SP Rotary rewards Pumpkin Patch volunteer groups with about $40,000

December 25, 2013
Santa Paula News

By Peggy Kelly 

Santa Paula Times 

Not only is the annual Santa Paula Rotary Club Faulkner Farm Pumpkin Patch & Harvest Festival fun, but also lucrative for those volunteers who were rewarded with a combined total of about $40,000 for their hard work during this year’s four-weekend event.

Rotary, which operates the yearly event at Faulkner Farm UC Hansen Agricultural Center, put $15,000 into its scholarship account and the balance was awarded to those who helped run the patch for this year’s approximately 20,000 visitors. 

A survey conducted at this year’s patch showed that 25 percent of attendees were from Santa Paula, 44 percent lived elsewhere in Ventura County and 31 percent came from outside Ventura County to attend the patch, the only one in the county operated by a nonprofit.

And all the profits go back to the community as shown at a recent meeting where Rotarian Past President Ginger Gherardi and Volunteer Coordinator Michele Johns as well as Patch Chairman Chris Wilson distributed the funds to volunteers.

Gherardi said the Patch “Is very worthwhile, but very labor intensive,” and the volunteer groups are rewarded based on the number of work hours.

Briggs School located across the street from UC Hansen Trust each year helps on many levels and was awarded $2,000; in addition the school Music Program received $1,000 for offering entertainment. 

Various 4-H Clubs received $500 including Briggs 4-H for an educational seed program that showed Patch visitors how things grow. 

The Isbell Cancer Crushers-Isbell Middle School students that each year participate in Santa Paula’s American Cancer Society Relay for Life-received a whopping $10,000.

“The Cancer Crushers always work an enormous amount of hours and do everything,” needed said Gherardi.

The Santa Paula High School Band and Isbell Middle School Band received $1,000 for their musical efforts as did Donna Nelson’s Isbell Condor Chorus, the latter also regular entertainment at Rotary meetings. The SPHS ASB earned $350.

Rotary SPHS Interact Club President Alondra Lopez and Treasurer Staphany Arriola received $1,000 and Girls Wrestling, Girls Soccer, Girls Basketball and Boys Soccer received varying amounts for volunteer hours. 

Adviser Alex Flores and the Future Farmers of America were rewarded with $1,550; each year  FAA operates the Petting Zoo and in the future it will be a free activity included in the price of Pumpkin Patch admission.

The Rotaract Club at California State University Channel Islands received $500 and St. Bonaventure High School Interact Club $700. 

Gherardi said the Santa Paula Optimist Club “Did their usual phenomenal job with the parking lot,” and received $7,000.

“The money is coming back to the community anyway,” said Optimist President Cathy Hicks, noting that the funds would be used by the club for worthy youth programs and activities.

First 5 for Families received $750 and Gherardi said Summit School volunteers earned $1,200 for their willingness “To do anything that needed to be done!”

The Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clara Valley received $3,000 for the regular use of their transport van and Board President Tammy Hobson and Executive Director (and Rotarian) Jan Marholin noted the club made even more through its cotton candy and churros booth.

Xtreme Soccer was kept busy selling tickets and also received a check for their efforts.

“Again, we could not run the Pumpkin Patch weekend after weekend without volunteers, all these hardworking kids and their advisors,” said Gherardi.  

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