This year’s service project for the Clover Park Rotary Club has centered on helping its adopted school, Southgate Elementary. The relationship between the Clover Park Rotary Club and Southgate goes back several years, to a time when a former principal of Southgate was a member of our club, and we became aware of the needs of the school for some assistance.
Past involvement has consisted of Spaghetti Dinner Nights, Literacy Nights, and other brief episodes. But as Southgate has struggled with low test scores and staff turnover, our club has come to realize that Southgate needs some extra help.
This year, the Clover Park Rotary Club has devoted its service project efforts to helping Southgate in ways that the school district is unable to do. Club members decided at one of our club assembly meetings in 2008 to place greater emphasis on helping Southgate. An ad hoc committee was formed to pursue ways of helping, and three main avenues were identified: (1) tutoring and mentoring, (2) mental health, and (3) facilities and grounds.
On Saturday, April 4, 2009, members of the Clover Park Rotary Club met at Southgate to complete the facilities portion of this effort. School and district staff had identified certain key areas of need at the school, including landscaping and playground equipment. A work party on April 4 was the culmination of those efforts.
An interior courtyard that once had been a site for a raised beds garden was transformed into a renewed landscape of low-maintenance native plants. And the entry area to the school by the marquee sign was in need of a big renovation, so the old lawn was torn out, replaced by a new bed of native plants.
Twenty-five Rotarians and others gathered to do the garden work. Jack Roffler honchoed the renovation of the interior courtyard. Club president Don Paradise supervised the renovation of the area by the entry sign. McClain’s Topsoil provided 20 yards of topsoil and 5 yards of beauty bark at a big discount. Charlie Maxwell arranged for LeMay, Inc. to donate 10 yards of soil amendments. And Furney’s Nursery in Des Moines, WA provided the design assistance and a discount on the plant purchases to help finish the project.
Club member Randy Black brought his John Deere farm tractor, and the front bucket moved most of the soil into place. Other Rotarians backed him up with wheelbarrows. By 2 PM on April 4, the new garden beds were in place, and several school staff stopped by to admire the transformation, along with neighbors from the local area who all admired the Rotarians’ work.
In addition to the garden beds, the Clover Park Rotary Club donated three metal benches for the playground. The Lakewood Water District donated staff time to perform the installation work for these benches. Families who visit the play structure on weekends will now have a place to sit. The Clover Park Rotary also donated new basketball standards and rims for the playground, to replace old rusting equipment which had come to look decrepit and about to fail. CPUSD maintenance staff did the demolition of the old structures, and the installation of the new equipment.
School principal Charlotte Clouse was grateful for the efforts and contributions of Clover Park Rotary. “We fell so blessed to have the Rotary Club as a partner in improving our school.”
Rotarians will be continuing their involvement with Southgate through their mentoring efforts with selected students. To find out more about this project, and about the Clover Park Rotary Club, contact president Donald Paradise.
Submitted by Tom McClellan