When celebrating its 75 years of service to Ashe County and beyond Saturday night, the Rotary Club of the Jeffersons modestly acknowledged its past accomplishments, but also offered its vision of the future and how it will to continue to demonstrate its motto of “Service Before Self.”
“As we stand poised to move forward into our 76th year, I encourage us to build on our service to the community,” said Owen Peeler, the current president of the Rotary Club of the Jeffersons, during the 75th anniversary celebration held at Jefferson Landing Saturday night.
“I would challenge us to draw from our past to consider broader investments in the community,” said Peeler.
Those past accomplishment by the Rotary of the Jeffersons have been considerable.
It was instrumental in establishing the Ashe Memorial Hospital, initiated the efforts to build the Ashe County Airport and purchased and developed the land for Ashe County Park.
During Peeler’s closing remarks at the celebration, of which nearly 50 people attended, Peeler proposed the idea of an economic “incubator” to help encourage and develop entrepreneurship and small business and offered the idea of helping establish a “youth center” that would provide a safe, structured, and fun place for young people to gather, socialize and find help.
Peeler also said that, to continue to offer the service the community has come to expect from the Rotary of the Jeffersons, new blood is needed.
“In order to create a future vision and develop and provide greater service, we will need additional members and participants,” said Peeler.
A new member “Meet and Greet” will be held from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 25, at Boondocks in downtown West Jefferson to reach out to prospective Rotarians, said Peeler. He invited all who are interested in becoming involved to attend.
As part of the celebration, Past Rotary International Director David M. Michaux III, of Murrells Inlet, S.C., spoke and offered a history of the founding of the club in 1938.
Michaux spoke of two of the club’s founding members, Lavern Johnson and Ed Anderson, and the less than 10 men who started the club.
“If not for them, there might not be a local hospital; no Ashe County Park, or airport,” said Michaux.
“Think of all the young people who may not have had a chance…you’ve done all these things to help people because you care; that is service before self,” said Michaux.
Also a part of the celebration Saturday night were members of Ashe County High School’s Interact Club, which is Rotary International’s service club for young people ages 12 to 18.
Interact Club President Mikayla Shatley assisted with a memorial service as the celebration began to remember those Rotarians who have passed on.
It was also announced the Rotary of the Jeffersons has provided over $400,000 in college scholarships to local high school students during its 75 years of service.
As the evening wrapped up, after dinner and bluegrass music provided by musicians Steve Lewis, and Brandy and Kevin Miller, the Rotary closed its meeting as it opened it, with singing.
As the meeting started, the attendees banded together in voice to sing “Carolina in the Morning” and in closing, “God Bless America.”