Service is the one thing all Rotarians have in common, no matter their diverse backgrounds.
“The heart of Rotary is service to others,” said Randy Bledsoe, president-elect of the Yadkin Valley Rotary Club, which includes Jonesville, Elkin and the surrounding community.
That service starts each year locally with the New Year’s Day Luncheon with most of proceeds going to scholarships for Elkin, Starmount and East Wilkes high school students and extends so far as to have eliminated all but 22 cases of polio worldwide in 2017.
“We identify how we can best serve our community, our region, our state and also assist in international projects,” said Bledsoe.
“It’s each member working as a team. It’s each committee focused on projects that can impact other people’s lives: improved living conditions, assisting in local backpack programs, providing scholarships and leadership opportunities for high school students, eradicating diseases such as polio, providing assistance to families in need, providing drinking water to those without wells and inspiring those in our community to join us in our efforts to make every community a better place to live.”
Rotary is able to take on these many projects because of the membership and the directives of the program.
As a group of professionals with a passion for serving others, Rotary is able to focus not only on the talents and skills of members but resources as well.
This has allowed Rotary to be a part of many significant projects since forming in 1905, including helping the Easter Seals and the United Nations become established.
Locally Rotary members have helped establish and remain active with such organizations as The ARK, Elkin Rescue Squad, Grace Clinic and Tri-County Christian Crisis Ministries.
In addition to continuing these ongoing projects, Rotarians will be striving to be an inspiration as directed by Rotary International President-Elect Barry Rassin of East Nassau, Bahamas.
At the most recent regular weekly meeting, which end on Wednesdays before 9 a.m. at the Fairfield Inn in Elkin, inspiration was obvious through the local Interact Club.
As a junior branch of Rotary, Interact officers Jessica Eldridge, Missy Fuentes, Zara Petrocy and Arwen Shoemaker with advisor Leslie Hooper spoke to members about the projects completed by the group from Elkin High School.
“This year’s theme was make a difference,” said Bledsoe, “and they’ve made a difference.”
That difference included turning their grand prize winning in the Duck and Turtle Regatta, a combined fundraiser between Rotary and the Elkin Valley Trails Association, into additional funds for the trails.
The Interact club also helped with a variety of Rotary events, including the New Year’s dinner where their eagerness to stay busy was impressive.
“People complain about how lazy young people are today, but you sure couldn’t tell it by these kids,” said Sherry Berman after spending the day in the kitchen on New Year’s with several members of the Interact Club.
One of the purposes of the Interact Club is to encourage young people to make community service and charitable giving a standard part of their lives with the intent of joining Rotary as professional adults.
“Rotary membership is vital to the services we want to provide to our community,” said Bledsoe. “We have much to do and need you to help us achieve our goals and inspire others to make a better world for all citizens.”
For some members, it is easier to serve the community as a part of Rotary because of the momentum already in place.
“It only took a couple of meetings before I got inspired by a group of energetic professionals and common men and women who were passionate and sincere about making a difference in the life of their fellow men. I could feel that synergy and was encouraged by that spark in everyone’s eyes,” said Membership Chair Ken Hon.
“I was also impressed with their organizational skill and business expertise to implement all these worthy projects. I wanted to be part of this club and be active and proud.”
Hon also noticed the international prestige of Rotary.
“Wherever I travel, I always see the footprints of Rotary Club around the world,” said Hon, “what they do and people respect the Rotarians because they are people of action.”
“Whatever Rotary may mean to us, to the world it will be known for the results it achieves,” said Rotary founder Paul Harris as Rotary was beginning.
At the May District 7690 Assembly, District Governor-Elect Claudia Cannady said, “What we do is we change the world.”
For more information on how to help change the world through Rotary, visit to yadkinvalleyrotary.org.
Beanie Taylor can be reached at 336-258-4058 or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TBeanieTaylor.