St. Marys Journal Argus
With an annual commitment of $50,000 to be donated towards the various charitable causes it supports, there’s no denying the importance of the Rotary Club of St. Marys, both within its home community and in the world beyond. But without maintaining and hopefully enhancing its membership, there’s no guarantee that commitment will remain viable into the future.
Having just come through an August that was being promoted as “Membership Month” by the local club, and with families now getting back into their fall/winter routines, St. Marys club President Marion Creery and Membership Committee co-chair Gerry Teahen sat down with the Journal Argus recently to discuss the role of Rotary in the community, as well as the challenges they face in growing the organization.
“It’s a fun group to be a part of with Rotary,” commented Creery. “And it certainly welcomes women as well as men. It gives people the opportunity to do something constructive in their community, and make friends at the same time.”
Some of the things Rotary gets involved with every year include a float in the Santa Claus Parade that includes the young Rotary Exchange participants who are staying in St. Marys (they’ve welcomed a new exchange student this year from France, who is attending DCVI), the heritage photo calendar fundraiser, the Christmas prize draw fundraiser, an annual Wine and Cheese event, as well as serving as the lead organization behind the fireworks that wrap up festivities at the Stonetown Heritage Festival.
“We think (the fireworks) bring a real nice climax to a very enjoyable weekend when the town displays its heritage,” Teahen noted.
The Rural/Urban Night, meanwhile, has always been an important event for Rotary in St. Marys. “As farming has become more and more automated and modern in thinking, so has the whole concept of building the relationship between farmers and their urban counterparts, and how rural and urban interact,” Teahen said. The Rural/Urban Night, with a different featured speaker each year, is held every March.
According to Teahen, Rotary has been a big supporter of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, as well as the Pyramid Recreation Centre. “We feel (the Hall of Fame) is a key addition to the town,” while the PRC “has been a big plus and a major contributor to people coming here to our town.”
Other projects include the Reading Garden at the Library, the Trout Creek Revitalization project, purchasing musical instruments for the high school, and ongoing support of minor sports. “And way back in the early days, the Rotary Club was the one that spearheaded the construction of Cadzow Pool,” Teahen explained.
Creery admitted, however, that “demands on the family and parents have changed tremendously and, therefore, becoming a member of a service club can be pretty daunting.”
There is an international humanitarian aspect to Rotary that Creery believes will appeal to some, if they find out more. “Because we’re an international organization, we look beyond our own borders, as well.” For years, Rotary has been at the forefront of the World Health Organization’s efforts to eradicate polio.
Under the guidance of Linda Schuyler, the “Purple Crocus” campaign (the flower is used a symbol of the international fight against polio) is being highlighted this fall by Rotary in St. Marys. The club plans to plant 10-12,000 crocus bulbs at Cadzow Park. “We need help, and we’re only too happy to have people come forward and lend a hand,” Teahen said.
Also as part of the Purple Crocus campaign, folk music trio Trent Severn — including St. Marys songstress Emm Gryner — will perform a concert on Saturday, Sept. 27 at the Golf and Country Club in St. Marys. Tickets are $30 in advance or $35 at the door, with advance tickets available at M&M Variety and The Flower Shop and More.
But the biggest reason both Creery and Teahen say people should consider joining Rotary is its involvement right here at home.
“We realize that there are other groups that are just as worthy of support as Rotary is,” Teahen stressed. “And we look at it not as if we’re working against these other groups; we’re working alongside them.”
Creery noted that a separate group, calling itself “Friends of Rotary,” was initiated for people who can’t fit the group’s weekly Monday night meetings into their schedule.
For info, check out http://rotarystmarys.ca/.