Welcome! Rotary Connects the Community & the World

Greetings, and Welcome to Westchester Rotary! Our Rotary Club was founded in 1950 and we are proud of our 70 years of service to the Westchester community and the world! Our mission is “Service Above Self” and never has this been more evident than during the very challenging pandemic.
This special issue of the Argonaut will spotlight many of the 30+ annual projects that the Rotary Club of Westchester supports, both within our community and internationally. We hope that one or more of these projects will pique your interest and that you will consider joining us for one of our weekly Zoom meetings, until the pandemic is over, or in person at the Crowne Plaza Century Blvd., when we get back to our new normal!
What is Rotary International? Rotary is the world’s oldest and most important service organization with over 1,200,000 members in more than 30,000 clubs spread throughout 160 countries. Rotary provides clean water to those without it, feeds the hungry, battles crippling, debilitating and disfiguring diseases (most specifically polio) and helps people learn to read and write so they can compete in the modern workplace. Rotarians are business and professional leaders who aspire to the highest ethical standards in their vocations and who not only help those in need in their own communities, but who also seek to advance the cause of peace, understanding and goodwill worldwide through scholarships, youth and adult exchanges and humanitarian projects.
Thank you for taking the time to learn more about our club! We thank all of our friends and organizations that have supported us through the years and for helping us to make a difference! Together we continue to move mountains!
Yours in Rotary Service,
Tom Johnstone

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Westchester Rotarians gathered on July 29 for a socially distanced Happy Hour at Chase Park for their only in person meeting since March.

Rotary Club of Westchester: People of Action
Service is what Rotarians do! We seek out opportunities to change the lives of others in need. Rotary gives our members the ability to make a difference and provides many avenues of service for our members to follow their passions in helping others in a multitude of capacities. At Westchester Rotary, we operate in a “Culture of Yes.” We empower our membership to dream large in addressing the needs of our local communities and the international community. Our projects focus on literacy, peace, clean water, health and economic development, always working to make a better community and a better world. Through our friendships and professional connections, we are able to turn our dreams into reality and get things done! Come join in the fun and service!

Best Community Event! Westchester Annual Book Sale
Every year for the past 65 years the Rotary Club of Westchester has held their annual book sale over Memorial Day Weekend in May…until this year! The pandemic erased our event in May but we are undaunted! We have been collecting and sorting books for almost a year and we are ready and raring to go over Labor Day weekend from Thursday, September 3 to Tuesday, September 8, in the Ralph’s Parking lot on Sepulveda! The Book Sale has been voted as the Best Westchester Community Event for a very good reason—it brings the community together, even during a pandemic! Scores of Westchester families and beyond contact us every spring, during spring cleaning, to donate already read books. Hundreds of residents of every age come to our Book Sale every year to find their reading selections for the next 12 months, at bargain prices. The Book Sale is a celebration of literacy and a celebration of community. We have 50 categories of books ranging from children’s books to art and architecture, history, literature, leadership, medicine, psychology, political science, reference books, textbooks and more! Please join us over Labor Day weekend and find out more about Westchester Rotary and why we are the Rotary District 5280 Club of Excellence!

Emerson Avenue Community Garden Makeover Project
For more than a decade, the Rotary Club of Westchester has been completing extreme makeover projects in the community. We do makeover projects every other year, and they have become the signature hands-on projects for our club. This year, in the late fall through the early spring, we will be working with Emerson Avenue Community Garden on the campus of Orville Wright Middle School to improve drainage and make the garden completely accessible to individuals with disabilities. The makeover will include the removal of all of the mulch pathways and urbanite (repurposed chunks of concrete), grading for improved drainage, and the installation of decomposed granite pathways throughout the garden, which contains 38 garden plots that are cultivated by local residents. The project will also include some surprise elements to enhance the experience of the gardeners and the public. Most of the work will be completed when the weather is cooler to minimize the disruption to the gardeners. It always rains during our makeover projects, so expect a wet winter!! Please come out and join us for some Rotary service and fun!
Other makeover projects that Westchester Rotary has completed include the Senior Center at Westchester Park, Safe Places for Youth (SPY) in Venice, and the Westchester Townhouse on the campus of Kentwood Elementary School.

Serving Our United States Marine Families at Camp Pendleton
Did you know that, on average, there are 160 babies born at Camp Pendleton every month? Camp Pendleton is one of the largest United States Marine Bases in the United States. Camp Pendleton serves as a training facility for many entry-level Marines and their young families. The needs of these families are many. Westchester Rotary joined more than 20 other Rotary Clubs in Rotary District 5280 to collect four truckloads of furniture, housewares and every day necessities for the families and infants. Many of our Westchester Rotarians sent items to support our Marine Families and our club made a COSTCO run for diapers, infant clothing and other items that we shipped to Camp Pendleton on behalf of our Rotary Club! Our Marines do so much for us and “We are all in this together”! The next Rotary District 5280 effort to support our Marine families is on October 26. If you would like to support this effort please contact us on our Facebook Page or contact Tom Johnstone at (310) 350-0896.

Westside Pacific Villages: Senior Support Coalition

The Rotary Club of Westchester has been a proud participant in Westside Pacific Villages (WPV) Senior Support Coalition! Every Friday since the pandemic began in March, Westchester Rotarians have showed up in force to deliver goodie bags, food donated by local restaurants, flowers and many other items to brighten up the days of seniors who are sheltering at home. Support for seniors at has also included assistance with technology to keep our seniors connected with loved ones and friends during the pandemic. Currently our Rotary Club is teaming with WPV to collect 75 new or gently used iPads, by September 30, to support senior connectivity! There are so many ways to support the community!

International Projects: Costa Rica

In addition to projects in our local community, the Rotary Club of Westchester is active in improving the lives of people in other countries around the globe. We provide support to orphanages in Malawi and Thailand, and to Jo Jo’s Sanctuary for abused children in Thailand. We actively support the eradication of polio throughout the world and we are happy to share that we are almost there! We also provided relief to people in Beirut through Rotary District 5280’s Beirut Relief Fund. We work directly with Rotary Clubs in Lebanon to ensure that every cent goes directly to the relief effort.

For well over a decade, Westchester Rotary has been actively involved, with many of the 60 Rotary Clubs in District 5280, (Western Los Angeles County) in annual humanitarian trips to countries throughout the western hemisphere. With funding from local clubs and Global Grants from the Rotary International Foundation, we have completed major projects in Peru, Colombia, Panama, Guatemala, Mexico and in the Caribbean. Most recently, in March 2020, 12 members of Westchester Rotary joined a team of 120 Rotarians from District 5280 clubs to complete several projects in Oaxaca, Mexico. The projects included clean water, the installation of solar panels in a community that previously had no electricity, the construction of a bakery for economic sustainability in a town that was founded in 1570, the conversion of a jail into a library and support for several elementary schools.

This Rotary year, in April 2021, Westchester Rotarians will be venturing to Costa Rica to support several humanitarian projects. More specifically, Westchester will be the lead club on the Copalchi Potable Water Project. This project consists of the construction of a one kilometer water supply pipeline from a storage tank 165 meters higher in elevation, to the town of Copalchi, which currently does not have a source of potable water for all residents. This project will increase the supply of drinking water from the current 402 people, to 714. The total cost of the project is $70,000 and we are participating in a Global Grant to secure the funds. The Westchester Rotary contribution will be $5,000.

Club Service: Staying Connected Through Cooking

Like everyone else, Westchester Rotarians have had to find creative solutions to stay connected during the pandemic! One of our previous presidents of Westchester Rotary, Christa Ramey, came up with the idea of cooking dinner together on Sunday evenings through Zoom. Each week a member of our club, and sometimes a member of other District 5280 clubs, sends out a recipe and shopping list of ingredients and we all cook together and have a virtual gathering for an hour over a glass of wine or some other favorite beverage. So far 25 or our 62 members have joined in the food, fun and comradery. Our gourmet meals have included Cabbage Rolls from Lebanon, Shoyu Chicken, Zuppa Contento, Carmela’s Lasagna, Tortilla Pizza, Sopa Seco con Camarones, Harrissa Chicken, Chile Relleno Casserole, Paprika Chicken and many others. If you like to cook and stay connected, all of you are welcome to join us every Sunday at 5:00 at Westchester Rotary!

Spring Fundraiser

We celebrated our 70th Annual Rotary Club of Westchester Spring Fundraiser on March 6th, 2020 at the William Turner Gallery located in Santa Monica’s Bergamot Station.  We honored our “Citizen(s) of the Year,” Bernie and Ed Massey of Portraits of Hope for their work developing one-of-a-kind motivational art projects that merge the production of dynamic public art works with creative therapy for hospitalized children and civic education for students of all ages.  It was an evening to remember as everyone came dressed as their favorite artist or art piece. This was our last not physically distant event, and we wanted to thank everyone who sponsored this event, attended, and supported.

Educational Grants/Scholarships

The Rotary Club of Westchester presented a variety of scholarship awards to some of the area’s best and brightest high school students during a special “drive-through” ceremony and parade beginning at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 24 at the Westchester Family YMCA Annex. We awarded $9,000 in scholarships to local students and an additional $3,500 to local teachers.
Scholarship recipients were:
Rickey McGregor (Saint Bernard High School, earned the $2,000 Jim Hill Memorial Scholarship, which is given to a graduating high school senior who demonstrates outstanding leadership in community service, resides in Westchester or Playa del Rey and/or attends WESM or SBHS.

Madison Brown –Madison, who attends Saint Bernard High School, earned the $2,000 Kriston Palomo Scholarship, given to a graduating senior who has actively participated in a athletic program, participated in community service and maintained at least a 3.0 grade-point average.

Elon Morris – Elon, who attends Westchester Enriched Sciences Magnet, earned the  $2,000 Jerry Madera Scholarship, given to a graduating senior with a minimum grade-point average of 3.75 who demonstrates leadership and participates in community service.
Dere Je Assefa – Dere, who attends Westchester Enriched Sciences Magnet, earned the $2,000 Judy Young First Generation College Scholarship, given to a graduating senior who is the first of his/her generation to attend college and has a demonstrated financial need.
Ashanti Salazar – Ashanti earned the $500 Saint Bernard High School Interact Scholarship, which is given annually to a graduating SBHS senior who is a member of Interact Club, demonstrates leadership in community service and lives by Rotary’s Four-Way Test.
Lenny Marquez – Lenny earned the $500 Westchester Enriched Sciences Magnet Interact Scholarship, which is given annually to a graduating WESM senior who is a member of Interact Club, demonstrates leadership in community service and lives by Rotary’s Four-Way Test.
Teacher Mini-Grants of $500 to each of the following teachers for use in their classrooms during the 2020-2021 school year:
Hedako Brown (St. Jerome Catholic School)
Amber Spence (St. Jerome Catholic School)
Farrah Cocozza (Westport Heights Elementary School)
Theodore Fortier (Westport Heights Elementary School)
Jessica Oney (WISH Charter School)
Jordann Ojeda (WISH Charter School)
Kalema Brown Fisher (Westchester Enriched Sciences Magnets)

Pageant of the Arts

We also believe in art education and sponsor/award middle and high school students in the areas of speech, dance, music, and art. We would like to congratulate the 2020 Westchester Rotary Pageant of the Art high school winners: Grace Ellzey (violinist), Greta Davis (opera singer), and Ian Peterson (photographer). They were selected to compete at the Rotary district level which was held virtually this year, and Grace Ellzey (violin) received an honorable mention; Mayumi Rohne won first place for dancing; and Greta Davis won first place for singing (opera)!