The Rotary Club's motto proclaims "Service Above Self" and the Summit County Rotary Club has recently shown what exactly that means. Over the past month, the club has raised $10,200 to benefit victims of Hurricane Sandy.
The entire nation watched as news coverage of the hurricane showed far-reaching devastation. Homes and businesses were destroyed, lives were lost and survivors stranded, sometimes without food and electricity. When the storm ended and assessment of the damage began, members of East Coast Rotary Clubs began reaching out to their fellow members across the nation.
"They wanted to help their communities and had a call to action," said Joni Ellis, current president of the Summit County Rotary Club. "Rotary is the power of many. When someone has a need, we reach out. It's just a big community."
Summit County is part of a Rotary district that includes 67 other clubs, including one from southeast Denver where member Abbas Rajabi became instrumental in circulating the idea for a hurricane relief fundraiser. Rajabi, who has ties to Summit County, hoped each club could raise around $1,500. In the case of Summit, the results were above and beyond.
Once word got out, it quickly spread beyond the Summit Rotary Club's 117 members. Key contributors to the fundraising included Peak One Surgical Center, Vail Summit Orthopedics and the Peter James family.
"One person would tell someone else, and it snowballed. I kept thinking that we were hitting the peak, and then we would get another response," Ellis said. "It's just been absolutely fantastic to know that Summit County is going to be helping other people back in New Jersey and New York."
The money raised by Summit and the other Rotary Clubs will be transferred to various Rotary Clubs based in New York and New Jersey areas that were affected by the hurricane.
"When you consider the total need, that's a small drop in the bucket," said Don Parsons, a Summit County Rotary Club member who helped raise the funds. "The nice thing about this ... [is] going through Rotary in this way, there's no staff, there's no marketing, there's no administrative fees ... It all gets to where it's needed."
"It's another insight into what a giving community we have," Ellis said. "We were very proud as the Rotary Club of Summit County that people entrusted us to get the money to the right spot."
Though it happens to be the holiday season - a traditional time for donations and charitable giving - the driving factor behind the fundraiser was need.
"It's not just a Rotary thing - it's a human thing," Parsons said. "We have to look out for each other."