Conifer Rotarians Continue to Serve Their Community

As our lives have been altered during current social isolation and distancing, as well as the severe and ongoing economic slowdown, community members are pulling together in invaluable ways to help enrich and improve the lives and wellbeing of their neighbors and fellow community members’ safety, food supplies and financial assistance concerns. The Rotary Club of Conifer is but one example of community members working in harmony for the betterment of their community.

Thanks to Leonor McCall Rodriguez, a member of the Rotary Club of Conifer, for her contribution of this story.

A pandemic certainly has not stopped members of Rotary Club of Conifer from lending a helping hand in our communities, and online meeting technology has been a vital tool for staying connected for club meetings each week as well as coordinating service projects.

Janine Payton led the way in Road Clean Up on Earth Day, and while we are all “staying home,” Rotarians were also getting out on the roads, donning face masks and gloves, to pick up roadside trash to help keep our communities beautiful.

Charlotte Wytias continues to lead the 285 Backpack Project, ensuring families get groceries and nutritious snacks delivered while school is out. A lot of work and inventory management goes into coordinating incoming deliveries, assembly and distribution of the 285 Backpacks each week, and during this public health event, fellow Rotarians, teachers and school staff members are finding creative solutions to ensure this project continues to deliver help to local families.

Our club has also leveraged technology this month to ensure the Scholarship Committee conducted timely interviews of graduating Conifer and Platte Canyon high school seniors who are bound for college. As happens each year, the committee found this to be a highly competitive and enjoyable process, thanks to the many talented and highly motivated young scholars who applied. ($6,000 has been designated for selected members of the graduating classes of Conifer and Platte Canyon High Schools.)

The newest activity at Rotary Club of Conifer, the Face Mask Sewing Project, took off after our first online meeting in March, when the media reported healthcare professionals were asking for PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) to cover and expand the life of N95 masks. This prompted club members who have been sewing bags for the 285 Backpack Project to quickly begin crafting and distributing adult and child face masks. To date, Rotarians and friends have sewn and delivered over 2,300 masks, equivalent to almost 200 yards of fabric and over 5,000 feet of elastic!

While the initial focus of our Face Mask Sewing Project was to respond to the need for face masks for family, friends, local nurses and home health care professionals, our list of requests and recipients soon grew. Masks have been distributed to nursing homes, assisted living and memory care facilities, senior residences and businesses in our area. Our reach has also extended beyond our mountain area to include agencies as far away as Durango, who have reached out online to request cloth face masks. What at first began as a small crafting project has quickly grown into a pipeline of support for many Colorado communities. It has been a rewarding activity that allows members of Rotary Club of Conifer to continue its longstanding legacy of community service, even while staying at home.

From Wes Paxton, Principal at Conifer High School, and also a member of the Rotary Club of Conifer, comes helpful information directing us to look for the “Donation” link on to assist the “Conifer Rotary Foundation” in the Club’s continuing efforts to assist local nonprofits through community grants and scholarship funding to local students.

Finally, Ed Steinbrecher, another Rotary Club of Conifer member, advises us that Mountain Resource Center has received over $3000 from the Club’s Foundation to assist their clients who may also be under severe stress during this pandemic.

Websites to visit: Rotary Club of Conifer;, (look for “Donate” link) and Mountain Resource Center; for information about the food bank and other services, and for direct monetary donations to the organization.