POTATO SACK RACES at the Rotary Club of Brunswick’s “Fun and Games on the Mall” on July 4. GEORGE MALING / COURTESY OF PHOTO OF SACK RACE BY GEORGE MALING

POTATO SACK RACES at the Rotary Club of Brunswick’s “Fun and Games on the Mall” on July 4. GEORGE MALING / COURTESY OF PHOTO OF SACK RACE BY GEORGE MALING

Why does philanthropy and community service in particular “ feel so good?”

Books extol the virtues of philanthropy with titles like “Philanthropy in America,” “Give Smart: Philanthropy that Gets Results,” or “ Charity and Philanthropy for Dummies.” This past December, Americans responded to “Giving Tuesday” with more than $1 billion in donations. Podcasts, op-eds, scholarly articles and studies have examined every aspect of the art of giving.

The Rotary Club has been “feeling good about doing good” since it was founded in 1905 and now extends to over 1.2 million people in more than 200 countries. Rotary has tackled the big problems like promoting peace, fighting disease, potable water, child and maternal health, education, and growing local economies. But it is the local Rotary Clubs giving service in their communities that brings immediate satisfaction through close contact from the “ giver to the receiver.”

For example, year after year, Rotarians gather at the Brunswick Mall to offer “Fun and Games on the Mall” to celebrate the 4th of July. Every year, Rotary club members talk about who has more fun, the kids or the adults. A month earlier, Rotary members join with several other local organizations to volunteer their time and financial resources to the “Bike Rodeo and Family Safety Day.” The feedback is immediate and positive. The smiles of the children and the adults fill our hearts with the warmth of giving. Financial contributions as well as the gift of time make these two community service events very rewarding.

 

 

The Brunswick Rotary Club joins the Brunswick Coastal Rotary Club to reap the rewards of listening to 1st and 2nd graders read out loud to them at the Coffin Elementary School. This program runs from September through the end of the school year and is enjoyed by students and volunteers. Brunswick Rotarians offer service to Midcoast Hunger Prevention Project’s Harpswell Food Bank. Once a month, Rotarians gather behind the Harpswell Town Hall to distribute food to needy families. The food comes by truck from Good Shepherd Food Bank, and the Rotarians open boxes and line up the goods before distributing them to the 60-100 families who need food.

Every Spring, Rotary offers scholarships to Rotary Youth Leadership Awards for high school juniors. The teens who attend the camp in Raymond, called Camp Hines, find it transformative.

In a thank you letter to the club, one student wrote: “ It truly was a life changing experience that completely shifted my prospective of how to best lead a diverse group of people.”

Local Rotarians look forward to hearing from students who receive scholarships for post- secondary training. Brunswick Rotary has chosen to support the students who attend the Region 10 Vocational High School with their chosen field of study.

Clubs in Southern Maine and parts of New Hampshire belong to Rotary District 7780. Every year, the District offers funding opportunities for projects which are either local or international but are smaller in amount than the Global Grants. District Grant applications are reviewed by a District committee during the month of June. The

Rotary Club of Brunswick recently received the good news that their application for funding for computers for the Teen

Center at People Plus was approved and fully funded. One of the stipulations for approval of a District Grant is the participation of Rotarians in the project. Club members look forward to a two-sided mentoring process around the use of the computers.

Philanthropy has no borders and the Brunswick Rotary has proudly participated in three Global Grants to improve the health of school-aged children in Lusaka, Zambia. Lonnie Hackett, Bowdoin ’ 14, founded “ Healthy Kids/Brighter Future” after his summer trip to Zambia in order to mentor students in Math and English. Lonnie found the children in need of life-saving health initiatives. Global Grants must exceed $30,000 and our local Rotarians took the challenge and raised the $10,000 from clubs throughout the District.

The District and The International Rotary Foundation provided the remainder of the funding. In the last four years, the health of thousands of children has been improved. Also, the Brunswick Rotary raised funds to support Lonnie Hackett as a Rotary Global Scholar. He is currently finishing his degree in Public Health at Cambridge University in Great Britain. Learn more at healthykidsbrighterfuture.org.

Whether it is a new bike helmet or a medal for winning a sack race, the Rotarians in Brunswick take pride in their contributions in the immediate community and beyond. Community members who are interested in joining this philanthropic service organization, can attend a meeting or join in on a service project. Check us out at brunswickmainerotary.org or brunswickmainerotary on Facebook.

Claudia Frost is president of the Rotary Club of Brunswick.

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