MONROE, NC – On Thursday, June 9, at the Dowd Center Theatre, a crowd gathered to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Monroe Rotary Club. This celebration found over 100 members, former members, and friends gathered to share the evening together. Pat Kahle, Co-Chair of the Monroe Rotary Program Committee, shared, “The Monroe Rotary is the oldest club in Union County and was the sponsoring club for every other Rotary Club that now exists in our community. In addition, the Monroe Rotary Club has sponsored Interact Clubs at high schools, offered scholarships to high school students, supported many nonprofits throughout our community, and much more.”
Rotary International was founded in 1905 and currently has a global network of 1.4 million people in over 46,000 clubs in over 200 countries throughout the world. The object of Rotary is to encourage and foster the ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise and, in particular, to encourage and foster the following ideals: the development of acquaintances as an opportunity for service, high ethical standards in business and professions, the recognition of the worthiness of all useful occupations and the dignifying of each Rotarian’s occupation as an opportunity to serve society, the application of the ideal of service in every Rotarian’s personal, business, and community life, and the advancement of international understanding, goodwill, and peace, through a world fellowship of business and professional Rotarians united in the ideal of service.
Started 17 years after the founding of the Rotary, the Monroe Rotary Club has made substantial local impacts since then. “Members of Monroe Rotary have sponsored or assisted other clubs in organizing including the Monroe Breakfast, Marshville, Union West, and Waxhaw-Weddington clubs along with establishing Interact Clubs in the school system,” Kahle explained. “In its first year, Monroe Rotary adopted as its first community project Aid to Crippled Children,” he continued. “This project became such a remarkable success that it became a model for the state and later for the nation. Dr. Paul J. Helms [the first Monroe Rotary President] was instrumental in the implementation of the program and spent three months working in South America. Locally, the Monroe Rotary Club and the Chevrolet dealership sponsored the first driver’s education course in Union County at Monroe High School in 1954.”
At the ceremony, President Rick Greene announced the Service Above Self Award, which the club awards annually, is being re-named to the Nat Greene Service Above Self Award. Greene was a member of the Monroe Rotary for over 50 years, served as Club President, and in 1980 was recognized as the “Union County Man of the Year.” Greene passed away in 2021, but his name and spirit will live on in the newly christened award. Sheila Crunkleton, past Club President, was recognized as the first recipient of the Nat Greene Service Above Self Award.
“A lot has changed since Rotary came to Union County back in 1922,” Kahle finished. “During the past 100 years, our membership has become more diverse, the place we meet has changed several times, how we fundraise, even how we meet (thinking of the many virtual and hybrid meetings during COVID) and how we serve has changed. What has not changed in the past 100 years is our club’s commitment to the ideals of Rotary, especially the ideal that Service Above Self is the very core of who we are.”
If you would like to join the Monroe Rotary, or any of the surrounding clubs, you can find more information at monroerotary.org or rotary.org