By Alanna Shepard

This holiday season, the Rotary Club of Santa Monica is focused on giving back to the community. With grants, donations and volunteer hours, the Rotarians are committed to making this community the best it can be.

The Rotary Club of Santa Monica provides grants for numerous organizations around the greater Santa Monica area, and this year’s total adds up to over $20,000! Here are some of the organizations that received grants from the Santa Monica Rotary Club: Elemental Music, a Global Peace Grant, John Adams Middle School, the Coalition for Engaged Education, the Santa Monica Chamber Foundation to purchase new office furniture and equipment, Pico Youth and Family Center to purchase film equipment to expand their documentary film program, the Santa Monica Education Foundation, SMMUSD to replace books at the John Muir/SMASH library that had been destroyed by vandalism last Spring and to WISE & Healthy Aging for the purchase of patio furniture.

The Santa Monica Rotarians also organize and participate in numerous charity events. Recently, members of the Santa Monica Rotary Club fed the police on Thanksgiving, organized their annual blood drive in collaboration with the Red Cross, hosted a toy drive and later helped wrap and distribute gifts for families who are clients of the Connections for Children program and they could also be seen ringing the bell on Red Kettle Day to benefit the Salvation Army. Coming up, Rotarians will be volunteering at One Voice Food Packing, a program that provides food baskets, toys and books to 2,500 families (12,500 people) living in poverty in the Los Angeles area and sorting food at the Westside Food Bank.

In Rotary news, The Club recently elected their board for the coming year. The new board will be sworn in June 2020. The newly elected board members are: President: Lisa Alexander; Vice-Presidents: Nora Bohn, Tammy Andrews; Treasurer: Grace Cheng Braun; Secretary: Brian Linnekens; 2-year Directors: Timur Berberoglu, Bill Chillingworth; 1-years Director: Mike Cates, Kera Snell, Sara Colon and (holdover) Vicky Curtis. President-Elect: Bill Powell. Congratulations!

Members have also enjoyed presentations from interesting speakers and prominent members of the community. They learned about the difficulties veterans face transitioning back into society after experiencing the horrors of war and how important it is for everyone to support them from Shad Meshad and the “Battle Coming Home for Today’s Vets”. It was a fun day during the traditional UCLA/USC Rivalry week meeting, the Rotarians were joined by Pete Arbogast (the voice of USC) and Geof Strand (UCLA alumni cheerleader). Both men gave fun and interesting talks. Beth Pratt (the Executive Director of the National Wildlife Federation’s California Regional Center) gave an interesting and informative presentation about “How a Lonely LA Cougar Changed Conservation”. She spoke about the P22 cougar and described plans by transportation officials and conservationists to build a wildlife crossing over the 101 freeway that will provide big cats, coyotes, deer, lizards, snakes and other creatures a safe route to open space and better access to food and potential mates.

Make sure to look for more fun and exciting news about the Rotary Club of Santa Monica in the new year! Wishing everyone a joyous holiday season and a happy, prosperous 2020!

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