Students at Bess T. Shepherd Elementary School were greeted with freshly trimmed shrubs, new plants, and fresh mulch and newly repaired swings on the playground at the start of the school year thanks to the Chattanooga Hamilton Place Rotary Club. Members spent a Saturday morning in August completing the work — the first of several service projects the club has planned at the school this year.
After Bess T. Shepherd Principal Valerie Brown spoke to the club about the school and its needs, club President Chris Neighbors applied for a $5,000 matching grant from The Rotary Foundation to help address the school's most pressing needs.
The club is spending $5,000 on guided reading books, $2,000 on new library furniture, $1,000 toward landscaping, and $2,000 on repairs and upgrades to the playground. Club members also plan to spend hours doing manual labor at the school during additional work days.
The club is contributing $5,000 raised through its annual golf tournament, for a total of $10,000 to fund projects at the school.
"One of the things our club tries to do is serve the local community," said Neighbors.
The club is building a relationship with the school, he added, and President-Elect Tyler Spry will probably write another grant for Bess T. Shepherd next year, Neighbors said.
"There is plenty that could be done on their playground and in the building," said Neighbors. "We don't want a relationship where we just give money. The motto of Rotary is 'service above self,' and there's nothing like getting your hands dirty."
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