East Manatee ECO Rotary Club Wins Chili Cook-off

Earlier this month the ECO Rotary Club of East Manatee entered the 2nd Annual Chili Cook off challenge at the Parrish Heritage Days Parade and Festival. Club President Ross Russo, was recruited by the membership to create the winning entry in spite of the fact that he claimed to have never made chili before.  Russo stated that he reviewed some internet recipes and then proceeded to empty most of the spices from his wife’s pantry.

The Rotary team actually cooked two different batches calling one “Spicy Heat” and the other “Nicely Sweet”. Since only one entry per team was allowed to be submitted, the “Nicely Sweet” was dubbed the winner out of the field of 22 entries. Out of the two batches, the larger batch of “Spicy Heat was the more popular recipe and ran out earlier than the winning chili. Making one wonder which chili was the better recipe.

The ECO Rotary Club of East Manatee has been supporting the Parrish Heritage Day festivities for several years and once again staffed the beer booth for the Parrish Civic Association with all proceeds going to the Parrish Foundation.

Ben Jordan, Vice President of the Parrish Foundation, attended the subsequent Rotary meeting to present the ECO Rotary Club of East Manatee with the $500 grand prize check. Mr. Jordan was later presented with a check from the ECO Rotary Club of East Manatee returning $250 to the Parrish Foundation.

Ben Jordan, Vice President of the Parrish Foundation (on left) presents Ross Russo, President of the ECO Rotary Club of East Manatee, who in return presents Mr. Jordan with a $250 donation check to the Parrish Foundation.
 SNOWtarian, Dean Hoover, is stirring the pot.
ECO Rotarians working the beer booth for the Parrish Civic Association (from left to right: Kathy Rodd, President Elect Rich Zang, Greg Villalobos, and Christi Womack Villalobos)

Rotarians Make the Season Bright 

December has always been a busy month for the Rotary Club of East Manatee.  This year was no exception.  We started out by fulfilling the Wish Lists of two at-risk Foster children through Camelot Community Care's annual Secret Santa program.  Our two boys received Lego Star Wars toys, Bey Wheelz, art supplies, books, journals, and Hot Wheels race tracks.  Christi, Melissa, and our exchange student Marisa scoured area retailers to make sure the boys received exactly what they wished for.


Our next project was an afternoon of holiday cookie decorating with some students at Pace Center For Girls.  Each cookie was a work of art.  Once the dozens of cookies were decorated, we packaged trays to deliver to two area Hospice Houses so that the staff and families of patients could enjoy some of our delicious holiday treats.  Our cookie artists were also able to take home plates of cookies to enjoy with their families.  Once again President Ross was charged with the difficult task of quality control.

The club was recruited to assist Harvest United Methodist Church with its annual Holiday Cookout at Falkner Farms for the Migrant Workers and their families.  For the third year in a row, the club cooked hamburgers and hot dogs to feed the 600 party attendees.  Club photographer Bob Rodd captured hundreds of priceless moments of children on Santa's lap.  The children all received special gifts from church members and enjoyed an afternoon of fun.

Aside from our Holiday community service projects, we also participated in two eco-projects during the month of December.  The first project was our quarterly road cleanup and recycling project along 60th Ave E in Ellenton near the outlet mall.  The second was a project coordinated by the Manatee County Department of Natural Resources at Emerson Point.  Club members helped remove exotic plants and vines, which proved to be quite strenuous work!  

The Rotary Club had a successful 2012 and we are looking forward to continuing to serve our community in 2013.  We want to thank all of our members, their spouses, and all of our Rotary friends and supporters for all that you do throughout the year.  


Snowtarians Return from "Up North"

Three of the Club's Snowtarians have returned from the North and wasted no time in reconnecting with the Rotary Club of East Manatee.  Art and Dell Clough of Meredith, NH and Herb Ray from upstate New York are back for the winter and have already volunteered at our annual Pepsi Booth at Hunsader Farm's Pumpkin Festival.  We appreciate their enthusiasm and look forward to their help during our busy "season"!


Rotary Peace Pole Rededicated at Gullett Elementary 

 Rotarians gathered around Gullett Elementary in East Manatee for the 5th Rededication Ceremony.

All 650 children from pre-kindergarten to fifth graders gathered around the Peace Pole on Friday, September 28, 2012.  The children read the essays they wrote about what peace means to them.  With direction from Mr. Hamand the children sang and danced.  Several students recited "May Peace Prevail on Earth" in their native language.  

The Peace Pole was originally dedicated in 2007 when the school first opened.  Principal Kathy Hayes welcomed the gift of the Peace Pole from the Rotary club and selected the 12 languages displayed on the 6 sides of the pole.  The languages reflect the cultures represented by the students and their families.   In recognition of the International Day of Peace, the students gather in the school's courtyard and are reminded to think of the meaning of the Peace Pole when they walk by it each day.  The message on Friday rang loud and clear:  Peace starts with each of us, in our hearts and in our actions towards each other.  Let Peace Prevail on Earth!




Rotary Club Welcomes First Rotary Youth Exchange Student



The Rotary Club of East Manatee welcomed their first Rotary Youth Exchange Student on August 2, 2012.  Marisa Ling Brannlund comes to us from Solna, Sweden to spend a year in the United States and is attending Lakewood Ranch High School as a junior.  She is studying American History, English, Algebra 2, Physics, Commercial Art, Latin, and Keyboarding.  She is an avid photographer and hopes to pursue it as a career one day.  She has accompanied Rotarian Bob Rodd to his Photography Club meetings since her arrival.  She has also joined the Art Club at school and looks forward to participating in many other extracurricular as well as Rotary activities.  She is staying with Rotarian Melissa Hammond and her family until January when she will join a second host family for several months.  

In her short time here, Marisa has traveled to San Diego, CA and visited Disneyland with Melissa's family.  She has also experienced football tailgating with other Rotary Youth Exchange students at a Florida State University Football game in Tallahassee.  There is a lot more in store for Marisa this year and the club is excited to make this a memorable experience for her!