La Jolla Sunrise Rotarians help farm foster teens’ garden at San Pasqual Academy

By Rotarian Barbara Gerber

La Jolla Sunrise Rotary held its annual Rotarians at Work Day from 7:30 a.m. until noon on April 26 at San Pasqual Academy in Escondido, a residential high school for foster teens.

Together with the Coronado Rotary Club, the Escondido Highway 76 Club, University of Michigan Alumni, and Friends of San Pasqual, more 170 people participated. Sunrise Rotarian Lauren Pickard organized the efforts.

The tradition of Rotarians at Work Day evolved from the 1990s when Sunrise Rotary members joined the “Paintfest” at local hospitals and retirement communities, as well as painting and refurbishing senior centers and private homes. As time went on, the scope of club’s volunteer work expanded and today, Rotarians at Work Day projects may require the participation of multiple Rotary clubs and friends.

Sunrise Rotary’s relationship with San Pasqual Academy began In December 2000, when the club handed the Child Abuse Prevention Foundation of San Diego (now Promises2 Kids) a check for $35,000. The money was raised at an October luncheon, For Kids Sake San Diego, at the Wyndham Emerald Plaza Hotel. During the event, Joanne Baron mesmerized the audience with the story of her childhood abuse and how she overcame her problems to become a prolific producer of independent films.

The Foundation later decided to donate some of the funds to the San Pasqual Academy, which was to open in September 2001.

Every year since, Sunrise Rotary members and their spouses, children and grandchildren have donated their time and money to help the San Pasqual Academy and its residents. Gifts are donated at Christmas for the students.

“For the first three years, we fixed houses around the perimeter of the school,” said Pickard. “We painted houses inside and out, furnished a home, renovated a bathroom and landscaped.” Beginning in 2008, the club turned its attention to San Pasqual’s vast fruit and vegetable garden.

When the planting was done, San Pasqual students fed the hungry group with chicken, beef, salad, sides and dessert. u

La Jolla Sunrise Rotary Club meets 6:59 a.m. Thursdays at the La Jolla Shores Hotel. Contact Eric Kalisky at or visit