WATSONVILLE — Watsonville Rotary celebrated a milestone in its philanthropic work on Wednesday at the club’s luncheon meeting at the Elk’s Lodge.
Representatives from 17 different nonprofit organizations were present to receive a total of $30,000 in community grants—the largest amount in Watsonville Rotary’s history. Grant award checks, ranging from $950 to $2,000, were distributed in a special presentation.
Mike Milward, Watsonville Rotary Club President, explained how the money was raised through last year’s various fundraising events. The club’s first-ever Maine Lobster Feast played a vital role in raising the funds.
“The Lobster Feast was very successful,” Milward said. “More than we expected. It really helped us in securing this money, which will go on to help a lot of youth in this community.”
Rotary grants are awarded every year to local nonprofits, in particular those which support youth in the Pajaro Valley. The groups that were awarded this year spanned from schools and libraries to college prep programs and arts eduction organizations. Awardees were selected by Watsonville Rotary’s Grants Review Committee.
“Our club is committed to supporting our youth—especially those at risk,” Milward said. “We are so glad we can partner with these groups who share that goal.”
The Grants Review Committee evaluates each organization’s strengths in the following priorities: 1) Preventing youth/gang violence; 2) Encouraging youth to stay in school; 3) Offering educations and skills development to guide students in the pursuit of happy, productive lives.
Among the many recipients on Wednesday were representatives from Second Harvest Food Bank. Julio Andrade, who runs the food bank’s Youth, Inc. program, expressed his gratitude to Watsonville Rotary and to the other organizations.
“We are so thankful for this community’s support,” Andrade said. “I’m so happy and excited for our youth to be invested in; it’s really inspiring to see.”
Community Grants for Fiscal Years 2018-2019:
• Court Appointed Special Advocates
• Ceiba Public Schools Foundation
• Ecology Action
• Friends of Santa Cruz Public Libraries (La Selva Summer Reading Program)
• Jovenes Sanos
• Live Like Coco Foundation
• Music in May
• New School Community Day School
• Nourishing Generations Educational Project
• O’Neill Sea Odyssey
• Pajaro Valley Shelter Services
• Santa Cruz Symphony Association (Youth concerts)
• Fairgrounds Foundation (Careers in Ag Mentorship)
• Second Harvest Food Bank
• Watsonville Ivy League Project
• Your Future Is Our Business
• Youth Now