by Kirby Lindsay
For Rotary International and its clubs, like the Rotary Club of Fremont, the year just ended, in June. A new year just begun, in July, means a new start as club members take on new roles – including that of club president.
Farewell Madam President
In April of 2009, Jean Withers described her (then upcoming) year of being president of the Rotary Club as, “a wonderful 52 weeks of herding cats.” From July 2009 to June 2010, she successfully herded the Fremont Rotary, often called the Fremont Fun Club, to complete an impressive number of projects and events.
Her first innovation was installation of Nanny Glo, a child care giver provided by the club during weekly Rotary meetings for the children that attend with their parents. Rotarians from other clubs often contact Fremont Rotary to find out how it works. Certainly it makes it easier for working parents to attend a meeting, but it has also lent the Fremont gatherings a friendly, family atmosphere.
Withers maintained traditions – including, once monthly, when club members – and the kids – make sandwiches for the homeless. She saw that the club hosted its 2nd Annual Rock-Paper-Scissors Center of the Universe World Championships fundraiser, supporting FamilyWorks, on June 24th at LTD Bar & Grill. She also added projects, and the Rotarians built a storage shed at B.F. Day Elementary School for the Wallingford Boys & Girls Club program.
Perhaps Withers most impressive feat remains the huge 10th Anniversary celebration of the club, held at Theo Chocolates. Not only did she manage to draw in a tremendous crowd of Rotarians past and present – and their friends - but the party also raised $2,000 for the club’s charitable causes.
Welcome Mister President
Yet, in keeping with Rotary methods, on June 29th, Withers, a long-time Rotarian, formally signed off as President. In July, Todd Holec, a brand-new Rotarian, took over.
While he joined the club in March of 2009, he’s grown up with Rotary. Both his maternal grandfather and his father were Rotarians. His parents regularly hosted Rotary exchange scholars, and he enjoyed what he saw. “It was a good experience,” he said, even beyond the pancake breakfasts and lobster feasts.
Today, with his wife Marrianne, Holec has two children, a daughter age 6 ½ and a son 3 ¾ years old. “I looked around at Rotary clubs,” he admitted, glad to be able to model civic responsibility to his kids. The children enjoy participating in club clean-ups of the Burke-Gilman trail, and they love Nanny Glo.
“Jean’s shoes will be hard to fill,” Holec admitted seriously, then joked, “not just because my feet are bigger.” He praised her hard work, drive and accomplishments – and hopes to continue her philanthropic achievements. “I would like us to have a project that generates us $5,000 – 15,000 each year,” to fund charitable projects locally as well as internationally. “That may take us a few years,” he allowed, and in all his plans he appears to look well beyond his term of office. Holec also plans to continue the club’s work on a multi-year project to build a clean water well in Kenya.
He wants to see the club better organized. He described the current system as a ‘remote office,’ with no central location for information. Members each contribute, and he would like to use databases and photo share systems to consolidate documentation. He hopes that this “can show the community what we are about.”
More importantly streamlining systems over the course of the year he believes will “increase the time we can do the fun things.” The Fremont Rotary is a small club that had 18 members when Holec joined. Through Withers term, membership increased and the 26th member joined just as Holec took office. New young members will expect a certain amount of tech savvy, interconnectedness, he acknowledged. “Our goal is 30 members,” he said, and with leadership from Holec, and working together, it looks like the club can only continue to grow.
©2010 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.