Rotary clubs in Rock Island and Bettendorf are reaching out to the community of Newtown, Conn., in the aftermath of last month’s shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Doing so is appropriate, according to one member of the service organization, because Rotarians have a duty to help members in other communities when they are in need.
Glenn Kass, a member of the Bettendorf club, says he contacted the Rotary club in Newtown to offer support and any help he could give.
“You’re not just a member of your own club,” Kass said. “You’re a member of 1.2 million Rotarians worldwide.”
The Bettendorf and Rock Island Rotary clubs have joined forces to host a vigil marking the one-month anniversary of the shootings. The vigil will be 6:30 p.m. Monday at Modern Woodmen Park in Davenport.
The event will feature Quad-City clergy, the Quad-City Gospel Fest Choir and Kingdom Kids Choir, a reading of names of the victims and a banner to be signed by attendees and delivered to the Newtown Rotary club, Kass said.
Holly Sparkman of the Rock Island Rotary Club said she hopes that hundreds of people will attend the public event to show their support for the victims.
“We’re hoping the entire community wants to come out and support this,” she said.
Donations collected at the vigil will be given to the Newtown Rotary Club, which has established a fund to benefit the victims of the shooting in a variety of ways.
Newtown club president Michael Toll said the money his club has raised has been used to meet the immediate needs of the victims, such as funeral expenses, as well as long-term needs, such as counseling for survivors and their families.
Those affected by the shootings face a variety of expenses, Toll said. Among the needs is making up for salary lost by traumatized emergency personnel who have been unable to return to work after responding to the scene of the shooting and have used up all of their paid time off.
The club also is working on establishing a scholarship fund in memory of the victims, Toll said.
In the immediate aftermath of the shootings, Toll said the Rotary club received so many emails that they had to be spread out among several club members to ensure that they were answered. He estimated that the club has received thousands of messages of support and offers of help.
“For an unfortunate reason, it has been an amazing response from total strangers,” he said.
Toll said things are “normalizing” in the community where the shootings took place.
“I know they’ll bounce back,” he said.