Rotary Club serves community

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 22, 1999

ANNA MONICA / L’Observateur / September 22, 1999

They rotated. That’s where the name “Rotary Club” comes from. A Paul Harrisfrom Chicago started the organization in 1905 with people who worked in business – bankers, attorneys, etc., and they would meet at different locations.Thus, Rotary has emerged as an organization devoted to serving the public through good works as the need arises.

Bobby Hymel of Lutcher, formerly of LaPlace and who has a business in LaPlace, has been a charter member of Rotary Club since about 1978 or 1979 and doesn’t mind talking about the organization he sees as being very vital to and promotive of the community. The local club was started by a resident, and in order tobecome a member, one has to be sponsored by another member. Except forholidays, there is a meeting every Tuesday, usually at some place that serves food. Meals are paid from dues.Members pay substantial quarterly dues, and presently there are about 48 of them. Admission is selective. Prospective members are voted on; names are sentin and everyone has a vote. Character is very important for acceptance into theorganization as well as a willingness to give time and roll up your sleeves and getting to work. You cannot be a Rotarian and not be willing to give of yourself,as evidenced by some of the group’s activities.

To raise funds each year, Rotarians sell onion mums at the Andouille Festival, and the Lions and Rotary clubs will be collecting the money and sharing percentages with the parish. The festival and the club golf tournament are thebiggest fund-raisers. The group’s second annual golf tournament will take placein October.

The Rotary Club doesn’t seem to expect many accolades, but indeed they are very active with the good works, among them, the involvement with a program called “HATS,” where dentists from Louisiana and Mississippi go to underprivileged countries to perform services. They built a fence, along with St. Charles Rotary,for the horses that are used in the greater New Orleans Therapeutic Riding Center and will be going back to paint the fence. They also give out Thanksgivingbaskets for the needy and do a huge Toys for Tots drive with the Marines, who bring a band and play music, collect toys from the Rotary Club and handle giving them out. Additionally, books are given to schools from kindergarten to thirdgrade. A blood drive is part of this year’s planned activities as well.The organization also honors teacher of the month, student of the month and employee of the month where members nominate their own employees who have done an outstanding job. Recipients are presented a plaque at a lunch in theirhonor.

They also have an installation banquet each year. Officers for 1999-2000 areBob Hymel, president; Harold DeGruy, vice president; Sallie Herrle, secretary; Jim Hornsby, treasurer, Linda Stein, sergeant-at-arms; and president-elect, Ann Kuss. Board members are Dennis Murphy, Mark Gyan, Owen Sand and Randy Smith.In addition, members head up different services. They are Dean Torres, clubservice; Michael Coburn, vocational services; Barbara Jacob, community service; and Michael Norton, international service. Awards given at the annual banquetare for citizen of the year, two Paul Harris awards for outstanding Rotarians who go above and beyond the expected, and rookie and rotarian of the year.

Bob Hymel says it almost seems selfish because it’s an opportunity to meet new people. And if you are in business, ideas can be exchanged. But certainly becauseof these associations there are more rewards for the community.

“The more projects we do together, the closer we become and are still serving the community and making friends,” he says. “There are people at the annualbanquet you would never have met if it hadn’t been for Rotary.” Local Rotary membership is getting close to 50. Although one must qualify, “ifthey are good enough to be invited to your house for dinner,” Hymel says, “then they should be good enough to be members.”Being there for the community is what Rotary finds most important and what it attempts to do. After hurricanes, members perform services as needed, such ashelping local business people rebuild and with help from other Rotary clubs has rebuilt a house for a lady who had lost her’s. They do not have resources to doeverything for everybody, but they do attempt to help where there is severe need. So far, they are succeeding.Back to Top

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