On Sunday morning, June 5th, I found myself at a small bake sale sponsored by the San Cristobal Rotary Club. The local Rotarians focus on assisting the poorest and most vulnerable youth and senior citizens in their community. The sale was held outside a senior center which recently lost government funding. It is an older building, a very pleasant with some cool, shaded courtyard spaces inside. Wishing to protect the privacy of residents, I did not take pictures inside the center.
One member of my family, Marielena Gomez, is in a leadership position with the San Cristobal Rotarians. To join a local chapter, you first need a resume of charitable works. Rotary builds their members from the ground up, starting from the age of twelve. Venezuela may not have as robust a tradition of community volunteer work as we do, but this Sunday morning was a morning of hope and optimism. Here, the next generation of San Cristobal’s leaders were at work starting careers in public service, raising money for the senior center. They do at least one public fundraising activity every month.
San Cristobal’s Rotary has two programs: the first is an “adopt a child” program, where individuals and organizations give monthly stipends to provide for rural children in the area who are afflicted with leprosy. The second program seeks and collects financial assistance from businesses, institutions and individuals for the Padre Lizardo center.