Our Rotary at Work

Moss Point Disaster Relief, June–July 2023

Tuesday, June 20, an EF-2 tornado ripped through Moss Point, MS, and, over a period of six minutes, destroyed more than 300 homes and businesses. On June 24–25 and July 8, Fairhope Rotarians, led by Andy Tubertini, District 6880 Disaster Relief Chair, joined members of the Point Clear, Fairhope Sunset, Central Baldwin Sunset, and Moss Point clubs to help with the clean-up efforts.

Rotary Youth Club Cleanup

Answering the call to help clean up the grounds of the Fairhope–Point Clear Rotary Youth Club were 17 Fairhope Rotarians. After several hours of work, the property was in much better shape.

Selma Disaster Response, January 2023

Members of the Rotary Club of Fairhope traveled to Selma to help with clean-up efforts in the tornado-stricken area. They transported the club’s disaster response trailer to Selma on Saturday, January 14, spending the weekend helping clean up debris across the area. They were joined by Rotarians from Selma, Montgomery, and Opelika Rotary clubs. The team was able to help clean up five yards, including removing two trees that had fallen on cars.

Bon Secour Disaster Response, October 2022

On October 31, our disaster response team mobilized to help a Bon Secour woman whose mobile home had been entirely destroyed by a tornado the previous day while she and her son were inside.

Hurricane Ida Disaster Response, September 2021

Hurricane Ida was a deadly and extremely destructive Category 4 Atlantic hurricane in 2021 that became the second-most damaging and intense hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. state of Louisiana on record, behind Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

On September 12, a team from District 6880 traveled to Luling, Louisiana, and worked from there to Hammond to put tarps on roofs, cut up downed trees, and otherwise provide relief from the damage of Hurricane Ida. Among the group were eight Rotarians: Al Beck, Chad Jackson, Brian Lorenzato, Mark Martin, Andy Tubertini, and Gil Wright from our club, plus D6880 Disaster Response chairman Jericho Wilson from Auburn/Opelika and Kimberly Bennett from Montgomery Sunrise. They were accompanied by Bob Keyser from St. James Episcopal Church, who drove the church van, Dave Marnell, pastor of Jubilee Shores Methodist Church, and Ed Forbess and Mike Kirk from the church, and Nick Hammers, a friend of Andy’s who wanted to help. They worked all day Friday and Saturday and returned on Sunday.

At a club meeting on October 6, Andy Tubertini, with the help of other members of the Disaster Response team, gave a report on their recent trip to five towns in Louisiana. Jericho Wilson, Disaster Response Committee chairman for District 6880, pulled our trailer, while Andy rode with Nic Hammers, who pulled a 26′ trailer that had been filled with supplies collected from the stash at Fairhope United Methodist Church. On their way out of town, they descended upon Piggly Wiggly, where they were schooled by Kim Fram in some important lessons: Do not empty the beef cooler, and do not buy all the buns (especially on the Friday of a holiday weekend). Do call ahead to make sure PW will have adequate supplies. They spent about $1,000 on hamburger makings. In addition, John Lasseter of Fairhope Brewing Company had donated 10 cases of FBC’s Cheap Sunglasses beer, which was well received! In Louisiana, they divided into the Van Crew (Andy, Bob Keyser, Brian Lorenzato, and Gil Wright) and the B Team (Nic Hammers, Dave Marnelle, Ed Forbess, and Mike Kirk). Mark Martin and Al Beck showed up later. The FUMC supplies went to Husser, north of Hammond. Along the road they noted that almost every home was tarped (they had taken 75 or so tarps). They were lodged in a well-appointed retreat center at Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Slidell. The work was organized by D6840 DGE Samantha Wallace; they had lists of locations to go to. On Day 2, divided into three teams, they spent 600 man-hours on 12 homes in Amité, Hammond, and LaPlace. They cooked burgers, cut up downed trees, and helped place tarps. Day 3 was a half-day, as they were rained out early. Despite power outages, flat tires, dead ends, and unreliable cell service, they accomplished a lot and enjoyed doing it.

Rotary Youth Club Pancake Breakfast, May 2021

Because of continuing concerns about COVID-19, it wasn’t possible to hold the usual in-person pancake breakfast, but Rotarians still mustered to cook the food, and patrons who had bought tickets drove through the RYC parking lot to pick up their meals

Response to Hurricane Zeta, October 2020

While our team did not mobilize for this event, we lent our trailer to the American Legion (Post 199) to take supplies to an American Legion post in Baton Rouge and provided volunteers to help load the trailer.

Response to Hurricane Sally, September 2020

Hurricane Sally was a destructive and slow-moving Atlantic hurricane, which was the first hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. state of Alabama since Ivan in 2004, coincidentally on the same date in the same place. It was a baptism of fire for our disaster response team. In coordination with the Point Clear club, which had purchased a trailer for food preparation and service, we provided relief to local residents. Our team gave over 700 man hours in storm cleanup, mobilizing every weekend for several weeks following the disaster.

The poster at left was created for display at a district conference, to highlight our disaster response activities.

One of our special projects was very close to home. The backyard of our member Daryl Wasp, who had suffered terrible injuries in an automobile accident on the way home from our steak cookoff in 2019, was severely damaged, and his rear deck was destroyed. Over the course of the next few years, time permitting, volunteers met at Daryl’s house to clear debris from his yard and rebuild the deck and later a wheelchair ramp in front of his house. The team had learned from experience that the key to debris removal was having the right equipment, so they rented a skid steer loader for a “practice exercise” in Daryl’s yard.

Hurricane Laura Disaster Response, August 2020

After Hurricane Laura in August 2020, we were able to deliver several generators to Gulfport, Mississippi.

Purchase of Disaster Trailer

The impact of our Port St. Joe relief trip was larger than we could have predicted, not on those we helped but on our volunteers. No sooner had they returned than we started making plans for future such trips. We realized we needed a strategy of disaster response, but, more important, we needed a trailer. A Disaster Relief Committee was formed, and we applied for a district grant to help with the purchase of a trailer. With help from a $9,000 district grant, we were able to purchase the trailer in September 2019, and funds were budgeted for equipping it with the needed tools and supplies, which was completed in November.

Port St. Joe Disaster Response, October 2018

In October 2018, Hurricane Michael, the first Category 5 hurricane to make landfall in the contiguous United States since Andrew in 1992, devastated areas near Mexico Beach, Florida. Andy Tubertini, club president at that time, reached out to a Rotarian in Port St. Joe and made arrangements with Bishop State Community College to provide a semi-trailer to convey relief goods. Members of our club and the Point Clear club loaded a U-Haul and refrigerated truck and traveled to Port St. Joe, sleeping in church pews and cooking lunch and dinner for residents and volunteers for three days.

Manley Road Soccer Complex

On February 1, 2018, Rotary volunteers responded to a call to spread rubber mulch at a new playground the Rotary Club of Fairhope had sponsored at the Manley Road Soccer Complex. Many hands made light work, and in less than an hour, the crew had finished, reducing the hills of mulch to a uniform layer in the playground area.

Gospel Fest Benefitting the Rotary Youth Club

In the fall of 2018 we sold snow cones and soft drinks at the Gospel Fest benefitting the Rotary Youth Club.

Steak Cook-Off

Our Annual Steak Cook-Off is a fundraiser held annually on the second Friday in May. This event requires the participation of every single member to pull off. Many are involved in planning and preparation throughout the year; some turn out to set up the venue on the day of the event (including putting up barricades and stocking the soft drink barrels with ice). Others have various jobs during the event, including manning the entry gates. And of course cleanup afterward is a mammoth job.

Pancakes for a Purpose Benefitting the Rotary Youth Club

Each year we support the Pancakes for a Purpose event benefitting the Rotary Youth Club.

Sunset Rotary’s Backyard Barbecue and Homebrew Beer Competition

The Rotary Club of Fairhope fielded a team at the Sunset Rotary’s Backyard Barbecue and Homebrew Beer Competition, offering barbecued shrimp (which took second place in its category and fourth place in the People’s Choice competition). Heading the team were Jeff Barré, chef, and Lee Turner, “art director.” President Howard Eddy served the result. In the bottom photo, Howard is serving then–District Governor Bob Callahan.

Balloon Give-A-Way at Fairhope Arts & Crafts Festival

In 2015, we had a table at the Fairhope Arts & Crafts Festival to give away free balloons and distribute literature about PolioPlus.

Distributed Dictionaries to All Local Third-Graders

For many years we distributed dictionaries to all local third-graders. Here we were joined by members of the Sunset Rotary Club.

Fairhope Christmas Marshals

Every year we provide float marshals for the Fairhope Christmas parade.

Polo at the Point Fundraiser

Manning a ticket booth at the Polo at the Point fundraiser.

Other Events

Before we came up with our sensationally popular Steak Cook-Off fundraiser, we experimented with a music festival, a giant yard sale, and, as shown, the Real Deal Chicken Meal.