LIMA — A pandemic didn’t stop the Kiwanis Club of Lima from finishing its first all-abilities playground at Camp Robin Rogers. It didn’t stop the club from fundraising for a second playground either, the one to be built at the Marimor School in the summer of 2021.
The club missed a single meeting last March but has been busy ever since, unhindered by a shutdown, prohibitions on large gatherings and a recession that briefly saw one million Ohioans out of work.
Meetings moved online with the help of Zoom, as did the Kiwanis Club’s 5K and visits with Lima students enrolled in the student leadership program Key Club.
The annual chicken barbecue became a drive-thru dinner. And other service projects, like the group’s volunteer days with Our Daily Bread, have resumed whenever possible, making the Kiwanis Club of Lima one of the most active chapters affiliated with the international service club.
“Despite everything we have overcome, things that if you had asked us a year ago: Are you going to be able to do it? We might have said no, we won’t be able to do it under the circumstances,” said Millie Hughes, past president and co-chair of the club’s communications. “But we did it, and we depend a lot on one another.”
Still, the digital transition was challenging. Many members had never used Zoom. And the club had little experience organizing a virtual 5K, let alone fundraisers in an era when one-on-one appeals were less safe than virtual ones.
The club adapted anyway, opening its all-abilities playground at Camp Robin Rogers in October and moving forward with its next playground set to open later this year.
Going virtual has had its privileges too, members said.
The Kiwanis Club has booked prominent speakers who otherwise would not have committed to come Lima. Members who previously couldn’t attend the club’s weekly luncheons were now catching more meetings than ever via Zoom, a convenience for busy Kiwanis members that may continue to be available post pandemic.
For Lima Rotary Club President John Ficorilli, the greatest lesson of the pandemic is how much was taken for granted before.
The club, which supports local and international service projects, slowly adapted its fundraising strategy now that in-person events and fundraisers were often discouraged or prohibited.
So while the Lima Rotary Club was able to host its annual golf tournament last summer, Ficorilli said, it had to cancel two of its popular blood clinic fundraisers that raise upwards of $50,000 each year, funds that are used to support community groups and projects like the Rotary’s forthcoming amphitheater park to be built in an under-developed part of Central Avenue.
It now seems like a privilege that Rotarians were able to meet in person for their weekly luncheons for most of 2020, while those who were unable or unready to return had the option to watch online via Facebook Live and Zoom. But to Ficorilli, Zoom can only go so far for a club that is all about building community through service and fellowship.
“For a service club,” Ficorilli said, “your whole model is built on boots on the ground, face-to-face interaction, doing things for the community with the community. You can’t do that through just Zoom.”