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Downtown Rotary Makes Key Donation To Gathering Place

Lincoln, NE (June 28, 2021) Lincoln’s Downtown Rotary is donating $18,000 to help pay for a new heating and air conditioning system for the 115-year-old Gathering Place house.  In addition, the Club is constructing and committed to stocking a Little Free Pantry at the home located at 14th and “E” streets just south of the Capitol.

“Rotary members from the Downtown Club have been serving meals at The Gathering Place since 1991,” noted Lisa Janssen, Gathering Place Program Administrator with Community Action Partnership of Lancaster and Saunders Counties. “Not only do members volunteer several times each month, when we are in need of help their members quickly step forward. For example, when we expanded services to provide meals on weekends, Rotarians were the first to help out.” 

“I was particularly pleased to designate The Gathering Place as the recipient of our Club’s grant during my year as President,” said Eric Drumheller who has served as President of the Club between July 2020 and June 2021. “Our members always answer the call to serve meals and when I learned how hot it can be in the house during the summer and cold in the winter, the need for a new heating and air conditioning system confirmed our decision to select The Gathering Place to receive the grant. Even during last year’s pandemic, our club raised nearly $40,000 for our Foundation and we’re thrilled to share a portion of that with The Gathering Place.” 

The members of Rotary 14, as the Club is known, undertake annual local projects including scholarship grants to graduating high school students, hosting international visitors, some of whom are sponsored by one or more of the 35,000 Rotary clubs around the world, volunteering at Everett Elementary in the same neighborhood as The Gathering Place, giving dictionaries to every 4th grade student in the city and donating blood to the Lancaster County Blood Bank. And, each year they designate half of the funds raised for their foundation toward a community project. 

“Not too long after I moved to Lincoln, I became aware of the need for volunteers to help serve food at The Gathering Place,” commented Dean Settle a long-time member of Club 14. “I appealed to the Club members to become regular volunteers and I’m pleased to say that over the years, hundreds of our members have been there to help. And, our time serving isn’t the only way we help. Our members have purchased silverware, food trays and even pizza.” In addition to Rotarians, volunteer groups include university clubs and organizations, fraternities, churches, local companies and families. 

“During the COVID pandemic I realized that there was an additional need for food and family supplies,” added Drumheller. “So, I proposed that we build and stock a Little Free Pantry at the house.” The Rotary 14 Foundation and the foundation operated by the Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa Rotary Clubs are combining their efforts to fund construction of an accessible little food pantry on the premises of The Gathering Place. In addition, the funds donated will be combined with help from B & R Foods of Lincoln to purchase some expensive items such as baby formula and personal care items. Once the pantry is built, Club 14 members will volunteer to stock it with food items, and the other items will be purchased from B & R Stores and placed in the pantry. 

“Our place is located in the Everett Neighborhood just south of the Capitol building, and this area has a very high need for food assistance, especially toward the end of the month when funds run out,” noted Janssen. “The funds from Rotary 14 and the Little Free Pantry will not only help provide much needed nutritional meals, our guests and volunteers will be much more comfortable when they visit for a meal.”

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