For 20 years, the Batavia Rotary Club has conducted a fundraising breakfast at the Genesee County Airport. This year, the club is offering breakfast to the community for free.
Yes, free breakfast.
"Club members thought the community needs a positive event at this time," said President Bob Knipe. "We want to serve those in need with this offer, but also anyone who enjoys breakfast is welcome.
"It's a sample of our club's interpretation of the Rotary motto of 'Service Above Self.' "
Of course, there are many changes to the breakfast format in order to keep visitors and volunteers safe during the coronavirus pandemic. The club leadership has been working with the Genesee County Health Department to follow strict guidelines for safety.
Here's how it will work:
- The event will be a drive-thru at the Northgate Free Methodist Church at 8160 Bank Street Road in Batavia.
- Patrons will be able to drive into the parking lot and be given pancakes, sausage, milk and orange juice in a takeout container. Visitors should not leave their vehicle.
The event will be held from 7 to 11 a.m. on Father's Day -- Sunday, June 21.
For many of the first 20 years, the breakfast has been a Father's Day tradition.
"We're able to offer this because of the generosity of our major sponsors who donate much of the food and supplies," said Rotarian Mark Snyder, cochairman of the event.
Donations come from Tops Friendly Markets, United Memorial Medical Center, Suburban Propane, Upstate Niagara Cooperative, Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel, and Reinhart Enterprises.
"While we can't serve the extensive menu we usually have, we should be able to serve up to 1,500 people with pancakes and sausages," said Paul Marchese, also a cochair from the club.
"This year's breakfast will be a drive-up, takeout event. We will be limiting the takeouts to the number of persons in the car, plus up to two extra for family members who are unable to venture out to the breakfast."
The facility at Northgate allows for space to keep the volunteers socially distanced into small groups and is ideal for the drive-through plan, said Rotarian Ed Leising, who was one of the originators of the event 21 years ago.
Northgate has been the site of several food distribution days for The Salvation Army and can safely handle the traffic flow.
Since masked and gloved Rotarian volunteers will bring the prepared and boxed food right to the cars, there is very little interaction that would compromise safety.
"Our preliminary plans have been approved, and we continue to work with county health officials to make sure we are compliant with all safety regulations," Leising said.
The Batavia Rotary Club generally uses the Father's Day breakfast as one of its major fundraisers. The free breakfast was conceived to assist those in need in the community as well as give a morale boost to the region, President Knipe said.
The club will accept freewill contributions at the breakfast to continue its programs. It is awarding $20,000 in COVID relief funds to area agencies who are leading efforts to assist our neighbors who are financially struggling because of the pandemic.
The Batavia Rotary Club annually provides $18,000 in scholarships to graduates of Batavia and Notre Dame high schools, plus the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership. It has also made significant donations to UMMC, the Genesee Community College Scholarship Fund, Arc of Genesee Orleans, Crossroads House, and the YWCA Domestic Violence safe house.
For more information about Batavia Rotary, visit its website.