Early Risers: Service club gets results before most of us roll out of bed

Rotary Club of St. Cloud recognized as this week’s Getting Results Award winners

ST. CLOUD, Fla. – Many of us may have heard of the Rotary Club, seen their signs, or even met their volunteers at an event. One News 6 viewer thought not enough people realized just how much they do for the community. He nominated the Rotary Club of St. Cloud for this week’s Getting Results Award.

Members meet every Thursday before sunrise to workshop, plan and collaborate on projects that will benefit their community.

You see, for them, giving back is more than a nine-to-five commitment.

The club is involved in everything from restoring local landmarks to raising money for scholarships.

Club president Robert Garza was introduced to the club through a friend.

“I came to a meeting and the rest is history,” Garza laughed. “It’s the best thing on earth. You come, you get to help people, you get to meet people, you get to grow your family.”

Most members we talked with had a similar story.

LaTanya Newell was also introduced to the club through a friend. “I came twice and fell in love with what they were doing,” she said.

So, what is it that inspires so many to not only join but attend meetings before most people roll out of bed? Most say it’s a chance to give back to their community.

“It’s inspired me in my life,” Newell said. “I’ve learned there’s so much more that I can give, and that I can do by being a part of Rotary.”

The club has raised more than $300,000 in scholarships.

In 2021, the club collected 300 pairs of eyeglasses for World Sight Day. They supported local schools by feeding teachers at Lakeview Elementary the week before school started, donating school supplies, assisting Hero for Kids in backpack distribution, supporting high school wrestling teams, and sponsoring the Bugle Trophy presented to the winner of the Harmony Hight School vs St. Cloud High School football game.

The group refurbished the historic mural on the Handyman Hardware building and sponsored little libraries throughout St. Cloud.

Their biggest fundraiser is the annual Spring Fling along the shore of East Lake Tohopekaliga in St. Cloud. This year it will be held April 1 and 2.

Richard McConahay has been involved with the club for 35 years.

McConahay wrote us because, in his mind, more people should know about the good Rotary clubs do across the nation.

“I saw your show where you award people, mostly individuals, for doing things and I got to thinking the club is doing a lot in our community, but you don’t hear about it,” he said.

But maybe that’s the way they like it. No one here does it for notoriety.

“Everyone here has one goal,” Garza said. “That is to help the community and put smiles on people’s faces.”

Rotary of St. Cloud meets once a week. Meetings typically last less than an hour.

If you would like to join your local club, Rotary International has a club finder to help you find the nearest group.

About the Author:

Paul is a Florida native who graduated from the University of Central Florida. As a multimedia journalist, Paul enjoys profiling the people and places that make Central Florida unique.