(Article appeared in August 2014 Village Voice)
It was in 1905 when the first Rotary Club was formed when attorney Paul Harris called together a meeting of three business acquaintances in downtown Chicago. The other two gentlemen to join him were Gustave Loehr, a mining engineer and freemason, and Hiram Shorey, a tailor.
The name Rotary was chosen because initially the men rotated subsequent weekly club meetings at each other’s office. It was later when it was decided to have meetings at a regular location.
This simple start of the Rotary Club quickly grew across the United States – the next four started in California (San Francisco, Oakland and Los Angeles) and in Seattle, WA. In 1910, the National Association of Rotary Clubs were formed.
A year later, the first meeting of the Rotary Club Dublin was held in Ireland, making it the first club established outside of North America.
Today, there are more than 34,200 clubs and over 1.2 million members worldwide. These Rotarians usually meet weekly for breakfast, lunch or dinner, and it is a social event, as well as an opportunity to organize work toward individual club’s goals.
Since August of 2008, John Knox Village has had its own Rotary Club. The vision began with two residents – Hank Watson and Bob Simon, who unfortunately has passed away since then.
Hank had been a Rotarian for more than 40 years, and Bob was a former District Governor of Rotary International in South Florida. Today, the Rotary Club of JKV remains a strong organization with more than 50 members.
The Rotary Club meets every Wednesday evening in our Lakeside Dining. The dinners feature various programs that are entertaining and informative. It also is an opportunity to socialize, have fun and discuss ways to recruit new members.
Recently, The Village’s Rotary Club introduced its new leadership. The officers are as follows: Don DeJong, President; Boots Maurer, President/Elect; Mary MacLaren, Secretary; Paul Loree, Foundation; Bill Zeiher, Treasurer; David Haun, Sergeant at Arms; Nancy Johns, Immediate Past President; and Margo Lewis, Administrative Director.
“It’s a great opportunity to work with the Rotary members. I have made some great friends. We are always seeking ways to recruit new members and get them involved with the Club,” Don DeJong said.
There also are various Directors that provide their leadership help, including: Jane Wynn, Club Service; Nancy Johns, Community Service; Bud Kreh, International Service; Joyce Wood, Membership; Ron Davis, Music Director; Mary MacLaren, Newsletter (the monthly Village Crier); Mary Jane Graff, Programs; Betty Fifer, Hospitality Committee; and Margaret Castendyck, Sunshine Committee.
Helping plan the weekly programs, Mary Jane Graff is extremely excited about some of the guest speakers and their topics. In July, there was an antique car presentation, “The Photography of Gene Hyde,” resident Barbara Rowell and her “Underwater Around the World” SCUBA diving experiences and Rutchel Louis Coutzee with “Life in South Africa during Apartheid.”
The dinners also feature 50/50 drawings and Happy Dollars, which is an opportunity for members and guests to express reasons for being happy while contributing a dollar toward the Rotary Club.
In addition to the socializing, the Rotary Club of JKV is committed to three annual fundraisers – one for the local community, one benefitting an international cause and the third is the annual Knox Rocks concerts. Funds raised from the two-night event help our current Health Center and The Woodlands at John Knox Village, the new skilled nursing center that is under construction.
“In addition to recruiting efforts, one of our goals is to continue the success the Rotary Club has had with fundraising,” Don said. “Our members have come up with some brilliant ideas to help others in need.”
To become a member of the Rotary Club of JKV, an individual must be invited by a current member, attend a few meetings and be voted on by the Rotary’s Executive Board. There also are some membership dues.
For more information about the Rotary Club of John Knox Village, either contact Membership Chair Joyce Wood at (954) 782-2873 or visit the Club’s site at (www.JKVResidents.com).