The Cullman Times
In April, 2011, a series of massive tornadoes rolled across the State of Alabama. One of the towns nearly destroyed by one of these tornadoes was the town of Cullman, which happens to be the hometown of my wife, Mona. Her brother, Max, is the mayor of Cullman. The destruction wreaked by the tornado was nearly impossible to believe. Almost the entire downtown area was demolished. Three hundred homes were destroyed, and nearly 2,300 trees were uprooted or blown down.
When Mona and I visited last July, we were amazed at the changes wrought by the tornado. Whole buildings were gone. Entire stands of trees had disappeared. City streets were still blocked by either rubble or fallen trees. It was truly a natural disaster of incredible proportions.
Over the past year, Max has been keeping us informed on the progress of the rebuilding effort. In one of his reports, knowing that I’m a Rotarian, he mentioned that the Rotary Club of Cullman had started a project to restore the trees that had been destroyed. They had taken it upon themselves to do what they could to restore the beautiful forest environment that had surrounded the town.
When I heard that, I was proud that another club of an organization that I was a member of had undertaken this huge task. I thought that if we had a natural disaster affect our community, we would appreciate it if another Rotary Club came to our assistance. So I wrote an article in SPARKS, and asked our club members if they would contribute funds to help the Rotary Club of Cullman reforest their town. Sure enough, the generosity of our members came through, and we collected a total of $485 through Altadena Rotary Charities.
May 31, I was in Cullman and personally presented our check to the president of their club, Lisa Eckenrod. I cannot tell you how grateful they were to receive this money. After the meeting, nearly every member of the club came up to me and expressed their appreciation that a club 2,000 miles away in Altadena, California, would help in the re-forestation of a small town in Alabama. It was truly an example of Rotary hands reaching across America.