Taylor Deputy Clerk Sara El-Rifaai was honored with the Rotary Club of Taylor’s Paul Harris Fellowship Award during the 2022 State of the City Address on Thursday, February 24, at the Lakes of Taylor Golf Club. El-Rifaai is the president of the Taylor Goodfellows.
The award is handed out each year to deserving residents, business and organizational leaders in the name of the late Harris, a Chicago attorney who founded the club as a humanitarian organization in 1905.
The award has gone to such leaders as Randy Fritz of Huron Valley Steel; Sam Simon of Atlas Oil; Joy Squire of Taylor Dance; Leo Kuschel, the late Downriver artist; and Greg Bzura, founder of the Little League World Series.
“I am beyond honored to be the recipient of the Paul Harris award,” she said. “The amazing people in my life, and our community, are the reason Taylor Goodfellows has been able to be successful. This organization will always be one of the things I am most proud of in life, and I am grateful to be a part of it.”
No one has worked closer with Sara over the year than City Clerk Cindy Bower.
“I am so very proud of Sara for everything she has accomplished,” she said. “The City of Taylor and Taylor Goodfellows are very lucky to have (her).”
Mayor Tim Woolley echoed those comments.
“Her dedication to the Taylor Goodfellows is truly inspiring,” Mayor Woolley said. “It’s a year round commitment and she takes most of her vacation around December to shop, wrap and distribute the gifts to the families. I’m very happy for her.”
The Taylor Goodfellows had a good holiday season. Eighty-two families, totaling 195 children, enjoyed the Christmas season thanks to the never ending work of Sara’s dedicated group. The families received more than gifts. They received care packages.
“Since the Taylor Goodfellows restarted in 2017, we have spoken to people about how heartbreaking it is to go through applications and see that families are asking for necessities,” she continued. “From body wash to socks, these everyday items mean the world to the families we help. During a time when the supply chain has caused basic items to become scarce for everyone, imagine how stressful it is for those who were already having a hard time providing them for their family.
“This is why we not only provide toys and fun gifts for children, but we also provide the necessities, including food. Each child is given clothes and hygiene products specific to their age and needs. A huge part of the magic of the holiday season is being able to spend time with your family and friends, and while every child loves a toy, providing needed items allows parents to have a little relief and enjoy that time with their kids, instead of worrying about how they will provide those items. The public’s generosity allows us to provide that magic.”
There was also plenty of help from organizations like the Knights of Columbus, Livingston International, Great Clips, Lee Family Dental, Taylor Smiles, Nester Chiropractic, Dr. Lanzetta, various City employees, Meijer and the Taylor Rotary. “And I’m sure I’m missing a few,” El-Rifaai said.
“We want to say how thankful we are for our community,” El-Rifaai said. “Without the help of our volunteers, and the donations from our residents and businesses, we would not be able to help these children. Every donation we receive goes toward our goal of ensuring there is ‘No Child Without a Christmas.’”
The Taylor Goodfellows’ campaign is a year-around effort. It’s never too early to prepare for “next Christmas.” And it’s always fulfilling.
Anyone who wants to get involved on any level – donations, time, etc. -- please contact us or visit the Taylor Goodfellows’ Facebook page for more information. You can find them at www.facebook.com/taylorgoodfellows; on email at firstname.lastname@example.org; or by simply calling (313) 461-2919.