For more than 100 years, the Rotary Club of Littleton has raised and spent tens of thousands for philanthropy efforts across the metro region. On Nov. 4, huddled in the Columbine Country Club, a crowd consisting of Rotary members, past and present city officials and community leaders celebrated those accomplishments.
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For more than 100 years, the Rotary Club of Littleton has raised and spent hundreds of thousands for philanthropy efforts across the metro region. On Nov. 4, huddled in the Columbine Country Club, a crowd consisting of members, past and present city officials and other community leaders celebrated that legacy.
"What an accomplishment for an organization to last 100 years," said Cindy Rold, Rotary's past president and the event's chair. "When you think of all of the people who have been part of this club over the years, all of the time that has passed and activities that we have been involved in and here we are, still going strong."
Beginning with just 16 residents in 1922, the club has grown to 90 today. Its members included fixtures of Littleton life including Edwin Bemis — a former editor of the Littleton Independent — past city managers, Littleton Public Schools superintendents and presidents of Arapahoe Community College.
The nonprofit belongs to the larger international Rotary network, which consists of 1.4 million members whose humanitarian goals include ending Polio worldwide, a cornerstone mission of the nonprofit.
In Littleton, the 90-member club has been integral in forming major community hallmarks, including the Shots for Tots program through the Tri-County Health Department — which helps provide vaccines for children — and the development of Littleton's Hudson Gardens and Event Center.
The club usually donates about $75,000 yearly to local nonprofits that target food insecurity, homelessness and more — though its fundraising efforts have exceeded that amount in years past. In 2005, Littleton Rotary raised $1 million to help Project CURE, an international supplier of donated medical supplies, build a headquarters in Centennial. In 2020, it raised over $90,000 for Nourish Meals on Wheels, a mobile food bank that lost its original Littleton location and was forced to move.
Other donations include $30,000 for the victims and families of the Columbine High School shooting and an annual $25,000 grant for organizations most impacted by the pandemic. The club also sponsors a yearly clean-up of senior residents' homes, an event called Hands Across Littleton, and hosts international exchange students.
Attendees during the night's event said they were drawn to Rotary for its various missions and, above all else, its sense of community.
"It's really given me a deep seeded sense of commitment to where I live," said Darlee Whiting, who has been a member of Littleton Rotary since 1995. "The camaraderie, the friendship and purpose. It's just such a wonderful sense of community."
Whiting said one of her favorite events has been Hands Across Littleton, which she said makes her and her fellow members feel like "a swarm of bees" when they descend of area residents' homes to weed, rake, cut and clean.
Sally Parsons, who was Littleton's first woman mayor in the late 1970s and first woman member of Littleton Rotary, said she has been "very pleased with there openness, the number of women who have been brought in."
Parsons became a member in 1987, the first year Rotary International allowed women to join after a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. Parsons said back then "there were of course people who did not feel women should be in certain positions" but knew someone "had to break the ice."
As the club celebrated its 100-year legacy, it also looked to its future. Anne Rice, the club's current president, said she is always asking community members why they want to be a part of Rotary. She said she was reminded by something her husband told her: "My favorite quote is 'What we do in life echoes in eternity.'"
"And that struck me because what Rotary does echoes in eternity," Rice said. "We live in a very metric-driven society, we cannot measure the impacts of the lives we touch. Not just in this generation but in future generations."
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