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Lillian Boyd, Dana Point Times

In years past, the Monarch Beach Sunrise Rotary Club has held fundraising events such as Lobster Fest to help live out the organization’s motto: “Service before self.” But in order to safely carry out its mission to support charitable causes, local rotarians are seeking socially distanced alternatives to seek out support.

Monarch Beach Sunrise Rotary donated personal protective equipment to staff at Healthy at Home Caregivers, including face shields, disposable medical face masks, reusable face masks, disposable shoe coverings, hair nets, gloves and medical gowns. Photo: Courtesy of MBSR

Monarch Beach Sunrise Rotary Club has launched an eight-week education and fundraiser email campaign that will continue into October as one of those alternatives.

“When there’s a need, we all band together, said Heather Gillon, the rotary’s fundraising chairperson. “We do big fundraisers in order to give money to the community, but if we see that there’s a need throughout the year, we work together to meet that need.”

Gillon has been active with the rotary since 2010, when a friend convinced her to join after some prodding.

“I finally joined and thought to myself, ‘Why did I wait so long?!’ ” Gillon said. “It’s the movers and the shakers of the community coming together, trying to help themselves, trying to help the community and trying to help the world. We are people of action.”

Some of the nonprofit organizations that the club has supported are the Dana Point 5th Marine Regiment Support Group, the Boys and Girls Club of Capistrano Valley, Just Like Me Foundation, The Dana Point Senior Center and Shea Therapeutic Riding Center, among others. The rotary has also participated in national efforts to assemble and deliver personal protective equipment to local hospitals.

Rotary International (RI) is an international service organization whose stated purpose is to bring together business and professional leaders in order to provide humanitarian service and to advance goodwill and peace around the world.

RI is the largest service organization in the world, with more than 1.22 million Rotarians in more than 37,000 Rotary Clubs. MBSR was chartered in 1988, and members have met weekly ever since.

Prior to the threat of COVID-19 and hotel renovations, the MBSR would meet every Wednesday at 7 a.m. at The Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort & Spa. The group has since held meetings over Zoom to continue coordinating efforts.

“Research shows that doing good for others is good for you, it improves your serotonin levels, and it teaches value to your children,” Gillon said. “We live in a world that needs a lot of help. Rotary mobilizes us to provide that service for others.”

For more information on the campaign and to contribute, visit

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