On Earth Day (April 20), the two came together with single goal in mind — to help beautify the first fire station built in New Tampa.
“Our Rotary International President Ian Riseley wanted to plant 1.2-million trees all over the world to call attention to environmental issues,” Rotary Club of New Tampa (which meets Friday mornings at Tampa Palms Golf & Country Club) president Karen Frashier said. “There are 1.2-million Rotarians worldwide and Earth Day was the deadline. We added 18 to that total today.”
It was a collaborative effort. Rotary Club of New Tampa Noon (which meets Wednesdays for lunch at Pebble Creek Golf Club) president Belvai “Vinnie” Kudva came up with the idea after District 7 Tampa City Councilman Luis Viera approached him during a recent Rotary Club meeting.
“(Luis) Viera came to our club to talk about this project, doing something for Station 20,” Kudva said. “(Neighborhood News publisher) Gary Nager guided us, but we all wanted to both do something good for the community and also celebrate Earth Day.”
The original idea to improve Fire Station 20 by the Rotarians was to paint it. Built in 1988, the station is in need of a fresh coat of paint. That undertaking proved too cumbersome for the strict rules regarding which entities are allowed to make improvements to the physical building at a City of Tampa fire station.
“Like everything else in New Tampa, there are deed restrictions for improvements like painting,” Fire Station 20 Captain Stephen Suarez said. “There are also complications about which contractors the City can allow to make improvements like that. We found a project for the Rotarians that would beautify the station and when they suggested crepe myrtles, it was a natural fit.”
Kudva contracted with Cypress Creek Landscape Supply in Tampa to purchase and deliver the different color crepe myrtle trees.
To his surprise, when the crew showed up on Sunday to plant them, the holes had already been dug, with the trees already placed in them. All the crew had to do was water them and fill in the topsoil.
Rotarians, along with Capt. Suarez, Viera and his son Luis, set to work straightening the trees, filling the holes and building berms around the base of the trees to trap water so that it does not run off. It was a worthy project that more than a dozen volunteers took part in.
“We decided it was a good thing to do to serve the community, especially with it being Earth Day,” Noon Rotary Club member Scott Hileman said. “We want to show an example that we are all one community and we help each other out.”
Hileman brought along his children Ella (16), Drew (14) and David (11) and they all grabbed shovels so that the project was completed less than 30 minutes into the planting.
“It’s our way of saying ‘thank you’ to the men and women who work here,” Viera said. “They help us, they leave their families to help ours. It’s just a small way to show them we appreciate the work that they do.”