Forest Rotary gives back to community

The members of the Rotary Club of Forest gathered for their monthly meeting on May 15, but this was not a simple business as usual meeting. The Rotarians used May’s meeting to distribute donations a number of deserving organizations to assist with their service projects in the surrounding communities. The funds collected at the club’s annual Christmas Gala were disbursed to numerous service groups, churches, school programs and the City of Forest Downtown Development Associatgion to help alleviate some of the financial overhead these groups will incur will doing the 2019 calendar year. The annual donations made by Rotary is the club’s opportunity to help the betterment of Forest.

In total the club delved out 14 donation checks to the following recipients: Scott Central High School Football, Forest High School Beta Club, The Forest Area Chamber of Commerce, Lackey Memorial Hospital Auxiliary, Friends of the Forest Library, Boy Scouts of America Troop 63, Slaughter Memorial Library, Forest United Methodist Church Mission Team, Forest Baptist Church Mission Team, Center of Hope, Forest High School Band, The City of Forest Downtown Development Association, Forest Community Arts and the Forest High School Advanced Placement Testing Program. During the meeting all of this year’s donations recipients took a few moments to discuss what the funds will be utilized to accomplish. The reasons included numerous purposes including mission trips, academic testing reimbursement, scholarships, building projects and badly needed replacement of equipment.

In addition to the donation checks disbursed, the Rotary Club will also use charitable proceeds to fund a Rotary Club scholarship that was awarded to Forest High School senior Raliyah Weathersby, and to help fund this year’s secret Santa project during the Christmas holidays. Each year, through the Secret Santa community outreach project, the club helps disadvantaged families during the holiday season so that they can enjoy Christmas with their family.

Rotary Vice President, Chris Strebeck, said that the funds donated by the club are used by the recipients and their organizations to provide programs, services and opportunities for many people throughout the local area. “We get to take some of our fundraising money and give back to the local community,” Strebeck said. “We pass along these funds to the individuals, schools and organizations that put the money to work right here in Forest and the surrounding area.”

Beverly Rhodes of the Lackey Memorial Auxiliary said that because of their dedication and generosity that four deserving students have received $4,000 dollars in scholarships to help offset some of their educational expenses in college. “We have a group of four very deserving students that we have been able to help them absorb some of the growing costs of attending college,” Rhodes said. “All four of our scholarship recipients are doing really good in school, and we have our first previous scholarship award winner that will be starting a four-year university this year. All of these accomplishments are helped made possible because of your support, this is truly making a difference in their young lives.”

FHS Band Director Mark Davis gave a heartfelt appreciation speech and then proceeded to tell club members that one of the reasons the FHS band program is experiencing a resurgence is because of their support and the total support of the community. “I can’t tell you how thankful we are to receive this support. This donation will be put to good use and I hope to be back here next year with more good news about the FHS Band program.” Davis said.     

Forest Downtown Development Director Patsy Nicholson described how the Rotary Club donation received by the FDDA in 2018 had a direct impact on the beautification of Forest. “We have not made a final decision or identified the project that this year’s donation will be utilized for, but I can tell you last year’s funds were used to build the downtown Sights and Sounds Park which has been a great addition to Forest,” Nicholson said. “Last year’s project served to create a beautiful new attraction in Forest and it’s our plan to work towards the same goal this year.”

Strebek said that one of the main missions of Forest Rotarians is to assist both directly, and indirectly, in the continued success of Forest. “Through our donations to these groups we want to be part of making Forest, our schools and our residents as successful as possible,” he said. “All of these organizations work extremely hard and are vital to the continued growth and success of our city and we know that these donations will be put to work and good use right here at home.”