Funds allocation and the popular Ice Bucket Challenge took center stage at the most recent Santa Monica Rotary Club meeting, with President George Collins drenched in icy water for ALS serving as a fun conclusion.
The Sept. 19 meeting was particularly eventful. The weekly gathering commenced with a group sing-a-long, as the Rotarians livened up the atmosphere by collectively crooning “America the Beautiful” and “We Are The World.”
The meeting then introduced visiting Rotarians, including special guests from Europe: Geoff Hunt from Coventry, England, and Hatto and Ursula Brand from Westheim, Germany.
The ensuing announcements given by Timur Berberoglu and Sharon Perlmutter Gavin, reminded Rotarians about the First Annual Rotary Function (FARF) on Sept. 28 in Topanga at the Young residence and the Feed the Homeless event on Sept. 30 at OPCC Turning Point in Santa Monica.
Recognition of the recent blood drive took place, with saluted blood donors and Rotarians Mitchell Kraus, Rob Santos, and Bret Carter joining in a toast with Ann Greenspun, Southern California Blood Services Board Chair, and Julie Thomas, American Red Cross of Santa Monica Executive.
Len Lanzi went on to give a presentation on the finances of the Santa Monica Rotary Club, leading the meeting into his report on the philanthropic projects that the club has funded both locally and internationally.
Lanzi posed a question to the Rotarians: “How much money do we give annually?”
He began his report by explaining that the club’s funds come from the members’ “fines” – essentially pledges given at the beginning of the year – and the annual wine festival, which is set to take place Oct. 19.
“Since 1995, our club has given $483,000 in the local community,” Lanzi said.
Lanzi explained the specifics of the youth community sector, with Mitchell Kraus as chair, and the world community service sector, with Karim Jaude and Jillian Alexander as co-chairs.
Santa Monica Rotarians have donated $43,000 to local organizations LA Opera, Clare Foundation, and Rosie’s Girls this year. American Red Cross, Museum of Flying, Salvation Army, Meals on Wheels West, and Upward Bound House received funds over the past two years.
Lanzi elaborated on the international projects that the Rotarians have contributed to including a well for the Myanmar Water Project, testing and counseling thousands of people for HIV in Africa, covering costs of polio surgeries in India, and providing electricity for a village in Colombia.
Currently, the Rotarians are planning their humanitarian trip to Guatemala. A $10,000 grant has been allocated to fund various causes like literacy and water treatment.
By a show of hands, Lanzi estimated that “over a third of the club” was directly involved with where funds were going. He encouraged more participation in such projects.
“Getting involved can be your Rotary moment,” Lanzi said. “Be proud of what you do. Serve above self.”
Wrapping up the meeting, President Collins, dressed in casual wear, was doused by Rick Ruby with a bucket of icy-cold water. Collins was nominated for the popular Ice Bucket Challenge to raise money and awareness for ALS by Chief of Fire Scott Ferguson.
For more information, visit rotaryclubofsantamonica.org.