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New presidents elected for county Rotary clubs

When someone says Rotary in Williamson County, the first thing that comes to mind is the annual Rotary Rodeo. But what is Rotary; who are those Rotarians who sponsor, organize and put on the ever-growing, popular event?

Rotary is an international service club, which began in 1905 as a social club for businessmen. It quickly grew to encompass a much larger purpose with a motto “service above self,” programs and functions include community service, youth development and cultural exchange.

Dedicated to their motto, each of the five Rotary Clubs in Williamson County have different personalities and serve different functions providing a diverse array of programs benefiting the community.

Alphabetical - no favorites - the Rotary Clubs are: Brentwood Morning Club with Thomas Dodd the new president; the Rotary Club of Brentwood, led by Lori Reid as president; the Cool Springs Rotary, Russ Wharton president and club member Brian Wilcox assistant district governor; Franklin Rotary at Breakfast, Mike Alexander president and Franklin Noon Rotary - Derby Jones, president.

As district assistant governor, all five clubs Wilcox is assigned to are located in Williamson County. His primary job is “to be a cheerleader for those clubs so they can be the best clubs they can be," he said, act as a liason between the club and the district governor and a sounding board for a president who may be dealing with some issues.

One of the goals Wilcox, who has been a Rotarian since 1993, would like to accomplish during his tenure is already coming to fruition - clubs working on projects together.   All five clubs will be working on their third Habitat House in the fall. This year’s house is in Fairview. Other goals include growing each of the clubs.

“I think Rotary, historically in the U.S., has not done as well as we should helping the public understand what we are all about," Wilcox added.

The Brentwood Morning Club is partnering with the Brentwood Fire Department and other Rotaries in hosting a Corn Hole Tournament Saturday, Aug. 24 as part of a day long fund raising event for Brentwood's assistant fire chief, David Windrow who is battling cancer. The day begins  with a car wash at the Brentwood United Methodist Church from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Corn Hole Tournament will begin at 4 p.m. at the Brentwood Library with a Chili cook-off and silent auction from 5 - 7 p.m. also at the Library. Brentwood Morning Club President Thomas Dodd officially offered a challenge to the other clubs adding, "there could be some award for the winning Rotary team."

The Club also hosts a reading program at J.E. Moss Elementary in Nashville. Monthly one of the 37 members reads to a second grade classroom. The Club also provides dictionaries to all third grade students in the school.

Each year they host a picnic for members of the Brentwood Police and Fire Departments and recently the group developed a partnership with Disaster Aid, which helps victims of disasters by providing a box containing shelter and food for up to a week for a family of four.

The Club's biggest annual fund raiser is a concert.

The  Rotary Club of Brentwood meets during lunch to plan activities such as the annual Harpeth River cleanup, fund raisers to provide support for the Baptist Children’s Home, scholarships for Brentwood area high school graduates and Overton high, and an international project that supports three schools in Belize.

“We provide two $8,000 scholarships,” said President Lori Reid. “For some, the scholarships have changed lives. There is one recipient who had no parents and would not have gone to college without that help. She also received the Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship and is now in Peru studying nutrition. She inspires all of us.”

Supporting three schools in Belize means more than sending money. In the past members have built a cafeteria, planted gardens with sustainable food and completed a water project that provided water not only for the school but the community.
The club has also helped victims tornadoes and of the 2010 flood and 30 community organizations. The 120 member club is also working on becoming the Singing Rotarians, but they are definitely not going on the road.

The Cool Springs Rotary may be small with only 18 members, but they know how to get things done.

“We’re small but strong,” said President Russ Wharton. “We do accomplish a lot.”

The littlest club’s big project is a partnership with Battle Ground Academy in an exchange program that gives high school students from a sister club in Tehuacan, Mexico a chance to attend school in the United States. The club has also provided three refurbished ambulances for the Tehuacan health service, defibulators and other equipment.

The smallest of the five clubs, the Cool Springs Rotary was founded in 1996 and sponsors Williamson County several students for the Ryla Rotary Youth Leadership program - similar to Boys and Girls State, provides three Williamson County vocational students with scholarships, participates in the Imagination Library program for young children, Meals on Wheels and Red Cross blood drives. Their major fund raiser is a breakfast.

This school year, the club will partner with Centennial High to initiate an Interact Club.

The Franklin Rotary at Breakfast’s new president is Mike Alexander, who has been a  Rotarian for six years, like to add a few new members to the club’s numbers, and spur members to be more active in projects like the literacy program.

The annual Columbus Day golf outing provides funds to put a dictionary into the hands of every third grader in the county.
“We also support local charities within the county and the group is involved with local and international water projects,” Alexander said.

Franklin Noon Rotary is known for the annual rodeo. Newly installed presidentDerby Jones recently worked with members to build a playhouse designed by architect and club member Eric Powers. The playhouse was auctioned to raise funds for Tucker’s House, an organization that assists families with special needs children.

This year the club will celebrate the 65th annual rodeo. More than $130,000 was raised from this event.

One of the organizations benefiting from the Noon Rotary Club is High Hopes, which is building a new therapeutic school. One of the student rooms in the school will be named for the Franklin Noon Rotary Club. A portion of the money will go into a foundation to build a facility “where we can meet and have it available for events,” Jones said.
New members are always welcome to these clubs.

Posted on: 8/21/2013


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