NEW TAMPA - The Rotary Club of New Tampa, like its sister clubs throughout the world, is built on the principle of bettering the community in which its members live and work.
They primarily do so by serving the needs of other groups whose missions also are to improve the lives of others.
During a recent New Tampa Rotary Club breakfast meeting at the Tampa Palms Country Club, then-president Dennis Loomis presented checks totaling $18,000 to representatives from 16 charitable organizations.
The HAIO Academy, Hillsborough Literacy Council, Special Connections, Homeless Coalition of Hillsborough County, the New Tampa YMCA, Helping Hands Food Pantry and two local Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops were among the recipients.
In addition, representatives from Oasis Network of New Tampa, the USF Diabetes Center, Mort Elementary School, St. Vincent de Paul Food Bank, Rotary's Camp Florida, God's Pedal Power, the Fisher House and Osher Life Long Institute also were on hand to accept their donations from the New Tampa Rotary Club.
Sally DePalma, founder/director of Special Connections, a ministry at St. James United Methodist Church that serves more than 150 special-needs children, teens and adults, said the New Tampa Rotary's donation will be used to enhance support group programs and socialization opportunities for families with disabilities, both physical and behavioral.
"The Rotary has always been so kind to our ministry," DePalma said.
Lesa Weikel, community relations manager for the Homeless Coalition of Hillsborough County, was delighted to accept the Rotary club's contribution that she said will help pay for prepaid cell phones, bus passes and furnishings for apartments. Her agency, in partnership with Tampa's James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital, is in the midst of providing for chronically homeless veterans, which a recent survey shows number about 2, 275.
"We are very grateful for the New Tampa Rotary's support," Weikel said.
Carla Haberland, Helping Hand Food Pantry founder/director, had those same thoughts as she accepted a check for her charity.
She said the food pantry, on State Road 54 at Atonement Lutheran Church, last year provided 270,000 pounds of food mainly to people with part-time jobs who earn too much to qualify for food stamps but can't afford to purchase food for their families.
"This money helps us tremendously in that we can fill in the blanks for things that are not generally donated to us," Haberland said.
Paula Welenc, director the Fisher House on the veterans' hospital campus, is also appreciative of the New Tampa Rotary's support of her organization, which houses at no charge families of veterans receiving services at the facility.
She also is thankful to them for furnishing once-a-month lunches for her house guests to enjoy. "They so look forward to that," Welenc said.
Joseph McAuliffe, program coordinator for Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at USF, also was on hand to accept a contribution from the New Tampa Rotary Club.
"We are very grateful to receive it," he said.
The money, McAuliffe noted, will be used to offer scholarships to those who would like to take part in programs intended for adults 50 and older but cannot due to financial constraints.
"It definitely will be put to good use because we offer some wonderful programs that people really enjoy," he said.
Contact New Tampa Rotary Club President Peter Gambacorta at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about the organization, which meets every Friday at 7 a.m.
Joyce McKenzie can be reached at JoyceCMcKenzie@gmail.com.