When two or more entities with similar goals come together, pool their resources, and work alongside each other, it’s impressive what they’re able to pull off. The City of St. Cloud and the Rotary Club of St. Cloud have been working together for years to make the community a better place for everyone to live.
“We’re all after the same goal of bettering the community,” said St. Cloud Parks Director Scott Zlotnik.
The most visible project they have worked on is the Eastman Park and Lake George renovations, which opened the door for the Summertime by George!
The two groups have found they can accomplish more when they work together.
“It’s the true testament of the spirit of a community,” said St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis.
It’s the true testament of the spirit of a community.
As part of the Rotary International’s 100th anniversary, the Rotary Club of St. Cloud was looking for a high-level signature project. Rotarian Tim Wensman reached out to the St. Cloud Parks and Recreation department. He learned about the Eastman Park and Lake George revitalization plan.
“When you have someone who says, ‘hey, we want to do a project.’ But not only do they want to help do it, but they also want to help raise money to get there faster, and they want sustainability and to set up an endowment fund for maintenance – it’s that type of foresight that’s really important and really bodes well when it comes to the parks,” Zlotnik said.
Summertime by George!
After the park renovations were complete, the Rotary came to the city with another partnership idea – one to show off the newly renovated park and help build relationships weekly during the summer.
Wensman said an essential part of what Rotary wanted to do was not just give hard assets like a park but also provide soft assets that build community.
The weekly music festival was something the city also saw value in again partnering with the Rotary.
“The partnership has been tremendous,” Kleis said. “The vitality of a community is all about relationships and collaborations. I can think of no better example than something that brings in 20,000 people and celebrates community.”
Spokes in The Wheel
“There are a lot of spokes in the wheel making SBG! a success,” Zlotnik said. Rotary books bands, find sponsorships, and takes care of all the logistics. The city supplies the venue and upkeep and assists with security and cleanup.
Every band at SBG! is sponsored by a local business which covers that large expense. This helps keep the event free for the public.
It takes a team of city employees to keep the park maintained and there’s a strong collaboration with the St. Cloud Police department who provide security at the event. The Stearns County Sheriff’s Department and Waite Park Police Department have also assisted at SBG!
Each week, over 55 Rotary members and 20 community members volunteer at the festival. Rotary members sell raffle tickets and popcorn to raise money for their non-profit foundation. Rotaract, a young professionals’ service club, sells beer at Eastman Tavern.
“Individuals and organizations all make up the city,” Mayor Kleis said. “So, we all have a vested interest. It’s an important piece that any service club, any organization, any individual help mold the community into what they want it to be.”