Once described as the “heartbeat of Rotary,” Community Service is a multi-pronged effort to improve the quality of life within Long Beach. Rotarians have long been making substantial and lasting contributions to their communities. To a large extent, Rotary’s reputation is built on the Community Service projects undertaken by Rotarians.
Long Beach Rotarians get into the community spirit with participation in the annual Belmont Shore Christmas Parade. Rotarians walk the parade route, provide special holiday music with a live band, and remind the community that Rotary is about Service – with a focus on literacy as exemplified by Dr. Seuss’ Cat in The Hat.
To celebrate its centennial in 2017, the Rotary Club of Long Beach chose to leave a Centennial Legacy Gift to the new downtown Long Beach Public Library. RCLB raised over $300,000 to fund two rooms and book shelves in the library that opened in September 2019 – the Storytime Theatre and the adjoining Early Childhood Literacy Area. Like so many Rotary Clubs, early childhood literacy is a main club focus. Over $735,000 has been raised in the past 20 years for our Reading by 9 program to purchase books for LB Unified School District elementary school libraries and classrooms. Supporting the City of Long Beach’s new main library was a natural and unanimous choice of the club when it came to deciding on its centennial project. The club recently held its weekly lunch program at the new library and many members had a chance to take a first-hand tour of the rooms where so many young children are enjoying the interactive, educational activities, and selecting books to check out.
More than 25% of students attending Long Beach City (LBCC) and California State University at Long Beach (CSULB) are food insecure. Our Long Beach Rotary Scholarship Foundation provides approximately $325,000 in scholarship funding every year. While students may receive financial aid, some students may not be able to afford regular, nourishing meals. For our special 2019 Community Service project, the Rotary Club of Long Beach, with the help of a matching grant from Rotary District 5320, organized a food assembly and distribution project event. The goal was to assemble 4,500 meals, high in protein, “to go” foods that only require access to water and sometimes a campus microwave. Long Beach Rotarians invited family members, friends, neighbors and students–and together the 95 people packaged everything in drawstring backpacks in 2-1/2 hours. Host St. Cornelius School not only provided the facility, but several of their students volunteered to help assemble. A two-sided bookmark was included in each backpack to encourage students in their efforts to pursue higher education. Unlike previous meal packing service projects, RCLB chose to shop, purchase, and assemble the food and backpacks ourselves so that we could guarantee delivery to our own community college students (instead of sending the meal packages to another state or country). Long Beach Rotarians will also be organizing a food drive to collect more non-perishable items to add to the local college campus food pantries for students.
This program matches Rotarians with families needing a great deal of financial assistance in celebrating the holidays. Families with barely the ability to clothe and feed their children, would go without gifts at Christmas if it were not for the generosity of Rotarians and their families. There is also tremendous assistance with shopping, wrapping, and delivery of gifts by our Interact and Rotaract clubs.
Since 1999, Long Beach Rotary raised more than $735,000 from club members, placing more than 265,000 books in Long Beach Unified School District and preschool programs. In addition, our Literacy Committee solicits and awards special teacher grants for original reading-related projects submitted by grades K-3 teachers. Grants are also awarded for innovative literacy-related projects to local non-profit organizations.
Long Beach Rotarians volunteer at Ronald McDonald House numerous times throughout the year to prepare meals for families with sick and injured children.
In 2005, to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the founding of Rotary International, Long Beach Rotary partnered with the City of Long Beach to create a beautiful five acre park in a densely populated part of the city. The land was provided by the City on a strip of weed-choked, trash-filled, former Pacific Electric Railway right-of-way. Now a beautiful park filled with grass, trees, picnic pavilion, and play structures – including an educational art installation representing our solar system – Rotarians continue to keep a watchful eye and provide a monthly fellowship and cleanup of what we regard as “our” park.
In response to urgent medical community needs for personal protection (PPE), the Rotary Club of Long Beach partnered with Rotary District 5320 to purchase, assemble, and distribute medically approved face shields. Over 45 LB Rotarians and friends assembled face shields over several sessions at various sites in Southern California.
Club members donated $7,444 to purchase 3,722 face shields to be distributed to Long Beach organizations to provide frontline COVID-19 workers with much needed protection equipment.