Category Archives: Youth Service

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 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!

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.

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:

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.


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!