Rotary Club of Cortland Creates Kid Zone
In its People of Action Campaign
            The Rotary Club of Cortland likes “hands on” projects – especially when we have close ties to the organization that benefit from our efforts.  This month, club members spent several days transforming the basement of our local Salvation Army Center from a dreary space into a bright, colorful welcoming “Kid Zone” for the 50 or so young people who visit the Center during a typical week.  It’s one of many projects being organized by a committee formed to plan events celebrating the Club’s 100-year anniversary.  Doug Larison, Past District Governor, is chairing that committee.   Earlier this year, he invited Club members to come up with ideas for projects to celebrate the Centennial.  Lt. Rebecca March, commanding officer of the Salvation Army in Cortland, is a Club member.  Her idea for this project received an enthusiastic response from Doug’s committee and the Club’s Board of Directors.  
                The Rotary Club of Cortland will be participating in a number of hands on project to demonstrate our commitment to be “People of Action”. Some of the projects will be transforming rooms, but also we will be supporting community events that raise awareness of issues in our community. We are planning to join a Bowl-a thon for the communities Access to Independence, and a walk/ run for Cystic Fibrous as well as the Polio Walk at this year’s District Conference in Oneonta. The Club is deeply involved in the Opioid Addiction Grant that the District has secured this year.
            The total cost of renovations at the Salvation Army topped $12,000 … with $3,300 coming from Rotary, a $7,000 grant from the Wilkins Foundation and the remainder from the Salvation Army.   Volunteer labor allowed more to be accomplished with the funds available. 
            Our Rotary work group included a mix of long time members and new ones … old and young … women and men.  Skilled craftsmen – like veteran member Grant VanSant and recent inductee, Mike Stone, tackled the more complicated tasks: measuring and cutting odd shaped ceiling tile, removing light fixtures, repairing walls in preparation for a fresh coat of paint.  The rest of us took on the less complicated jobs, under Doug and Rebecca’s direction.
            Volunteers who showed up for the initial Saturday workday were rewarded with a steady supply of snacks to keep them going, and a lunch prepared by Center staff.  At the end of the day, the crew left with the sense of satisfaction that comes from rolling up your sleeves and seeing immediate and tangible results from your efforts.  Those able to participate in the additional workdays that followed witnessed even more progress.
            Lt. Rebecca March comments: “We are so over-joyed by the amazing transformation that has taken place in our basement thanks to the support and hard work of Cortland Rotarians. The children are impatient to see the new space that will be dedicated to them, and we too cannot wait to see their faces when they walk in. We have felt for some time that it is important that our kids have an area that they can call their own, and we are so grateful that community collaboration has
allowed this wish to come true.”
            Fundraising is, of course, essential to Rotary’s work.  Money we contributed to this project made it possible to do a first class renovation job rather than a half-baked one.  But getting closer to the organizations we support, by contributing our time and talents, is one of the most gratifying ways we can perform community service.  These events are also opportunities for fellowship – over and above what we share at weekly meetings.  Painting walls and replacing ceiling tile is hard work, but not so demanding or dangerous as to prevent conversations between workers … about a variety of topics: from food to fishing … recipes to RVs … grandkids to gardening … and, of course, Central New York’s predictably unpredictable winter weather.
~Frank Kelly
Rotary Club of Cortland