“Originally, Rotary Anns was made up of the spouses of the all-male Rotary Club,” Rotary Anns President Laurie Gillett explains. “There are not very many chapters of Rotary Anns still in existence now because most Rotary clubs probably have as many women members as they do men. I would say about half of our group is made up of women whose husbands have nothing to do with the Rotary,” Gillett added.
The local chapter of Rotary Anns has 29 members focused on the needs of the community. “We are very Idyllwild-centric. We are not involved with other Rotary Ann groups that are raising money for big national causes,” Gillett said. “We are very much about Idyllwild and the real needs here. If we become aware of an emergency situation, we can shift focus on a dime because we have total control. We are not answering to anybody. We just have to vote on it and write the check.”
The list of organizations Rotary Anns has helped is a long one: Idyllwild HELP Center, Idyllwild School, Idyllwild Scholarship Fund, Living Free, ARF, Idyllwild Volunteer Fire Company, Mountain Disaster Preparedness, Mountain Communities Fire Safe Council-Woodies, Riverside Mountain Rescue Unit and many others. “As a rule we’re giving away anywhere from $6,000 to $7,000 per year in increments of $300, $400 and $500, sometimes more. We feel really good about what we do but we feel like most people in town don’t really know who we are,“ lamented Gillett.
Rotary Anns is hoping to have its own event this year, which will be a first for it. “We piggy back onto other events in town. We have a booth at the Harvest Festival which is a big Rotary-sponsored event. We have a booth at the Lemon Lily Festival and the jazz festival. We go anywhere where there is an opportunity for us to make some money and all of our money goes into the town, every penny,” Gillett said proudly.
Rotary Anns is a spicy group as evidenced by one of their main fundraising products, Hot and Spicy Mustard. The club offers three types of mustards as well as lemon curd, which members make themselves. The club also sells old, refurbished costume jewelry that is donated.
The type of event generally dictates what products are sold. “At the Lemon Lily Festival this year we primarily sold the jewelry because it is hard to sell the mustard and lemon curd in hot weather. We made almost $1,100 at the Lemon Lily Festival just mainly selling jewelry and a little bit of mustard and curd. At the jazz festival we sold bottled water, iced tea, Arnold Palmer’s and iced coffee that was donated to us. We made over $1,200,” Gillett smiles.
In addition to fundraising efforts, the Rotary Anns also administer two grants. One is a grant from Doug Austin called the Mary Austin Grant that “goes to single women over 50 who are struggling financially,” Gillett said. “Maybe they’ve fallen behind on their propane bill so much so that they can’t get a delivery. In that instance, we pay the money directly to the vendor to get their service restored.”
The second grant is from an anonymous donor. It is called the Spirit of Tahquitz grant. There is only one Rotary Anns member who knows where the money comes from. The grant is for the benefit of women of any age, especially those supporting or raising children.
This busy organization is always looking for new, enthusiastic members. “Anyone interested in being a part of this very active and productive organization is welcome,” said Gillett. “We have a busy fall schedule and we can always use the help at the many events we attend. The more events we attend, the more help we can offer to the community.”
Laurie Gillett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Category: Idyllwild News