Before I joined the Rotary Club of Newberry, my image of a Rotary meeting was a combination of a secret society (complete with the secret handshake) and high tea (everyone dressed up, on their best behavior and making pleasant conversation). The reality is a quite different. Members typically come from work (not dressing up just for the meeting but also not in beachwear). We have fun at the meetings, lunch is enjoyed with a group of community friends, and, instead of a secret handshake, it is just a normal handshake.
All kidding aside, there is a flow which is consistent to each meeting; so, when you attend you can expect the same general structure to the hour. I’ve learned over the past year each Rotary club is unique in its agenda. Ours would be considered a “traditional” meeting. Members volunteer to greet you at the door, welcoming you to the meeting. Kathy, our club Secretary, plays piano while the members and guests walk through the buffet line. The room is arranged in multiple round tables seating eight people; members can eat lunch with long-time friends or mix it up by chatting with a new member. Once everyone is settled, the meeting is called to order and it starts with a prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance. We then recognize guests and visiting Rotarians. If Larry is in attendance, he leads us in “Health and Happiness” which consists of odd facts about the date, jokes, and birthday celebrations. David is responsible for “happy bucks,” he prompts the members to share a happy thought and to donate a dollar while sharing (during football season, Clemson/Gamecock rivalries often come to light, but it is all in good fun). Mike has started a new segment of the meeting where club anniversaries are celebrated; if a member at the table is celebrating a club anniversary, each of the members at the table donates to the CART fund for Alzheimer’s research.
Then, on to business. Throughout the year we have different community projects. Right now, for example we are organizing a Yard Sale and Oktoberfest. During the meeting, brief committee reports keep the club members informed on the progress of the various committees. Once our club business is done, we turn it over to our speakers for the meeting. Many meetings have a presentation focused on something in the Newberry community while others are related to how our members are impacting the community (local and global) around us. Coming this autumn, we’ll have presentations on Young Life, Piedmont Tech, RYLA, the Salvation Army, the Rotary Foundation and a Rotary project in Haiti. The Rotary Club of Newberry is very involved in what is going on in Newberry and how our organization is impacted or can help.
We wrap up with the Four Way Test. “Is it the Truth? It is Fair to all concerned? Will it build Goodwill and better Friendships? Is it beneficial to all Concerned?” A biweekly reminder of the guidelines we strive to live by as Rotarians.
Christina Pomeroy is the chair of the public relations committee for the Newberry Rotary Club.