Rotary members with alpaca
Rotary club members (standing from left) Laurell Richey, Ashley Kasprzak, and Charlene Santala Gearing visit Kate Gordon (in bed) with Richey’s pet alpaca.

By Ashley Kasprzak, president of the Rotary Club of Twin Peaks, Colorado, USA

Rotary members in Colorado showed what it means to create a welcoming club experience of comfort and care, one of Rotary International President Jennifer Jones’ initiatives for this Rotary year.

I was a small part of an effort to help longtime Rotary member Dennis Gordon and his wife, Kate, this spring. Every spring and summer since they had married 46 years ago, Kate had planted and cultivated brightly-colored gardens. But this year, she was in bed with a terminal illness which prevented her from doing so.

Dennis (Denny as he prefers to be called) is amazingly positive and agile even though he is a triple amputee. As a Vietnam veteran, a successful accountant, and a competitive cycler, not much stops Denny. But gardening is one of the rare things he doesn’t do. He shared with his friend and fellow Rotary member Charlene Santala Gearing that it would be wonderful if the club could help brighten up Kate’s view.

Charlene asked Denny if it would be ok for the club to get things looking nice for Mother’s Day, when his children and grandchildren would be visiting. Charlene then contacted members to help. Kirsten Pellicer donated flowers, and Beth Shipp a truck. Half a dozen members and friends cleaned up flower beds and planted.

Kate watched from her bed as we gardened. At the end of three hours, shrubs and trees were trimmed. Flowers were planted and everything was spiffed up. One member, Laurell Richey, even brought her pet alpaca, Dobby, who thanks to double doors, was able to come inside and say hello.

Everyone shared smiles, laughter, and a bit of joy. Rotary volunteers were able to bring some moments of distraction and levity to Kate and Denny during a sad time. Kate passed away on 18 May. Denny faithfully continues to attend Twin Peaks Rotary Club every Thursday at noon in Longmont, Colorado, USA.

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