* Our Craft Fair phone line has changed.  Our new number is (314) 729-2121. *

About Rotary Club

A History of the Rotary Club of Crestwood – Sunset Hills

The Rotary Club of Crestwood was organized April 27, 1960.  Sponsored by the Rotary Club of Webster Groves, the club was admitted into Rotary International on June 23, 1960.  Of the 21 Charter Members, one is still an active member – Carl Deutsch.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In July 1983, with approval from Rotary International and nearby clubs, the club voted to include the city of Sunset Hills and became the Rotary Club of Crestwood – Sunset Hills.  In 2012 the South St. Louis County Club disbanded and 8 members joined our club.  Originally an all male organization, Rotary International voted in 1989 to admit women following an historic 1987 Supreme Court ruling.  Joan Robinson became our first female member in October 1987.   Joan’s entry was not an easy one but she persevered and went on to become the club’s first female president serving from 1993-1994.  Joan still serves the club as an integral part of the Arts & Crafts Fairs.

jenny-bell-portrait

As a service organization, we embrace the Rotary International motto, “Service Above Self”.  To support community and international projects, we hold fundraising activities.  In 1972, the club started a barbecue.  Members sold tickets to the event and spouses (Rotary was men only at that time) baked and served desserts.  For several years the barbecue was our major source of revenue.  In 1981 former member Tony Badalamenti directed the organization of a Fall Arts and Crafts Fair.  Held the weekend before Thanksgiving, the Fair has become the club’s major fundraiser and a popular St. Louis area arts and crafts attraction. In 2006, former member Jenny Bell initiated a Spring Arts and Crafts Fair, held two weeks before Easter.  The Spring Fair is now about half the size of the Fall Fair, featuring about 250 booths.  In June 2013, the Arts and Crafts Fairs were cited as the Best Fundraising Events in our Rotary District. In 2013 our club adopted the Trivia Night brought by the members of the former South County club.

don_defoeOne of the oldest, on-going club projects is the Pantry Fund headed by member Don DeFoe. Established in 1971, the Pantry Fund was “to provide immediate temporary relief from hardship to transient families stranded in Crestwood and to residents of Crestwood who experience disaster but who are not eligible for assistance from established agencies.”  Sunset Hills was not part of the club at that time.  Also, Interstate Highway 44 did not exist and Watson Road was heavily traveled as old Highway 66.  As a result, there were numerous situations where families passing through ran into trouble and out of money. In the tradition of Rotary service, it was decided to try to help out in the community.  Over the years our club has helped many who needed a little emergency help.  Don DeFoe fields 90% of the calls from the police with Vic Lenz and Wally Littlefield helping out.  Don has served over forty years on this community project.

In 2010 the Crestwood-Sunset Hills Rotary Club celebrated its 50th Anniversary. Club members raised funds to erect a Rotary Garden near the Sunset Hills Community Center and a large pavilion at Whitecliff Park in Crestwood.

pavilion-at-whitecliff-park-crestwood

 

 

Pavilion at Whitecliff Park Crestwood

 

 

 

rose-garden-at-sunset-hills-center

 

 

Rose Garden at Sunset Hills Center

 

 

 

In 2012 our New Member Committee held a Valentine Basket Donation. Sixty food hampers with accompanying bags were distributed to families within the Lindbergh School District.  Due to the great need observed during that project, the club decided to transform the project into a weekend backpack program for needy children in the school district.  From a small beginning of serving 25 students, we currently serve 150 students in the Lindbergh School District and the Mehlville School District. Appropriately named Feed the Knowledge, the program has made a big impact on the lives of young students who look forward to “food Fridays” at school.

In January 2013 the South County club members introduced their annual fundraiser – a Trivia Night at Vianney High School.  Since then we have held a yearly Trivia Night in cooperation with the Forest Park Rotary Club.  Proceeds benefit Feed the Knowledge.

The club sponsors several Interact clubs within the Lindbergh High School, the Mehlville High School and Lindbergh Middle schools.  Students raise funds to support local projects.  The Lindbergh Interact club has twice traveled to Guatemala to install smokeless stoves in the homes of poor Mayan families. The students also bring coloring books, toys and clothing for the local young children.

With a long history of community and international service, the Crestwood-Sunset Hills Rotary Club looks forward to the challenge of new opportunities to provide ‘Service Above Self”.

Martha Henderson

September 2016