On Saturday, May 23, members of Sebastopol’s two Rotary Clubs — the Rotary Club of Sebastopol and Rotary Club Sebastopol Sunrise — donned masks and brought their shovels to put the final touches on the new play structure in Libby Park, dispersing bark around the playground.
The clubs have worked together for the last year to raise $30,000 by making and selling tamales to help the city purchase the play structure.
Rotarian Mario Ramos, the owner of Mexico Lindo in Graton, instructed his fellow Rotarians in the fine art of tamale making.
The project came about because both clubs were looking for a project that would help the local community and raise the profile of the Rotary Clubs, the granddaddy of local service organizations.
“There are two Rotary Clubs in Sebastopol: one meets in the morning on Wednesday and that's called Rotary Club of Sebastopol Sunrise. The Rotary Club of Sebastopol meets at noon on Friday,” explained Keller McDonald, the president of the older club, the Rotary Club of Sebastopol. “About a year ago, we decided to try to do some co-branding and work on projects that would benefit the community and increase the visibility of Rotary in Sebastopol and west county. Our two clubs are very cooperative. We get along just great. So we decided to try to find a significant community project that we could tackle together.”
Sebastopol Sunrise Rotarian Michael McGlothin spearheaded the project for Rotary, going to the city to ask if there was a project the city wanted to do but needed money to complete. He spoke to then public works director Dante Del Prete, who suggested that the play structure in Libby Park was in need of replacement.
"The new inclusive playground was designed with the community and children of Sebastopol in mind," Hansen said. "A citizen survey was conducted from August 30 to September 23, 2019, to allow the community, especially the children, to have input in what kind of play structures the playground would include. The community made their voices heard and with over 500 respondents to the survey, the top three voted structures were 'Global Motion,' 'Zipkrooz,' and the 'Oodle Swing' (an ADA accessible swing that is universally accessible and family-friendly). The playground designers incorporated the top voted structures into the overall design scheme."
“This park is incredibly popular with local families,” McGlothin said. “It was a really good project to bring the groups together."
For several months Rotarians from both clubs worked together in epic tamale-making sessions. Then in 2019, they sold the tamales at local events around Sebastopol, ultimately selling 8,500 tamales according to McGlothin. The $30,000 they raised made it possible for the city to pay for the new, $144,000 play structure.
The motto of the Rotary Club, “Service above self,” was on full display on Saturday as Rotarians and family members worked in the hot May sun to finish the project.
McGlothin said the city has to do one final inspection and then the play structure will be ready for the invasion of kids who will flock to it once the county declares that it’s safe to re-open playgrounds.