As summer program remains shut, Grove Rotary donates 40 bikes to help kids exercise

Christina Mayo
·6 min read

When The Barnyard after-school and summer program had to close its doors because of the pandemic, the Rotary Club of Coconut Grove stepped up to collect donations of bicycles for children in need.

“In an effort to help the children that normally attend the summer daycare program at The Barnyard in West Grove, we collected 40 bicycles and donated them so the kids could get some exercise during these trying times,” said club member Kathy Kesler.

The Barnyard programs are especially cherished by children ages 5-13 and their parents who have difficulty paying for childcare when school is not in session.

“I want to sincerely thank the Grove Rotary Club,” said Sylvia Jordan, Barnyard executive director. “For the past several months, we have not been able to personally help our students, and this will enable them to get outdoors.”

The Rotary Club of Coconut Grove has always concentrated its local efforts on improving conditions in the West Grove for the community as a whole and for the individuals who live there.

“The executive director loved my idea about giving bikes to her children and students,” Kesler said. “Her assistant called all the parents first and confirmed the children who needed, and would use, the bicycles to get exercise while they had to be home — then called me and said they could use 40 kids and adult bikes. So we found them.

“They were having the children and parents come in to pick up art supplies that Friday, and as a nice surprise, they had bicycles waiting for all that needed them,” Kesler said.

Locally, the Rotary Club of Coconut Grove has funded free jackets for children during the winter, after-school programs, sports for at-risk teens, health initiatives, and a Learn-to-Swim project for underprivileged youth.

The Club also provides service and financial support to initiatives within the community as well as to various humanitarian projects in Colombia, Africa and Guatemala through the Rotary International matching funds program.

Members meet every Thursday by Zoom. To learn more, email RotaryClubofCoconutGrove@gmail.com for details and a list of guest speakers.

Numerous Rotary Clubs, including the one in Coconut Grove, are also involved in a project to collect bikes to send to South Africa.

“In May, approximately 900 bikes arrived in South Africa where they will help people dramatically improve their lives. We plan another bike collection drive for South Africa in the fall,” Kesler said.

Join 21-day challenge on racial equality, social justice

The newly renamed YWCA South Florida hopes to engage the community June 29 through July 27 in its “21-Day Racial Equity and Social Justice Challenge” that invites participants to read an article, listen to a podcast, or reflect on a personal experience.

The challenge aligns with YWCA’s mission to eliminate racism and empower women, and it comes on the heels of the organization’s centennial, its expansion in Broward County, and its name change from YWCA of Greater Miami-Dade to YWCA South Florida.

“We have been a voice for marginalized communities for more than a century,” said Kerry-Ann Royes, CEO of YWCA South Florida. “As we look toward the next 100 years, we’re excited to expand our mission footprint through programming and strategic partnerships that ensure all women, girls and people of color feel respected, powerful and unstoppable.

“The 21-Day challenge aligns perfectly with this. It gives everyone an opportunity to learn more, look internally and decide how they can stand up for racial equity and social justice in a tangible way.”

South Florida residents are encouraged to register at www.ywca-miami.org where they can examine how racism and bias impact their lives and communities. After registering, participants will be granted access to a private Facebook group where they can reflect and engage with others.

OUTshine hosts virtual films and contest

With a commitment to three virtual screenings a month — most free, others catering to their loyal community of donors — the Outshine LGBTQ+ Film Festival is persevering through the COVID-19 crisis with a mission to inspire, entertain, and educate through film.

After stay-at-home orders prevented the 22nd annual Miami Edition of the Festival, the group reinvented itself and found a whole new audience online. The virtual platform is now available to those who would normally be prohibited by geographic or economic factors like traveling to South Florida, ticket prices or simply parking.

Check out the films, and even submit your own, to the upcoming Fort Lauderdale contest at www.outshinefilm.com. The group also has an option online for volunteers to join its film-screening committee.

Camp Chug-A-Long teaches history through vlogcasts

With so many summer camps closed due to the pandemic and parental safety concerns, the Gold Coast Railroad Museum is launching a new series of 30 vlogcasts for campers through a subscription service platform.

“Coming off the success of our annual fundraiser event, ‘Day Out with Thomas,’ the pandemic brought us to a halt. But with that came the opportunity to do much-needed maintenance, reorganize our collection, and continue a major project on a restored caboose,” said Connie Greer, executive director of the Gold Coast Railroad Museum.

“But we also don’t want people to forget we exist, so we’ve developed ‘Camp Chug-A-Long’ with local historian Cesar A. Becerra, who was our former director of education,” Greer said.

Becerra has researched Miami’s origin story for the past 25 years. He has also portrayed Henry Flagler and James Ingraham for many years at Everglades National Park’s “Vintage Days.” He will portray characters in Florida history in the 20-minute broadcasts that will be sent to all Camp Chug-A-Long subscribers.

Camp Chug-A-Long features two subscription tiers. The first is $60 and includes a subscription to the 30 “vlogcasts” and a yearlong family membership to the Gold Coast Railroad Museum.

The second tier is $40 and includes the subscription to the 30 vlogcasts only.

Scholarships are available to campers in need.

Founded in 1957, the Gold Coast Railroad Museum was built on the former Naval Air Station Richmond (NASR), the second-largest World War II airship base in the United States. It is next to Zoo Miami.

There are many remarkable artifacts on display, including the Presidential Pullman Passenger Car — the Ferdinand Magellan; the Seaboard Air Line Railroad Passenger Combination Baggage-Coach; and the U.S. Army Hospital Car, which was used during World War II.

Learn more at www.goldcoastrailroadmuseum.org

If you have news for this column, write to ChristinaMMayo@gmail.com.