Park City Rotary Club donates $125,000 to nonprofits
Organization hopes grants accelerate change in community
July 18, 2017
For decades, the Park City Rotary Club has been socking away financial donations and membership dues in hopes of one day creating an annual endowment large enough to have a sizeable effect on the community.
That philosophy shifted about two years ago when members began discussing the organization's future. What if, they proposed, the club donated the money now, rather than waiting for a day in the future that might not arrive for many years? They put the question to a vote. More than three-quarters of the membership agreed: "Let's do some good as soon as we can."
The outcome of that decision was manifested in a ceremony last week. In a packed conference room at the Park City Hospital, leaders of three nonprofit groups stepped to the stage and expressed their gratitude. The Park City Rotary Club had donated a total of $125,000 to support their missions of helping children in Summit County: $50,000 to the Park City Education Foundation's Bright Futures program, $50,000 to the Community for Children's Justice and $25,000 to PC Tots.
Peter Wright, the club's treasurer, said a group of members spent months probing Park City to find the most worthy recipients for the grants. They sought organizations that were addressing the town's most dire needs and whose impacts ripple throughout the community. Ultimately, they settled on the three nonprofits that are trying to change the lives of the community's youth.
The Bright Futures program aims to prepare Latino teenagers for success in college; Community for Children's Justice is working to build a safe campus for young victims of sexual assault or violence involved in the Summit County Children's Justice Center; and PC Tots provides affordable daycare for working families in Park City.
Wright said it was inspiring to learn about the important efforts of each nonprofit, and it was an honor for the Rotary Club to back their work.
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"It was a revelation to see just how capable, how committed these organizations are," he said. "They are so on the mark with what they're doing that it's very hard not be swept right up in it."
In speeches during the ceremony, representatives from the nonprofits said the money would be monumental. Susan Richer, president of Community for Children's Justice, told the audience about her first time visiting the Children's Justice Center, which advocates and supports children who have been victimized by abuse, but lacks its own space, instead sharing a building with the Park City Department of Motor Vehicles office.
When they enter, the children are shepherded past adults waiting at the DMV to small, sterile rooms, where they try to work up the nerve to recount their stories to police officers who they've sometimes never met. Seeing it for the first time broke Richer's heart. She said that was the moment she decided to start the nonprofit.
The grant money will help Community for Children's Justice build a more inviting and warm home for the Children's Justice Center. Richer envisions it being a place where the children and their families can feel safe and begin the healing process.
"No matter how much we put the word out or the state puts the word out, child abuse will always be a challenge," she said. "So we need to build for the future. As awareness grows about child abuse in our community, the workload will increase.
"We must do better for the children," Richer added. "We simply must."
PC Tots will use the grant to supplement its current efforts, said Carol Loomis, the organization's board president. More than 100 families have enrolled their children in the daycare since it got off the ground last year, and the nonprofit is seeking to bolster its 11-hour, five-days-a-week offerings.
"The whole community has really come together to make this happen," Loomis told the crowd.
The grant will also be critical for Bright Futures. The program's first cohort of 30 students will make the leap to 11th grade this fall, meaning Bright Futures will welcome a new group of recruits entering high school. Abby McNulty, executive director of the Park City Education Foundation, said the funding will help the program foster a generation of Latinos who will be the first in their families to attend college.
"To be able to invest in our Latino students is amazing," she said in an interview. "It just speaks volumes about the Rotary (Club) and the membership. They have a history of service, and they're investing in our future."