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CR West sponsored Interact at Washington HS.

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Heartland Youth For Christ - Send Brandon Over The Edge Fundraiser


I'm doing that "Over The Edge" thing that you might have seen on the news, with proceeds going to Youth for Heartland Christ.  The idea is that if I can raise $1000, I'll rappel off the edge of the Iowa building in Downtown CR during the farmer's market on Saturday Aug 19th.  The rappelling part doesn't scare me.  It's the fundraising part that gives me pause.  Other area Rotary clubs are also doing it,  so we're in a bit of a friendly competition with them.


It's tax deductible, makes our society better, and if you donate $100 or more, I'll put you in a raffle for me to make you a homemade lard crust apple pie, with your name on it.  It's win-win.  Please consider making a donation, and I'll represent our club.


Thank you for reading.

-Brandon Blakenship




Passing of the Gavel


This month we saw the last meeting with Jim Coller as President, and the inauguration of President Tom Vander Vaart of Cedar Rapids West Rotary.  This is going to be another great year.




West Rotary held its annual Student Scholarship Program on May 3. One student from each area high school was chosen to receive a scholarship to Kirkwood Community College.


Recipients (from left) are: Jenna Williams, Metro High School; Madison Barmore, Jefferson High School; Aaron Brandt, Washington High School; Apollo Betsworth, Cedar Valley Christian School; Wesley Carlson, Kennedy High School; Laura Proper, Linn-Mar High School; Bethany Darling, Marion High School; and Bethany Underwood, Prairie High School. Not pictured John Le, Xavier High School.





 Individual Pictures Here.




Another Paul Harris Award at West

Brandon Blankenship


Brandon Blankenship's generous donations earned him a Paul Harris Award, at a recent meeting at Cedar Rapids Rotary West.



This year's Rotary West Pancake Breakfast benefit was a great success!




Cedar Rapids West Rotary mugs are here!


These mugs start off as classic black, but when filled with your favorite hot liquid, they reveal a stunning image of the nearby iconic lion bridge, from Anthony Doudt Photography.  Show your pride in Cedar Rapids, Rotary International, and our local club, by buying a few for your family and friends, for the low price of $20 each.










Join us for a meeting at the African American Museum of Iowa at Noon on Wednesdays, where these amazing mugs will be available.



Recent Paul Harris Awards



Recently Cedar Rapids West Rotary recognized a slew of Paul Harris awards, allowing Rotary Foundation to do great works around the world in and our community.




John Thornton was honored with a Paul Harris (plus 3) award, and his daughter Beatrix received a Paul Harris award in her name, given by her father. 



Mike Wiethorn received another Paul Harris, for his exceptional support of the Rotary Foundation.



Liz Durham’s generous donations earned her another Paul Harris Award, at our Jan 11th meeting.




Salvation Army Bell Ringing is Underway



On November 26th, Rotary West was active in the community ringing bells for the Salvation Army at Edgewood Hy-Vee.

From left: Barbara Gannon (Johnston Rotary); Betsy & Dave Kutter (Cedar Rapids Rotary West);

Lucas (RYLA) and Eli Gannon (candidate for YRYLA). Chris Gannon (also of Johnston), is behind the camera.




Kirk Leiffert and Mr. Sock Monkey bell ringing at the Johnson St. Hy-Vee.




Liz Durham seeing no evil, while raising money for the Salvation Army at the Johnson St. Hy-Hee.





Brandon Blankenship, and his daughter, Sophia, making spirits bright, at the Johnson St. Hy-Vee.







Educator Recognition Program 2016



We had the honor of celebrating the significant and lasting impact of great teachers this week with the annual Educator Recognition Program. Each area high school nominated a representative from their teaching staff to represent the outstanding faculty serving students at their school.


This program aligns perfectly with Rotary West’s mission to support education. We recognize students each spring with our scholarship program. Our fall recognition is our opportunity to celebrate the outstanding efforts of their teachers.


Each honoree was introduced today by a school administrator and received a Certificate of Appreciation. The 2016 honorees are: Adam Conn, Cedar Valley Christian School; Stephanie Wendt, Xavier Catholic High School; Ian Kleman, Washington High School; Vera Rochotzke, Kennedy High School; Chad Allard, Jefferson High School; Paul Schenkelberg, Prairie High School; Becky Herman, Marion High School; Malinda Wilcox, Metro High School; and Jeanne Turner, Linn-Mar High School.













Rotary West Helps Monarch Butterfly Populations


Milkweed is crucial to the survival of the monarch butterfly, but since the Midwest was settled and turned to agriculture, a lot of the habitat has gone.  Liz Durham heads up Rotary West’s efforts to get Iowa lands reseeded with milkweed, to help the monarch butterfly populations recover.  This pollinator is advantagous to Iowa's ecosystem.  Our local efforts have met with success, and next year should be even better!   Here is an example from Liz Durham’s property.






Trapper Keepers Delivered

Rotary West members stepped up to help provide incoming 6th grade students with trapper keepers for the new school year.

Funds raised by our organization and others – including from our annual Pancake Breakfast - were used to purchase 1,000 trapper keepers that the staff at each of the six Cedar Rapids middle schools will distribute to students.


Rotary West’s contribution was $13,816! Other funders included the Alliant Energy FoundationWitwer Trustthe University of Iowa Community Credit Union, and Casey’s General Stores.


Jim Coller, president, Cedar Rapids West Rotary, said, "All of the members of Cedar Rapids West Rotary volunteer and contribute so hopefully every child has the necessary resources and the opportunity to gain as much knowledge as they possibly can. We believe the students, as future leaders, will pay it forward and continue with Cedar Rapids West Rotary’s mission of “Service Supporting Education” and follow the Rotary International’s  motto of “Service Above Self."


"Our Rotary club looks forward to continuing our work with the local schools and other community organizations in support of education," he continued.


This is the fourth year of the collaborative effort, and the first year working directly with the school district to identify a targeted need. In addition to Rotary West, partnering organizations include The Salvation ArmyHenry Davison Youth CenterFreedom FestivalTanager Place, and Hiawatha Parks and Recreation.



The KCRG story can be found here.





Van Buren Elementary Garden Project


Our own Betty Ehlinger heads up the garden volunteer project at Van Buren elementary school, and this year's sun and rain helped produce a bumper crop for local families to enjoy.  Not only does this plot provide a opportunity for young students to learn and experience gardening, but it's also a wonderful metaphor for growth and nurturing in our community.



Recently, President Christine Smart was presented with the Governor Volunteer Awards by Governor Terry Branstad on behalf of Cedar Rapids Rotary West, for the volunteer work though our community and the world. 




Our own Marcia Hughes served as emcee for the ceremony.



Passing The Gavel


On July 15, we officially changed leadership from President Christine Smart to President Jim Coller.  We look forward to another great year.







Rotary West-Service Supporting Learning



Visit CR West Rotary's Facebook page for photos. 


Rotary Serving Humanity is the Rotary theme for 2016-17. Rotary International President Germ urges Rotary members to give the gifts of time, talent, and knowledge to improve lives in communities across the globe.


Join Cedar Rapids West Rotary any Wednesday at noon at the African American Museum of Iowa with plenty of convenient parking.  Click here for information on upcoming programs and West Rotary's calendar.


Visit our Club Service Projects to learn more about our other projects both in our community and across the world. 


Welcome Messages

click on the photos to read welcome messages


Ian H.S. Riseley

Rotary International


Ralph Smith

District 5970


Tom Vander Vaart

Rotary West





Cedar Rapids Bank & TrustGuaranty Bank & TrustHouse of Carpets

Jazz 88.3 KCCK-FMRinderknechtScott and Penny Olson