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Rotarians and Elks hula for moola at fundraiser

By Alicia Dukov

Posted: April 29, 2009 8:48 p.m.
Updated: April 30, 2009 4:55 a.m.
President-elect Mike Thomas, left, and Bart Aikman toast at the SCV Rotary Club’s fundraiser. President-elect Mike Thomas, left, and Bart Aikman toast at the SCV Rotary Club’s fundraiser.
President-elect Mike Thomas, left, and Bart Aikman toast at the SCV Rotary Club’s fundraiser.
Grass skirts, flowered shirts and exotic cocktails gave the flavor of the South Seas at the recent inaugural Rotary Luau Fundraiser held by the Santa Clarita Valley Rotary Club. Co-sponsored by the Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks, Santa Clarita, Lodge No. 2379, the event helped benefit the club’s biannual donations to 15 nonprofit organizations in the SCV.

More than 160 guests and club members dressed in floral prints attended the evening of Polynesian fun for a good cause, hosted at the Sand Canyon estate home of fellow Elk and Rotary club member, Rob Werner and his wife, Jacquelyne Werner.  

“Being here tonight is like being with family,” said Rotarian Harry Bell. “We do so much and never stop learning what more can be done together.” Bell has been a member of the Rotary Club’s SCV chapter since 1962.

“It’s so great to be here,” said event chairwoman Connie Ragen Green, member of both the Rotary and Elks. “A night like this really shows the connection and camaraderie that is present among our members.”

Members and patrons of the community connected in having a good time during the fundraiser’s festivities. Guests mingled as they sipped fruity, tropical drinks and savored the abundant buffet presented by the Elk’s Barbecue Committee. Freshly made barbecued and Polynesian-styled dishes were served, as guests waited in line to sample the traditional tastings, which included a large, slow roasted pig.

“It’s always so nice to like what you do and enjoy yourself while doing it,” said Mary Anne Colf, the second female president of the club (2003-04). “Being with the club is such a highlight in my life and tonight is just a perfect example of why.”

Guests ate together as the sun set over the expansive and lush garden setting of the Werner home, accompanied by live music and a series of ceremonial dances by traditional Hawaiian dancers.

Set amidst the flicker of tiki torches, a silent auction offered desirable items donated by club members for guests to bid on and enjoy.

Among the many notable selections was a one-week stay at a condo on the big island of Hawaii.

“We work hard and have fun while we help others,” said Clyde Smyth, former Santa Clarita mayor and city councilman and long-time Rotarian.

“We get nothing back in material rewards, but everything back in spiritual ones.”

As a part of the Rotary International, the world’s first and largest service club organization founded in 1905, the SCV chapter was founded in 1960 and gathered together business owners to unite them in the common goal of service. The organization is dedicated to providing humanitarian service towards local community needs as well as international concerns on worldwide levels such as education, health and hunger.

“We do so much on such a consistent basis,” said Colf. “It amazes me when I think of the need that is out there. I feel fortunate to be a part of this strong team so we can help more together.”

The club implements many programs each year to bring about support for different causes, both on the local and international levels.

On the criteria of most severe need, the club donates a large portion of money raised each year to 15 nonprofits in the SCV. To enable the foundation to provide financial assistance to these local organizations, the club conducts various fundraisers throughout the year to promote awareness of their service needs.

“This community is a large circle of friends,” said Doug Sutton SCV Rotary 2008-2009 president. “Everybody gets together to help us so that we can help others. The more people connect, the greater good we can do.”

Santa Clarita Valley 2008 Man and Woman of the Year, Carl Goldman and Judy Penman led the fundraising luau as master and mistress of ceremonies. Both expressed their devotion to the club’s mission to serve.

“There is so much going on in our community,” said Judy Penman, an active community leader since 1989. “It’s so important to get involved and be a part of something that changes lives.”

Goldman added his praise for SCV Rotary. “I see the Rotary do so many wonderful things and am always inspired by their efforts,” he said.

“Seeing what they accomplish just shows how powerful it can be to work together.”

Goldman and Penman assisted Sutton in presenting checks to the SCV nonprofits Help the Children, the Michael Hoefflin Foundation, Brenda Mehling Foundation, SCV Disaster Coalition, SCV Senior Center, SCV Youth Project, Safe Rides, Campus After Dark, Foundation for Children’s Dental Health, Carousel Ranch, College of the Canyons Foundation, SCV YMCA, COC At-Risk Youth and the SCV Scholarship Foundation.
Other local nonprofits supported by the club include Assistance League, SCV Boys & Girls Club, Cancer Care Foundation, Child & Family Center, County Fair, Crime Tip Hotline, Food Pantry, Foundation Scholarships, Hart High Foundation, Hart Interact Scholarship, Historical Society, HMNMH Foundation, LARC Foundation, Pregnancy Center, Reading by 9, Red Cross, Sam Dixon Family Health Center, SANE (Sheriffs), Sound Vibes, United Mothers, Valencia Interact, Victims of Domestic Violence and VIDA (Sheriff).

Mike Thomas, incoming president for the 2009 to 2010 term, has been a member of the Rotary for the past five years and looks forward to his new post for more than one reason. “Rotary is a feel good organization,” said Thomas. “It not only makes you feel good to help others, but the club allows you step outside yourself and connect to those around you through caring. That is the best part of all.”

For more information about the Rotary Club’s various programs and ways to donate visit


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