Port Arthur Rotary Foundation delivering scholarships and lot more to community

Published 12:22 am Friday, January 14, 2022

For years the Rotary Club of Port Arthur has provided scholarships to graduating high school seniors, given dictionaries to third graders and helped other organizations in their bid to help others.

The Port Arthur Rotary Foundation was one of 13 nonprofit organizations awarded grants in late November during the Port Arthur News Season of Giving powered by Port Arthur LNG.

That giving goes a long way with the local organization that is more than a 100 years old.

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Johnny Brown, past president of the Rotary Club and a member of the Foundation board, gave thanks to Port Arthur Newsmedia for sponsoring Season of Giving and Port Arthur LNG for powering the grants to help others in the community.

The Port Arthur Rotary Foundation is 100 percent nonprofit in its operations, he said, adding not one penny goes to any of the members directly. All resources go to organizations either struggling for resources, positioning themselves to help others or both and for youth scholarships.

Rotary Club of Port Arthur Past President Dr. Johnny Brown and Rotary President Art Thomas present a check to The Hospitality Center of Port Arthur-Catholic Charities. (Stephen Hemelt/The News)

“For example in last couple of years we have sponsored youth scholarships of over $30,000 and that includes Sabine Pass, and Memorial High School, Bob Hope High School and Tekoa and the Early College High School,” Brown said.

They have also assisted other nonprofit organizations such as CASA in Beaumont and Community Care Prayer Outreach and provided thousands of dollars to assist others.

And there’s more.

“The Taste of Gumbo program is a fun and festive program we sponsor to raise additional funds,” Brown said.

Community members purchase tickets and have a chance to sample different gumbos and other dishes from local restaurants. This provides an opportunity for the restaurants to advertise, lets the public see what they offer and attendees get a chance to win a door prize.

One of the special events the club took part in was in coordination with the 100 Black Men of Greater Beaumont.

Brown said after last year’s hard freeze, which left some without power during the pandemic, the group came together to surprise shoppers at H.E.B. on Gulfway Drive with $50 gift cards. This amounted to $3,000 to help their fellow man.

The Dictionary Project works in conjunction with Motiva and is held at the Museum of the Gulf Coast. Third graders from Port Arthur Independent School District receive free dictionaries.

Brown called it exhilarating to see the faces of the recipients of the club’s support. This reminded him of something his mother taught all of her children — to try and go out each day and reach someone.

“It’s like she had known the object of Rotary in terms of the idea of service before self before she ever knew of Rotary. To do all you can every day to help others,” he said.

Russell Buss, president of the Port Arthur Rotary Foundation, spoke recently of the impact of the organization and the additional funds.

He said the additional funds allow the Rotary to possibly double the number of college scholarships provided in the coming years.

He said furthering their reach to help others fits into the model of Rotary, in service before self, echoing Brown’s sentiments.