Fluvanna Rotary looks at life after COVID

By Heather Michon

The Rotary Club of Fluvanna County recently completed work on a new information kiosk at the Disc Golf course at Pleasant Grove.

The kiosk was designed by Jan Pavlacka and Kornel Krechoweckyj, members of the Fluvanna Leadership Alumni Group (FLAG), who previously installed a similar kiosk in Palmyra Village.

In all, the project involved 25 volunteers putting in 150 total hours to move from planning to construction. Work was completed on June 18.

It was a welcome sign that the Rotary club is getting fully back into the swing of things as COVID-19 loosens its grip on daily life.

Like many organizations, the start of the pandemic in the spring of 2020 forced immediate changes to established routines, with no idea when or if things might return to normal.

Rudy Lee Garcia, executive secretary of the Fluvanna Rotary, remembers that club leadership held a planning meeting just as things were starting to shut down. “One of our members introduced us to Zoom.”

By the next scheduled meeting date, they were ready to go virtual. “We didn’t miss a beat,” he said.

They held virtual meetings from March 2020 to July 2021, and have since adopted a hybrid model with both Zoom and in-person meetings.

Keeping the group connected and engaged allowed them to collaborate on ways to continue to serve the people of Fluvanna. 

“We knew that the community was struggling,” said Garcia. 

With food insecurity on the rise during the pandemic, Rotarians held a half-dozen food drives to help the MACAA Food Pantry at Carysbrook between April 2020 and August 2021. In all, they collected 35,000 pounds of food and raised $20,000 in cash.

Garcia said the unique thing about the food drives was the level of community participation. There are around 20 Rotarians in the Fluvanna club, but a project so large required many volunteers. 

In each of the drives, between 50 and 70 members of the community helped with everything from delivering fliers to picking up food donations and boxing them for delivery to MACAA.

“We have never done anything at that level where we got the community involved,” he said. 

Today, the club is working on “removing barriers so more people who are service-minded can join us.”

Membership in the Rotary Club is by invitation only. Rotarians recommend people they know or meet in the community who seem like a good fit. Those who are selected for membership commit to participating in weekly meetings and regular service projects.

Garcia said modifying the bylaws and creating different membership tiers might allow more people to participate – for example, if their schedule doesn’t allow weekly meetings but they can join in projects

If you would like to learn more about the Rotary Club of Fluvanna, you can visit their website at http://www.fluvannarotary.org, email them at info.fluvannarotary@gmail.com, or call 434-442-4044.   

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