The following article is the full text of a submission to the district newsletter about our Club's International Project.
"Take The Lead" World Community Service Project
By Linda Vomaske
The Foothills Rotary Club of Fort Collins is celebrating 30 years of its existence in 2007 and is excited about what it has embarked on doing internationally to honor those 30 years of service to the community. For many years, the club has been trying to determine what it might be able to accomplish in the area of World Community Service and a few attempts were made but none with any long lasting success.
In late 2006 the committee reviewed over 60 opportunities on the Rotary International list, trying to find an international partner to work collaboratively on a community service project in their area. Eventually, due to the prior contacts of two committee members (Artie Bavoso and Ron Rockvam) in Mexico, a match was found in the Playa Del Carmen Rotary Club in the state of Quintana Roo. Specifically, the collaboration between the clubs will center on the Escuela Otuch Paal Montessori in the pueblo of Akumal, Mexico, a community about 30 minutes south of Playa Del Carmen.
This is a three-phase project, over three years. Phase I concentrated on providing school supplies for the school. The next two phases will work on improving the existing school structures and then constructing additional buildings in order to serve more children. Phase II consists of renovating one of two existing classrooms and constructing a third new classroom, a kiosk for training, meals and recreation, and a secure perimeter fence. Work could begin on this phase in late 2007. Completion of a fourth new classroom and an entrance and reception area would occur in Phase III.
Currently the school serves about 30 children, and the plan is to eventually expand the capacity to service 100. The students enrolled in the school come from the families who live in the pueblo and work in the resort areas up and down the coast. The Montessori concept is new to this part of Mexico, and it is a way for parents to become more involved in the education of their children as well as providing a viable child care solution for them. The parents pay what they can afford as long as they are willing to become involved voluntarily in some way at the school.
Early estimates are that $60,000 will be needed to satisfactorily complete the building project, as intended, with $30,000 coming from the Foothills Rotary Club and $30,000 being supplied (in either cash or in-kind assistance) from the Playa Del Carmen Rotary Club.
The Foothills Club kicked off its fundraising campaign in December of 2006 with a "giving tree" concept for the school supplies. Almost $1,500 was collected from the 102 members and these funds were sent to the Playa Del Carmen Rotary Club in two installments for the purchase of school supplies.
During the first three months of 2007, the campaign set some higher sights and focused on a "student sponsorship" theme. Using the cost estimates to-date, the building project will cost about $600 for each student to be served. An appeal was made to the club members, and as of this writing, nearly $34,000 was raised in cash and pledges from over 60 club members for this project.
The Playa Club members (which has 20 members) intend to raise money for their portion of the project with an annual casino night; this is usually done in the spring. They also agreed to have Foothills Rotarians work with their people on the construction.
For more information, to stay in touch with the development of this project, or if you'd like to join this worthwhile effort, please contact
, the Foothills Rotary World Community Service Chair.
Read more about the Akumal Montessori School on their local website.