Rotary Benefit Fund awards $60,000 in grants to various nonprofits

May 09, 2012
Santa Paula News

Numerous community organizations celebrated their donations from the Santa Paula Rotary Club, which recently parceled out $60,000 raised from the annual Faulkner Farm Pumpkin Patch & Harvest Festival to a variety of area nonprofits.

Rotary President Ken Breitag called the grants “the fruits of the labor we do” toiling each weekend in October at the patch, the most famous in Ventura County.

The $60,000 from the Benefit Fund is just the latest donation: Rotary also contributed $30,000 to organizations that volunteered at the event.

Benefit Fund Committee Chairman Mitch Stone helped hand out the grants to the organizations that had passed the muster of Rotarians involved in the selection process.

Those that received grants ranged from America In Bloom - for new concrete planters to further brighten up Main Street with flowers - to the Santa Paula Historical Society, which will use the grant to help organize and protect archival materials. The Santa Paula Art Museum received funds to create storage and help complete its new monument sign.

The Aviation Museum of Santa Paula will use its grant for educational displays, a gift that brought comment from Bruce Dickenson who accepted the donation. He noted, “We certainly want to express our appreciation... as a volunteer organization ourselves we certainly know these dollars don’t come easy.”

The California Oil Museum donation will provide for a hanging exhibit system, which will save wear and tear to the historic building’s exterior.

“Those of us who have been punctured” by sprung springs “really appreciate this gift,” said Gary Nasalroad of the donation to help offset the cost of new seats at the Santa Paula Theater Center.

Isbell Middle School Marching Band will have new uniforms and instruments, a grant that Santa Paula Elementary School District Superintendent Paul Chounet said “is invaluable,” due to deep cuts to arts programs that so benefit students in all their studies. Blanchard Elementary School also gained funding for chorus risers and cafeteria seating needs.

The Hertel Computer Center at Santa Paula High School - established in memory of the late Wes Hertel, a Rotarian devoted to youth education - benefited with a grant, as did the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clara Valley, which received a grant to help pay for a new van. The Rotary gift, said Club CEO Jan Marholin, provided the match to secure the van “to take more kids more places.”

Kathy Kemp, representing Santa Clara Valley Hospice/Home Support Group, said the donation to the equipment loan program would help the nonprofit fill more needs. In 2009, there were 400 requests to borrow equipment needed by those with life-threatening illnesses, a number, said Kemp, that last year increased to 1,100.

The club, said Stone, “works very hard each year to be able to give away these funds.... This club really demonstrates the Rotary motto of ‘Service Above Self’ by all those hours of schlepping around and working hard at the annual Pumpkin Patch.”

Breitag said the club received 29 grant applications totaling more than $150,000. Although not all grants could be funded, “It was nice to be able to hand out this $60,000 at one crack,” as well as the previous gift of $30,000 to organizations that provided help at the Pumpkin Patch.

Rotarian Ginger Gherardi said the club also awarded three $1,500 grants to organizations that met the benchmark of Executive Committee giving. So the total given to the community resulting from Pumpkin Patch revenue, Gherardi noted, was $94,500.

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