Rotary still helpin’ others
Once the Minneota community was filled with support groups ... Lions Club, Rotary, Jaycees, Women of Today, Iris Club ... etc.
But the groups that met at least monthly, raised funds to support the needs of the community and helped develop a sense of “community spirit,” are all but gone.
Why are they disappearing?
Can they be saved?
Are they still needed?
The Mascot explored these questions and begun last week with the Minneota Auxiliary. This week it’s the Minneota Rotary.
Minneota has seen three organizations or service clubs disband over the past decade. But the Rotary Club continues to flourish and provide important services in and around the community.
Still, the 64-year-old service club would like to add a few additional members to replace anyone who has passed on, retired, moved away, or left for personal reasons.
“Service clubs like the Rotary are important for a community,” said current Rotary President Rick Bot.
“We do a lot of good things that help others.” Bot has been a member of the Minneota Rotary for the past 11 years. When he started, there were 13 members; the same number of members there are now.
“We aren’t declining in numbers, but we want to make sure we continue to get new members so we don’t age out,” said Bot.
The Minneota Lions Club disbanded five years ago, the Jaycees phased out around 10 years ago, and the Women of Today was discontinued about two or three years ago.
But the Rotary club, which meets every Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. at the Minneota Manor, has been a mainstay within the community for the past six-plus decades.
“I have learned so much since I joined the Rotary that I didn’t know before,” said Bot. “It’s opened my eyes about things going on across the world that I didn’t know out before.”
The Minneota Rotary Club started in 1954. “It was started by the greatest generation,” said Bot.
“They were just coming home from the war and helped set up this service club.”
Currently, there are three women among the 13 members of the Minneota Rotary. Some of those 13 are not active members.
“Our oldest member is 82 and the youngest is 34,” Bot said.
“So we are looking for some younger men and women to join, but we will certainly take any age.”
Many others have indicated that they would like to join the Rotary, but because they work out of town, they are unable to attend the noontime meetings.
“We’ve tried to move the meeting times around a few times to make it convenient for everyone,” Bot explained. “But this works best so people can leave work during their lunch hour and attend the meeting.”
Past President Cindy Potz, who has been a Rotary member for several years, sees the need to also add more members now to maintain the service club.
“Members come and go. Some have passed away, some have moved away, and some have found that they don’t have the time to devote to a community service club,” she said.
“And some have families with children in school, which in and of itself, is a time commitment.”
“Added to that is the involvement in sports and there it is, the reason we have a difficult time enrolling and maintaining members who are in the ideal age bracket of 25 to 50 years of age.
Most of our members are age 50 and above.” A president’s term is one year before he or she passes the torch on to another member. Byron Higgin takes over for Bot this week as the next president of the Minneota Rotary.
The meetings generally last around 45 minutes and include a meal served by the Manor, as well as a short presentation by an invited guest.
“It is a commitment (to be in the Rotary) and the other members rely on each other,” said Monica DeSmet, a member of the Rotary for the past six years.
“I think it’s a great break in the week to meet with others, have lunch together, and have conversation.
The speakers and presentations we have are so interesting.” Currently, the plan is for mailers to be sent out among the community to explain exactly what the Rotary club is all about and what positive things it does for the community.
They will also take out an ad in the Mascot and are considering other ways to educate others about the service club.
“Our Rotary International headquarters, and also at our district level, have always encouraged that we keep inviting and attracting new members to our clubs,” Potz noted.
“Doing that keeps a club active and growing.” “Each of our individual members have done some one-on-one visits with people they feel are a great candidate for working with community projects, and with other people.
We look for friendly and enthusiastic people; those who can take an idea and believe that it can happen.”
And the club lends a hand to several positive projects in and around the community, as well as sponsoring mission trips or donating items to help others in poverty-stricken areas of the world.
“We raise and donate money for scholarships through the Dollars for Scholars program,” said Bot.
“Mainly the money comes from our annual selling of roses.”
The Rotary Club also lends its support to “Coats for Kids” in which they purchase discounted coats and jackets and donate them to Western Community Action, which gives the coats to underprivileged children to stay warm during the cold months of Minnesota.
The club donated approximately 40 coats last year. “I have found that many community groups and clubs all over are having trouble keeping their memberships and have had to disband because of it,” said DeSmet.
“As the older members move on to retirement, the younger generation has other commitments and perhaps do not see the value of the Rotary.”
Bot also travels around to other Rotary meetings to get new ideas and to bond and help other Rotarians.
Rotary dues are minimal, and the many “feel good” projects the club is involved in makes any fee well worth it.
The Rotarian’s primary motto is, “Service above Self”.
Its secondary motto is, “One profits most who serves best.”