CHESTERVILLE — The Chesterville Rotary Club’s annual Grain Project has produced another financial harvest for the community.
The longstanding tradition sees dedicated club members Stan and Betty Vanden Bosch at Vanden Bosch Elevators — a family operation now owned by sons Greg and Brent — oversee the alternating production of either corn or soybeans at no direct cost to the club, which plows the profits back into community projects.
This year’s corn crop yielded just shy of $10,320, club treasurer Stan Vanden Bosch announced to applause at the local Rotarians’ Dec. 17 Christmas dinner at the Nelson LaPrade Centre.
The Project’s combined tally through the years has eclipsed $160,000 with the addition of the latest sum.
The effort involves several principal donors around the community. Landowners Frank Heerkens, Dawna Whitehead and April and Craig Wheeler contribute the combined 18 acres cultivated around Chesterville. The Vanden Bosch sons — plus grandson Sawyer — plant, fertilize, spray and harvest the crop produced from seed donated by Fife Agricultural Services — all inputs that would otherwise cost many thousands of dollars.
The money raised helps fund improvements undertaken by Rotarians around Chesterville — including the lit-up decorative snowflakes adorning more than a dozen poles in the village as well as the accompanying Merry Christmas sign on the library building. The lights were all created by Industrial Stainless in Chesterville, as were the stylized maple leaves that replace the lights in the warm season.
But the Club also supports some good deeds internationally as well. That very evening, they approved $500 to assist Karen Gilroy — a nurse and daughter of Rotarians Bob and Ruth Gilroy — on a humanitarian healthcare mission to Haiti set for January.
The Rotarians also welcomed local Rotary District Governor Martha Weaver of Malone, NY, and Area Governor Ken Durand Jr. of Prescott, to the annual Christmas dinner.
And at a time when service clubs and organizations struggle to maintain numbers, the event also celebrated the recent addition of three new Club members: Marian Henderson, Christine Barkley and Anita Schoch’s arrival puts the roster at 16, split 50-50 between men and women.
“If it wasn’t for the women, I don’t think we’d still be around,” observed Club President John Roosendaal, after recalling how the Club — founded 80 years ago — was an all-male organization until the early 1990s.
In another expression of thanks, secretary Betty Vanden Bosch recognized guest Frank Heerkens not only for his annual participation in the Grain Project — but especially for his unexpected $8,000 pledge to the Club made earlier this year. In a spur of the moment decision at the Club’s 80th anniversary last spring, the Dundas Power Line proprietor promised to match up to that amount following the end of a local bank’s popular dollar-for-dollar program previously tapped by the Rotarians. A smiling Vanden Bosch informed Heerkens that the Club had raised enough to trigger his full contribution.
Heerkens quipped that he knew he wouldn’t get away with spending any less than the full amount if Betty Vanden Bosch had anything to do with it! (See video below.)