Rotary Action Fund (RAF) 
was created in 2020 to help children and families in crisis access resources to meet their immediate and urgent needs. 

    The fund was established after talking to Connie Olson, Chief Development Director at Youth & Family Services (YFS). Connie shared that a number of the families served by YFS who are facing ruinous situations can often be kept from homelessness, severe hunger, or other hardships simply be receiving a small, one-time financial gift. Although YFS offers a variety of services and programs to support families—especially families from low-income homes—organizational funding is most often restricted to support programming and not available to assist with families’ personal crises. 

    Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, YFS began seeing a significant increase of families facing these difficult situations. Not only were families facing circumstances that were more troublesome but the number of families experiencing them also increased. In an effort to help these families, Dr. Ashok Kumar from Rapid City Rotary and Dr. Willis Sutliff from Rushmore Rotary, decided to “pass the hat” to see if we could collect enough money to help some of these families. We were delighted when more than $14,000 was raised for this effort. 

    These funds made a tremendous impact during the COVID-19 pandemic. Funds from this initial collection lasted nearly a year and a half and garnered great results. In an effort to continue this support, the two Rotary Clubs applied for a joint Rotary 5610 District Grant. Each of the clubs raised an additional $2,000 dollars for a total of $4,000 which was then matched through the grant, giving us $8,000 to utilize over the next Rotary year. Again, we saw great results from these funds. Although those funds have been utilized, it is our goal to carry on this programming to continue supporting families in need. Currently, the RAF is continuing through the generous support of Rotarians. 

    If you would like to donate to the Rotary Action Fund to help children and families in crises, please contact Rotarians Willis Sutliff, Dave Dolan, Linda Peterson, Ashok Kumar, or Connie Olson at Youth & Family Services, 605-342-4195. Donations can go directly to YFS attention RAFund.