Maricela Helm, Principal, Memorial Elementary has written a letter outlining the impact of our club's involvement this year.  Read the entire letter ...

As the demographics at Memorial have evolved over the last five years we've see a rapid increase in our low socioeconomic families.  Most families live on an income below the poverty level of $18,000 a year or less.  With the various challenges that come with poverty in the home our students arrive with new challenges as well.  Many children come to school hungry, poorly clothed, and having had little interaction at home with parents due to work schedules.  Parents taking on second jobs or working difficult hours limits their involvement in the campus.  This in turn puts the additional load on to teachers to work our various night events, and provide support for students outside of the school day on top of the academic challenges.


The Plano Rotary's focus this year was to impact the lives of children. They reached out to us in quest to make a difference.  As we partnered together it was agreed the best avenues that would have the most impact would be to take the carnival responsibility off the teachers' allowing them to focus on instruction.  The second major project was to help us build our Mentor Program.   With a goal of 25 mentors, our hope was to offer a consistent adult in a child's life. Mentors help students focus on their education, provide a positive role model, and help them develop a better relationship with their own family. Lastly with our limited parent involvement, there are few individuals who take on recognizing teachers at our campus for all they do.  The Rotary agreed the work of the teachers was too valuable not to recognize and that they wanted to provide them with a leisurely lunch outside of their normal 30 min quick bite.


The impact of the Rotary could not have been predicted when we began.   .  The Rotary agreed to take on three major endeavors including teacher appreciation, student mentoring and our Fall Carnival.  We selected projects that would align with our vision for community and parent involvement: People Connecting to School, People Connecting to People and People Connecting to Need.  However the partnership grew as more Rotarians stepped in to address various challenges they would recognize while involved at the campus.


Starting with our first planning meeting a discussion about our budget led the Rotary board to recognize we were beginning the year with a zero balance.  We had no money to purchase staff shirts, or to feed the staff when they returned to school.  They quickly stepped in to fund the shirts and a breakfast. 


Each individual Rotarian began reflecting on their own talents and resources to see what they could offer the campus.  Some stepped in as mentors, another began an after school chess club, some donated supplies, the organization as a whole donated flashlights for each 5th grader to take to our yearly camping trip.  They provided funds for an online tutoring program that assist us in targeting student needs once we shared time constraints when so many students need tutoring.  They supported very crucial needs like lice medication, and support at the holidays for twenty five of our families.


The most recent project they have taken on developed after a conversation between a mentor and his mentee.  The children in our neighborhood rarely have the opportunity to participate in organized sports.  The cost is too great and it is not a priority for our families.  What began as a mentor and his grandson working with 10 students has grown to seven volunteers, 45 students and a whole community coming together to provide equipment, safety gear and an opportunity that our student will never forget.  The connections and the resources that the Plano Rotary is able to pull on to communicate the need and get it addressed is beyond what our school community can do alone.


Plano Rotary has modeled their beliefs about service and their high ethical standards with each campus encounter.  Our partnership has grown into a friendship beyond what we could dream.  The teachers have shared what an uplift it is to have the community support through every step of our journey.  We owe many of our success to the Rotary and its support. 






Maricela Helm

Principal, Memorial Elementary