By EMMALEE C. TORISK
Carol A. Crytzer knew she wanted to do more to help the community, but because of her job, just couldn’t manage to attend the weekly lunchtime meetings of the Struthers Rotary Club.
The 2nd Ward councilwoman, then a councilwoman-at-large, knew others in the city had to feel similarly: intrigued by the service organization, though incapable of devoting the necessary time required for membership.
As it turned out, they did.
“We worked, but had such an interest,” Crytzer said.
That’s when Tom Baringer, a member and past president of the Struthers Rotary Club, intervened.
About a dozen years before, in 2000, Baringer had worked to start the Struthers High School Interact Club, a spinoff of the city’s Rotary club geared only toward high school students. He’d also been involved in the creation of the Youngstown State University Rotaract Club, whose members are mostly college age.
Baringer then came across another option: the Rotary Community Corps, a group consisting of non-Rotarian men and women who find, then solve, issues affecting the areas in which they work or live. Each group is supported by a sponsor Rotary club, such as the Struthers Rotary Club, and may support the efforts of that organization, too.
More than 7,000 Rotary Community Corps exist in more than 80 countries, according to the Rotary International’s website.
“The Rotary Community Corps is for people who want to do something in their community, but are unable for some reason to make the commitment to Rotary,” said Baringer, adding that members of the Rotary Community Corps are invested in their communities, particularly in their “long-term development and self-sufficiency.”
The Struthers Rotary Community Corps is still in its infancy, having begun barely a year ago, Baringer explained.
In that time, the organization has gathered about 15 solid members who regularly attend its monthly meetings, and has also helped out with several Struthers Rotary Club projects, such as the Fly the Flag program, which places 3-by-5 flags in participants’ front yards in time for five patriotic holidays, and the annual pancake breakfast.
But it has started a program of its own, as well: the city’s first Senior Watch program, which was proposed by Capt. Pat Bundy of the Struthers Police Department, who also belongs to the Struthers Rotary Community Corps.
Crytzer, who serves as secretary of the Community Corps, noted that many times, first-responders can’t easily get into the homes of senior citizens, and are instead forced to break doors and windows to enter. And then, even once they’re inside, they often don’t have important information, such as a list of medications the person is taking or contact information for family members, within reach.
The Senior Watch program, however, supplies emergency lock boxes that can be installed on the exteriors of homes and stocked with a key to enter, along with important information, Crytzer said.
Catherine Cercone, president of the Struthers Rotary Community Corps, said members are next looking to host a Taste of Struthers event, featuring an assortment of foods from restaurants and businesses.
The event would not only serve as the Community Corps’ first fundraiser, but would also bring together members of the community and spotlight local eateries, Crytzer added. It could be in the spring — maybe in April or May.
Going forward, Cercone wants the organization to expand both in membership and the number of projects. The more members who join, the more the organization can address a larger number of more diverse issues.
“We’re always taking new members,” Cercone said. “There’s no cost and no obligation, and they can come as much or as little as they want.”