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Innsbrook Rotary earns international recognition

At the White House on Rotary Day, Fred Thompson (far right) accepted the Community Leader Award for the Coal Pit Learning Center service project that the Innsbrook Rotary Club completed. Also pictured are (from left): Innsbrook Rotary member Stephen Beer, Gayle Bynum and husband Jim Bynum, who is the Rotary 7600 District Governor.
The Innsbrook Rotary Club is gaining international acknowledgement after earning one of the foundation’s most distinguished honors, the Presidential Citation Award. The award comes at an exciting time for the club as its membership rate is stronger than ever, consisting of vibrant and accomplished business and professional leaders in the area.

Rotary Clubs started more than 100 years ago and now have 1.2 million members worldwide who volunteer in communities at home and abroad. Their goals are to convey the humanitarian spirit by supporting education and job training, providing clean water, combating hunger and improving health and sanitation, supporting the Rotary motto, a
commitment to “Service Above Self.”

The Innsbrook club received the Presidential Citation Award when former Club President Kay King traveled to Bangkok to accept the high honors. There were more than 35,000 Rotarians present, representing 181 countries to witness the local Rotary Club’s accomplishment as the highest achieving in its size category of 100-plus members.

The Innsbrook Club earned the award as the result of achievements toward membership retention and diversity, regularly having 100 percent member participation in the Rotary Foundation Annual Fund. The new international Rotary President, Sakuji Tanaka, set specific goals for the Rotary clubs around the globe. He wanted to increase funding for the international foundation, while also stimulating membership growth by inducting diverse and younger members.

One of the criteria that had to be met was to have a 100 percent participation of people donating at least $100 to the Rotary Foundation; The Innsbrook Club members each donated $300, tripling the amount of resources raised. Other goals of the award included increasing the membership rate by one new member while maintaining an 85 percent retention rate, due to the high number of rotary clubs that are losing members.

The Innsbrook Rotary Club not only met those goals, it exceeded them, earning the high honor of the President Citation Award as it successfully increased the number of women, younger professionals and people with diverse backgrounds who joined the club. King said she could not be more proud of the club.

“The award has never been packaged like this before,” said King. “It was very clear what he (Tanaka) wanted. We were very fortunate and our club did well in all those areas for a couple years and this year we hit it out of the ballpark.”

Earning the award has sparked an immense drive in the club members to strive to continue their efforts throughout the community. Fred Thompson, one of the club’s original charter members in 1989, believes the award brings recognition to the area for those in the community that have been looking for an organization to join.

“It shows we have an outreach that touches the live of the youth that we focus on and we give anyone that is looking for opportunities to become part of that to do so,” said Thompson.

King remarked, “I think its very inspiring and shows that we are a young and vibrant club that is moving forward. It makes us feel like we could do whatever we want to do.”

The accomplishments for the Innsbrook Club did not end with the prestigious award. Another high point came when Thompson participated in the first-ever Rotary Day at the White House.

Only 10 U.S. Rotary members were chosen to be honored as Champions of Change for their continued volunteer work in their communities. The Rotary International and the U.S. have 10 Rotary zones, and each zone submitted several prospective projects to be recognized as Champions of Change.

Thompson was chosen from among that group. He not only represented Innsbrook Rotary but also District 7600 and was one of the four members chosen who had specific focus on issues that were based in their localities. Thompson was recognized for his driving force and efforts in the expansion of the Coal Pit Learning Center in Western Henrico.

The center is a non-profit organization that provides free preschool programs to children from low income families who would otherwise not receive the benefits of a preschool experience. The center opens up doors to young children in various areas, such as art, music and science, while developing motor and pre-reading skills. It is funded by private donations and grants and primarily serves children from the Lakeside and Glen Allen areas.

“This project isn’t over – now the focus turns to operational needs and there’s always a need for regional and local folks to support Coal Pit,” Thompson said. “It was wonderful to see when the school opened that when the kids came back they were able to see something they could call their school; there was an empowerment that the new classroom brought on.”

The Innsbrook club’s accomplishments have continued as members recently distributed more than $35,000 in charitable donations to 24 local youth-based organizations in Henrico, including The Virginia Home for Boys and Girls, Shady Grove Family YMCA and The READ Center. The club holds service events and fundraisers throughout the year to generate resources to give to charities, participating in about 12-15 different events a week. One of its most successful fundraisers is selling roses by the dozen, which resulted in sales of $21,000, all of which was donated to charities.

The members of the Rotary Club of Innsbrook are not slowing down their efforts anytime soon. They are planning a major event for spring 2013 to produce the first ever Virginia Firefighter Skills Competition and Festival at Short Pump Town Center. The event will serve as a major fundraising opportunity and shed light on the service Henrico firefighters provide for the area. In addition, Rotary members are working on their 25th anniversary community service project, which will take place in 2014.

“We want to do something that significant again,” King said, referring to the club’s recent accomplishments. “We want to do something big.”


Community

Garden tails

The threat of bad weather didn’t keep visitors away from Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden July 10 for the facility’s weekly Flowers After 5 event (which pairs music and food with a chance to stroll the garden) and its monthly Fidos After 5 (which allows dog owners to bring their pets with them to enjoy the evening). > Read more.

Western Henrico Rotary helps fund Midwives For Haiti Jeep


Thanks in part to a $10,000 gift from the Western Henrico Rotary Club, another bright pink Jeep modified to travel extremely rough terrain has been delivered to Midwives For Haiti so that more pregnant women in the quake-ravaged country will have access to prenatal care and a greater chance of surviving childbirth.

The funds were raised at the annual casino night held in February, club president Adam Cherry said. The Rotary Club also helped purchase the Virginia-based charity’s first pink jeep three years ago. > Read more.

Agencies combine on new entry point to Chickahominy


Canoeing and kayaking enthusiasts soon will have a new access point to the Chickahominy River. VDOT, the James River Association and Henrico County Parks and Recreation are teaming up to establish a new site in Eastern Henrico.

The James River Association negotiated the deal with VDOT to procure official access to the area located just east of I-295 on North Airport Road in Sandston. The site includes a park-and-ride commuter lot bordering the Chickahominy River and has been an unofficial launch site used by paddlers for years. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Weekend Top 10


An eclectic array of events are taking place this weekend throughout the county. In the West End, we have the Richmond Wedding Expo, the Under the Stars Family Film Series and Henrico Theatre Company’s production of “Pump Boys and Dinettes.” In the eastern part of the county, we have a blood drive at the Eastern Henrico Recreation Center, Gallmeyer Farm’s annual Sweet Corn Festival and an origami workshop at Fairfield Library. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

New Italian restaurant opens in Short Pump

Charlottesville's Bella’s Restaurant recently opened a location in Short Pump Village, at 11408 West Broad Street. The restaurant is owned by Valeria Biesnti, a native of Rome who arrived in the U.S. at age 21 and later became a U.S. citizen. With her restaurants, Bisenti has sought to create an ambiance that welcomes diners in a casual setting, like her favorites from her hometown. > Read more.

Henrico native to appear on Travel Channel show


A Henrico native will appear on the third episode of the Travel Channel's new grilling competition series “American Grilled.”

The episode, filmed in Charlottesville, will premier July 16 at 9 p.m. and feature Glen Allen-native Rex Holmes, a patent lawyer who operates http://SavoryReviews.com a blo,g centered around tasty recipes and BBQ.

The show features hardcore grilling enthusiasts from across the country going head-to-head for a chance to compete for a $10,000 cash prize and bragging rights when they are crowned the ultimate “grill master.” > Read more.

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