The Rotary Club of San Francisco is the second oldest Rotary chapter in the world, having been founded in November of 1908. However, it wasn’t until earlier this year that the international service organization launched a chapter in the Castro/Noe Valley.
“We were looking at the city, and we were trying to think of other areas that we could support,” said Danielle Lallement, charter president of the Rotary Club of San Francisco Evening. “We looked at the Castro and Noe Valley and thought, ‘Why is this not supported?’ We started doing a lot of work in the area, asking people if they thought it would be a benefit here. That’s why we started to get the club off the ground.”
According to Lallement, the club, one of eight in San Francisco, now has between eight and 15 regular attendees. Other community members have been getting involved, too.
“Once a month, we are cleaning up these different green spaces of the neighborhoods,” she said. “28 people were at the last one. People literally came in off the street; we had people just show up and ask ‘What are you doing?’” According to Lallement, many grabbed a pair of gloves and joined in on the work.
Rotary projects are not limited in their scope or reach. Because the Castro’s new chapter is still in its infancy, members are in the early stages of conceptualizing the types of projects that they would like to tackle in the neighborhood.
“The benefit of Rotary, said Lallement, “is that because of the number of clubs, the amount of connections you make, [you] can partner with other clubs in other areas of the city and country and the world and as a group, you can literally turn a small project into something huge.” Local clubs have undertaken everything from working with homeless individuals to supporting the Boys and Girls Clubs to running street cleanups.
“We’re at the beginning stage of [asking] 'What can we do, and what are the opportunities?'” said Lallement. "We're actually bringing in other community nonprofits to see where we want to go."
Currently, the Castro/Noe Valley club meets at a member’s home. However, the group would like to expand to the point where it can have regular meetings at another location in the neighborhood. The next official meeting will be May 17th, with a speaker from the Trevor Project discussing teen bullying and the issues facing LGBT youth.
If you’re interested in participating in one of the Rotary Club’s community service projects here in the Castro, the new chapter will be holding a cleanup this Saturday at 19th and Sanchez, from 9-11am.“It’s fabulous community service,” said Lallement. "We are doing some great neighborhood work."