Dixie Sunrise Rotary honors search and rescue volunteers with benefit dinner

ST. GEORGE — An “Evening of Elegance” featuring fine dining and an auction Saturday benefited many good causes, including raising funds for the volunteers of the Washington County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue crews.

Guests attend the Dixie Sunrise Rotary’s “Evening of Elegance” at the SunRiver Community Center, St. George, Utah, April 29, 2017 | Photo by Nakavius Jacks, St. George News

The fundraiser was put on by Dixie Sunrise Rotary’s nonprofit foundation and also supported the Erin Kimball Foundation, Memory Matters and the Arts Council of Washington County.

Dixie Sunrise Rotary is one club among 35,000 that make up Rotary International, a worldwide service organization with millions of members.

See video in the media player top of this report.

“Rotary was initially organized in 1905, and for 111 years, they’ve had the attitude, ‘Oh, we don’t need to tell anybody what good things we’re doing. People will just know,’” Linda Sappington, Utah Rotary public image chair, said. “Well, the reality is that people don’t know.”

Guests are treated to fine dining at the Dixie Sunrise Rotary’s “Evening of Elegance” at the SunRiver Community Center, St. George, Utah, April 29, 2017 | Photo by Nakavius Jacks, St. George News

The Evening of Elegance event is one of the ways the Dixie Sunrise Rotary is getting the word out to the greater public about the service projects it is involved in.

“This year’s theme is serving humanity, and I’ve adjusted it to serving all of humanity,” Janet Haines, Dixie Sunrise Rotary president, said.

The Rotary serves both locally and around the world.

Dixie Sunrise club members do service projects twice a month. Some of their local projects include cooking for Switchpoint Community Resource Center, gathering supplies and clothing for homeless children, trail maintenance and road cleanup.

“If you think about the different countries and different cultures, and we all share the same values of cultivating understanding, good will and peace through service,” Haines said. “We help a lot of the most needy, but we don’t just help them; we work with their community, and we together develop the kind of projects that they need.”

Besides service projects, the Rotary Club does a good deal of fundraising.

“The Evening of Elegance is our premier signature fundraising,” Haines said, “because we’ve been supporting search and rescue for probably 20 years.”

As the main beneficiary of the event, Washington County Search and Rescue personnel were present at the event to receive the evening’s honors firsthand.

“I really appreciate everything you have done for us and what you’re doing for us right now,” Washington County Search and Rescue Sheriff’s liaison Darrell Cashin said in a speech to the audience.

Washington County Sheriff’s Deputy Darrell Cashin speaks at the Dixie Sunrise Rotary’s “Evening of Elegance” at the SunRiver Community Center, St. George, Utah, April 29, 2017 | Photo by Nakavius Jacks, St. George News

The Rotary acts as one of the main benefactors for the all-volunteer rescue crews, which receive only $35,000 in government money but spend approximately $150,000 per year – the shortfall made up entirely by donations.

Read more: Search and Rescue: Who pays for it?

Generous donations in years past by the Rotary Club made possible the establishment of the Swift Water Team, which works to help save people from raging rivers.

“We hope we can cover some of those expenses for these people that volunteer their own time and their own equipment,” Dave Higbee, former Dixie Sunrise Rotary president, said.

The county search and rescue crews comprise 60 volunteers who conducted approximately 85 searches last year and 111 in 2015.

Cashin spoke about the hard work the crews put in on every rescue and how seeing families reunited after potentially traumatic events is a major reason they do the work.

“I would feel comfortable if I were ever out there and needed their help,” Higbee said. “I would know I was in the hands of good people.”

Email: jwitham@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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