By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – It’s hard not to get caught up in the infectious enthusiasm of the Morinville Rotary Club. The Rotarians, as they call themselves, are a friendly group of local business owners and professionals who are not there to advocate for business like a Chamber of Commerce but to simply advocate for putting service above self. In fact, it is Service Above Self that is the Rotarian’s motto – three words that bring members back to the core of what the club is all about.
Local Rotarians gathered together Wednesday night for dinner and an opportunity to extol the many benefits of belonging to the international service club to prospective members. The Morinville branch of the club currently has 34 members, men and women who are gathered together in a bond of friendship, fellowship, and a desire to lend a helping hand in their community or across the pond.
Rotary began in Chicago in 1905 when lawyer Paul H. Harris started a social group with three other businessmen. The foursome would rotate their meetings from one member’s office to the next, an act that gave the group the Rotary Club name.
Nearly a century later, the Morinville Rotarians hung out their shingle in 1996 and built their membership to 33 members by the end of their inaugural year. Membership in the service club hovered around two-dozen for many years, but recently plunged as low as 18. A strong effort to attracting new members last year has grown the club to its current 34; however, Past President Gord Putnam said the goal is to get the local club to 50 or 60 members.
“We are looking to improve and enhance that core [membership] by bringing in other members to really experience the joy of being in Rotary,” Putman said, adding he has benefitted from his membership in the organization. “If you are looking for something that brings you more than you give in, Rotary will do that for you. No matter what the project is. No matter whether it’s students coming to speak about the amazing trips they’ve been on and how it’s impacted their lives [or] the international projects, you leave our meetings feeling better than when you came in, and feeling like you’ve made a difference. All my friends in Rotary impact me in such a positive way, it helps me move through the other things I do in my life.”
[SUBHEAD]Four levels of service
While Putnam and his fellow Rotarians leave their weekly breakfast meetings with a spring in their step to face the day and week ahead, there is more to membership than an uplifting message and a couple laughs over eggs and toast. The club is dedicated to providing service in four key areas: vocational, club, community and international service.
Commitment to service begins at the club level with the all-volunteer organization’s members performing the various tasks necessary to run the club itself. Spreading out into the community has resulted in the Morinville Rotary Club building and maintaining a number of parks, including the Morinville Splash Park, and purchasing the cultural centre’s $25,000 piano. Internationally, the local club assists the Rotary network of clubs in its humanitarian projects around the world. Combining local, regional and international service, Rotarians work with youth by providing vocational service, an opportunity to send young people on trips where they can learn leadership skills that will be important in choosing and building a career.
The Morinville Rotary Club meets each Wednesdays at 7:15 a.m. Putnam said the club is flexible in its expectations abut meeting attendance. Some members attend every week; others are only able to make it once every couple weeks. What is important is the prospective Rotarian needs to be a person who possesses high ethical standards in their business or profession and who is willing to give of their time and talents to help the group’s desire to put service above self.
Dues are $200 per year and members pay an additional $15 per week for the meeting meals.
For more information on joining the Morinville Rotary Club visit www.clubrunner.ca/Portal/Home.aspx?cid=474.