Category Archives: Youth Service

Treats in the Streets 2016

A Tradition of Treats

The other day, project chair John Bouyer was asked to complete a survey for the City of Orange, describing our experience as a vendor at the annual “Treats in the Streets” fall event.  So, he did some math and figures that this little Rotary club has participated every year for the last 15 years.

Boy, have things changed!  In the early days, we had a photo booth, complete with a haystack set and our club President dressed as a scarecrow. We’d take a Polaroid, shake it a bit, and then put it in a little paper frame to be sold for a buck or two.  One year, we almost made money at that.

Then digital photography came about and we tried to adapt.  But who needs our photos when everyone has a smart phone?

The last few years we’ve been running carnival games and handing out candy.  (Uh, candy was always part of the deal.)  Ring toss, bean bag toss, goldfish toss…if you can toss it, we will host it.

It’s been fun 15 years and we wonder what the next 15 will bring!


John Boyd Award Caps Banner Year

2016 John Boyd AwardOrange 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.


Quality of Life Award

Orange Plaza Receives Quality of Life Award

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”.

2016 CTP Awards

2016 El Modena Senior Scholarships Awarded

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.

Best Club 2016

The Best Little Club in O.C.

So this happened…

The members of Orange Plaza Rotary attended the Saturday luncheon at the annual Rotary 5320 District Conference and then hung around for District awards afterward.  Oh, how we cheered as our friends in San Clemente Sunrise and Anaheim Hills captured the flag for best project in Community, Youth and International Service!  We patted ourselves on the back when we received a Public Image citation and a well-earned Presidential Citation but, truth be told, we were just a wee bit disappointed.

Yes, our motto is “Service Above Self”, but if we are honest with ourselves, we have a competitive spirit running through our tight-knit group.  We headed out into the afternoon sunshine, vowing to do better next year.

And then the sun went down, and the lights came up, and dinner was served.  We danced, we ate, and we drank.  Just a little.  Not enough to miss our big moment when Governor Padilla announced Orange Plaza Rotary as the best small club in Rotary District 5320!

After the shock  wore off, we got a good night’s sleep.  Now we’re ready to do it all again.

‘Cause yeah, we are a little club, but kind of a big deal.




Youth Services 2016

Youth Services Night – Part Two!

A week after the interesting presentation by our city’s  Police and Fire Explorers, we welcomed four students from El Modena High School who participated this year in our Rotary-sponsored youth programs.

El Modena Interact President Sabrina Tsai, filled us in on the activities of our busy on-campus club.  Interactors volunteered often at the Discovery Center in Santa Ana, assisting with special fun and educational events for children.  The club has also participated in the “Scouting for Food” drive and members even attended the Rotary International Presidential Peace Conference in January.

Sabrina was joined by Marci Sanchez and Karina Zapoteco, who are juniors at El Mo.  Marci and Karina will continue as board members of Interact next year.

We also heard from Bryam Fabela and Anthony Ortiz, students in the Collaborative Technology Program.  They shared their experiences as participants in “Mentor Meals”, our joint project with CTP.  Bryam and Anthony felt that they had received real-world advice that would help them in the future.

Four of these students also attended the Rotary Youth Leadership camp in Idyllwild.  The April weekend was filled with meeting new friends, dancing, singing and poetry.  But the highlight was the day-long “Boojum” ropes challenge course.  Bryam, Anthony, Karina and Marci were happy that they able to challenge themselves while also learning valuable teamwork skills.

This meeting was a highlight of our year–the future is in good hands!

Explorer Night 2016

Exploring a Life of Service

During this month observing Rotary Youth Service programs, we invite participants in our sponsored programs to visit us and share their experiences with us.  We were happy to welcome members of the City of Orange Police and Fire Explorer posts on May 4th, with their advisors–professionals in our City departments.



Change Your Life in Just 3 Days!

By Rae Shirer, PDG

You’ve seen all of the clickbait on the internet:  “10 Things to Do to Change Your Life Forever”, “10 Positive Habits That Could Change Your Life”, “Change Your Brain, Change Your Life”, and thousands more links and websites hawking motivational speakers, books, diet milkshakes and exercise equipment.

But none of it sounds fun!  So let me share with you a Rotary secret that will not only change you but 200 other people too–in only 3 days!

The secret word is “RYLA”.  Wut?  “RYLA”, stands for “Rotary Youth Leadership Awards“, a program that develops self-confidence, teamwork skills and leadership traits in high school students.

Sounds boring?  Stick with me here.  In Rotary District 5320, the RYLA program is a two-and-a-half day adventure in the San Bernardino mountains.  Each spring, Rotary clubs sponsor 180 high school juniors from throughout the District to attend the camp for free. (That’s the “awards” part.)  On Friday afternoon they get to know each other in “families with icebreaker games, group art projects and by creating their own “air guitar” musical number to perform for the rest of the campers.

Some may stay up late in the RYLA study hall, but they might regret that decision on Saturday, when everyone heads out for a full day on the “Boojum” high ropes challenge course.  They, and their adult “parents”, swing from trees, climb rock walls, and solve physical puzzles along the challenge course.  By 4 p.m., parents are tuckered out but campers are still raring to go…

…to the Saturday night dance and bonfire (complete with ‘smores).  No twerkin’ but plenty of fun.

By departure on Sunday, kids who had never met before Friday are saying emotional goodbyes, trading phone numbers and social media, and making summer reunion plans.  In only 3 days, their lives have been changed for the better.

Change your own life in only 3 days–serve as a RYLA volunteer.  It won’t even cost you $29.95 plus shipping and handling.

What the Heck is a Rekenrek?

The rekenrek, or arithmetic rack, supports the natural development of number sense in children. Smaller versions consist of two rows of 10 beads in two colors. Students to make mental images of numbers, using 5 and 10 as anchors for counting, adding and subtracting. On March 23rd, Orange Plaza Rotary assembled 100 rekenrek, one for every kindergarten student at Fletcher Elementary in Orange.

Orange Plaza recently began a partnership with the school to provide supplies, services and programs that aren’t in the school budget.  Miss Carmen, one of the kindergarten teachers at the school, brought the idea to Rotary and participate in assembling the rekenrek.  Local parents joined in as well, with several children assisting.

Peace Month

Our Commitment to Peace

Sixty million people are displaced by armed conflict or persecution, and 90 percent of armed-conflict casualties are civilians, half of them children. Through service projects, fellowships, and other Rotary-sponsored campaigns, members train adults and young leaders to prevent and mediate conflict, and aid refugees who have fled dangerous areas. Members also pursue projects to address the underlying structural causes of conflict, including poverty, inequality, ethnic tension, lack of access to education, and unequal distribution of resources.

Learn more about Rotary’s dedication to peace through service: