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What is Rotary? A Rotarian Tells All

Submitted Photo  Hurricane Creek Rotary Club's Gary Billups, left, stands with guest speaker Alyssa Womack.
Submitted Photo Hurricane Creek Rotary Club's Gary Billups, left, stands with guest speaker Alyssa Womack.

I get asked this question all the time as I run from place to place: “What is Rotary and why are you a member??”

I am a member of the Hurricane Creek Rotary Club which has held meetings at the Hurricane Creek Country Club for nearly 35 years. We serve the cities of Howe, Van Alstyne and Anna. Rotary Club members are business and professional leaders who volunteer in their communities. Each of the city’s superintendents are members. The city manager of Anna is a member. We have bankers, lawyers, insurance agents and educators in our membership. I have not actively practiced law in several years, but I keep my Rotary membership active because I believe in its purpose and goals.

Rotary was founded in Chicago in 1905, as the world’s first volunteer service organization. Clubs meet weekly to discuss local and global topics and fellowship with other members. Clubs are nonreligious, nonpartisan and open to every race, culture and creed. Each week, one of the members of our club “brings the program”; that is, they invite a civic, cultural or non-profit’s leaders to present a short program to the membership on topics relevant to the day.

Rotarians pay dues that are used locally, nationally, and internationally. Rotary’s nearly 33,000 clubs in more than 170 countries and regions encourage high ethical standards and carry out humanitarian projects to address such issues as poverty, health, hunger, education, and the environment.

Rotary clubs all over the world, through local fundraising or Rotary Foundation Grants, support community projects at home and abroad. Hurricane Creek Rotary Club has only one fundraiser a year; for the last two years and then again in September of 2014, we have held casino nights at the Grayson College South Campus. All funds raised through our fundraiser are given to local projects and school scholarships.

PolioPlus is Rotary’s flagship program. Rotary Club members have contributed over $650 million and countless volunteer hours to help immunize over two billion children against polio. Locally, we send part of each member’s dues to the foundation to help with their efforts. In addition to supporting PolioPlus, we have been lucky enough to be able to provide $1,000 scholarships to one student from each of our member cities and $500 awards to the teacher of the year from each district. We have served hot-dogs at the Van Alstyne National Night Out for as long as I can remember. We sponsor a section of the Anna walking trail system. In Howe, we will be supporting an InterAct group that is forming at the High School. This last December, we were able to serve hot chocolate at the 100-year celebration in Anna and hope to continue that service in years to come at the Anna Christmas Parade.

And most exciting to the schools and membership, each year we sponsor one student from each high school (most clubs only sponsor one student) as they attend Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA.) This is a leadership camp for juniors in high school. Participants are chosen for their leadership potential and attend workshops to learn about leadership skills through practice. The change in these students’ demeanor is astounding. RYLA brings on a change that is wonderful to witness.

The Rotary Foundation funds more than 1,000 students annually to study overseas and act as cultural ambassadors. Hurricane Creek Rotary has had the honor of sponsoring several exchange students as well as hosting exchange programs of business professionals from other countries.

If you’d like more information about Rotary, you may visit www.Rotary.org or please feel free to join us on Thursdays at noon at the Hurricane Creek Country Club in Anna. This week’s speaker was Alyssa Womack from YMCA Collin County Adventure Camp. Next week’s speaker will be Dr. Cark Knight, a microbiologist from DCCCD who will speak on viruses and particularly polio-Rotary’s focus. We look forward to meeting you!

For more information contact Gary Billups at garyb@crippeninternational.com.

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