A group of 18 local men started a civic organisation in Bluefield that will celebrate its 100th anniversary this week, and the impact of their actions is still being felt.
The Rotary Club of Bluefield (West Virginia, US – D 7550) was officially chartered and became active on June 1, 1918, when a committee from the Huntington club delivered charter No 393 of the international organisation.
John Beckett of Bluefield is the current president of the club and said the legacy of those charter members continues.
“We have always had hard workers dedicated to the work and the goals of Rotary,” he said, adding that the Rotary club was the first civic club in Bluefield.
That work includes many projects locally and larger projects globally through Rotary International.
Beckett, who has been a club member for 43 years and also served as president in 1995-96, said some local projects include providing financial support for charitable organisations like Teen Challenge, the Abel Pregnancy Resource Center and Recovery Point.
“We worked with the middle school (Bluefield) to provide an oversize wheelchair to a student,” he said.
“We gave Whitethorn Elementary School money to put in a security system.”
Helping kids has always been a focus of Rotary, he said, and that includes the backpack programme in area schools, which sends needy kids home on the weekends with a backpack full of food.
Project Graduation is another initiative the club helps with.
Scholarships are also presented to students attending Bluefield State College and Bluefield College.
“We, along with the Princeton Rotary Club, Bluefield State and Concord University give dictionaries to all third-graders in the county,” Beckett said.
Those are just a few of the recent projects, among many, many others during the last 100 years that have benefited countless area residents.
The club works with Rotary International on global projects like the eradication of polio around the world, an initiative started by Bill and Linda Gates.
“Only two countries in the world now have cases of polio,” he said, adding that they are Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Another major international project is bringing clean water to African nations to help eradicate problems like the guinea worm, contracted by drinking contaminated water.
A fellow Rotarian from the region, Walter Hughes Jr of the Rocky Mount spearheaded that project and the guinea worm has been eradicated in West Ghana.
Hughes has spoken at the Bluefield club and former Bluefield club President Jim Ferguson, who will be the next District Governor, has traveled overseas with Hughes as have some members of the Princeton Rotary Club, Beckett said.
Rotarian Teresa Paine, whose mother Bea Paine is a past president of the club as well as Past District Governor, said she likes the service aspect of the club.
“We have service projects for the community,” she said.
“I think that’s important. I like being a part of an organisation that helps people and Rotary does that.”
Paine also likes the Rotary’s motto, “Service Above Self.”
“Everybody there tries to act on that,” she said. “I like to be active in the community and being a member of the club allows me to do that.”
Paine said meeting the people involved has also been a very positive part of the Rotary experience.
“I have gotten to know some wonderful people I would not have otherwise,” she said.
Club members also recite the Rotary “four-way test” and Beckett said that tells the story the best.
That test is repeated at meetings and asks four questions related to the things members think, say or do:
• Is it the truth?
• Is it fair to all concerned?
• Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
• Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
Beckett said that four-way test is something everyone could live by and, if they did, what a better world it would be.
When Ferguson is installed at District Governor on June 8, he will be the sixth one from the Bluefield Club, Beckett said.
Beckett said the late Charlie Peters, who died only recently, was “our oldest surviving Rotarian.”
According to the club’s website, the Rotary club “has been particularly instrumental locally in promoting welfare work among underprivileged boys, aid to crippled children, establishing Bluefield College, building the West Virginian hotel, instituting the present city manager form of government, establishing the community Christmas tree and other accomplishments, including a recently created student fund.”
On June 8, the club will celebrate it’s 100th anniversary at the Bluefield Arts Center, where the club has its weekly meetings.
Guest speaker for the evening event will be Ken Morgan, past director of Rotary International and member of the Chapel Hill, NC Club.
The City of Bluefield recently passed a resolution dedicating the month of June to the Bluefield Rotary Club “in grateful appreciation for the past and future work” of the club.
“We look forward to another 100 years of their diligent and faithful service to Bluefield and to the world,” the resolution said.
Source: Bluefield Daily Telegraph