Rotary Steps up at Midway Shelter

Rotary Club of Alameda volunteers and longtime Alameda Sun supporters Susan Jeffries and George Fitzgerald volunteered to work as dinner donors at Midway Shelter.
Photo and story by Jimmy Olsen

Rotary Steps up at Midway Shelter

Rotary reached out to the Kiwanis Club of Alameda to collaborate on the project. Each signed on as a dinner donor.

Photo and story by Jimmy Olsen

COVID-19 swept through the United States effectively shutting down all of the Rotary Club of Alameda’s (RCA) traditional community service and fundraising activities.

When that happened, the organization could have simply pulled back and waited for the restrictions to be lifted. After all, many people thought the country would be back in business in a few months. Oh, how wrong we all were.

Once it became clear that COVID-19 would continue to alter the way Rotary routinely served the community on an ongoing basis, it was time to brainstorm new and different ways to serve and keep members involved.

RCA’s Midway Shelter Dinner Donor Project originally was created to respond to a desperate plea from Building Futures (the nonprofit organization that manages the shelter.

They wanted to recruit dinner donors, community members who prepared homecooked meals for the residents of the shelter.

According to Ana Maria Kahiri, director of development and communications for Building Futures, “Many of our dinner donors were retired community members who no longer felt safe shopping at grocery stores to prepare home cooked meals for shelter residents.”

Enter the Rotary Club of Alameda. President Jeff Cambra recalls, “When I read a Building Futures letter to the editor in the Alameda Sun soliciting dinner donors, I knew that this was exactly the kind of community need that RCA was destined to fill.”

From its inception, the Midway Shelter Dinner Donor Program was designed to fulfill the two major goals of Rotary — Service to the Community and Building Relationships through Fellowship.

Working with Co-Chair and new Rotary member Ngoc Tai, RCA reached out to the Kiwanis Club of Alameda to collaborate on the project with each organization signing on to be a dinner donor once every other month on the fourth Thursday.

“Our members really stepped up and supported the project with many of them cooking portions of the meal or purchasing items to con¬tribute to the effort.” said Ngoc Tai, who is serving as the Co-Chair of the 2020-2021 Committee.

“Jeff and I drove around to member’s homes to pick up mashed potatoes for eight or pumpkin pies from Greer Family Mortuary. It was a very rewarding experience.”

RCA also supported a number of local restaurants in town by occasionally purchasing the 25 meals needed. Angela’s three course meal specials were very popular with Midway Shelter clients.

The Midway Shelter Project will continue into Rotary year 2021-2022 according to Will Thomas, the new president.
“With most members being vaccinated and restrictions being relaxed, the Dinner Donor program will be one of several programs that the Club will be supporting to serve the community and bring our members together for service, fellowship, and collaboration,” Thomas said.