Suntree Rotary picks three ways and three groups to help children with Great Tastes


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Rounding out the Sept. 3 breakfast program are Suntree Rotary officer and emcee Bill Slover, top left, Florida Senator Thad Altman, Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida president Gary Cain, Temple Terrace club director Richard Yount, Suntree Rotary officer, Bill Means, and president Joseph Naberhaus; and from bottom left, Promise of Brevard co-founders Betsy and Luke Farmer, Boys & Girls Club member Tatyania Watts and Children’s Hunger Project co-founder Bob Barnes.

Linda Wiggins

The Suntree Rotary Club is taking a systemic approach to helping children in need to become productive adults.

It has chosen three charities to benefit from its Great Tastes at Suntree event at Suntree Country Club, held Oct. 11, where dozens of restaurants vied for People’s Choice bragging rights and brought their top dishes for attendees to sample while listening to live music and taking part in a variety of games and activities geared to both adults and youngsters.

The Children’s Hunger Project, last year’s sole recipient, will again benefit. The Brevard charity purchases individual servings of ready-to-eat foods and packages them for teachers to place in the backpacks of students they know to be hungry so they may have food during the weekends away from free breakfast and lunches at school.

“Of all the approaches you can make to help at-risk children succeed in school and in life, nutrition is the No. 1 key and first step,” said Bob Barnes, a co-founder of the Children’s Hunger Project and full-time volunteer speaker who has made the effort one of the most popular causes among civic groups and church outreach efforts in the Viera/Suntree area and beyond.

“Feeding their hunger can open the door to good behavior and academic achievement, giving them the chance to become law-abiding, productive citizens.”

The Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Florida, which has locations in north Melbourne, Mims and Cocoa, is a second tier in the Suntree Rotary approach, helping children with homework, giving them a safe place away from home to hang out in a positive environment, and physical activities to challenge their minds and bodies, according to a Suntree Rotary official.

“We are really impressed with what this effort does for our young people,” said Bill Slover, Suntree Rotary officer and emcee of a Sept. 3 breakfast at Suntree Country Club to introduce charity recipients. The event also acknowledged Florida Sen. Thad Altman for his efforts to sponsor and support legislation that aides children’s causes supported by Suntree Rotary, which recently helped refurbish the Teen Center at the Temple Terrace Boys & Girls Club south of Suntree.

The third charity and the third prong in the Suntree Rotary approach is Promise in Brevard, a community under development in West Melbourne that will be home to residents with developmental disabilities across Brevard, including Suntree and Viera.

Promise is up for $14 million in state housing funding for construction in November and is seeking $3 million in donations to launch a series of businesses where young adults will work.

“It’s amazing what a job and a paycheck can do,” said Betsy Farmer, co-founder of Promise with her son Luke, who has Down syndrome. “We have tried in the past to get jobs for our young adults and it failed because there was not sufficient support, and it leads to terrible disappointment and depression. We now know this is the solution.”

Promise already operates Promise Treasures Thrift Shoppe at State Road 192 and Wickham Road, run by a bank of unpaid volunteers and paid “future Promisers” so they can “have a real job and feel good about themselves.”