(EDITOR’S NOTE: The author is also a member of the Hartsville Rotary Club, serves as club secretary and has participated in a number of the Club’s service projects).
The Hartsville Rotary Club will hold its second annual Community Meeting on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at the Hartsville Community Center on Main Street.
The public is invited to attend – both to hear more about Tri-County’s broadband project in Trousdale County and to learn about the Hartsville Rotary Club and the ways in which Rotary helps its community.
The Hartsville Club has been a pillar of service in Trousdale County since its founding in 1980 and currently has 39 members. Rotary brings together the kind of people who step forward to take on important issues for local communities worldwide. Rotary members hail from a range of professional backgrounds; doctors, artists, small business owners and executives who all call themselves Rotarians. Rotary connects these unique perspectives, and helps leverage its members’ expertise to improve lives everywhere.
Photo illustration by Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
Rotarians are charged to live both their personal and professional lives by the Four-Way Test, which is recited at each Club meeting. Of the things members think, say or do, they are asked: 1. Is it the truth? 2. Is it fair to all concerned? 3. Will it build goodwill and better friendships? and 4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
“Rotary’s impact is felt all around the world whether it be a clean water source in Ghana, Africa, a school in Haiti or the worldwide vaccination campaign to end polio,” said Hartsville Rotary President Paul Knudsen. “Locally, you can see Rotary’s fingerprint on park shelter houses, providing food for the needy and almost anything supporting youth literacy.”
Helping in Hartsville
The Hartsville Club commits itself to a number of projects in Trousdale County designed to benefit both those in need and the community in general.
Rotarians provide 50 percent of the funding for Trousdale READS, the local branch of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. The program provides a book each month for every child signed up, from birth until age 5. Trousdale READS is designed to foster an early love of reading in children and currently serves over 300 children. Parents can sign up children at any time and there is no income restriction.
“I think Trousdale READS and the dictionary project are perhaps the most important projects we do,” said Rotarian Dwight Jewell, who was worked with both programs for a number of years.
The Hartsville Club also assists with the Summer Backpack Program, providing both volunteers and financial support for the last two years. The summer program is estimated to reach as many as 80 children and also provides school supplies and new shoes to participants.
“The love and kindness is from so many organizations and people who don’t want to be recognized; they just want to embrace what we’re doing,” Rotarian Wayne Andrews previously told The Vidette. “It’s Hartsville’s backpack program.”
For the past two years, the Hartsville Rotary has partnered with the Community Help Center to administrate Christmas For Kids, which served over 170 children in Trousdale County last year.
“Helping with Christmas For Kids has been a blessing in my life and I am deeply appreciative of the opportunity to be of service to the community I have come to love,” said Chris Gregory, who serves on the Rotary committee that oversees the program. “Seeing the joy on the kids’ faces and the appreciation of their parents/guardians makes it worthwhile.”
The Hartsville Club also works with the elementary and middle schools on the Character Counts program, which recognizes six pillars of character in students. The Club provides a brand-new bicycle and helmet each semester to one TCES student chosen from the honorees, and provides a $100 prize to a winner at the middle school.
Rotary and the schools also partner on the annual Food Drive each November, which provides over 6,000 items that are donated to the Community Help Center. Those donations, according to Help Center staff, help keep their shelves stocked for Trousdale’s needy during the winter months.
The Club also provides a scholarship each spring to a graduating high school senior, provides a dictionary to each third-grade student each fall and holds a golf tournament each May.
Helping beyond Hartsville
The Hartsville Club also works in conjunction with other clubs and with the Rotary Foundation to assist in service projects across the world.
Hartsville and Lafayette members are currently teaming to provide clean water wells in Ghana, and Hartsville has previously hosted youths from Brazil, Australia, France and Japan as part of Rotary’s Youth Exchange Program. The Hartsville Club also sent a student to Mexico back in the 1990s as part of the exchange program.
Since 1985, Rotary also has been working to eradicate polio worldwide and members across the world donate to that cause, raising $1.7 billion in that time. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has also joined the effort. As of March 20, there had been seven cases reported worldwide during 2018.
Hartsville members also supported Rotary environmental efforts by planting 40 trees last month in the park and supports the fostering of future leaders by sending high school students to Rotary youth leadership development camps each year. The Hartsville Club also supports an Interact Club at the high school, providing service opportunities and training for young people.
Thursday’s Community Meeting will provide the public an opportunity to learn more about Rotary and its impact both at home and around the world.
“We hope the public will take this opportunity to learn about the Hartsville Rotary Club and how we impact Trousdale County,” Knudsen said.
Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or email@example.com.