Rotary Cares About Washington County Residents

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Tualatin Rotary President Kirstin Lauritzen hands $10,000 check to Tracy Smith (left) of Tualatin School House Pantry to help fund the dental van and food pantry. Also present: Tualatin Rotarians Norb Murray and Gian Luca Gamberini.

The Tualatin Rotary Club has been committed to the advancement of local residents for the last thirty-five years.  In 2020, COVID-19 tried to derail the club’s focus. Members were unable to attend weekly in-person meetings.  Plans for fundraising events were cancelled. Tualatin High School students who were on Rotary funded youth exchange programs were called home. Rotary college scholars transformed into online students.  Monthly dental vans were forced to cancel appointments while decisions were made about medical safety during a pandemic. Summer free book deliveries for school students were put on hold. A mentorship program for Hazelbrook eighth-graders underwent an online as opposed to an in-person adjustment. It seemed that all the good that the Rotary Club had sponsored was in jeopardy. 

As a true non-profit, the membership needed to amass funds to support its charitable work. Without a community event to involve additional financial supporters, the club members dug deep and opened their own hearts and wallets to fund the most critical projects. At a time when need became greater than hope, the Washington County Cares Nonprofit Emergency Assistance grant became available. In coordination with the Oregon Community Foundation, funds were set aside for nonprofit organizations to continue their work and replace missing income. The competitive grant would fund up to 1,000 service groups in Washington County. 

TTSD Intercambio Program Director Chris Lieuallen (left) receives a check from Jeff Welsh with Tualatin Rotary. TuHS student mentor also present.

The Rotary Club formed a committee under the direction of Jeff Welsh. They worked diligently to file the application and prioritize the needed funding. The Tualatin Rotary Club is versed in funding grants for others. Asking for one was a new experience. The timeline for the grant application was limited and sheer determination was needed to get the job done. Weeks passed and then hope was restored. The Rotary request was granted and the residents of Tualatin would receive necessary support. 

The dental van at the Tualatin Food Pantry resumed operation and the Rotary funds were presented amid happy fanfare. During each visit, ten to fifteen local residents are able to access free dental care. For some, the meeting of this basic health need is the difference between the ability to work or the descent into poverty. 

The Rotary Club provides scholarships to first-generation college students from Tualatin High School. The CARES grant helped provide tuition payments for five students. Our community’s future teachers, lawyers, doctors and social workers had no interruption to their educational pursuits.  Their online and hopefully in-person learning is funded and will support their dreams. 

Boxes are filled with new and popular book titles for Tualatin book deliveries.

Over 1,000 new books were ordered for Books on Wheels deliveries. More than one hundred holiday books were delivered by kindergarten teachers in December. Young students who have not been able to borrow books from the city library now have book ownership in their homes. Plans are underway to add additional book deliveries before summer. The new titles that were purchased are in high demand for our newest Tualatin readers. 

The CARES grant produced smiles for students at Hazelbrook Middle School. The InterCambio academic mentoring program has made adjustments and will still work to ensure that all eighth-graders will be ready for the challenges of high school. As soon as in-person schooling begins again, the high school mentors and the middle school “mentees” will joyfully meet to ensure success. 

COVID-19 is a mighty adversary. It has attacked the health and economic welfare of the entire planet. COVID had the opportunity to negatively affect the community service that Rotary has worked so hard to build. Thanks to innovation, determination and a very timely grant, the Tualatin  Rotary Club can still serve this community with joy and necessary funds.  

If you would like to learn more about The Tualatin Rotary visit www.tualatinrotary.org. New members and supporters are always welcome.