Since its founding in 1965, the McMurray Rotary Club has donated more than $1 million to community organizations, including some $35,000 this year.

“We don’t make these decisions in a vacuum,” David Wylie, 2019-20 club president, told representatives of the 2019 recipients. “You’re here because you make a difference, and together, we all make a difference.”

He spoke during the club’s Oct. 16 philanthropy mixer at Lindenwood Golf Club in North Strabane Township, a new event for the McMurray Rotarians this year to give everyone involved an opportunity to learn more about the work of the various organizations.

“You might be surprised tonight by all the things other people are doing, and maybe this gives you an opportunity to now work a little bit, as well,” philanthropy chairman Jim Mortimer said.

He presented the theme for the event as “Making a difference together,” citing the Peters Township-based club’s long history of making donations.

“But what if we never gave that money away? What if we just put it in a bank? Would we have made a difference? And the answer is no,” he said. “The way we make a difference is we do it together. We put together fundraisers. We have our very generous sponsors. That money comes together, and then we give it to you, who are really making a big difference.”

Philanthropy recipients for 2019:

Angels’ Place offers services for single-parent families, including high-quality early childhood education, childcare and family support. Services are provided to full-time student parents at no cost and to working parents at significantly reduced rates. Visit www.angelsplacepgh.org.

The Bradley Center is the home and school of 180 children ages 6 to 18. The children face challenging mental and behavioral health issues, and have survived severe abuse and neglect. The Rotary is providing assistance toward a communication center, to help residents to stay in contact with family members and other support people. Visit www.thebradleycenter.org.

Canonsburg Lake Restoration and Improvement Association is working on raising money toward a community resource that has lost about 60% of its capacity and 20% of its surface. Visit savecanonsburglake.org.

CASA for Kids Inc. is the court-appointed special advocates program on behalf of children who have been abused and neglected in Washington County. CASA volunteers serve as fact-finders that speak for the child in court. Visit www.casawashington.org.

City Mission in Washington has provided 78 years of care to the homeless, the poor and working poor of Southwestern Pennsylvania. Last year, the mission served more than 100,000 meals, provided 44,000 nights of shelter and administered 3,000-plus clinical interventions. This year’s focus is on homeless women with children. Visit www.citymission.org.

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Western Pennsylvania Chapter works to cure cystic fibrosis and to provide those who have the disease with opportunities to lead full, productive lives by funding research and drug development, promoting individualized treatment, and ensuring access to high-quality specialized care. Visit www.facebook.com/CFFWesternPA.

Hair Peace Charities is a nonprofit founded by Pittsburgh radio personality Bonny Diver, who beat cancer 16 years ago. She started the organization to provide financial assistance for the purchase of wigs for women and girls battling cancer. Visit www.hairpeace.org.

Horses With Hope Discovery, Growth and Learning Center in Bethel Park offers programs that focus on improving the quality of life to individuals with special needs, physical and intellectual disabilities through the partnership of a horse. Visit www.horseswithhope.org.

LeMoyne Community Center in Washington focuses primarily on the need for youth to have a positive outlet for their energy and creativity. This year, Rotary helped with lighting needs for the center’s gymnasium. Visit www.lemoynecommunitycenter.org.

Meals On Wheels@The Crossroads in Peters Township has more than 200 volunteers who deliver hot, nutritious meals to those who have trouble shopping or cooking. The average daily number of meals is 125, and last year the organization served about 30,000. This year, Meals On Wheels has requested help in securing fresh fruit and vegetables grown locally. Visit mowpt.pghfree.net.

Miracle League of the South Hills provides baseball and social opportunities for youngsters and adults with special needs. Upcoming projects include building a new facility for concessions and a job training center. Visit www.miracleleaguesouthhills.org.

Operation Walk Pittsburgh is a volunteer organization dedicated to providing the gift of mobility to patients in need across Central America. Each mission trip involves a team of surgeons, nurses, physical therapists and other personnel who provide joint replacements and arthritis and joint health education free of cost. Visit www.operationwalkpgh.org.

Peters Township Fishing Derby, held each August at Peters Lake Park, has been sponsored by McMurray Rotary Club since its founding 20 years ago by former township manager and club member Michael Silvestri. The event is coordinated by the township’s parks and recreation department.

Peters Township High School Alumni Foundation was established in 2010 and every year has provided funds to alumni and their families in the event of a severe loss that causes financial hardship.

Peters Township Police Department recently put into service a digital fingerprinting system that is portable, fast, easy to use and a secure means of proving an instant record of a child or senior’s vital information to parents or legal guardians. McMurray Rotary Club provided support for the initiative.

Venetia Heritage Society is dedicated to the preservation of the 93-year-old Venetia School building, now known as the Venetia Community Center and housing several nonprofits. Visit www.venetiaheritagesociety.org.

Washington Area Humane Society’s mission is to provide shelter, safety and food for orphaned and abused animals of Washington County, with the goal of placing them in loving homes. The organization is 99% funded by private contributions and donations, and is close to opening a new $5 million facility. Visit www.washingtonpashelter.org.

Washington County Special Olympics’ mission is to provide year-round sports training and competition in a variety of sports for 200 children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Visit www.facebook.com/Washingtoncountyspecialolympics.

Watchful Shepherd, founded and based in Peters Township for more than 25 years, has the mission to protect children and families from abuse. The nonprofit provides communicator units and monitoring of the units at no cost to the family. Visit www.watchful.org.

Zonta Club of Washington was organized in 1985 as a local chapter of Zonta International, a worldwide service organization of professional women working together to advance the status of women. A club project is to purchase jogging outfits and donates them to local hospitals to give to rape victims, and “Kuddles for Kids” provides stuffed animals for children in hospital emergency rooms. Visit zontaclubofwashingtoncounty.org.

McMurray Rotary also provides two scholarships each year to graduating Peters Township High School students. Each year, the club provides more than 300 dictionaries to Peters third-graders and sponsors two spelling bees.

The dictionaries are in memory of the late Howard Jack, a former Peters Township School District superintendent and McMurray Rotary Club member for more than 40 years.

For more information about the club, visit www.mcmurrayrotary.com.

Multimedia Reporter

Staff writer Harry Funk, a professional journalist for three-plus decades, has been on the staff of The Almanac since 2015. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and master of business administration, both from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

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