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Happy Valentine's Day
Special Edition
Handbags for Hope
 D5500 Delivers Handbags for Hope
     How could a women’s purse or tote bring hope?
     Members of 21 Rotary Clubs throughout District 5500 prepared and delivered more than 610 handbags to 13 social service agencies in Southern Arizona. The idea behind this was to reduce the trauma experienced by women escaping domestic violence or leaving a dangerous situation with little or no resources.

     Rotarians donated Handbags for Hope and filled them with basic needs; all the items you might not have but would appreciate if you suddenly found yourself on your own trying to survive.
     District Governor Diane Ventura Goodyear initiated Handbags for Hope as a service project for the District Conference to have been held last September, but the idea morphed into a way to keep Clubs engaged in their communities when all normal Rotary activities had to be cancelled due to the COVID pandemic.
    As Diane said, “We need to THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX”. This is the first time a  "District-wide" project of such magnitude has taken place. The timing was right! Our shelters needed assistance, for women, children, and men too. The Clubs, during the COVID pandemic, desperately wanted to assist those shelters with needed supplies.  Rotary Clubs in Southern AZ are all about GIVING from their hearts and their purses"! 
     The deadline for collection and delivery was to be November 30th, but it soon became apparent that the logistics of collection meant the Clubs could not go by the calendar.
     Just like the story from Dr. Seuss, “It started out slow, then started to grow.”.   As the numbers of Handbags for Hope grew, so did the personal stories, photos, and even a poem paraphrased from “The Night Before Christmas” began flying around on the internet.
     The community partners, generous donors, and appreciative receiving agencies helped us all realize the value of working together and connecting to “Do Good in the World”.
     And new opportunities arose when we learned that men at homeless shelters had no coats and that children at the domestic crisis shelters were wondering if Santa would come.
     To all of you who gave of your time, raised funds to fill the bags, and delivered them to grateful recipients, “Thank You!”
     Handbags for Hope has become more than a service project. It has become the catalyst for a season of Hope for many individuals, thanks to the marvelous efforts of District 5500 Rotarians.
DG Diane Ventura-Goodyear                                                DGE Henrietta Huisking
The Rotary Club Green Valley                  (from Phillip Noble)
Ode to Handbags
(by Bob Auflick)
‘Twas the weeks before Christmas
And all through our town
Barely a creature was stirring.
COVID was found.
The handbags were waiting asleep in the car
Awaiting Rotarians from not very far.
From out of the blue came a call to our Club,
We need you all quickly to empty our tubs.
Now Becky, now Julie, now Robert and Jill,
Come Katie, Come Joyce, Come Pam to fill.
To the top of Green Valley, to the top of the wall,
Now dash away! Dash away! And fill them up all.
They spoke not a word, but went straight to work
And fill’d all the handbags with nary a smirk.
And away they all flew, like the down of a thistle.
Not a sound was heard, not even a whistle.
I heard them exclaim, as they drove out of sight,
Handbags of hope to all and to all a good night!
     President Bob Auflick spearheaded the Green Valley Club’s “Handbags of Hope” project.  He and  President-Elect Robert Shevlin drove to Amado to pick up 25 handbags from the Tubac Club, then teamed up with other Club members and Valley Assistance Services to fill the bags with various personal necessities and to reach out to women in need in the community.
     Some of the comments from recipients were:
     "Thank you so much for my gifts for Christmas.  Sure do appreciate this."
     "I appreciate all the gifts that were delivered to me.  Best wishes to all."
     "Enjoying your gifts.  Thank you for your thoughtfulness."
     "The gifts you sent were very much appreciated. Plus the beautiful Gloria Vanderbilt purse!"
     And from Valley Assistance Services:
          “Many thanks to the Rotary Club of Green Valley. You have made the Holidays special to so many in our community.  Thank you for the ‘Handbags of Hope.’ That is truly what was delivered to so many - a present of thoughtfulness, caring and hope!”
     Rotary Club of Green Valley President Bob Auflick with
Chris Erickson of Valley Assistance Services
The Rotary Club of Tucson
      The Tucson Club assembled 52 Handbags for Hope for the Forgach House, a woman’s domestic violence shelter.
The Rotary Club of Casa Grande Daybreak
(from AG Sheila Chavez)
     We wrapped up our monthly project (and exceeded our goal!) by donating 25 Handbags for Hope to Against Abuse, Inc., our local women's shelter.
The Rotary Club of Marana  (from PDG Randy Brooks)
     DGE Hank requested we consider this project for our Club.  We did take it on and it became a huge success.  We collected about 120 purses from Club members, friends, spouses, and church groups.  Several members met to stuff the purses with soaps, lotions, toilet paper, feminine projects, and other toiletries.
     One Club member made a contribution to pay for all the products we put in the purses so the Club outlay was only the 48 hours spent on the project.
     Some members took half of the purses to the Sister José Women’s Center.   The Center provides shelter, hope, and referrals for women who are living on the streets, often because of violence in the home.  “We see hundreds each month.  These purses will give these women a little more hope and an assist to their self-esteem.”
     A week later, several of us visited the Gospel Rescue Mission to deliver the remaining 60 purses. The Mission provides shelter, food, and medical care for those who are homeless.  “As these women are getting their lives back together, these purses will give them confidence as they go out and interview.”
The Rotary Club of Marana Dove Mountain
(from Fred Novick)
    The Rotary Club of Marana-Dove Mountain recently prepared and delivered 22 handbags with items for basic needs to Eagles Wings of Grace, a non-profit organization that helps local disadvantaged women after life-altering situations such as addiction, abuse, and incarceration.
     Brigitte Hentges, Prudy Abeln, &
Mary Ann Tatum coordinated the Club’s “Handbags of Hope” effort as part of this Rotary District 5500 service project.
The Rotary Club of Pantano
     The Pantano Club and Pantano Interact joined for their Handbags for Hope project.
The Rotary Club of Old Pueblo                (from Patrick Kerr)
     Old Pueblo Rotary Club (Tucson), with support from the United States Army Tucson Recruiting Company, purchased and filled 40 “Handbags for Hope”, then donated the handbags to Primavera and Casa de Los Niños for distribution to women escaping domestic violence or leaving other dangerous/unhealthy situations.
     They are often more vulnerable and without resources.  The goal of this District-wide project was to provide a ray of hope by supplying them with some basic, necessary hygiene items in an attractive, reusable handbag.
     Each agency received 20 brand-new totes filled with shampoo, conditioner, sunscreen, lotion, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, dental floss, hand sanitizer, socks, shower shoes, deodorant, and other hygiene items.
     Old Pueblo Rotarians raised more than $2,000 to cover the costs.   Together with personnel from the local United States Army Recruiting Company, Rotarians stuffed and delivered the handbags for distribution.     
(from left)
Captain Moises Villa (US Army Tucson Recruiting Company)
Paul Hawkins (Old Pueblo Rotary)
Eric Cross (Primavera)
First Sergeant Dana Rothstein (US Army Tucson Recruiting Company)
Casa de los Niños:
(from left)
Patrick Kerr (Old Pueblo Rotary)
Mikaela Ross (Casa de los Niños)
Captain Moises Villa (US Army Tucson Recruiting Company)
Paul Hawkins (Old Pueblo Rotary)
The Rotary Club of San Luis Frontera (from Marcos Ramirez)
     As part of the challenge set by our District, the San Luis Frontera Rotary Club took action as part of the Handbags of Hope Project. The Club collected 20 handbags and filled them with feminine personal hygiene products, shampoo and conditioners, deodorants, and other items, then donated them to Catholic Community Services of Yuma to be provided to women suffering from domestic violence.  San Luis Frontera Rotary undertook this project in partnership with the South Yuma County Domestic Violence Coalition.
The Rotary Club of Saddlebrooke donated 13 Handbags for Hope.
The Rotary Club of Saddlebrooke Sunrise contributed 14 Handbags for Hope.
The Rotary Club of Oro Valley                  (From Marc Snow)
      Oro Valley Rotary assembled 36 Handbags for Hope and is providing 300 Valentine’s Day messages to shut-in seniors this year.
The Rotary Club of Sierra Vista South        (from Lisa Price)
     In the District 5500 “Handbags for Hope” campaign, The Sierra Vista Rotary Club - South supported the Cochise Family Advocacy Center, which is also known as Lori’s Place.  Lori’s Place is an outstanding organization that provides a much-needed service to the City of Sierra Vista AZ and the greater Cochise County area.
   The Sierra Vista South Club provided 14 bags--Seven handbags for adults and seven backpacks for children.    Sierra Vista South, Benson, and Mountain Empire were as part of a greater Cochise and Isabella County effort that provided more than 100 Handbags for Hope to the local community. 
     The mission of Lori’s Place is to compassionately support and promote the well-being of children and adults through comprehensive services in a neutral, friendly environment. Services include a coordinated interview of child abuse victims in a safe, child-friendly surrounding. This process avoids the need for multiple interviews, reduces the trauma of disclosure, and preserves evidence and statements to enhance offender prosecution and conviction.
     Lori’s Place provides crisis intervention and support for victims and non-offending family members, information regarding next steps, information about, and referrals to, different agencies and how those agencies may help the family get access to higher levels of care.  Lori’s Place provides a regular multidisciplinary review of cases to assure that services provided align with best practices.
     In addition to the Handbags for Hope support to Lori’s Place, the Sierra Vista South Club is also using a District Grant to refurbish the outdoor respite area where those, and their families, who are using the service can enjoy a peaceful and pleasant visit.
    The partnership between Lori’s Place and the volunteers of Sierra Vista Rotary Club South is truly in the intent and spirit of how Rotary helps where and when needed.
The Rotary Club of Sierra Vista West      (from Anita Farrow)
     Sierra Vista West made 18 Handbags for Hope for the Good Neighbor Alliance, a homeless shelter. The black bags were for the men at the Good Neighbor Alliance included coats.

The Rotary Club and the Satellite Club of Sierra Vista
(by Candyce Pardee)
     The Sierra Vista Club and the Satellite Club committed to providing Handbags for Hope to the Salvation Army and the Forgach House.  Handbags for Hope are gently used handbags that are filled with a toothbrush, toothpaste, and other toiletries that individuals fleeing from a domestic violence situation may need after leaving everything behind.
      The Sierra Vista Rotary Club also assisted the Sierra Vista West Club in providing new backpacks to the girls from St. Mary’s Mission.
The Rotary Club of Somerton              (from Gloria VanderZyl)
     The Somerton Rotary Club donated 26 slightly used handbags to a women’s shelter in Yuma, Az.  Each bag contained toothpaste, tooth brush, tissues, a bar of soap, shampoo and hair conditioner, hand sanitizer, deodorant, brush, and comb.
The Rotary Club of Valle Verde               (from Michele Lewis)
     Valle Verde Rotary through the generous support of members and the high school Interactor Club participated in the Handbags of Hope project.
     On December 11, 2020,  the Club presented 17 handbags full of women’s toiletries to the Executive Director of Hands of a Friend.  The recipients of the handbags are women of Genesis House, a shelter for victims of domestic violence and who are without their own personal resources.
    The Club also donated a large overflow of toiletries for the shelter’s future use.
    It was a happy day of hope and generosity.
The Rotary Clubs of Tubac, Rio Rico, and The Rio Rico Interact Club
The three groups teamed up to assemble 170 Handbags for Hope!  They donated 100 bags to The Border Alliance.  The other 70 bags went to the Crossroads Mission and the Nogales Police Home Delivery program.


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