The Club became committed at their 2018 fundraising auction when Rotary was told two senior girls had formed a pack to commit suicide the day after the graduation senior party because, after high school, they could see no future. Fortunately, the SHS counselor got wind of their plan and got the girl’s help. However, their story was a huge red flag for our club. The girls’ story, along with Judy Rantz Wellman sharing memories of her father Joe, our Rotary club raised $28,000 towards that Joe Rantz Rotary Youth Fund. With that seed of a start, we’re on our way to raising the needed $750k for the JRRY House. Here’s a timeline of our journey:
2018-2019: We met with local agencies who provide help to homeless kids in our county. We learned what they were doing, why they were unable to fill the need, and how Sequim Sunrise Rotary could help. We didn’t want to duplicate services, we wanted to add to services.
2019-2020: There was no McKinney-Vento liason at the school district, so progress slowed to a crawl. In 2019/2020 we also awarded our first scholarship. Our Rotary Club also found a building for a Youth Center, and had funds to remodel, but could not find a partner to run the day-to-day basis with enough hours to justify the expense.
2020-2021: The pandemic stalled our efforts entirely because of remote learning. How does a kid living in his car or on someone’s couch learn from home? The need for these kids continued to grow.
2021-2022: Sequim School District hired a dedicated MV liaison, Merrin Packer, who is terrific, and the Rotary Club worked with her to build out services for homeless kids at SHS. Sequim Rotary awarded 3 scholarships at the 2022 graduation.
2022-2023: Continue to work with MV liaison Merrin Packer. We unfortunately missed out on 8-rooms at a senior care home that would have worked perfectly for the JRRY House for 16 kids.
Most recently our fundraising efforts have been joined by Sequim High School’s Interact Club who raised awareness with their terrific video which was picked up by local news. It got the attention of George Clooney’s production team and they’re working on an event for the fall when the movie premiers!