On December 15, members and guests of the Rotary Club of Santa Barbara celebrated at the club’s Holiday Party held at the new Viva Restaurant (former home of El Cielito). The serious rain and cold weather did not deter this enthusiastic group from gathering for some good holiday cheer.
After the reception in Viva’s private dining room, Club Service Director Pamela Galvin and President Jim Stretchberry welcomed the guests and invited them to enjoy the buffet dinner. While cocktails featured traditional Mexican red and white sangria, the meal was classic and creative American cuisine with roast turkey and mashed potatoes offered alongside parmesan and herb-crusted sea bass.
While there are several Rotary Clubs in the area, the Rotary Club of Santa Barbara is the region’s original club. It dates back to 1918 and currently has 110 members. Rotary is a service organization with members committed to volunteering their time and making financial contributions to worthy causes in their own community and internationally. Also, members enjoy networking and social activities.
For the past four years, the club’s major international effort has been to assist Mayan families in Guatemala through an annual trip by club members. Working with the nonprofit organization Mayan Families, members have built homes, built and installed safe and efficient stoves for cooking and heating, and provided and installed water filters. A team of 13 went last year, eight are signed up so far this year.
The club also makes annual donations to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, a public-private partnership that includes the World Health Organization and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Since 1985, Rotary has contributed more than $1.6 billion in the fight against polio.
In the Santa Barbara community, the biggest program is the annual Foster Care Holiday Giving Program. Through the County, Rotary obtains a wish list from teens residing in individual or group foster homes. Rotary raises funds through club donations and purchases gifts. Members from the affiliated youth Interact Club accompany Rotary members on the shopping trip. This year, Rotary purchased $3,000 worth of gifts for 40 foster teens. For many of them, these gifts will be the only ones they receive.
Other Club activities include donating books and other supplies to local schools, running blood drives, and participating in bell ringing with the Salvation Army. Also, through its Charitable Foundation, Rotary donates internationally and to regional organizations serving children, the disabled, and low-income people. The Charitable Foundation provides scholarships to high school students as well.
For more information, go to santabarbararotary.com.
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