Plano West Rotary Club Partnership Serves Douglass Community

Volunteers in the Douglass Community // photo Alex Johnson
Volunteers in the Douglass Community // photo Alex Johnson

As rallies for racial justice happened throughout Plano and the rest of the U.S. this summer, Alex Johnson, president of Plano West Rotary Club, wanted to get involved but didn’t feel safe attending events in person because of the COVID pandemic. Through much thought and prayer, Alex said he decided the best way for him to help make an impact was through getting more Black citizens involved in Rotary.

Plano West Rotary Club is a chapter of the greater Rotary organization, a nonprofit service organization represented throughout the world. According to its website, causes important to Plano West Rotary Club (PRWC) include serving individuals experiencing homelessness; education and opportunities for youth; economic development for the Douglass Community; and support and resources for the elderly.

Plano West Rotary Club President Alex Johnson // photo Jennifer Shertzer
Plano West Rotary Club President Alex Johnson // photo Jennifer Shertzer

After reaching out to Dollie Thomas, a retired Plano ISD HR specialist and longtime community leader, Alex was connected with David Evans, who happens to be Dollie’s cousin and president of the Douglass Visions Committee (DVC). David is a descendant of the original two freed slaves that settled in Douglass Community. The DVC is a nonprofit that serves the Douglass Community, a historically Black neighborhood near Downtown Plano, but in present-day Plano it is ethnically diverse.

Dollie and David’s families have “tirelessly fought for equality, equity and inclusion of minorities and the residents of Douglass since 1865,” said Alex.

Douglass Visions Committee President David Evans (center, in pink shirt) // photo Jennifer Shertzer
Douglass Visions Committee President David Evans (center, in pink shirt) // photo Jennifer Shertzer

Through Alex and David’s connection, the DVC and PWRC joined forces to create a Rotary Community Corps, essentially a structure created to get community members involved in regularly scheduled service projects. PWRC’s role in the Corps is providing volunteers, resources, connections and support.

Over the last few weeks, the newly chartered Rotary Community Corps of Plano Douglass Community has accomplished three service projects with 55 volunteers contributing 77 volunteer hours, and received donated goods valued at $12,837. Their most recent project was delivering food to houses in the neighborhood. The group delivered 142 food boxes that were donated by Minnie’s Food Pantry.

“The residents were chosen based on who completed the Minnie’s Food Pantry recipient form. We knocked on the doors of all 225 homes over the last two weeks to obtain the required completed form,” Alex said. “The 142 boxes that we delivered on [July 25] only represented about 71 homes.” The volunteers hope to eventually serve every home in the neighborhood.

Meals are being delivered because not all community residents have vehicles or can drive. “Some residents won’t go to a food pantry out of pride. Some are concerned with being called poor, underprivileged or impoverished. Our goal is to serve and empower,” Alex explained.

As the Rotary Community Corp continues to serve the area, its leaders have big hopes for the future: to attract more volunteers; run future food deliveries; create a wellness clinic that offers medical, dental, chiropractic, therapeutic and mental wellness services; start a community garden; create a community resource center filled with caseworkers, youth programs, senior programs, support groups, and advocates; run a job training program; help with home repairs; charter a Plano Police Explorer Program; renovate and reopen the African-American Museum; and shed light on all of Douglass Community’s needs.

Food deliveries will continue biweekly throughout 2020. A shoe drive will kick off Aug. 1. Residents interested in volunteering or getting involved can sign up at the link below.

Sign Up to Volunteer >
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