ROTARY COMMUNITY CORPS PROVIDES CRUCIAL RESOURCES TO DOUGLASS COMMUNITY AND LEADS TO EXPONENTIAL CLUB GROWTH
As rallies for racial justice happened throughout the U.S. last summer, members of our club felt compelled to find a COVID-safe way to help create equity for the Black community as well as get more Black citizens involved in Rotary’s efforts.
President, Alex Johnson, brought his concerns to Dollie Thomas and David Evans, community members with deep roots in the Douglass Community, Plano’s historically Black neighborhood founded in the 1800s. Working together, the Rotary Community Corps of Plano Douglass Community was formed June 26, 2020 to complete service projects in support of this underserved community.
Boots on the Ground
Almost immediately after its creation, the RCC proved successful in engaging non-Rotarians in community service. A diverse group has volunteered alongside Plano West Rotary Club
in at least 21 service projects so far.
A total of 929 volunteer hours have been served, and $174,937 worth of in-kind goods have been distributed to neighbors in the Douglass Community.
The majority of in-kind goods received were food boxes donated by Plano-area food pantries and food banks. Over seven months, PWRC and the RCC went out 11 times to deliver an approximate total of 1,500 food boxes door-to-door to needy neighbors in the community. On every delivery date, between 125 and 200 homes received boxes filled with fresh food and nonperishable items.
Meals were delivered to individual homes because not all community residents had vehicles or could drive. “Some residents won’t go to a food pantry out of pride. Some are concerned with being called poor, underprivileged or impoverished. Our goal is to serve and empower,” explained PWRC President Alex Johnson.
The RCC and PWRC have also partnered to collect and donate shoes for international micro-entrepreneurs and received funds to repair the roof on the home of an elderly Douglass Community resident. Volunteers also came together to help provide students in the community with critical resources, supplies and meals for the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year.
All of these efforts align with Rotary’s Areas of Focus on growing local economies and supporting education.
PWRC and the RCC are working to plan future projects that continue serving the residents of the Douglass Community, including a community garden, tutoring and life skills education.
Service Leads to a Growing, More Diverse Club
The aid that PWRC and the RCC provided to the Douglass Community caught the attention of many non-Rotarians. Through highly visible acts of “Service Above Self,” our club grew its membership significantly, attracting members of the RCC that wanted to be more involved on a permanent basis.
In May 2020 before the formation of the RCC, Plano West Rotary Club had 21 members. In the 14 months since the RCC was formed, the club has tripled to 65 members. PWRC is actually the fastest growing of the 7,485 clubs in the U.S., according to Rotary International.
The growth has also increased the diversity in the club’s membership. Fifty four percent of the club members are women, 34 percent are under 40 years of age, and 51 percent are people of color. The club includes immigrants from eight different countries, as well as members of a wide range of ages, including several college students.
Alex is certain the RCC impacted the community in a way that PWRC could never have done on its own. “The need came from the community, and we focus on partnering first. We prefer to never do it alone.”
Serve with us! Non-Rotarians are always invited to join our club for service projects in the Plano community. Sign up here.