The Coronado Rotary Club has been a mainstay on the island since 1926, when 22 residents signed a charter in an effort led by then editor, manager, and part owner of the Coronado Journal, Albert H. Foret. Foret worked with a member from the San Diego chapter of Rotary to bring the club’s standards and goals to Coronado. Today, the Coronado Rotary Club has over 250 members continuing the organization’s goals of service to the community.
Kitt Williams, co-chair of the club’s PR Committee and member since 2019, says that a big draw of the club is the sense of camaraderie with other members and opportunities to network. “I was invited to become a member by a fellow Board member at the Coronado Historical Association,” Williams said. “I respected her and was drawn to the opportunity to give back to the community, region and the world. My favorite part of Rotary is working toward a common goal with a group of energetic, committed individuals who give each other support.”
Williams explained that club’s motto across the scope of its international groups is, “Service Above Self” which forms the backbone of their motivation and inspiration for Coronado Rotary Club’s activities. “A unique attribute of Rotary,” Williams told me, “is that one can envision a project, put a business plan together and present it to the Coronado Rotary board for funding and support. If you are passionate about a cause and successfully present it, you can get the considerable backing of the local club, the District and beyond to make it happen.”
One of Rotary’s most beloved annual activities on the island are the Christmas Eve Santas. Rotarians dress up as Santas and elves to deliver gifts, pre-arranged by families in advance, to children around Coronado on Christmas Eve. “I was one of the elves in 2019,” recalled Williams, “and had the joy of seeing the reaction of the children when Santa himself came in the door and delivered much-anticipated gifts. It was more fun than I even imagined!”
Another community favorite with unique significance to Coronado is the Flags on the Avenue service event that began in 1994. “On every holiday and selected other days, a team of 76 dedicated, blue-vested Rotarians gets up very early to place 192 flags along Orange Avenue and takes them down just before sundown to the sounds of patriotic march music,” Williams explained. Coronadans can enjoy the ceremonial aspect added to these holidays that pays tribute to such a large part of Coronado’s community and history.
Flags on the Avenue isn’t Rotary’s only project that puts the spotlight on the service members in our community. The annual Low Tide Ride & Stride event started over 20 years ago as a project to support local combat-wounded veterans and has become a family-favorite event each summer. “The lowest tide of the month allows participants to traverse the beach from start to finish,” said Williams. “This beautiful stretch of sand is hard-packed and will easily support road bikes while wide enough for joggers, cruisers and kids bikes to travel at their own pace.” Over the years the Low Tide Ride & Stride has brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations for the military community, earning recognition and the San Diego Military Advisory Council’s Achievement Award and Armed Services YMCA Admiral St George Award.
On a more regular basis, club members volunteer for monthly beach cleanups and hold weekly meetings. Of course, 2020 meant changes, adapting, and putting some of the annual events on hold, but that hasn’t stopped Rotary members from finding ways to move forward and even implement new and exciting opportunities in the meantime.
“The pandemic forced us to quickly shift gears to a Zoom format from our in-person luncheons on Wednesdays,” Williams told me. “We miss the fun of seeing our friends in person every week, but it has enriched our opportunities for luncheon speakers. We have had outstanding speakers from remote locations that we would not have heard otherwise.”
Williams also mentions how the new arrangements has brought more opportunities for older members with mobility issues to participate more effectively, as well as for busier members to be able to fit virtual meetings into hectic schedules.
The pandemic has also brought about unique challenges to the community that Rotary members are striving to meet. “Two projects specific to the pandemic that Coronado Rotary has been involved with is the Neighbor 2 Neighbor program and the Sharp Coronado vaccination initiative at the Community Center,” Williams mentioned. “The Neighbor 2 Neighbor (N2N) program is a joint program with the City that began at the beginning of the pandemic to keep neighbors informed and look after neighbors who may need support with shopping or errands. The vaccination program just started and nearly 100 Rotarians have volunteered to help with COVID-19 vaccination intake and support. If you look in the Community Center, you will see scores of blue-vested Rotarians helping out!”
Aside from continuing these efforts and hoping to be able to reinstitute annual events as we move into the new year, the Coronado Rotary Club will also be hosting the District Conference for Rotary in 2021. The conference is planned to take place the weekend of Sept. 10-12 and include educational and planning activities, and an End Polio Now wine tasting fundraiser that will all lead up to this year’s Low Tide Ride & Stride. “The weekend will be filled with exciting and interesting activities for our guests. It will be an honor and a pleasure to host Rotarians from around the region in Coronado,” Williams said with excitement. “One of our Coronado Rotarians, Dan Gensler, will also be the new District Governor for District 5340 in July.”
2021 is set to be a big year for the club, which is always welcoming new members. “Rotary’s reputation for good works, the camaraderie with other members and the opportunity to network are important draws,” Williams said of what makes the Coronado chapter so appealing. Across the board club members agree that their top reasons for joining and remaining actively engaged in Rotary include, “opportunities to serve, friendship-fun-nice people, business development and networking, personal growth, citizenship in the community, leadership development, youth programs, high ethical standards, continuing education, and entertainment and great programs.”
For those interested in learning more and getting involved in the Coronado Rotary Club, more information can be found on their website at www.coronadorotary.org and their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/coronadorotary/. You can also contact Executive Director Jaimie Centeno by phone or email at 619-435-8334 or email@example.com.