Now they are partners raising money for new hand sanitizing stations that will be located around the city. It’s a way to promote healthy habits and take precautions against the novel coronavirus.
In May they joined to donate $2,000 to build at least 20 freestanding metal stations with hand sanitizer dispensers.
The stations are being built by Latanick Equipment Inc., a Huron business. Hand sanitizer dispensers are in high demand right now, so the stations will be deployed into the community in coming weeks as soon as the dispensers are available.
“Our motto is service above self,” said Amy Roldan, president-elect of Huron Rotary.
“Our motto is, we serve,” said Charles Bille, president of the Huron Lions. They spoke about the effort with Jim W. Murray, current president of the Huron Rotary Club.
During the pandemic, Rotary International suggested that local service clubs work together in some way to help the situation with COVID-19, Roldan said. She also serves as executive director of the Huron Chamber of Commerce.
As part of that job, Roldan spent time in online and social media forums researching resources for businesses.
“Rotary and Lions embody things that are impartial, nonpartisan, nonpolitical, in an age that even coronavirus has gotten horrifically politicized. I love that these are organizations that are not about getting into the adversarial nature of it, but how you build as a community.”
Jim W. Murray
In Huron and so many other communities, the goal of the chamber is to assist members reopening after the COVID-19 shutdowns. Merchants want to offer their services and wares, while keeping customers safe.
“The one thing that kept popping up … is lots of hand sanitizing stations,” Roldan said. “A lot, like from entrance to departure to exit and public spaces. That was like, the big thing.”
Roldan approached Murray to engage Huron Rotary and called Bille, “and he was like, overly excited.”
“Oh yeah,” Bille said.
“I don’t think it’s the end for us,” Roldan said. “I think it’s something that hand sanitizing stations are definitely going to be a necessity in the world going forward.”
Finding the products
Continuing with research, the group leaders found the demand for freestanding stations was so high, prices were spiking and availability was scarce. However, the local Latanick Equipment could build them, Roldan said.
The project inspired another order for freestanding stations by the city of Huron, Roldan said. At least a dozen local businesses also are interested in getting the stations, she added.
“To give them some extra work was just an extra positive,” Roldan said.
Huron Rotary’s membership is in the 50s; the Huron Lions group’s roster is in the mid 20s. “We’re small but mighty,” Bille said.nullabout:blank
Their enthusiasm is growing exponentially.
“The cool thing was, I love the partnership between our two clubs, which has now spawned lots of ideas,” Roldan said. “Especially in a small community with small clubs, it’s great to come together and have the major numbers to work together.”
Good health for all
The club leaders noted the Huron project is a local and contemporary extension of the public health goals of Rotary and Lions.
Historically, Rotary members around the world have spent decades working to eradicate polio, Murray said.
In 2020, many younger people don’t know what polio is — “thank God, because of the selfless efforts of a lot of folks, including Rotary,” Murray said.
The organization has targeted clean water availability and sanitation, mostly in the developing world, Murray said.
Lions Clubs work on public health and disaster recovery around the world, Bille said.
“We’re there to serve people,” he said. “We don’t care for the boundaries, we don’t care who’s in charge, we want to get the people healthy. That’s our main goal, to improve life for everybody.”
The organization may be best known for the mission dating back to June 1925, when author Helen Keller visited the Lions convention held at Cedar Point. She challenged the members to become “knights of the blind” in a crusade against darkness.
The Lions still take that challenge seriously, Bille said.
“We love getting together with our own civic organizations to work to better this community,” he said.
“I think that’s a big thing,” Murray said. “Rotary and Lions embody things that are impartial, nonpartisan, nonpolitical, in an age that even coronavirus has gotten horrifically politicized.
“I love that these are organizations that are not about getting into the adversarial nature of it, but how you build as a community,” he said.
“We’re not fighting with them or fighting with this,” Bille said. “We’re all working together for the betterment of the community.”
Empathy around the world
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a very interesting way for members in the United States to empathize with people in nations of Africa and South America, where people must deal with lack of clean water and disease epidemics, Murray said.
“Most folks in the United States couldn’t dream of dealing with these sort of things like we’ve had to deal with,” he said. “But what I think it’s done is create a sense of empathy and connection.”
The partnership also can stand as a model for future service projects, even when people are not supposed to be interacting one on one and should engage in social distancing, Murray said.
“Social distancing and, kind of, human distancing, are two different things,” Murray said.