The Rotary Club of Chestnut Hill provides continuing support to the A. S. Jenks School of the Philadelphia school district (grades K-8). Each week volunteers in the club go to the school to read to students on an individual basis. Periodically the club supports a drive for special equipment for the school.
In cooperation with other community organizations, the club has also organized several larger scale projects for the school, such as the rehabilitation and painting of the art room.
On the high school level, the Rotary Club of Chestnut Hill has developed a relationship with the Parkway Northwest High School for Peace and Social Justice (Philadelphia public school district), We have worked with the school to erect a peace pole for the entire school; we have engaged the science students in developing a design for a Peace Garden (to be installed in spring 2018); and we participate in mentoring individual students. Each year we sponsor several students for the Rotary Young Leadership Awards program (RYLA), an intensive three-day leadership experience for young people. Between our Club and our District, we cover all expenses for the participants. We look forward to continuing our cooperation with the high school with advice about career choices and further educational opportunities.
One special project in which the club takes pride is the distribution of dictionaries to every third grader in three neighborhood schools, Emlen, Henry, and Jenks. A team of club members goes to each school and delivers in person these dictionaries, which for some children is the first book they will ever own.
A pergola is defined as “an arched structure forming a framework for climbing or trailing plants.” The pergolas flanking the entry to Cresheim Valley Drive at Germantown Avenue form a gateway to Chestnut Hill and Mt. Airy in Northwest Philadelphia. The Chestnut Hill Rotary Club has been responsible for this area, maintaining the plantings surrounding the pergolas and doing routine cleanups at least since 2004. With support from the Chestnut Hill Community Fund and in cooperation with Valley Green Bank (now Univest), our club was involved in structural restoration of the pergolas in 2015. The club continues to be responsible for cleanup and for maintaining the plantings. Several times each year the club devotes a “Rotarians at Work” day at the pergola.
PathWays PA was founded in 1978 as one of Pennsylvania’s first residential programs to keep low-income, vulnerable women together with their children. It serves thousands of families throughout the Greater Philadelphia region.
Each year the Rotary Club of Chestnut Hill has run a drive to develop a series of family Christmas presents for such families, with the presents geared to the needs of individual families. The club has also taken on the responsibility of paying registration fees for a number of women to take the high school equivalency examination in Pennsylvania.
From time to time, the Rotary club of Chestnut Hill takes on special community oriented projects. For example, in cooperation with the Glenside Rotary Club, we helped erect a new playground for Gaudenzia House. As opportunities arise for special programs, the club organizes a special committee to work on such projects.
As part of Rotary International, the Rotary Club of Chestnut Hill helps support PolioPlus, the campaign to eradicate polio throughout the world. Since 1985 Rotary and its partners have helped reduce the number of cases from 350,000 annually to fewer than 100 each year, and these advocacy efforts will continue until the disease is eradicated.
Hope Children’s Home, Enmore, Guyana
The major foreign project of the Rotary Club of Chestnut Hill is support for Hope Children’s Home. Although the operating costs for the home are provided by funds raised by the Church of Christ in the United States, there are many projects that can improve the children’s lives beyond essential needs.
The Rotary Club of Chestnut Hill, through donations from many sources, supplements the operational costs with an annual shipment of donated clothing, school supplies, bedding and towels, kitchen and household supplies. In addition, The Rotary Club of Chestnut Hill has funded the purchase of a refrigerator, washing machine, dining tables and benches, cupboards and containers for each child’s belongings and much more.
For a number of years one of the members of the club, Rebecca Anwar, has personally spent several months each year at the home in an attempt to bring supplementary educational and operational opportunities to the home. She has helped implement projects such as improving the plumbing and sanitation facilities of the home as well as smaller projects such as arranging for dance lessons for some children, setting up a children’s music program, creating small items for sale to help the children have newly established savings accounts, and gaining an introduction to the use of computers.
Each year member of the club assist in assembling shipping containers of clothing and other household goods that would otherwise be unavailable to the children and to the support staff of the home.
Rotaplast International is a program committed to helping children and families worldwide by eliminating the burden of cleft lip and cleft palate, burn scarring, and other deformities. Almost every month a volunteer medical team travels to some area of the world to perform the necessary operations on children suffering from these deformities.
The Rotary Club of Chestnut Hill has participated with other member clubs of Rotary District 7450 to support this program, which sponsors one mission each year, such as the mission in 2016 to Venezuela and the 2017 mission to Myanmar.
ShelterBox, an International Rotary Project, has provided shelter, warmth and dignity to well over a million victims of natural and man-made disasters since its founding in 2001 by a Rotary Club member from a small town in England. At first, a “ShelterBox” contained a tent, cooking utensils, blankets and other equipment a family of 10 would need to survive for six months. Boxes are still sent, but now our aid varies depending on the needs brought on by each disaster. The Chestnut Hill Rotary has been supporting ShelterBox each year since 2009 helping to finance ShelterBox Projects in Haiti, Syria, Iraq, Nepal, the Philippines and elsewhere. It has responded to over 270 disasters and humanitarian crises in more than 95 location around the world.
Power Up Gambia
Power Up Gambia has the mission of improving healthcare delivery in The Gambia by providing proven, reliable, and sustainable electricity through solar energy. Recent advances in mobile technology allow the introduction of primary health care even in the most remote areas by using solar power generation of electricity.
The Rotary Club of Chestnut Hill supports the annual fund drive of this organization.
Schools in Africa
The Rotary Club of Chestnut Hil annually has made contributions to various educational institutions in central and eastern Africa, such as the Bududa Learning Centre and UNIFAT (the Upper Nile Institute of Appropriate Technology), both in Uganda.