Posted by Candyce Pardee
How has the Sierra Vista Rotary Club managed during the first 6 months of the 2020-2021 Rotary Year?  By continuing service!  Read a summary of the various projects carried out by the members of the Sierra Vista Rotary Club since July...and the plans for the second half of the year under quarantine!
Despite logistical and financial setbacks brought about by COVID-19, the Sierra Vista Rotary Club has had a busy six months of service.  December 14 capped  the first six months of giving with donations to Toys for Tots.  The toys donated by members of the Club were supplemented by the toys collected from the Sierra Vista Rotary Evening Satellite Club and from $500.00 worth of toys donated by Grasshopper Landscaping.  When Darrel Claunch of the Thunder Mountain Detachment 1283 Marine Corps League showed up to collect the toys, he was given a resounding round of applause before a parade of members and guest of the Club assisted him in carrying all the donated toys to his truck.
            Earlier, Vice-President Fred Shirley organized volunteers to ring the bell for the Salvation Army at Wal-Mart on Monday, Nov. 30 and again on December 12.  All shifts were covered at both door locations thanks to Shirley’s organizational skills, saving the Salvation Army from having to pay for bell ringers while also assisting in raising “red kettle” funds.  The Club and the Satellite have also committed to providing Handbags for Hope to the Salvation Army and the Forgach House.  Handbags for Hope are gently used handbags that are filled with things like a toothbrush, toothpaste, and other toiletries that individuals fleeing from a domestic violence situation may need after leaving everything behind.
            The Club also entered a tree into the Festival of Trees on behalf of all the Rotary Clubs in Sierra Vista.  The tree, entitled  “A World of Peace; A World Free of Polio,” celebrated two of Rotary’s areas of service—peace and health.  It included ornaments handmade by Nancy Fusco and Candy Pardee of the Sierra Vista Club and Anita Farrow, president of the Sierra Vista West Club, showcasing individuals distributing polio vaccine to children.  The tree sold for $125.00 aiding the Sierra Vista Chamber of Commerce’s selected beneficiary, the Cochise Family Advocacy Center - Lori's Place.  Advocacy for women and children is a third Rotary area of service.
            Then, for the heck of it, the Club also participated with Tandem Upscale Restaurant and Lounge in creating a light display for the City’s Festival of Lights.  The light display put together by Rebekah Tilley and a group of her youngsters and their friends features a little train that could.  For those who recall Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam’s song—it is a Peace Train.
            In November, Club members generously donated food items and cash to four local food pantries:  Peach’s Pantry, the Salvation Army, St. Vincent de Paul, and the Sierra Vista Methodist Church.  Chair Veronica Ochoa distributed a share of the donated food and $150.00 to each food pantry along with an additional $100.00 to the Salvation Army  donated by Tony Waalkins.
            The Sierra Vista Rotary joined with the Boys & Girls Club of Sierra Vista in refurbishing the events room at the Club.  Dallen Haws, Community Chair, worked with Les Orchekowsky as the Project Manager to secure a grant, devise a plan and to round up club members to carry out the project over two weekends.  Orchekowsky directed the volunteer crew throughout.  A full day of hard work for members and staff alike resulted in removing the old carpeting.  Fire was involved, but eventually a come-along attached to the back of Joe Puett’s 4-wheel drive managed to get the job done.  Other days’ work included replacing damaged ceiling tiles, painting over the old dark orange and purple colors with lighter blue and cream, installing a new curtain hanging system for the stage and hanging the new blackout curtains sewn by K. J. Wigton in the windows.
The Sierra Vista Rotary Club, using the Rotary District 5500 grant and a grant by the Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Co-op, secured the expertise of a local electrical contractor to replace the old florescent lights in the room with a better, brighter, and more energy saving lighting system.  The stage lights were also rewired to allow for access to the lights from ground level.  The Rotary Club also hired local professionals to tile the majority of the floor in the room and to re-carpet the stage.   Finally, one old pool table and the bumper pool table benefitted from receiving new felt, replacing the duct taped surfaces.  The completed renovation was dedicated on November 7th.
In August, the Club joined with the rest of Sierra Vista in contributing to the Back-to-School Drive hosted by the Sierra Vista Herald.  Donations by members were made in lieu of “Happy Bucks” and, added to proceeds from weekly half and half drawings, the Club was able to donate $1,475.00 to the drive.  The Sierra Vista Rotary Club also assisted the Sierra Vista West Club in its project of providing new backpacks to the girls from St. Mary’s Mission.
July, of course, found COVID-19 preventing the 4th of July festivities being held in Veteran’s Memorial Park.  The Sierra Vista Rotary Club, unwilling to break a 50+ year tradition of providing fireworks to the Sierra Vista community, carried on the only way it could.  4th of July chair Randy fireworks portion of the 4th of July was delivered in an aerial display so that people could view the fireworks from their own yards, rooftops or vehicles.  In addition, the fireworks show was live streamed for those who preferred to stay home and watch on TV or on their computers.
The Sierra Vista Rotary Club is looking forward to additional opportunities to serve both in the local community and internationally by providing local high school students with Rotary Youth Leadership Academy in January, scholarships to Buena and Cochise College students, assisting the Agua Prieta Rotary Club in providing a bus stop for students, installation of a “Peace Pole”, and, if possible, supporting other local nonprofits with grants.