'We're clawing our way back'
The slogan for the Rotary Club of Lake Oswego and Lakewood Center for the Arts' 36th annual Lobster Feed & Charity Auction, "We're clawing our way back" to help others, speaks for itself.
On the heels of Clackamas County's Phase 1 reopening amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the size of the event that was set to take place June 20 didn't quite fit the limit of 25 people. So instead, there will be to-go meals offered in July.
The feed and auction, which raises money for nonprofit organizations, usually draws in about 600 to 700 people. The fundraiser has raised more than $4 million over the years to benefit nonprofit organizations, community projects, arts and humanitarian needs locally and nationally.
"COVID-19 certainly has thrown a large curveball to many nonprofits and organizations," said Andrew Edwards, executive director of Lakewood. "It's a great community fundraiser and we were disappointed obviously to cancel the event in March. We kept hoping that the pandemic would be not as severe as it was but it soon became apparent we couldn't do a large social gathering."
Both Edwards and Rotary Club of Lake Oswego member Peter York are aware that the needs of people do not disappear — in fact, they may even be greater amid today's climate.
That's why the feed has pivoted with to-go meals July 25, though the live auction has been canceled.
People can order their lobster meal for $75, $50 of which is considered a charitable contribution.
The meal includes one cooked lobster — the seafood will be flown in from Maine — clams, an ear of corn, coleslaw, a roll, butter and a dessert. After folks order, they will receive a pickup time slot for their dinner one or two days prior to the event.
If people would like to donate additional funds or donate money instead of purchasing a meal, they can do that online as well.
"We raise a lot of money every year that we partner with the Lakewood Center. They use their half to help with their operations and we use our half for the 20 or 30 different charities that we donate money to over the year," said York, adding that the need is greater right now since nonprofits have had to cancel large fundraising events and alter the way they operate during the health crisis. "Businesses are in a world of hurt as well."
Edwards said Lakewood raises about $600,000 each year to help offset programming needs of the $2 million budget.
"We service about a 60-mile radius; about 120,000 people every year for arts programming," said Edwards, adding that they provide outreach projects, demos, exhibitions and more for a nominal fee or for free. "We will have to curtail quite a few things."
Edwards said that the feed also contributes to a sense of community and an opportunity to show people how these organizations can help.
"This is maybe the way things are going to need to get done in the next year. Maybe. We don't know. We don't know what the event will look like next year under a big tent but like I said, the need is still there in the community," York said. "It's just a tough time."
The deadline to order a meal is Wednesday, July 15. Cick here to order, to donate and for more information about becoming a volunteer.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.