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SAVANNAH, GA (August 17, 2020) – The Rotary Club of Savannah has been standing up for the community since the club’s founding more than 107 years ago. Today, they are standing up for those most severely impacted by COVID-19 with a gift of $20,000 to the United Way of the Coastal Empire’s COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund.

The Rotary Club of Savannah can usually be found gathering for lunch every Monday at the Desoto Hotel. However, since early in the COVID-19 pandemic, members have been meeting virtually. Without the in-person meetings, the club found themselves with unspent money in the budget. Then President Ellen Bolch initiated a conversation about how the club might best support the community with those dollars.

When presenting the check Bolch said, “During this unprecedented time, we cannot ‘stand up’ together in the way we are accustomed to each Monday, but each and every one of us I am sure has had to ‘stand up’ in many other ways to deal with this pandemic.”

She added, “Rotarians are people of action. The board came together to discuss who represented the community and who could help us continue to take action for those impacted most by the pandemic. We gave our members an option to help by donating a portion of their dues that would normally go towards our Monday lunches to the United Way COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund.”

Larry Silbermann, United Way board chair and general manager at WTOC-TV, said, “The United Way of the Coastal Empire is very grateful to immediate past President Ellen Bolch, current President Ted Kleisner, and all the members of the club as they continue to lead us through these unprecedented times and generously help our friends and neighbors.”

The COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund is providing financial assistance to:

1. Residents of Bryan, Chatham, Effingham, and Liberty counties
2. Residents who are not able to pay all or part of their monthly rent, mortgage, or utility bill(s) due to financial hardship caused by COVID-19.

To date, the fund has dispersed nearly $550,000 to help more than 1,800 individuals and households retain stable housing, pay utility bills, and provide for medical expenses or child care.

For more information about COVID-19 Rapid Response eligibility guidelines, visit or call 2-1-1. United Way 2-1-1 is available Monday through Friday, 8:30 am to 5 pm.

To learn more about United Way of the Coastal Empire, visit

Past President of The Rotary Club of Savannah, Ellen Bolch, was one of only two club presidents to serve during a pandemic. Now three with Ted Kleisner who is the current President of The Rotary Club of Savannah. 


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