Our Efforts for the Community
In the short time that Crossroads Rotary has been serving under Rotary International, we have managed a number of projects, large and small, and continue to do so regularly.
Whether our work is done to gather much-needed supplies and provide necessities for foster kids and the homeless, or we’re out in the local area parks and trails sweating to remove invasive species, build benches, and provide other maintenance, Crossroads Shows Up!
Just after Crossroads Rotary formed, COVID-19 struck and our nascent community services organization was locked away from public interaction. During the early days of the pandemic, a clear need arose for protective face coverings, and so the club stepped up. Through safe-distancing and proper procedures, we set up our first official fundraiser and community effort. Several of our member’s homes were converted into a mask-making production line. Two homes were established for cutting the fabric, another for cutting ribbon, and another to pin the components together. The masks then made their way to club Founder and then President Sloan Schmidt’s house for sewing.
All together, Crossroads members assembled hundreds of masks which were donated to local establishments such as Coffee Oasis and Eleven Winery and sold to folks who needed them, raising $funds to help get the club off the ground and through this difficult period.
In 2019, member Tonya Thomas, Crossroads Rotary’s Interact Coordinator at that time, discovered a number of issues related to school lunches for children of low-income families. Most notably was increasing debt and unpaid lunch dues, even for credit qualifying students. As a result, students would choose not to have lunch in order to avoid increasing their family debt, and those seniors with unpaid lunch debts were prohibited from attending activities such as Senior Graduation Night.
We soon learned that the problem was more widespread than we had thought. In only the first four months of the 2019-2020 school year, our local school district’s lunch debt had already reached nearly $60,000 for all lunches comprising Free, Reduced, and Full Paid lunches. The Reduced Fee lunch program was almost $6,000 in debt.
The Change for Change initiative was launched, and the club began gathering up as much as we could to help kids pay off their school lunch debts by collecting donations during our bi-monthly meetings. The program expanded and collection boxes were set up at our local Les Schwab and Liberty Bay Automotive. Two other local Rotary clubs, Poulsbo Rotary and Kingston Rotary also contributed to help pay off some of the school lunch debts.
For the 2019-2020 school year, Crossroads Rotary collected $3,800 to pay off all of the lunch debt for our local high school seniors that year so that they could participate in graduation activities.
The issues of school lunch debt in Washington State became a public concern, and in 2021 Washington State Bill HB 1342 (2021-2022) was introduced. The bill intended to eliminate school lunch copays for early education and K-12 students in the State of Washington. Crossroads Rotary member Tonya Thomas attended the public hearing on March 10th, and presented a written statement in support of the bill, and in July of 2021 the bill was signed into law.
As many of our members are parents with strong ties to local schools, Crossroads Rotary often helps out the North Kitsap Schools Foundation with funds that go directly to educational projects that wouldn’t otherwise be funded.
We developed our relationship with NKSF early in 2020, when their board approached us for help with supporting a literacy program at Kingston Middle School. The project was to provide a complete set of books for children who needed greater emotional and social support. The books are intended as conversation starters to encourage kids to talk about how they relate to the stories and topics in the books. We also helped by providing journals for the kids to help with communicating their feelings.
For the 2022-2023 school year, Crossroads contributed to two more grant programs through the NKSF. The first was to provide kids at Vinland Elementary School with Burke Boxes and a visit from the Burkemobile from the Burke Museum. The kids were able to learn about paleontology, the Lewis & Clarke Expedition, and the native peoples of the Puget Sound. Our second donation funded the Kingston Middle School’s Anime and Manga club with eleven full series manga to help students develop greater reading stamina and multi-modal thinking skills.
Since Crossroads Rotary’s inception, our members have worked to help the students of North Kitsap High School become more involved in their community. Our first Interact Coordinator, Tonya Thomas, was instrumental in helping the students establish an Interact Club and continued as their mentor.
The Interact students of North Kitsap High put in an enormous amount of effort over a few short years. They have always been involved in our Caps for Cancer campaign, but have also created toys for the Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), helped out with drives for Foster Children, and showed up to a number of Crossroads parks and trails work parties. That’s right, high school kids, actually volunteering to come out and do yard work!
In 2022, the North Kitsap High School Interact club, led by then president Adrianne Carpenter, participated in a Fill the Bus campaign that collected approximately 700 pounds of non-perishable food and clothing for our local Fishline.