Category Archives: Youth Service

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:

Sabrina at 2016 Peace Conference

2000 Attend Rotary World Peace Conference

Three members of Orange Plaza Rotary and two students from the El Modena High School Interact Club were among the hundreds of attendees at the Rotary Presidential Peace Conference held January 15th and 16th at the Ontario Convention Center.  The Conference was the first of 5 Presidential Conferences to be held this Rotary year, but the only one focusing on peace and conflict resolution.  It was also the only conference to be held in North America.

Organized by the six Rotary Districts of Southern California and Nevada, the event drew high profile speakers, including actress and activist Sharon Stone, who addressed the crowd on Friday afternoon.  Breakout sessions for Rotarians highlighted the many areas where conflict resolution techniques are vitally needed, including schools, businesses and communities around the world.  The sessions were lead by Rotarians and leaders from dozens of nonprofit organizations which partner with Rotary to build peace.

On Saturday, nearly 400 high school students from numerous Rotary-sponsored Interact clubs attended a separate conference focusing on peace and conflict resolution issues in their own lives.  In addition to discussion sessions, Interactors joined together in service, packing more than 17,000 meal packages for the organization Stop Hunger Now.

The Orange Plaza team returned home with new ideas for introducing conflict resolution techniques in our community and local schools.  Both Rotary and Interact look forward to working closely together in the future.


Vocational Service

Sharing Our Skills – Vocational Service Month

In January, Rotarians observe “Vocational Service Month”. Vocational Service is one of the Four Avenues of Service that Rotarians travel, including Community Service, International Service and Club Service. Vocational Service calls on every Rotarian to work with integrity and contribute their expertise to the problems and needs of society. Of course, this object of Rotary applies to every service project, whether at home or internationally.

Learn more in An Introduction to Vocational Service and the Code of Conduct.


Winter Shoes for Kids!

37 children from low-income families in the area of Fletcher Elementary School in Orange received new winter shoes from Orange Plaza Rotary during a December 15th shopping spree.

Rotarians worked with managers and employees of Payless Shoes on North Tustin to greet the families, measure little feet and guide parents to the great selection of athletic and dress shoes.  Each child also received two pairs of socks to keep them warm and dry!

The shoe shopping spree is part of Orange Plaza Rotary’s ongoing partnership with Fletcher School.  Thank you to the folks at Payless Shoe Source for making it happen!

Mentor Meals

Orange Plaza Rotary Seeking Student Mentors

Orange Plaza Rotary is pleased to announce that it will continue the Mentor Meals Plus program at El Modena High School during the 2015-2016 academic year.  The program, now in its third year, partners business and community mentors with students in the Collaborative Technology Program (CTP) at El Modena High School (Orange, CA).

Four meetings (from October, 2015 through March, 2016) will be held at the high school where adult mentors will dine and interact with a group of at-risk high school juniors.

Each evening will have a focus topic (for example, career decisions, service to others, overcoming obstacles, and ethical decision-making) and include a brief guest speaker presentation. Table assignments match a Rotarian mentor, a second volunteer mentor, and six CTP students. Table discussions are encouraged through ice-breakers and talking points.

The first meal of the new year will be held in October.  Business and community leaders in the City of Orange are encouraged to attend the orientation and mentor training on September 23rd at 5:30 p.m. at Marie Callender’s, 307 E. Katella Avenue, Orange, CA.

2015 – 2016 SCHEDULE

  • Mentor Training  –   September 23, 2015
  • Mentor Meal # 1  –  October 21, 2015
  • Mentor Meal # 2  –  November 18, 2015
  • Senior Planning Meal  –  January 20, 2016
  • Mentor Meal # 3  –   February 17, 2016
  • Mentor Meal # 4  –   March 16, 2016
  • Project Debriefing  – TBA

Mentor Meals are held in the library at El Modena High School at 3920 Spring Street from 5:30 to 7:00.

For more information, please contact Rotarian Teri Snyder.

Members of Orange Plaza Rotary with 2015-2016 District Governor Kevin Padilla

A Rededication to Service

Orange Plaza Rotary celebrated another year of service over dinner with family and friends at Orange Hill Restaurant on June 24th. The club, which marked its 30th anniversary in March, completed numerous youth and community service projects during the the 2014-2015 Rotary year.

These projects and more will continue, under the leadership of President Tracey L. Curtis:

  • Mentor Meals – this partnership with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce matches at-risk high school juniors with adult mentors to discuss career and academic issues.  The program will begin its third year at El Modena High School in September.
  • Interact Leadership Program – also at El Modena High School, the Rotary sponsored Interact Club is open to all students on campus. Interact members provide service and support for numerous nonprofit events around the county each year.  Orange Plaza Rotary will expand its efforts with Interact this year, adding a mentoring and leadership skills program for student members.
  • Police Explorer Recognition – Orange Police Explorer Post 266 is a nationally-recognized unit, instilling discipline, self-confidence and leadership skills in its teen members.  Members of the program (a part of the Boy Scouts of America system) often struggle with difficult personal issues including poverty and the threat of homelessness.  Orange Plaza Rotary, in partnership with Orange Rotary and the Rotary Club of Orange North, will offer additional cash scholarships to assist Explorers as they continue in their studies and careers.

These and other service projects are funded by the Annual Orange Plaza Car Show, a premier Southern California event.  The 22nd Orange Plaza Car Show is scheduled for April 17, 2016.

At the club’s June event, Rotary District 5320 Governor Jim Paddock presented member Jack Sappington with a bejeweled pin in honor of Jack’s $5,000 donation to The Rotary Foundation. The Foundation manages donor funds, directing them into projects around the world to improve water and sanitation, basic education and literacy, and economic and community development in third world countries.

Orange Plaza Rotary is a network of neighbors, friends, and community leaders who come together to create positive, lasting change in our communities and around the world.  The club meets Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. at Marie Callender’s, 307 E. Katella Avenue, Orange.  For more information, visit the club website: