Richmond Rotary caps another year of hard work and donations


In an annual tradition that never fails to pull heartstrings, representatives of the Richmond Rotary Club delivered $100 checks to 28 teachers at Peres Elementary on Wednesday.

“Teachers don’t get compensated enough to start with, and they also often have to go into their own pockets [to purchase school supplies for students],” Joshua Surowitz, president of the Richmond Rotary Club, told the grateful teachers.

The annual contribution is part of the Richmond Rotary’s long-running support of the elementary school that serves students from low-income families. In fact, current Rotarian Erle Brown’s wife, Phyllis Peres Brown, is the granddaughter of the man who donated the land to house Peres Elementary, according to Rotarian David A. Brown.

Also, Dr. Dan Tanita, a Rotarian, opened the school’s free dental clinic.

But the impact of the Richmond Rotary Club goes far beyond the Peres campus. Each year, the Rotary Club provides the Richmond Standard with an annual financial report of the club’s activities from the previous year as information for local residents. The club’s impact is significant — and that’s partly because its members tend to be successful and active in the community. Richmond Mayor Tom Butt is among them.

“It was a very successful year,” Brown said. “You never accomplish as much as you hope to, but you accomplish more than sitting on your bottom.”

While the club appreciated the leadership of “hard-working” Alan Blavins as its president, it has enjoyed the fresh energy provided by Surowitz, Brown said.

There are about 1.2 million Rotarians at more than 32,000 clubs in 200-plus countries and geographical areas, according to the international website. The Richmond Rotary website can be accessed here. Richmond Rotary members are either residents of the area or conduct business here. They volunteer themselves, their time, hold fundraisers and often pull out their own wallets to make contributions. All this to support local and international programs that help people.


Here’s a brief list of Richmond Rotary Club’s contributions for FY2015. Full sheet of contributions, which includes financial figures, follows:

Interact Club at Salesian Prep: Alongside youth, delivered dozens of bags filled with toiletries, socks, and  other daily essentials on the streets in Richmond and Oakland. “It was a really cool thing,” Brown said. “I thought that would have been out of the comfort zone for a lot of kids, but they tackled it.”

Babanki School Fund: Money from Rotary Clubs worldwide went toward building a school for girls.

Rotaplast: An international program where a group of Rotarians able to perform cleft palate repair at no cost.

Bikes for Kids: This is the third or fourth year in which the Richmond Rotary Club has donated to the Annual Richmond/El Cerrito Fire & Police Holiday Toy Program.

Richmond Veterans Resource Center: Rotarians conducted a service day working at the facility, doing painting and general fix up.

The Kennedy-King Scholarship: An awesome scholarship program for local students where the standard amount is $8,000 per year.

School Dental Clinic: Rotarians opened one at Peres in 2012, and now there’s another facility at Nystrom Elementary, which just reopened following a renovation.