Laura Wiens, The Triplicate

Members of the Del Norte Sunrise Rotary were busy putting the club's "Service Above Self" motto into action recently.

For two consecutive Saturdays, a handful of Rotarians rolled up their sleeves to help Lighthouse Repertory Theatre members pack up a hefty amount of stage props and set pieces stored in the old Red's Twin Cinema building on G St. They had been stored there after LRT acquired the building in 2009.

"It was a mess, but it was fun," said Sunrise Rotarian John Ging. "We all enjoy doing it."

Items were boxed up and transferred to a downtown storage facility in order to make room for ongoing renovation work on the 62-year-old building.

The leaky building got a new roof last fall, and future plans include a heating system, plumbing and lighting.

Assisting with community improvement projects is just one aspect of Rotarian doings. Not only do they hand out free dictionaries to third-graders every year, but they help high-schoolers expand their horizons through the Rotary-sponsored youth exchange program.

Seventeen-year-old Chelsey Bodenstab of Crescent City will be part of the program when she travels to Italy this summer to spend her senior year abroad.

The home-schooler said she is looking forward to "the experience of a new culture." But being away from home isn't easy, especially around the holidays.

"You have to learn to be lonely and homesick without going home," said Chelsey. "I've never had trouble learning to fit in and I think I'll definitely grow as a person and get out of my 'pretty pink bubble.'"

She plans on going into a social services field of study when she goes to college.

"I want to work with women who have been rescued from the sex trade," she said. "I'd be good at that." Working with sexually and domestically abused women, "doesn't freak me out," she said

When Chelsey leaves, so too will an exchange student who has been in Crescent City since August for her senior year.

Marine Henry, 18, is from Belgium, and has been staying with a host family. She said she is impressed with the small-town friendliness here.

"In Belgium, there is more distance between people," she said. "Here you can talk to someone for 10 minutes and it's like you've known them for longer."

Besides her family, she said she misses Belgian-style French fries and chocolate.

"Living here I have learned maturity and responsibility and not to be so shy," she said. "It's been the best experience of my life."