On May 5, the Rotary Club of West St. Louis County presented $33,000 in awards to local students, teachers, businesses and nonprofit organizations – some with a regional or even an international reach.
The distribution was the largest such amount in the club’s history and represents funds raised in just over a year at a variety of community events, according to club president Harry LeMay.
LeMay said the club’s 45 members include current and retired business and community leaders who embrace the Rotary motto of “Service Above Self.”
That motto also runs deep with the individuals and organizations chosen to receive the recent Rotary Club awards.
One of those organizations is Equine Assisted Therapy (EAT), a Wildwood-based entity that provides therapeutic horseback riding activities for individuals with disabilities and, more recently, those who have experienced the horrors of war. The operation offers an opportunity for healing those emotional wounds by giving veterans training in preparing horses to provide therapy to others.
A 501(c)3 organization, EAT was founded by Ginni Hartke, who with her husband, Gary, and more than 300 volunteers, work at the Wildwood headquarters and at Longview Farm in Town & Country.
EAT received a major financial award last year from the Rotary Club to help build a storage room for equine gear in Wildwood. This year, the operation will benefit from shelving units being installed as an Eagle Scout project, again courtesy of Rotary Club sponsorship.
Ginni noted that more than 100 people with disabilities now use the operation weekly. In addition to fostering feelings of independence and control while riding a horse, Hartke said another goal is altering a person’s mindset from being a care receiver to being a caregiver.
It amounts to a big change in that person’s life – a positive one that can be built on in many ways,” Ginni observed.
Brace for Impact 46, an organization founded by former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Kyle McClellan and his wife, Bridget, was another of the Rotary Club’s financial award recipients.
“My wife and I were looking for a way to give back and have an impact on others,” Kyle said. “We wanted to use my platform to help other people who needed the basics of food, shelter, clean water and education so that they could grow and have an opportunity to be leaders in the future.
“We weren’t sure what we were going to do until Adam Wainwright and his wife, who are good friends, asked us to go with them to see what was happening in Haiti. That experience flipped us upside down.”
That visit early in 2014 led the McClellans to found Brace for Impact 46, which provides assistance to a home for orphans in that Caribbean nation.
Other Rotary Club recipients included:
• Lucky’s Market in Ellisville – Business of the Year.
• Brice Bube of Valley Park High, Julia Dunn of Parkway West High, Madison Plaster of Parkway South High, Leah Kimerle of Marquette High, Katherine Trout of Lafayette High, and Matthew Pearl of Eureka High – all of whom received college scholarships.
• Steven Brim, second grade teacher at Ridge Meadows Elementary; Angie Nichols, physical education and health teacher at Green Pines Elementary; Elizabeth Smith, case manager and teacher at Wildwood Middle; and Kristin Lammert, Kathy Soucy and Marietta Koziatek, members of Team BAM (Building Algebra Mastery) at Lafayette High – all of whom were recognized for excellence in teaching.
• The Assistance League of St. Louis
• Pond Athletic Association
• Wildwood YMCA
• Caring Solutions, which provides services to adults and children with developmental disabilities so they can lead fulfilling lives.
• EarthDance Farms, a nonprofit organization that operates an Organic Farm School on the oldest organic farm west of the Mississippi.
• Missouri Mission for Mercy (MOMOM), which provides free oral healthcare to patients of all ages who cannot otherwise afford care.
• Shelter Box, which provides emergency shelter and vital supplies to support communities around the world overwhelmed by disaster and humanitarian crisis.
• Pediatric Orthopedic Project, which has completed three scoliosis missions at the Children’s Hospital in Santiago, Dominican Republic.
• Belize Mission, a non-denominational ministry with the vision of creating a facility where Christian service teams can demonstrate Christ’s love through hands-on work projects in Belize and in the nearby village of Gales Point Manatee.