Mountain Empire Rotary Club member Jean Miller works with a Green Valley Rotary Club member to assemble desks for schools in Sonora, Mexico. Contributed photo

News Release

In March, Mountain Empire Rotary (MER) members, along with club members from Green Valley, Tucson, and Sierra Vista, made a trip to Nogales, Sonora, Mexico to help the Sonora Nogales Industrial Club members prepare and assemble school desks.

Students in this part of Mexico cannot attend school if there are not enough desks. The Sonora Club has developed a way to refurbish old desk frames to be used in schools that cannot afford to buy new desks. The club has partnered with a factory owner whose business makes wooden cable reels. Using the wood left over from cutting the reels, the Club cuts the wood scraps to make a desktop, seat and back, sands and stains the wood, and then attaches the wood to metal desk frames that have been cleaned and repainted. The desk frames are available at the schools but cannot be used in their current condition.

This year, the MER Club received a grant to assist the Sonora Club with this phase of the desk project. As part of the grant proposal, MER Club members needed to participate in the actual work of refurbishing the desks. Other Rotary clubs heard about the project, have made donations and joined MER members on the trip to Mexico to observe the Desk Project. During the trip in March, MER members were invited to visit one of the schools who had received desks. Rotary members were greeted by the principal, staff members, students, and parents, who expressed their gratitude and appreciation for the Desk Project. 

MER plans on making another trip to discuss how to continue partnering with the Sonora Club in their work with the schools.

On April 29, MER, in partnership with the Benson Rotary Club, held their annual Golf Tournament at the San Pedro Golf Course in Benson. This is the major fundraiser for both clubs and provides the financial support for the club’s community projects, book programs, Student scholarships and awards, and Rotary Youth Leadership Camps.  Many thanks go out to participants, donors, and sponsors of this year’s tournament.

On May 18, MER announced their annual High School Scholarship winners. Congratulations to Patagonia High School Seniors Rebecca Ford and Elizabeth Urias. Both winners will receive $1000 each year for a 2-year scholarship. MER also presented $100 awards to 8th grade graduates at Elgin and Patagonia Elementary Schools. Congratulations to Patagonia School winners Alexander Ruskowitz (Citizenship Award), Erika Guzman (Leadership Award), and Devin Humphreys (Scholarship Award), and to Elgin School winners Joshua Woods (Scholarship), Sapphira Bandelin (Citizenship), and Patrick Rohde (Athletics).

MER is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. At the May 10 Patagonia School District Board Meeting, the Board honored MER for their contributions to the school and the youth programs. MER is grateful for the partnership with the school and the acknowledgement was very appreciated.

MER members invite anyone from the community to attend our meetings and learn more about Rotary.  We meet the 2nd and 4th Thursdays of the month from 5:30pm-7pm. If you want to know more about Rotary, attend a meeting, or suggest a project, feel free to contact Keith Barth at