I wear my heart on my sleeve. When I say Prior Lake Rotary is awesome, I’m not being boastful, but telling it like it is. I’m honored and privileged to be leading this group of people of action this year as club president. As we are to the midway point of the Rotary year, a year that has looked much different, one thing that has not changed is all the good Rotarians continue to do for others.

That difference has certainly included new service projects. One such project was partnering with PCs for People. This organization sets up mobile collection sites and then gets collected items into the hands of people who otherwise could not afford these technologies. PCs, laptops, and low-cost internet are a focus, but they deal in other electronics. The first collection event in June was so popular that we did another one in July. Our friends from the Prior Lake Lions teamed up with us on both events.

In September, we partnered with Harvest Pack for a night of packing food to support children in our community. Harvest Pack, a nonprofit organization, addresses food insecurity by supporting volunteers in bringing meal packing events to local communities. Prior Lake Rotarians, family members, and South Metro Networking Rotaractors, Rotary for young professionals who we sponsor, joined together and packed 17,496 healthy breakfasts. Meals were then donated to Reaching our Communities’ Kids (ROCK) and Community Action Partnership (CAP). Besides the doing, packing meals, Prior Lake Rotary also donated $3,500, which was used to purchase the materials used for the packing.

The charitable giving continued with another $12,500 given to other organizations in the community. These dollars given to ROCK, Sothern Valley Alliance, CAP Agency, The Toy Corner, Sleep in Heavenly Peace, and Prior Lake Savage Area Schools, went directly to help these organizations address needs that are always there, but have increased due to the pandemic. I feel so fortunate to be a member of an organization that is able to help in this way.

In December, Prior Lake Rotary continued to address community needs by conducting our first ever holiday gift box. It was a partnership between Lunds & Byerlys Prior Lake, ROCK, and the CAP Agency. Over 30 Rotarians and family members met at Shepherd of the Lake and safely packed food from Lunds & Byerlys, and other essentials (and treats) from ROCK. In all, 51 deliveries of these items were made to families, which were identified by CAP Agency as being food insecure.

Besides these new projects, we continued to do our Adopt-A-Highway stretch through downtown Prior Lake, and kept Gateway Park well maintained, and we continue to enhance it. This year, there were significant changes to the park including the redesign of some of the gardens, the addition of over 400 pollinator plants, and the addition of a sign display. The signs will identify plants by picture and descriptions, so people learn about what goes into the pollinator and rain gardens.

Rotarians will continue to be People of Action during and after this pandemic, and we invite you to join our team. Contact me at priorlakerotary.marlys@gmail.com.

Marlys Gesme is the president of the Prior Lake Rotary Club.