During 2023-2024, Harlingen Sunburst Rotary Club embraced the Rotary International Theme - Create Hope in the World - with our district grant project: Project Hope. Sunburst aimed to increase awareness of mental health needs and tackle the stigma with discussions of emotional well-being. Harlingen Sunburst specifically focused on the youth of the community who are victims of crime and in general with the youth of the high school age. A partnership with the Harlingen Police Department (HPD) and the Harlingen School of Health Professions (HSHP) Interact Club assisted Sunburst in reaching this goal.
Sunburst supported organizations this year with services for children/families or mental health such as the Citizens Volunteer Council for RGSC, CASA, and the Children's Bereavement Center with sponsorships and volunteer time.
Harlingen Sunburst President, Myra Rodriguez, is particularly proud of how successful the project's Build A Buddy event was. Everything the club did all year led up to this end-of-the-year event during Mental Health Month. At the event, our guests - Harlingen Police & Fire Departments and several local nonprofit organizations - assembled 50 Comfort Buddies. With the goal of comforting children going through traumatic life experiences, Sunburst chose to purchase DIY Impact Kits from IMPACT4GOOD. Sunburst purchased the Comfort Buddies Impact Kit as it was the most suitable kit for comforting children who are victims of crime. The volunteers assembled the stuffed animal kits, putting their hands to work to create a future child’s comfort buddy. The Harlingen Police Department’s Victims of Crime Liason, Beatriz DeLeon, agreed to receive these donated Comfort Buddies and hand them out to children who visited her after a traumatic incident.
110 Comfort Buddies in total were assembled during May, Mental Health Month. Buddies included accessories like birth certificates and blank little t-shirts which will be decorated and personalized later by the children who receive them.