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.
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!
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 has a history of seeking out senior or physically disabled citizens and then doing a little fixin’ around the house. We have built custom wheelchair ramps, cleared brush and revitalized landscape, repaired floors and plumbing, and even gave one home an entire spring cleaning.
Our October 1st project at Park Royale combined all of our talents and interests. For this senior resident, we tore down and repaired the rickety stairs, adding fresh indoor/outdoor carpeting to the treads. The team also cleaned up all areas around the mobile home, trimming palm trees and pulling weeds. The project was spearheaded by Community Service Chair Jason Curtis and we were joined by Past District Governor Kevin Padilla and his wife Lorraine, who is a member of the Rotary eClub of the West.
A rewarding project!
The ladies of Orange Plaza Rotary filled one of 18 sold out tables at the 3rd Annual Fall Fling, benefiting the work programs of Elwyn California. Elwyn provides vocational training and job placement for persons with disabilities.
The Rotary Club of Orange Plaza has been a longtime supporter of Elwyn, participating annually the Elwyn Bowl-a-Thon fundraiser. That event is now retired, but the “Fall Fling” is a rapidly growing and hilarious event that will add fun and funds to Elwyn’s programs.
In addition to sponsoring a table at the event, Orange Plaza Rotarians provided two gift baskets for sale in the silent auction. And our resident theatrical ham, PDG Rae, served as one of the “models” in the “Backstage to Broadway” event, strutting around the room to the Chicago tune, “All That Jazz”.
Save the date for next year’s event (September 23, 2017) when Elwyn’s cast will be Rockin’ the 50s!
Orange Plaza Rotary recently approved a full slate of service projects for the 2016-2017 Rotary year, including two projects aimed at improving basic literacy in our community. “Read to Me” is a returning project proposed by member Teri Snyder. Club members and volunteers will assemble packages with new books, literacy resources and a “Read to Me” onesie for distribution to families of babies born in our local hospitals.
Plans are also underway to establish a “Little Free Library” program in Orange. At the suggestion of Immediate Past President Tracey Curtis, the club will build and distribute small birdhouse-like libraries to volunteer stewards in our neighborhoods. We are excited to add this new project!
We are also looking forward to joining students in our Mentor Meals Program for another morning of volunteering at ThinkTogether, cleaning donated, gently used books for distribution to local schoolchildren.
We love doing good. Do you? Join us!
“Basic Education and Literacy” is one of the six “Areas of Focus” of The Rotary Foundation, which celebrates its centennial year in 2016. Learn more at Rotary.org.
Orange Plaza Rotary received numerous honors for its work during the 2015-2016 Rotary year. The club was recognized for its activity in all areas of Rotary service, including its international service project partnering with the nonprofit organization “Stop Hunger Now”. For its efforts in organizing a food packaging event that sent more than 40,000 meal servings to Vietnam and the Philippines, Orange Plaza Rotary was honored with the “John Boyd International Service Award” presented by fellow Rotarians of the Rotary Club of Brea on July 11th.
The Rotary Club of Orange Plaza Rotary was recently named “Best Small Club” among the 45 Rotary clubs in District 5320, which includes all of Orange County and parts of southern Los Angeles county. The “Best Club” banner was awarded at the May 2016 District Conference in Newport Beach by then-Governor Kevin Padilla of Placentia.
On behalf of Rotary International President Ravi Ravindran, Governor Padilla also presented the prestigious “Presidential Citation” to Orange Plaza for the Rotary year ending on June 30th. In making the award, Rotary International noted the participation of more than 75% of Orange Plaza members in “hands-on” projects in the community, praised the group’s sponsorship of a student service organization (El Modena High School Interact) and thanked the club for its financial support of The Rotary Foundation, the charitable arm of Rotary International.
Orange Plaza Rotary (widely known as the organizers of the Annual Orange Plaza Car Show) also received the “Quality of Life” Award from the Orange Chamber of Commerce on June 16th. The award, shared with two other Rotary clubs in the city, recognized the club for outstanding service by a nonprofit organization. OPR’s local service projects include quarterly food drives for homeless veterans, design and installation of custom wheelchair ramps for the disabled, and guiding high school students through the signature project, “Mentor Meals”.
The Rotary Club of Orange Plaza plans another busy year of service in the next twelve months, expanding successful programs and adding new community-based projects in the City of Orange.
Orange Plaza Rotary (widely known as the organizers of the Annual Orange Plaza Car Show) received the “Quality of Life” Award from the Orange Chamber of Commerce on June 16th. The award, shared with two other Rotary clubs in the city, recognized the club for outstanding service by a nonprofit organization. Orange Plaza’s local service projects include quarterly food drives for homeless veterans, design and installation of custom wheelchair ramps for the disabled, and guiding high school students through the signature project, “Mentor Meals”.
Orange Plaza Rotary provided two $500 scholarships to students graduating from the Collaborative Technology Program at El Modena High School. The students were active in the Mentor Meals program co-hosted by Orange Plaza Rotary, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and El Modena Alumni. Congratulations to Odaliz Gonzalez and Velta Mansfield. They will be continuing school at Santiago Canyon College in the fall. Great Job!
The club also presented a $1,000 Scholarship to Sabrina Tsai, the outgoing President of the Interact Club at El Modena, sponsored by Orange Plaza Rotary Club. Sabrina worked tirelessly this past year with our club doing many volunteering functions. A well deserved winner. Sabrina also received a sizable scholarship from the U.S. Marine Corp. Sabrina will be continuing her education at SD State, in San Diego. She makes our club proud.