highlighting Rotary Clubs of the Tri-Cities as the Ohlone College Foundation's 2011 Citizen of the Year. This week's focus is on Niles Rotary and includes a snapshot of the contributions that have earned them the title of 2011 Citizen of the Year.

The Rotary Club of Newark has been around almost as long as the City of Newark. The City of Newark was established in 1955, and the Rotary Club of Newark started in May of 1961. We are excited that we have been able to grow together! The following will give you an idea of how we spend some of our time throughout the year.

A project that we have participated in for a number of years is the Haystack Coin Toss at Newark Days. We partner with Newark Days and match funds to set up a haystack where kids of all ages dig through fresh clean hay to try and find $600 worth of coins. It is a fun event for everyone. Boy Scouts stand by at the end to clean up the hay and then keep any money that has been left behind.

We continue to support the Newark Memorial High School Annual Wrestling contest. Coach Swift from Newark Memorial High School greets us warmly every year and we help present trophies to the winning wrestlers at the end of a long day. Coach Swift counts on every penny we donate and shares it with other groups in the PE department.

The holiday season gives us many opportunities to celebrate as we traditionally volunteer to help with the League of Volunteers (LOV) Thanksgiving Day prep by carving turkeys and ham. We also help the Viola Blythe Center at Christmas sorting canned goods and wrapping gifts.

Once or twice a year we participate in what we fondly call "The Senior Cleanup"... no... soap and shampoo are not involved! We select a senior citizen residing in Newark who needs help cleaning their yard. This is a labor intensive event for the strong of heart and body but we love it.

Our Club Youth Service Director is very involved in working with the Newark High School Interact Group. These students are an important component in helping to make our major fundraiser the Crab and Pasta Feed a success. We offer them the opportunity to attend camp RYLA which is a youth leadership training camp. The Interactors also participate in international projects each year. They chose to donate to Polio last year, shelter boxes this year, and they also donate many hours to the Viola Blythe Center.

Projects that we have participated in the past are Read Across America where we read aloud to kids in elementary school in Newark. We also participate in Junior Achievement. Participants spend half a day teaching in a local Newark elementary school, giving the teachers a welcome break. We help raise money for the local chapter of Blue Star Moms by holding a pasta feed. Blue Star Moms are mothers and families that have a son or daughter serving in the armed forces. Our event raised twice as much as we had hoped.

Our Club's biggest event of the year is our Annual Crab and Pasta Feed. The first one was held in 1981. Months of planning go into making this a successful event. This year we added a "Fund a Need" cause to our live auction. We wanted to raise enough money at the event to purchase a defibrillator for Newark Memorial High School. The guests at the event were so generous we were able to buy two defibrillators.

On the international level, we support The Coaniquem Burn Center Foundation in Chile. Since 1979 more than 80,000 children have been assisted in the rehabilitation centers. The burn center was damaged last year during the big earthquake and helping them continues to be one of our funding priorities. The Club has also adopted a child in the center.

The Rotary motto is Service Above Self. And that is what Rotary is all about service - in the community, in the workplace, and throughout the world. Rotarian community service projects target many of today's critical issues, such as children at risk, poverty and hunger, the environment and illiteracy. But it is also about fun and fellowship. Our Club enjoys working on these projects together.

The Citizen of the Year Champagne Luncheon is the last major social event before summer for community members in Fremont, Newark, and Union City. The event is held on Saturday, June 4, 2011 at the beautiful Ohlone College Newark Center on Cherry Street in Newark. For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit or call 510-659-6020.

This article was edited from information written by Janet Drews of the Newark Rotary Club.

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