Rotary clubs helping local restaurants, seniors

Published 7:04 pm Thursday, April 2, 2020

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“Service above self.” That’s the motto that millions of Rotary Club members across the world try to live by in their daily lives, and Rotarians in Beaufort County are putting that ideal into practice to serve others during the COVID-19 outbreak.

From organizing relief efforts for restaurant workers in eastern Beaufort County to helping coordinate delivery of essential items to people in need, local Rotary Clubs are rising to the occasion.


It’s been two and a half weeks since North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper ordered bars and restaurants to close for dine-in services. While some businesses have tried to stay afloat by providing takeout and delivery options, many restaurant employees have found themselves out of a job and caught up in a massive overload of the state’s unemployment insurance system.

In eastern Beaufort County, the Belhaven-Pantego Rotary Club is stepping up to provide relief to those workers through a new initiative called “Turn the Tides for Small Business.” Collecting donations through local banks, the club will then distribute funds to help employees at about 13 restaurants in Belhaven, Bath, Pantego and Pinetown.

“A lot of (unemployment claims) are done online and the wait times are unbelievable,” said Turn the Tides chairperson Diane Edwards. “A lot of these people don’t have that internet ability, and places they might go to get online are not open. It creates a whole different set of stresses for those people. I feel for them, because there are so many people for whom restaurants are their livelihood.”

While the club is working on a means to donate electronically, donors can make tax-deductible gifts via a check made out to Belhaven-Pantego Rotary in the meantime.

Contributions can be made by mail or by speaking to a club member. Checks can be addressed checks to:

  • First Bank, ATTN: Bridget Jefferson, 770 W. Main St., Belhaven, NC 27810 or
  • Southern Bank, ATTN: Chuck Williams, 148 E. Main St., Belhaven NC 27810

“This town and this area, we have an amazing support system to lift up our businesses and to support them,” Edwards said. “We have a lot of generous people in our area who are willing to help out.”

For more information on Turn the Tides for Small Business, contact Edwards at


With a statewide stay-at-home order in effect, Washington (noon) Rotary is making sure seniors and homebound individuals in Washington and Chocowinity have everything they need to weather the outbreak. The effort is called the Rotary Delivers Project.

“The purpose is to assist homebound senior citizens in the Washington and Chocowinity area by delivering food orders, prescriptions and grocery orders that they have ordered and paid for by telephone,” explained project coordinator Bob Douglas. “We’ll get out there and pick it up from the business or organization and deliver it to the home. We’ll put it on the front porch and notify them that it’s there so they can come get it.”

Logistically, Douglas says he is setting up a dispatch number that will be staffed from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mondays through Fridays. He still needs about four or five more people to volunteer for the effort as delivery drivers. Volunteers do not have to be Rotarians to be part of what Douglas is calling the “Rotary Service Corps.”

For more information or to volunteer, contact Douglas at or by phone at 530-949-1332.


From the top of the organization down, Rotary International has also allocated $1 million for COVID-19 related expenses. Working with the Rotary District 7720, Washington (evening) Rotary Treasurer Bill Wall is looking for ways to allocate grant money for local organizations responding to the crisis.