Service to the communityJan 05, 2015 07:13PM ● By Kerigan Butt
Courtesy photo Scenes from a July 4 celebration. The Rotary has been involved in organizing the event in the past.
(Editor's note: This article first appeared in our Winter 2013 edition.)
By Steven Hoffman
On April 1, 2003 the Hockessin-Pike Creek Rotary, which had gotten its start in 1993, and the Greenville-Centreville Rotary, which was chartered in 1996, agreed to combine their efforts to better serve the communities of Hockessin, Pike Creek, Greenville, and Centreville.
Alice Crayton is the current president of the Hockessin-Greenville Rotary Club. She owns The Station Gallery in Greenville and is typical of members of the Rotary—businesspeople and professionals who want to serve the community.
Crayton said that she thinks it was a good idea for the two Rotary clubs to merge into what is now the Hockessin-Greenville Rotary.
“Ultimately, I think it’s a lot better,” she said. “It’s still not a huge Rotary. We have about 37 members.”
She joined the Rotary about 16 or 17 years ago when Sam Waltz, a public relations professional who had an office next door to The Station Gallery, told her about the good work that the Rotary was doing. Crayton wanted to join and has been involved ever since.
More than 1.2 million people belong to 34,000 Rotary clubs in 162 countries around the world. Rotary clubs are service-driven organizations that provide an outlet for people to contribute to their community.
The top priority of Rotary clubs around the world is to eradicate polio, which requires the immunization of every child under the age of five years old.
“Polio primarily affects children under five,” Crayton said, explaining that there are now only three countries—Nigeria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan—that have pockets of polio outbreaks.
Cindy Gamble also belongs to the Hockessin-Greenville Rotary. The Hockessin resident said that she was involved with a civic organization there and some of the members also served on the Rotary. She became a Rotarian three years ago and now serves as the coordinator for the guest speaker program. In three of the four meetings each month, the Rotary will have a guest speaker who will talk for ten minutes or so about a topic of interest. Gamble said that all the Rotary Club members make recommendations about who the speakers should be.
“There is a wide variety of speakers,” she said. “We try to have a wide variety of speakers because a Rotary will have a wide variety of people in it. We even had Governor Jack Markell come speak. Delaware is a small state, and it’s a tremendous opportunity to have the governor come and speak to this group for 20 minutes about the issues that are affecting the state.”
Gamble said that she enjoys coordinating the guest speaker program, and finds listening to the speakers to be very beneficial.
“Whenever someone comes to speak, everyone learns more about the community,” she explained.
Greenville resident Kelly Gates, a member of the Hockessin-Greenville Rotary for more than ten years, said that being involved in the Rotary is a good way to give back to the community in an organized fashion.
“It’s a really good organization,” Gates said. She explained that fundraisers that the Hockessin-Greenville Rotary helps organize, such as the auto show each June and a 5K run later in the year, are very important because they generate money that can then be used to benefit people in the community in a variety of ways.
Rotarians tend to be supportive of many different endeavors—including some that have a far reach. Some of the Hockessin-Greenville Rotary members, for instance, supported a fundraiser at the University & Whist Club in Wilmington, Del. in November. The fundraiser benefited the Janada F. Batchelor Foundation for Children in Tanzania that was founded and is being run by Gates’ nephew, Christopher Gates.
Gates pointed out that this is one opportunity to help children who are far from the United States and know that the money that is being donated is going to get where it is supposed to go and be used for the intended purpose.
Rotaries have a worldwide reach.
Crayton said that the Hockessin-Greenville participates in Pennies for Polio each October, a program that gets schoolchildren involved in the effort to eradicate polio. Rotaries typically partner with schools in the community to raise money for the cause.
“We do a big push to raise money for that,” Crayton said. “It’s good for our community.”
While most Rotaries help with the goal of eradicating polio, each Rotary club is autonomous and the members determine their own projects based on local needs. Crayton said that the Hockessin-Greenville Rotary has been involved with various initiatives that benefit the local community.
One example is that members of the Hockessin-Greenville Rotary support the Stockings for Soldiers program.
“Each Rotarian will do a stocking and fill it with all kinds of things,” Crayton said.
Rotarians like Gamble can also be found ringing a bell at the Lantana Square Acme to collect funds for the Salvation Army.
Gamble said that it was very interesting to be the one ringing the bell for the Salvation Army collections. She explained that some people find it uncomfortable to pass a Salvation Army collection point without offering a donation, but after she took a turn at the job she understood that there was no need to feel uncomfortable. The bell-ringers just enjoy greeting people and thanking those who do make a donation.
“It’s just nice to say hello and to be out there,” Gamble said.
Members will also volunteer for the Adopt-A-Family program where they shop for a family who can use a helping hand at the holidays.
“I think that it’s important to help others, especially at Christmastime,” Crayton said.
There is also a partnership with the Red Clay School District’s Skyline Middle School where the Rotary sponsors a Student-of-the-Month program for students in grades six, seven, and eight. The students will then come to a Rotary Club meeting to be recognized for their achievements.
“I think it’s an important program,” Crayton said. “It makes the students feel special and gives them a sense of accomplishment.”
Each year, the Hockessin-Greenville Rotary sends out notices to all the schools in the area about two scholarships that the club makes available to students. The scholarships are for $1,000 a year for four years of college.
“Right now, we are restructuring,” Crayton said. “We need to find a good fundraiser to support the scholarship program.”
The Hockessin-Greenville Rotary meets every Tuesday morning at 7 a.m. Gamble said that they always welcome newcomers who want to stop by.
“I think the Rotary is a very valuable cause and we would welcome anyone who would like to join us at one of our meetings,” she said.
To contact Staff Writer Steven Hoffman, email [email protected]
For more information about the Hockessin-Greenville Rotary, visit www.hockessingreenvillerotary.org.