Our city has a secret. Hiding behind the small town appeal is the fact that Orange is the second largest city in the county! WIth a diverse population and city boundaries that include homeless camps along the Santa Ana River and vast wilderness areas, law enforcement and fire personnel are challenged to provide top-notch services every day.
We are so fortunate to have professional, dedicated fire and police departments in our city. To recognize that Orange Plaza Rotary was pleased to join, once again, with the Rotary Clubs of Orange and Orange North to present the 43rd Annual Police and Fire Awards on April 13th. We are so proud of our “papa club”, Orange, for establishing and maintaining this tradition!
In addition to honoring the uniformed professionals, the annual awards recognize non-uniformed staff and civilian volunteers. But what is truly close to our heart here at Orange Plaza Rotary is the investment in our youth–Orange Police Explorer Post 266 and Orange Fire Explorer Post 547. These programs, co-sponsored by the Boy Scouts of America, provide real-world experience and training to high school youth interest in a life of service.
With the leadership of Orange Plaza Rotarian Teri Snyder, the 3 Rotary Clubs of Orange have expanded the scholarship programs and increased amounts granted to Explorers to continue their public service studies. Orange Plaza Rotary is especially grateful to Post 266 for their hard work every year at the Orange Plaza Car Show. Our donation of $500 is earmarked to offset the expenses of students who might not otherwise be able to afford to participate in the program. We presented this check on July 12th, after a special presentation by two members of Post 266.
For more information about the terrific Explorer programs in Orange, visit the City of Orange website and Police Explorer Post 266.
We gave it our best, we really did. We all headed over to “Fox in a Box” for a fun morning of team building and adventure.
Half of us tried to escape from “the Bunker”, a Cold-War era room where we raced the clock to save the world from nuclear destruction. Alas, that team went kaboom.
Our second team attempted to escape a dark bank vault. The only light available to assess the clues were headlights strapped to their, uh, heads. Sadly, this team ran out of time as well.
Not all was lost, as we gathered for pasta and other goodies at the Spaghetti Factory at the Fullerton Depot. We relived our adventures and laughed a lot.
Thank you to member Sonal for putting this together. We’re ready to do it again!
Orange Plaza Rotary purchased 854 Scholastic books to donate to preschool children enrolled in the Orange Children and Parents Together (OCPT) program at the Handy Child Development Center. OCPT is a local nonprofit focused on early childhood education. OCPT strives to prepare the most vulnerable children in the community for success when they start school. Orange Plaza Rotary members attended the preschool’s Reach Out and Read graduation and helped distribute the books to 448 children. Each child also received a backpack from the Orange Assistance League.
As our Mentor Meals program at El Modena High School concludes year 4, we are so proud of the students we have met along the way. This year, we expanded the program to include small scholarships to two graduating seniors in the program.
Maria Paez Lopez plans to attend Santiago Canyon College before transferring to a four-year university to complete a nursing degree. While at El Modena, Maria served as President of “Pay It Forward”, a club performing random acts of kindness, volunteered at her church and interned at McPherson CARES, mentoring younger students. Maria also used her science skills to assist in a STEM class at Esplanade Elementary.
Maria credits the Collaborative Technology Program and Mentor Meals with developing her self confidence and building leadership skills. We know Maria will achieve her goals!
Bryam Fabela plans to attend Santa Ana College in the fall with the goal of pursuing a career in dentistry. Bryam says:
I have always believed that a smile means a lot because for me it is a sign of gratitude and happiness.
His volunteer activities include working in the El Modena booth at the Orange International Street Fair, assisting with the Spring and Fall Festivals at Prospect Elementary, reading to children in the YMCA after school program.school program and maintaining the on-campus Nature Center. Bryam also participated in the annual food packaging event hosted by Orange Plaza Rotary.
Byram’s time in the program inspired his love for community service. He plans to become a dentist as a career so that he may also volunteer and donate his services in missions to help people in developing countries. Go Byram!
Orange Plaza Rotary joined together with the organization Threads of Love for a service project making “Lovie Dolls” for babies in natal intensive care. Threads of Love makes and delivers gowns and dolls to 16 Orange County hospitals.
Lovie Dolls are soft and made of fabric. Mom places a completed doll on her own chest, between her breasts so that the doll picks up mama’s scent. When the doll is then placed in bed with the infant, the child is comforted by the doll and the scent.
Our club was very excited to help out with this project, with men, women and children helping to cut and assemble.
Matt Barba’s boss calls him “Mr. Fixit”. If it’s broken, he will fix it. So it was no surprise to his co-workers that Matt spent a lot of his free time over the last 19 years carefully restoring a 1960 Chevrolet Hardtop.
Although he spent years locating the right vintage parts, Matt added enough personal touches that, when it came time to enter his first car show, he decided to enter the Chevy in the “Best Modified ’58 – 66″ class. There’s tough competition in that class at the Orange Plaza Car Show, and Matt faced competition from 22 other terrific autos at the April 9th event.
Matt’s two-decade effort paid off, as he beat out everyone to capture Best of Show! His boss was proud, his co-workers were proud and everyone gave him a big hand when they gathered again the following Thursday. But this time, the boss was talking up his other achievements. You see, Matt’s co-workers voted him “Orange Firefighter of the Year”, an honor he collected at the 43rd Annual Police and Fire Awards co-sponsored by the three Rotary Clubs of Orange. Seems that Matt might not have had a lot of free time to build that car, in between going to school and working as a paramedic, a fire/arson investigator, and as advisor to the Fire Explorer post.
Congrats Matt, on your best week ever!
Orange Plaza Rotary members Kristen and Rae were happy to join more than 80 volunteers from the Rotary Clubs of San Juan Capistrano, Anaheim, Irvine, Santa Ana, Tustin-Santa Ana, Placentia and Yorba Linda Sunrise to build two homes in an area just outside the city of Tecate. With slabs and septic systems already in place, the teams quickly built the 16 x 20 wood frame homes, presenting keys to the house and other gifts to 2 worthy families at the end of the day.
Rotary Clubs partner regularly with Corazon, a locally-based nonprofit that works with impoverished communities in Baja California. In addition to the construction program, Corazon provides vocational training and literacy education in Tijuana and Tecate.
We will be doing it again–contact us for more info!
Orange Plaza Rotary member Kristen Davis traveled to Caborca, Mexico with a group of Rotarians to assist with polio vaccinations in the poor villages surrounding Caborca.
Kristen writes: “Rotary is not only about volunteer service in our local communities, but it’s also about giving back to those in need around the world. This weekend in Mexico has made a huge impact in Kristen’s life… it’s eye opening to see the conditions these families are in but it’s also very special to see how happy these people are and how appreciative they are to see us helping them keep their children healthy. Another special thing about trips like this is the fellowship that is created between all the Rotarians. The Caborca Rotarians opened their clubhouse with open arms to the group of Americans from California, Arizona, Louisiana, Alabama, and Arkansas and the group from Canada. So many friendships and connections were formed this weekend all because of our common interest in making this world a better place!”
In 2013, Orange Plaza Rotary was proud to sponsor one of the first Global Grant Scholars funded by Rotary District 5320 and The Rotary Foundation. Joseph Flores studied in Sussex, England, increasing his knowledge in the area of economic and community development.
Recently, Joseph wrote to us with an update and a proposal to work with Rotary clubs in Guatemala, where he currently working for Pomona Impact. More about Joseph from their website:
Joseph is an investment and development professional who possess a diversity of experience and is currently a Frontier Market Scouts (FMS) Fellow with Pomona Impact. He previously spent many years managing fixed-income assets for institutional clients and high-net-worth individuals. He subsequently served with the Peace Corps in the Republic of Macedonia in an international development capacity, and his work focused on community and business development. Joseph holds a Master of Arts in Globalisation and Development from the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) at the University of Sussex, Brighton, UK, and was a Rotary Foundation Global Grant Scholar. He received professional certification in Impact Investing and Social Enterprise Management from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (MIIS).
We are so happy to see Joseph continue to Do Good in the World! To learn how you can support the Global Grant Scholar program, visit Rotary.org.
Orange Plaza Rotary was grateful to see so many volunteers at our second annual food packaging event. Working with “Kids Around the World“, we packed 14,040 dehydrated meals for shipment to hungry families. Our volunteers included friends, neighbors, our own children and 40 students from El Modena High School. Many of these students are participants in our “Mentor Meals” program, now in its fourth year.
The project was partially funded by a $1,500 District Grant made possible by donations to The Rotary Foundation Annual Fund.
An awesome day of service!