Rotary Club of New Richmond marks 25 yearsThe Rotary Club of New Richmond is set to celebrate its 25th anniversary and the organization is inviting past members to join in the party.
By: By Jeff Holmquist, New Richmond News
The Rotary Club of New Richmond is set to celebrate its 25th anniversary and the organization is inviting past members to join in the party.
The club is planning a special event at R&D Banquet Center on Monday, June 25. Social time begins at 6 p.m. and dinner and a program follow at 7 p.m. Cost is $25 per person, with RSVPs due by June 18 by calling Kristin Samp at 715-246-6561, ext. 4318.
Though the Rotary International organization is more than 100 years old, the New Richmond club is relatively new having been chartered in 1987. The club kicked off with 25 original members (the number required to begin a chapter in a new community.)
The first officers of the club were President Chuck Greene, President-Elect Earl Olson, Secretary Bud Anderson, Treasurer Ray Twite and Directors Connie Counter, Jim Kruizenga, Jim Remington and Jim Zajkowski. Other charter members were Gary Bakke, Kevin Burr, Gerald Christensen, Richard Cox, Thomas Derrick, Gary Johnson, Bill Kucirek, Philip LaVenture, William Peirson, Richard Schurtz, Rev. Alfred Shepard, Keith Swiggum, Bill Winchester, Jr., Gerald Klasen, Marilyn McCarty, Jean Needham, James Sherack, Joseph Beuning, James Brenk, Lowell Johnson and Alvin Waschke.
“We were a small group,” McCarty recalled. “But we were very active.”
The local organization does hold an important place in Rotary history as it was the first club in Rotary District 5960 to open its membership to women. On the first day that the Rotary International organization allowed women members (July 1, 1987), the New Richmond club chartered.
Jean Needham and Marilyn McCarty are two of the charter members who still are active today. They said they were recruited to join the group and jumped at the chance to be among the first women to become Rotarians.
“Those were my early years at WITC (Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College),” said McCarty, who served as the local college campus administrator for many years. “It helped me connect to the business community.”
She said joining the organization also helped her to broaden her awareness of global issues, such as the eradication of polio, which is a hallmark of Rotary efforts over the years.
McCarty said she was also drawn to the organization because of its “Four Way Test,” which states “Things we think, say and do: Is it the truth, is it fair to all concerned, will it build good will and better friendships, and will it be beneficial to all concerned.”
“It’s been a mantra for me and for all of us,” she said. “You become involved because you’re concerned about the greater good – for each of us, for the community and for the club.”
Needham, who became the first female club president in the district three years later, said she enjoyed the professional connections, the club’s ongoing foreign exchange program and the global programs that the local group has been involved with through the years.
“The work and projects that the club has done is the reason I’ve wanted to stay engaged,” she noted.
The club has always met at noon on Mondays for its weekly noon luncheon, although the location of the gathering has changed from time to time.
The New Richmond club currently has 43 members, although it previously attained its record membership of 63 in 1999.
“It’s different today,” said current Rotary President Joe Huftel, current WITC campus administrator. “There is so much competition for people’s time.”
Still, Huftel said new members are always welcome. Each new member is encouraged to plug into one of Rotary’s avenues of service (international, community, vocational, next generation or club service) and work on projects and think up new ideas.
“If you’re into service above self, and learning about the bigger picture, Rotary could be for you,” he said. “And the professional contacts you make are another plus. It’s the face-to-face LinkedIn.”
The Rotary Club of New Richmond has branched off into many new projects over the years.
One of their high-visibility efforts is the STRIVE scholarship program, which awards thousands of dollars in scholarships each year to New Richmond students who commit to improving their grade point averages during their senior years.
The club has also hosted an annual Art & Culinary Show in the spring, which benefits the scholarships. The show provides area artists, entertainers and chefs a venue for getting noticed by local residents. The event has helped raise more than $60,000 over the past seven years.
Rotary members are also involved in weekly deliveries of Meals On Wheels lunches to local residents and weekly food pick-ups from Wal-Mart that help to stock the Five Loaves Food Shelf in New Richmond.
On June 22-23, the club is sponsoring a first ever “Feed My Starving Children” food packing event at the Community Commons in New Richmond. About 200,000 rice and protein meals will be packed during the two-day event, with the meals eventually being shipped to Third World countries to feed the hungry.
Other projects Rotary has been involved in through the years include the annual Adopt-A-Highway cleanup effort; park renovations; city pathway development; local business tours; and more.
The local club has also been a regular financial supporter of international projects, including the purchase of a tractor for farmers in Uganda, hospital beds and equipment in Costa Rica and food and household items for Nicaragua. The club has given funds to aid street children in Brazil, purchased a mini-van for a Brazilian school for girls, provided Bosnia-Serbia relief, sent books and bikes to Africa and joined other clubs in worldwide projects.
For more information about Rotary or to become a member, contact Huftel at 715-246-6561, ext. 4332.