Presentation of checks: Sunrise Rotary makes donations


The Rotary Club of Marco Island Sunrise recently celebrated the results of community fundraising by awarding donations to multiple charitable recipients. At the club’s recent breakfast meeting, President Natalia Armstrong recognized many of the recipients with a presentation of checks.

Largest donation of the morning went to Don Thomas with Gift of Life Florida. Gift of Life is an organization which empowers doctors and nurses to treat children in need of pediatric heart surgery, both domestically and internationally. In some cases, the children are brought to the United States for surgery. In others, the cardiac care is provided in their home country. In the words of President Armstrong, “When you hear the lifesaving effect of heart surgery on a child who can barely breathe and function, it makes you want to give even more.”

Natalia Armstrong with Rick Stoltenborg and Erik Condee, Marco Island Boxing Club.
Natalia Armstrong with Bill Morris, Teen Court.
Natalia Armstrong with Sandra Hempstead, Rotary's Shelter Box.
Natalia Armstrong and Don Thomas, Gift of Life.
Natalia Armstrong with Stef Stefanides, Christmas Island Style.

Next in the Club’s giving was a $5,000 donation to Debra Shanahan, chair of the Sunrise Scholarship Foundation. The Sunrise Scholarship Foundation provides college scholarship funding for local students. In the past year, the Foundation provided 12 scholarships totaling $35,000. The Foundation is an offshoot of the Sunrise Rotary Club.

Local attorney Bill Morris received a $1,000.00 donation to Collier County Teen Court. Teen Court is a diversion program which takes minors out of the juvenile criminal system for crimes ranging up to third degree felony. Cases are heard in Teen Court with high school students serving as substitute court personnel and jury. If the juvenile offender successfully completes the sanctions given by his or her peers, the case is “nolle prossed” which means the case is not filed and the case is dismissed. Teen Court benefits both the juvenile offender and the high school volunteers.

Rich Stoltenborg received a $1,000 check to support Marco Island youth boxing. Rich is captain of the Marco Island Police Department and runs the Marco Island Boxing Club. The Boxing Club offers a youth boxing program at no charge for boxers 8 through 16. The program not only offers physical exercise but also development of self esteem, character and confidence. In the words of Stoltenborg, “These kids are close to my heart. I was introduced to boxing as a way to keep out of trouble and I want to offer the same opportunity to kids through the Club.”

Rotary District Governor-Elect Sandra Hempstead accepted a donation of $1,000for Rotary’s ShelterBox project. Signature green boxes featuring Rotary’s logo are adapted to fit the emergency before being transported to an area suffering disaster. Most boxes include family size tents and supplies. Contents differ depending on disaster and climate.

The last recipient of Club donations was Stef Stefanides on behalf of Christmas Island Style. In expressing his gratitude, Stef explained, “I am merely one cog in a wheel of tremendous volunteers. The club’s donation will be dedicated to the Annual Tree Lighting.” Stef emphasized that many Sunrise Club Rotarians were an important part of the Christmas Island Style, serving on its Board of Directors and in other capacities.

President Armstrong explained “These donations are only part of what we give back to our community. Sunrise Rotary is a great Club with great members.” 

The Rotary Club of Marco Island Sunrise meets at Stonewall’s American Bistro on Tuesday mornings at 7 a.m. To become a Rotarian or for further information about the Rotary Club of Marco Island Sunrise, contact Chairman Bill Morris at or visit the Rotary Club of Marco Island Sunrise website at