HASTINGS – Rotarians from four counties rallied to provide an emergency food distribution for a farm community badly damaged by Hurricane Irma.
Hastings Rotary Club president Nancy Quatrano put out an SOS to Rotary District 6970 for any help that fellow clubs might offer to her small community when it was evident that the local food pantry had been hurt, as well as numerous churches, and individual families. With some without power for up to 11 days, family food supplies and reserves were all destroyed.
All the regular agencies were on board from the moment Irma left, including FEMA and local assistance organizations. But a sizable number of families fell into the category that did not qualify for FEMA assistance of any kind, of insurance claims that were promptly denied or involved high deductibles, or didn’t have the resources to keep going until the red tape was completed. Several had to move families into motels, incurring rental payments on top of payments for homes they couldn’t live in. Replacing lost food goods was not in their budget.
The call to the district presidents and leaders resulted first in getting an emergency delivery of food goods to the local food pantry which regularly serves more than 1100 people per month but was seeing almost twice that demand since Irma. Local churches supplied some food goods, many cleaning supplies, pet foods, and farm tools, but the larger food demands left many families still needing food.
That’s when District Governor Elect Jeanette Loftus of the Flagler County Club started making calls and within 48 hours, more than 160 families had food to take home. Honorary Rotarian Pastor Charles Silano of the Grace Community Food Pantry supplied the food for the families as an outreach of his organization, while President Tracy Loftus and the Flagler County Rotary Club provided the U-Haul and a driver to deliver it. Area 9 Assistant Governor Yvonne Parish arranged a fork lift and volunteer for the afternoon, and Leota Wilkinson of Palatka Sunrise club provided the expertise to getting the food organized and distributed efficiently. Hastings Rotarian Emily Fox made sure the word got out to the residents using a local social media network at the school.
Volunteers from the Hastings community were from the Rotary, St Johns County Social Services, Wildflower Health Clinic, Hastings Library, Shepherd’s Haven, and Mt. Olive Baptist Church, all members of the local Team Up community organization. They were joined by an equal number of Rotary member volunteers from Flagler County, Flagler Beach, Palatka Sunrise, Palm Coast, and Jacksonville clubs. Pat Mulvihill, co-chair of District 6970’s 2017-18 Disaster Relief, and his wife Mati lent their hands as well.
Once again, Rotary’s generous, dedicated, and compassionate individuals worked together to make one storm-ravaged community whole again. Rotarian’s are indeed, “people of action.”