Club Rotario raising scholarship funds for CMC students |

Club Rotario raising scholarship funds for CMC students

Veronica Whitney
El Montanes
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox Post Independent

CARBONDALE, Colorado – To Paulino Abarco, the scholarship he got from the Roaring Fork Rotary Club to go to college means he can work a little less as a painter in Aspen and concentrate more on his studies to become a computer technician.

Out of nine children, Paulino, 19, a graduate of Roaring Fork High School, is the only one in his family so far going to college. His college education comes thanks to a $500 scholarship from the Roaring Fork Rotary Club, also known as Club Rotario.

“I’m the only one in my family who will have a degree and become someone,” said Paulino, a native of Michoacan, Mexico, who now lives in Carbondale and is studying at Colorado Mountain College.

“My parents also support me in my studies, but without the scholarship I don’t think I could be going to college now,” he said.

In the last two years, Club Rotario, a local nonprofit and affiliate of Rotary International formed by Anglo and Hispanic volunteers, has distributed $30,000 in scholarships to dozens of local students. Up to seven scholarships ranging from $500 to $1,000 may be awarded to students interested in attending Colorado Mountain College.

These awards cover tuition, student fees and books, and students can reapply for the scholarship after one year.

Created in 2003, Club Rotario is an example of Latinos and Anglos in the valley working together towards a same goal. Club members are originally from Peru, Mexico, Switzerland, England, Taiwan and the United States.

Club Rotario is one of more than 34,000 Rotary clubs in more than 200 countries. Worldwide, there are 1.2 million Rotarians.

Diana Kaufman of Glenwood Springs has been a Club Rotario officer for two years and is one of the main organizers of the Festival of the Americas (Festival Las Americas), the biggest fundraiser for the Club Rotario.

The ninth Festival of the Americas took place on Aug. 28 at Sopris Park in Carbondale, with hundreds of Anglos and Hispanics attending.

Proceeds from the fundraiser are directed to the scholarship, which is aimed at helping low income young people attend Colorado Mountain College.

“I really believe in quality education for everyone, because education is the key to the achievement of dreams,” Kaufman said. “It’s a cliche, but we do believe that ‘a mind is a terrible thing to waste.'”

Kaufman also assists her husband and fellow Club Rotario member, Don Kaufman, at his law practice, and she’s the mother of two kids. Still, Kaufman, like many of the members of the club, managed to spend about 20 hours a week this summer organizing the festival.

“The Festival of the Americas is not only a fun event to raise money for scholarships, it is also about the diverse members of our community coming together to share the best of their culture,” Kaufman said.

“This year, we invited more nonprofit organizations to join us at the festival. We also invited more senior citizens and folks with developmental disabilities as our special guests at the festival,” she said.

Jim Coombs, another Club Rotario member, describes the festival as an event that has grown without the fame and support of other festivals such as Strawberry Days and Mountain Fair.

“It’s a local phenomenon with an attendance of about 2,000 people,” he said. The festival features live Latino and Anglo bands, dances on stage, entertainment for children and several booths with food.

Club members also donate their time at other events, such as helping collect donations for the Salvation Army during the holidays and cooking at the Extended Table in Glenwood Springs.

In addition to distributing money for scholarships, Club Rotario sends funds to Rotary Club International to help with their campaign against polio.

Abarco, who is taking two classes at CMC this semester, realizes he is one among thousands of people benefiting of the fruits of long hours of the volunteer work that Club Rotario members put in every year.

“I’m very thankful to the Club Rotario for the help they give the Latino students and the faith they have in us to succeed in this country,” said Abarco, who has received another scholarship to attend college in addition to the one from the Club Rotario. “I want to recommend to other students to apply for the Club Rotario scholarship.”

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