True, doing good is even more intrinsic than weekly meetings to Rotary, with its motto of Service Before Self and its logo wheel that keeps turning because some 1.2 million members worldwide keep pushing.
But by now, the Parole Rotarians have figured out that staging a signature festival, particularly inaugurating one, is a lot of trouble. Not more trouble than it’s worth, I hope — and you can bet they do, too, though they won’t know until at least next week, when all that’s left to do for Naptown barBAYq is to count the take.
But very possibly more trouble than parking cars at Navy home football games.
That’s been the way Parole Rotary has raised big money for its good works. Car parking is pretty profitable; it’s brought in tens of thousands of dollars a year for Parole Rotary to invest back into the community.
“We really want to be local, local, local,” says Rotarian Bill Fine of how his club targets its efforts. Typically, local, local, local means Anne Arundel County. Who gets the money varies from year to year, according to which community charities apply, and how articulately, for which projects.
Education is always big. So you’ll find Parole Rotary giving dictionaries to third graders, scholarships to Anne Arundel Community College students and support to introduce high schoolers to the wider world, through exchange programs sending local teens abroad and bringing foreign teams here, both to live with Rotary families.
(Parole Rotarians like books, which is a cause high on my list. Their other signature program, the B.I.G. Books Project, does a great job of cycling books you and I no longer have room for into the hands of people who long for them. Books for International Goodwill, which B.I.G. stands for, has sent four million books to eager readers abroad, including American troops. The books are free; you and I donate them. The shipping isn’t, and it’s paid for by quarterly book sales of more than 75,000 titles each time. Watch 8 Days a Week for the next one. Meanwhile, drop off your books 24/7 at B.I.G.’s new warehouse, 2000 Capital Drive, Annapolis: www.big-books.org.)
The environment gets a share, through programs like Treemendous Maryland. Grants are of course made to people most in need, through programs like Anne Arundel County’s Homeless Resource Day Fair and Thanksgiving dinners.
This year, Johns Hopkins’ Kimmel Cancer Center’s Pediatric Oncology Program also benefits, as you’ll read this week on page 4. For specialized cancer treatment for children, Baltimore is local.
Despite the big haul, football parking takes half a dozen feats of organization, one for each home game. Wouldn’t it be great, the Parole Rotarians must have thought, to roll all that effort into one big event? Signature events are a great Rotary tradition, indeed an enviable one. Annapolis Rotary has its famous and famously profitable Rotary Crab Feast, which may be the world’s biggest, every August. Rotary of St. Mary’s County has its vastly popular Oyster Festival and National Oyster Shucking Contest each October.
Sounds good, until you find out how much work one big event takes. Staging the inaugural Naptown barBAYq — even with the template perfected by the Kansas City Barbeque Society, the event partner — is so arduous that Bill Fine had to quit his job so he’d have time for his Rotary avocation.
Well, not quite quit, but scale back and reorganize.
I’m telling you all this to urge you to join Bay Weekly in giving these Rotarians a little help. Everything’s nailed down now but guests. So you’re the last ingredient in making Naptown barBAYq one great party.
It’s free, but for what you eat and drink, so it won’t cost you any more than you want to spend. And I bet you’ll have a good time. If not, I’ll personally refund your entrance fee.