Rotary Spells Thank-You “M-A-S-K”

The Rotary Club of Cincinnati is saying Thank You with yards of cotton and elastic as Rotary members make more than 1100 masks for the YMCA pandemic childcare staff members, restaurant employees who made the meals for the families for Rotary-sponsored Community Heroes Dinner program and for club members.

The mask project is the latest Rotary response to Greater Cincinnati’s COVID-19 health crisis. “Dr. Amy Acton, the Ohio Department of Health director, has said we could be looking at a year of wearing masks to battle COVID-19,” said Linda Muth, executive director of the Rotary Club of Cincinnati. “We thought we could be proactive and productive while we’re sheltering in place,” she said.  

The masks, made from fabric imprinted with the Rotary Club of Cincinnati logo, are being distributed to workers at the eight YMCA pandemic childcare centers in Hamilton County, to staff at more than 30 restaurants that provided dinners for essential workers’ families who used those centers in April and May, and to Rotary members.  Rotary Membership Director, DeAnn Fleming of Anderson Township, is managing the project. “I grew up sewing,” said Fleming. “This is very personal way to say ‘Thank You.’” She said the masks are very much a Rotary family project.

More than 15 Rotarians or their family members volunteered to sew the masks.  Gail Fischer, an accomplished quilter whose husband and daughters are Rotarians, worked with Decal Impressions printing company to have the fabric printed with the Rotary logo. Fischer, of Ryland Heights, Ky., enlisted her family to help cut the mask shapes. Fleming distributed the mask materials and directions.

The mask project is funded by the Rotary Foundation, which is the philanthropic arm of the Rotary Club of Cincinnati.  The Rotary Foundation also created and funded the Community Heroes Family Dinner Project to provide family dinners for essential workers with children at the YMCA pandemic child care centers.

The Rotary Foundation bought meals from local restaurants and families could pick up their evening meal when they picked up their children. The more than $128,000 project provided steady business for the restaurants while making lives easier for medical workers and other essential workers during the health crisis shutdown. The YMCA and restaurant workers who were part of the Community Heroes Family Dinner Project are now sporting their Thank-You masks. “Those dinners for the Rotary made it possible for me to keep paying my employees,” said Judy Daleiden of Finneytown, owner of the Sweet Heart Café in Colerain Township. The café made more than 300 meals over the six-week program. “the Rotary helped keep us afloat,” she said. “It was a great. The kids wrote us thank-you notes. Several families asked for carryout menus. People who didn’t know about us before will be customers going forward. And the masks are great.”

Besides the mask project and the Community Heroes Family dinner project, The Rotary Club donated $50,000 to St. Vincent de Paul in March to provide rent and utility assistance for families stressed during the shutdown and club members donated more than $23,000 to buy unsold Girl Scout cookies to be donated to LaSoupe, which has been providing meals for low income children during the crisis. That project supported Girl Scout troops throughout Greater Cincinnati as well as supporting the LaSoupe charity.

The Rotary Club of Cincinnati is a service and networking organization made up of business and community leaders. Its mission is to provide selfless service in the community and the world, with a focus on children’s needs.