Portola Rotarians Rob Cook, “Van” Vander Veen and Kirk Lambert install planter boxes constructed by PHS woodshop students. Rotarians also provided and assembled tables for the “CRC Outdoor Education Program” project.Photo submitted

Where We Stand: COVID hit and Portola Rotary got busy!

By Kim Wilbanks

Portola Rotary

One year ago this month we began one of the most difficult years in memory. The Rotary Club of Portola, one of four Rotary Clubs in Plumas County, went to work, as did our Sister Clubs in Quincy, Greenville and Chester.

Bob Price of Les Schwab Portola receives a box of scarce hand sanitizer for his customers and employees. Photo submitted

Among the difficulties we faced, suddenly masks and hand sanitizers had become critical, but they were in extremely short supply. To address the shortage, the Rotary Club of Portola responded and produced nearly a thousand bottles of hand sanitizer, and hundreds of handmade facemasks for our heroic First Responders, Medical Personnel, and the community members of Eastern Plumas County.


As the year progressed, the Portola Club continued to make a difference by providing over $10,000 in scholarships to graduating Portola High School seniors, reviving hope for the future for many who had all but lost their last year of high school. No — COVID 19 didn’t stop the Rotary Club of Portola from continuing their work to keep our community strong as club members worked to refurbish our Community Bulletin Board, supporting our community connection and communication. And finally, in preparation for the eventual re-opening of our schools, the Portola Club took on two new projects: providing an outdoor education facility at C. Roy Carmichael School, and aiding in the refurbishing and furnishing of Portola High School locker rooms and team rooms. When our children are finally able to return to school, their facilities will be better than ever!

Later, during the horrific fires that plagued us this summer and fall, Portola Rotarians traveled to the Fire Camps, collecting the snacks from unused firefighter lunches. Portola Club members assembled “Goodie Bags” (large zip-lock bags filled with delicious firefighter treats) to add to the Holiday Baskets provided for folks by our EPCAN Food Bank. The Portola Club also continued their work to make life better by providing “Thanksgiving-in-a-Box” (all the fixins’ for a complete Thanksgiving dinner) for 120 local families during these difficult times.

Portola Rotarians rounded out this difficult COVID year by decorating a beautiful, musical holiday float as part of the city’s “Christmas Parade of Lights.” The fun Rotary float featured Mrs. Santa, her favorite Elf, and a crew of candy slinging carolers. It was heartwarming to bring Christmas cheer right to the doorstep of so many folks parading through the neighborhoods of our community.

Yes, – Portola Rotary HAS been busy this crazy COVID year. As one of our 27 active members I can say that we are proud and honored to have been of service to you, our wonderful community, during these difficult times. We are not done. As we move toward more “normal” times, we are hopeful that we will be able to do even more, especially when we can resume raising money at our Annual Fly-in Breakfast, and our Margaritaville Booth at the County Fair. We look forward to continuing and enhancing our community service work here in Eastern Plumas County throughout the coming years.

The Boy’s locker room at Portola High school after new paint and benches. Photo submitted
Portola Rotarians Kim Wilbanks, Steve Clifton, Joleen Cline and Doug McCoy assemble bags of “Fire Camp Treats” for the Holiday Baskets provided to local families by EPCAN. Photo submitted


Toni Carl, one of Rotary’s seamstresses, sews masks for distribution throughout Eastern Plumas County. Photo submitted
Portola Rotarians “Van” Vander Veen, Sam Wilbanks and Victoria Cook working to refurbish our town’s bulletin board. Photo submitted