At the time of its charter on Dec. 20, 1922, the Rotary Club of Paonia could boast that it was located in the smallest town in the United States with a Rotary Club. Through the years, the club's members came from Hotchkiss and Crawford as well.
At the March 7 meeting of the club at Paonia Town Hall, the membership voted overwhelmingly to adopt a new name, the Rotary Club of the North Fork Valley.
Norm Lewark, club president, believes the new name is important. "I think it is in keeping with the spirit of community that has occurred over the last couple of years in the valley ... Plus our membership just doesn't come from Paonia anymore. We have people from Crawford and Hotchkiss. We want to be more inclusive throughout the valley," Lewark said.
Pam Bliss, who serves on the Rotary board, told the membership that the name change would not "negate the club's history, change our current charter or status with Rotary International or the District." The club will submit an online name change form to update their IRS status and non-profit status.
The club is going to be doing more events throughout the valley. "We want to make our activities more equitable to all three communities," Lewark said.
The Rotary Club plans to participate in Pioneer Days in Crawford and another event in Hotchkiss. "I think it's great for Rotary to expand that way," Bliss said. "There will be seven fund raisers between now and December. Rotary wants to sponsor the coal shoveling for Cherry Days. Just bring some old timey stuff back. I think it's going to be a really good move."
Serving all three towns is something that Rotary has always done. Rotarians provide dictionaries to area third graders. They helped to provide local vegetables and fruits in school lunch programs. Graduating seniors receive Rotarian scholarships.
"This opens this up for the other communities to have projects we can help support. Like we did with the [Paonia Library] gazebo," Lewark said. "Since last July we have been talking about and working on becoming more responsibly oriented in terms of our budget. So we can continue to fund things and to have a process that is accessible to more people."
Rotary has a $37,000 certificate of deposit. The club discussed whether to use the funds now, invest them or keep them to fund emergency situations.
"That's been a tricky issue. Originally that money came from people making donations to try and establish a fund that would pay for the scholarships from its interest," Lewark said. "We've decided it's important for us to have this nest egg for us to be able to ensure our scholarships."
The Rotary Club gave out $11,000 for scholarships since last July.
"That money has also been considered, in addition to the scholarships, in case there was a serious emergency here in this valley or somewhere where we felt we needed to help," Lewark said.
Bliss noted, "We have given out $32,075 in grants since July 2012. That's a lot."
She added, "We also decided exactly who we would fund. They have to be a nonprofit. It can't be for salaries ... We would try to spend money throughout the valley. It wouldn't just be Paonia. Directors in a board meeting can vote on funding up to $500, excluding scholarships. Above $500 all the directors must be polled. The maximum contribution is $2,500. The club membership must be made aware of [donations of] $1,000 and more. The idea is just more accountability financially. It's just better."
Rotarian Peggy Szvetecz surveyed the members on how the club should distribute its contributions. "We had to prioritize how we want our giving to be done," Bliss said. "Unless we get membership input we won't know."
Rotary dues are $18 a month and members had been required to pay for four lunches a month at $10 each whether they attended every meeting or not. That is now changed. Members pay $18 in monthly dues and $10 for only those lunches they have.blog comments powered by Disqus