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Rotary Club donation helps Boys & Girls Club, Meals on Wheels

Jeff Matera (center left), president-elect of the Marble Falls Noon Rotary Club, presented a check for $9,250 to Bill Drake, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of the Highland Lakes, on March 17. At the presentation were Rotary assistant district governor Mandy McCary (front row, left), Rotarian Stefanie Suggs and Heike Jost (front row, far right); and Bruce Jackson (back row, left), Rotary assistant district governor Rick Stacy, Rotarian Jim Gallagher and Boys & Girls Club board vice president Mike Atkinson. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro

JENNIFER FIERRO • PICAYUNE STAFF

MARBLE FALLS — Three organizations have combined their resources to better serve the needs of the Marble Falls community.

The Noon Rotary Club of Marble Falls, on behalf of the Rotary Foundation, presented a check for $9,250 to Bill Drake, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of the Highland Lakes and a Rotarian, for improvements and renovations to the John and Barbara Racz Community Room and kitchen, which is inside the club at 1701 Broadway.

It is the second of three checks for a total of $27,750 — the most money Rotary has ever donated to a single organization, according to a release from the Rotary Club.

The renovations to the kitchen have allowed Burnet County Meals on Wheels to cook lunches to feed more than 40 residents in need, Drake said.

“It’s a full commercial kitchen,” he said. “It allows Meals on Wheels to cook hot, handmade meals as opposed to what you and I would call ‘TV dinners.’ During the first week, they received three calls telling them how delicious the meals were.”

Talk of a partnership between the three began last summer. Meals on Wheels representatives were searching for a new kitchen after it became apparent their former facility could no longer function the way they needed it to, Drake said.

So he realized his club was an ideal location because Meals on Wheels delivers to people living in that part of the city.

The drawback, however, was the club’s kitchen wasn’t built for commercial use.

Meanwhile, Rotarians were searching for a project they could help fund that would benefit their community, the executive director said.

“It’s something we’re giving you to bless the community,” he said of the Rotary club’s reasoning.

The club used the first check to install new floors, new lighting and a stove hood with fire suppression. The second check will go toward upgrading the restrooms.

Meals on Wheels, which has been working in the Boys & Girls Club of the Highland Lakes’ kitchen for six weeks, serves 45 lunches per day. The club and Meals on Wheels signed a three-year agreement with an option for another three years, Drake said. Meals on Wheels is paying the club $2,500 per month.

Thanks to the upgrades, Drake said the club has decided to rent the dining hall to the public for private parties.

The executive director has a very good reason for renting the hall.

“One of the reasons is the Boys & Girls Club relies so much on private funds,” he said. “We don’t have the ability to go after some of the grants because they’re specific.”

During August and September, when the temperatures are the hottest, the club has an electric bill between $3,000 and 3,500 in addition to other expenses. 

But one group that will be able to use the dining hall any time is the Rotary club, Drake said, in appreciation for what it has done.

As he waited for other Rotarians to arrive, Drake noticed a half-dozen senior citizens making their way into the dining hall. Not everyone qualifies for a Meals on Wheels lunch to be delivered, he said, but some citizens who are able to get to the club can enjoy a meal. For some attendees, he added, lunch might be the only time during the day they have face-to-face conversations. 

“The only complaint that we had was (the dining) room was too cold, which is why we’re so hot,” he said with a smile. “I’m hoping they’re still serving meals when I retire in 20 or 30 years.”

jfierro@thepicayune.com