April was a busy Niles month for service in the community. The month began at Cabrillo Elementary School in the rain, where a group of intrepid Niles Rotarians braved the elements to beautify a student garden and install a work bench. At this event, I discovered two talents in the club. The first came as no surprise: Steve Landon can build a work bench out of wood. I have no idea how he did it. I helped get the roughed-out piece off his truck, and then Steve set up a makeshift outdoor workshop in which he finished the piece off. Before you knew it, people were sanding the work bench and it was nailed to the side of a building at the school, ready for duty. Not being a handy person, I have never built anything larger than a chicken pot pie. So this work bench was truly a wonder to me. I take my hat off to Steve and the handymen and handywomen of Niles Rotary
The second talent I discovered was the love of tan bark that resides in the club. Niles Rotarians love to shovel tan bark, transport it a wheel barrow, spread it around, make patterns in it, and argue about whether it is distributed perfectly in all areas. Again, I had no idea. By the end of the day, tan bark was exactly two-a-half inches deep throughout the school garden, and the sense of satisfaction was palpable. It was a great morning of work and cheerfulness, sustained by breakfast sandwiches from the Depot Café. Thank you everyone who joined the work party, and especially Paul Andrus, the Service Chair of the club, for coordinating everything and keeping us fed.
At the end of April, on Arbor Day, our second service outing of the month, again organized by Paul Andrus, took place at Rancho Arroyo Park in Niles and at the Stone Garden, a community garden owned by Local Ecology and Agriculture in Fremont (LEAF). After lashings of breakfast sandwiches, this time from Joe’s Corner (thank you, Melissa!), one group took off to the Stone Garden to build planter boxes, maintain the community garden and erect a fence. At the Rancho Arroyo Park . . . yup, you guessed it . . . we spread tan bark. Given all the practice we had earlier this month, it turned out we got pretty fast at distributing tan bark around the base of the mature trees in the park. But the main thrust of our project at the park was the planting of several trees, which occurred under the watchful eye of a couple of employees from the City of Fremont Parks and Recreation Department. Again, I want to express my appreciation to everyone in the club who spent a glorious spring morning improving a local park for our friends and neighbors. And thank you, Rich Godfrey, for involving LEAF in the project too.
Even though it rained on the Cabrillo School project and the sun shone brightly at the Arbor Day project, the two events shared one special feature – a ton of laughter. As I looked up from my little pile of tan bark, all I could see was Rotarians having fun, working together and enjoying each other’s company. As much as I like to think my shenanigans at the podium each Thursday define our club this year, it is really the generous spirit and camaraderie of community service that makes the Niles Rotary Club so unique. With the contributions of time, talent and treasure offered by the hundred members of Niles Rotary, there is nothing we can’t do together. Especially when it comes to tan bark.