June 28 marked 60 years of Rochester community members putting Service Above Self Rochester Rotary Club, a member club of Rotary International,a worldwide organization of business and professional leaders that provides humanitarian service and encourages high ethical standards in all vocations, marked its 60th anniversary as a club on June 28, 2014. The club celebrated the milestone with an event for Rochester Rotarians on July 1st at Van Hoosen Farm in Rochester Hills.
The Rochester Rotary Club was chartered on June 28, 1954; a time when many thought they had finished fighting the last Great War.
Nationally, the United States was developing a struggling, but growing economy and amidst the rural landscape, many new inexpensive family homes were springing up to meet the demand. The creation of the interstate highway system and affordable transportation gave Americans new freedom and mobility. Veterans equipped with a state bonus and G.I. loans were returning to their communities with great hope and expectation. Locally, the single family rural farm began to decline and most of the Rochester community was working outside of Avon Township. Education was also changing and the 11 one-room schoolhouses in Avon and Oakland Townships were consolidated into the Rochester Community School system.
The first informational meeting was attended by a small group of independent businessmen who gathered to listen to a Romeo Rotarian explain what his Rotary Club was doing and why. This meeting was described as a brief but accurate description of the object of Rotary, to follow the international four-way test (Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned?) and the motto of Service Above Self. Eventually, 23 men chartered the Rochester Rotary Club and began to apply the Service Above Self principles in their lives and businesses.
“From those humble beginnings, the Rochester Rotary Club has grown and developed into a thriving service club,” Rochester Rotary Club president, Rhonda Panczyk said. “Today, we’re more than 100 members strong and an organization that attracts prominent local business men and women who want to make a difference in the Rochester community and abroad.”
More than 20 community charities benefit from Rochester Rotary, which raises money through various fundraisers throughout the year, including poinsettia sales, an annual golf outing, wine and beer tasting night and smaller events; ‘fines’ collected at the weekly lunch meetings; and donations from members and club supporters alike. The monies raised provide scholarships for Rochester area high school seniors, the ability for the club to champion international projects and aid in efforts of local charities.
In addition to offering financial support, the Rochester Rotary Club established Interact groups at all three Rochester Community School high schools and ACE alternative high school as well as a Rotaract group at Oakland University. The clubs at OU, Adams High School and ACE were all introduced in 2013. The club also established a Community Park that serves as a gateway to the Paint Creek Trail and enhances the lives of Rochester community members.
“It is remarkable to think about the lasting impression this club has made,” Panczyk said. “It is an honor to be a member of such a strong organization and have the ability to impact the community both locally and globally alongside such remarkable business men and women. I look forward to seeing what the Rochester Rotary can accomplish over the next 60 years.”