2007-12-13 / News

Rotary Club letter seeks family participation

By Sam Bari

Rotary Club President James E. Walker III gives a check to Father William O'Neil of St. Mark Church as Rotarian Larry Bartley looks on. Photo by Sam Bari Rotary Club President James E. Walker III gives a check to Father William O'Neil of St. Mark Church as Rotarian Larry Bartley looks on. Photo by Sam Bari The annual Jamestown Rotary Club letter that traditionally thanks everyone for their support and solicits funding for the coming year has added a new dimension. Rotary Club President James E. Walker III seeks to expand membership in 2008, and encourages families to participate.

As he approaches the end of his second term as president, he says that he is pleased to see the organization grow, and continues to emphasize the importance of a "family friendly" atmosphere. "It is possible to volunteer and give back to the community without interfering with quality time with family," Walker says in his letter. He also said that family participation in doing good for others is quality time spent on every level, as individuals, with the family, and for the community.

Last year, long-time member Steve Mecca helped his granddaughter Hannah Davis start a literacy project for women in Ghana through support from the Rotary Club. Will's Rest was a family oriented landscaping and decorating project that came to fruition through the Rotary Club and brought a pleasant resting place with a phenomenal view of the Newport Bridge at the top of Walcott Avenue and High Street.

Walker and club treasurer Win Reed said that family memberships will open new avenues of participation and support from sectors of the community that are not familiar with Rotary Club projects and events. "We would like to get the word out that the Rotary Club is not an exclusive organization that is limited to business men," Reed said.

Reed went on to say that the club, as with all service organizations, is comprised of a group of people with similar interests. "When we are made aware of a worthwhile project or group of people that we can help, we pool our time and resources and work together to get things accomplished," Reed said. "Sometimes we hold fundraisers, and at other times we contribute time and funding from within the organization. Whatever it takes, we work as a team to help those in need."

Paul Harris, a local businessman who originally came from Vermont, founded the Rotary Club in Chicago in 1905. He gathered business associates together and formed a club with benevolent intent. The men shared business relationships and pooled their resources to help others in the community. The organization was called the Rotary Club because their meetings were held in member's offices and moved from one office to another on a rotating basis.

"Many people don't understand that service organizations like the Rotary Club are formed by people with similar interests who want to do nothing more than give back to the community and help those in need," Reed said. "We aren't a secret organization with ulterior motives. The only requirement to join is to bring a willingness to participate in helping with our various projects, efforts, and events for the good of the community and those in need wherever we find them," he said.

Last year the local Rotary Club donated significant money to purchase chairs for the Lawn Avenue School band. Their annual Will Reynolds Essay and Poster Contest generates scholarship funds, and they give regular support to the Boy Scouts. This year the club gave $1,000 to the Jamestown Food Pantry to provide holiday baskets for the needy. The club, through their fundraising efforts, purchased 200 wheelchairs that were distributed to people who were confined to beds in Nicaragua. The list of generous donations and help to those less fortunate goes on and on.

Walker said that the club will continue to sponsor the annual bike race and other community events, and take every opportunity to demonstrate "Service Above Self," at both the local and international levels.

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