Utah Rotary Club gives new center to Halchita
“Every once in a while, maybe once in a lifetime, you have an experience that changes your life,” wrote Paul Summers, Utah Rotarian of the year.
“The Halchita Community Center Project could be one of those. We had a crew of about 75 people from about every walk of life converge on this little, somewhat isolated community…to provide…a major improvement to the lives of the Halchita residents.”
Summers was the director over what will go down in history as Rotary District 5420 Halchita Project, which was completed in just five days, from October 27-31. Summers said this, “fulfills Lisa Carr’s dream of putting [a vacant] building to use for the good of the Navajo people of Halchita.”
Lisa Carr was president of the Blanding Rotary Club when she first envisioned the possibility of Rotarians helping bring new life to the building and, in turn, the community.
She is also Executive Director of San Juan Foundation, the entity who owns the building. She and her husband, Ivan, were onboard throughout, giving support to every facet of the project.
The building was a Head Start center for just over a decade before sitting empty for five years. It had a playground and an adjacent ball field, both of which needed repair work.
Members and friends of fourteen Rotary Clubs from around the state, including Monticello, participated in the renovation. The ball field was leveled, and bases were installed. Dugouts and fences were repaired and painted.
Halchita resident, Ronnie Benallie, helped locate and get a set of spectator bleachers in place. Softball and baseball equipment donations came from individuals, and sporting goods stores in the Bountiful and Centerville area.
The building received a complete makeover as the electrical and plumbing systems were updated, new ceiling tile was installed, and everything—inside and out—received new coats of paint.
Cozzens Cabinets, of Cedar City, installed a beautiful new kitchen and library shelving through donated materials, funds and time. The library shelves were filled with donated books and media. Workers even landscaped around the building.
Halchita residents also helped with the work. Travis Mose, Cheryl Armenta and friends also provided a cultural celebration for the workers.
Linda Sappington, Rotary District 5420 governor, had expressed a desire for a district level “service above self” project that would bring Rotarians from all over the district. Her philosophy is, “Bigger, better, bolder service changes lives.”
This project certainly changed the lives of those who participated, even as it will continue to bless the lives of the estimated 400 residents of Halchita, a village that previously had no services and no job opportunities.
Now, thanks to dedicated Rotary Club members and an American Rescue Plan Act grant, Halchita has a community center that employs four people and provides a computer lab, an after-school program, and a summer program.