The drive to raise money for a new amphitheater at Carroll Community College went from the one-quarter mark to the halfway point in one fell swoop, when the Westminster Rotary Club pledged to raise $75,000 over the next three years.
"We normally raise between $10,000 and $15,000 a year, which we give to charities, so this is a leap for us," said Skip Amass, past president of the 70-member Westminster club.
The $75,000 figure is significant for the Westminster club because it will celebrate its 75th anniversary in 1998, the year the amphitheater is to open.
In return for the Rotary Club's support, the college board of trustees voted last month to name the building the Rotary Amphitheater.
Mr. Amass said he expects the county's other Rotary clubs, three of which were founded by the Westminster club, to support the project and help raise money. He said Westminster was deliberately not included in the name -- which is intended to honor all the clubs.
The amphitheater is the first big project of the newly formed Carroll Community College Foundation. It will be the first time the college has raised money privately for a building, instead of using a combination of state and county money. The amphitheater will be built into the hillside at the south end of the campus.
The foundation launched the drive for the amphitheater in late August, raising $75,000 in donations and pledges, many of them from local banks and college staff who have promised a percentage of their salaries through payroll deduction.
The pledge from the Rotary Club brings the total to $150,000, half the projected $300,000 cost.
"For a project that first started a few short months ago, it is a tremendous boost for us," said John Salony III, president of the college foundation.
Mr. Amass and fellow Rotarians Helen Utz, Kenneth Shook and David Rousch all serve on the foundation board, so they were aware of the college's need from the start.
"We had a club meeting and we debated the pros and cons" before the members agreed to the pledge, Mr. Amass said.
For community use
College officials have said the amphitheater would be open for community use, providing the kind of performance space Carroll lacks.
The Westminster Rotary members were drawn to the idea of a legacy, a tangible community institution that would bear the club name.
"The board of trustees [of the college] would name it the Rotary Amphitheater, and said that it would always be referred to that way in promotions and advertising, like Merriweather Post Pavilion," Mr. Amass said.
The Westminster Rotary plans to raise the money using methods it is familiar with, such as benefit music shows and a radio auction, he said.
"The club has a long history of community service," Mr. Amass said. "In its very first year, it bought the ground, and donated it to the city, on which the community playground exists."
Also that first year, the club started a scholarship program at Westminster High School. Other projects have included planting trees around the lake at the Carroll County Farm Museum.
Other efforts continue
Although raising the money for the amphitheater will be a challenge, it will not supersede the work the club does for other causes, Mr. Amass said.
He said members will still raise money for the scholarship, Little League and other ventures it supports.
Rotary International was founded in 1905 in Chicago. Local clubs sprang up around the country, with each new club being founded by an existing one. The Baltimore Rotary Club founded the one in Westminster, which in turn founded the clubs in Hampstead and Sykesville and the Bonds Meadow Rotary Club just one year ago.
The Bonds Meadow club meets mornings in Westminster, while the Westminster Rotary meets evenings.
"We're sure that our children, so to speak, the clubs we have founded, will help in this project," Mr. Amass said.