The Rotary International of O’Fallon is fast approaching a major milestone next month—the chapter will be celebrating its 90th anniversary since being chartered in 1925.
Long-time O’Fallon resident and Rotary member Greg Yank said the celebration is quite and accomplishment, but merely a milestone in comparison to what will come 10 years down the road—the club’s centennial celebration.
“This is a big birthday and the Rotary Club of O’Fallon has really been influential in the O’Fallon community over the years,” Yank noted.
According to Yank, the celebration will be taking place from 5:30-8 p.m., Friday, May 15, at the Katy Cavins Community Center located at 308 E. Fifth St. in the area of the O’Fallon Community Park.
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Chartered May 19, 1925, with 15 members, the O’Fallon Rotary Club No. 3332, member of District 6510, has grown to 80 members today. The O’Fallon Rotary International has sponsored the formation of other local clubs in Lebanon, Waterloo, Columbia, Fairview Heights and a second club, the Sunrise Club, in O’Fallon.
President of the O’Fallon Historical Society Brian Keller will be the featured speaker sharing his knowledge about the history of the O’Fallon Rotary and how the club grew in unison with the O’Fallon community over the years, Yank said.
“He really has some interesting stories about how Rotary and O’Fallon has grown together—how some of the leadership in the Rotary club were leaders in the community alike,” Yank said.
Keller said his focus will be on the early years of Rotary in O’Fallon—what O’Fallon was like at the time, how the local Rotary club started and what they did back then and in the years after.
“One fun fact that when Rotary organized in O’Fallon (1925), it was the height of Prohibition. Whatever functions they had would have been (or should have been) strictly dry affairs!” Keller said.
Veteran member of nearly 50 years, O’Fallonite Ed True, former Ward 2 alderman, said he’s witnessed a myriad of positive changes over the years in the club.
“I’ve seen our club change considerably since I joined in 1970, our membership now is about three times what it was then,” True said. “We didn’t seem to be doing an awful lot of projects at that time, but we are now.”
According to Yank, True’s level of stewardship and dedication to the club, its members and the Rotary mission of international relations, is a true testament of what all Rotarians should aspire to be.
“For me, one of the areas of Rotary is the foreign exchange students, and I’ve been quite involved with that program over the years,” True said. “Our district is one of 18 in a multi-district called Central states and I am the Central States Correspondent, which means I facilitate all the exchanges between eight countries that I work with in the Asia Pacific South region of the world.”
This year alone, True said he’s representing 70 students—35 going over to Asia Pacific South region, and 35 coming in, to six states and Toronto, Canada.
The eight countries True specifically deals with are as follows: Australia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Phillipines, Singapore and Thailand. True said he was offered the position about eight years ago due to an opening for the position being made available.
“I’m very happy with the countries I work with because I’ve gotten to know my counterparts in those countries fairly well, and I think we work well together,” True said. “In addition with presenting the history of Rotary from back when we started to present day, we will be sharing our projections for the future that we collectively see in the next few years coming up.”
According to Yank, the club is made up of ordinary people around the world working together to protect the environment, improving communities, ending polio and accomplishing other extraordinary things.
“We’ve compiled a video of all the Rotary presidents as far back as we could go, and that will be shown at the event,” Yank forecasted. “Our goal is to have 20 tables with about 10 people per table, but that may change depending on ticket sales of course. We encourage members of the community to go to the website, www.ofallonrotary.org, to purchase a ticket and join in the celebration.”
With 1.2 million service-minded men and women belonging to nearly 29,000 Rotary clubs in virtually every nation in the world, Rotary has grown exponentially since its inception in 1905 in Chicago as the world’s first service club.
O’Fallon Rotary meets at noon every Monday at the Katy Cavins Community Center. The Sunrise Rotary meets at First United Methodist Church, located at 504 E. Highway 50, in O’Fallon. The St. Clair County Sunset Rotary meets at 6:10 p.m. every Thursday in the lower level of the Knights of Columbus Hall, located at 402 E. Highway 50 in O’Fallon.
For more information about the event or to buy tickets, visit www.ofallonrotary.org, http://www.stclaircountysunsetrotaryclub.org, http://www.ofallonsunriserotary.org.