There were no tears shed as the Rotary Club of Stratford (Ontario, Canada – D 6330) concluded its last meeting at the Kiwanis Community Centre.
At least not by club president Linda Bathe.
“It’s the people, not the place,” she said after Thursday afternoon’s meeting.
She did, however, acknowledge it was a bit sad on a personal level to leave the building behind.
“It will be different,” said Bathe, a member for 21 years. “But we’ll move on.”
The 129-member club will be moving on to the Army Navy and Air Force Veterans building. Its first meeting there will be next Thursday.
The Rotarians held their weekly sessions at the Kiwanis centre for over 30 years, but the city recently decided to sell the land it sits on to the Stratford Festival to make way for its $100-million Tom Patterson Theatre project.
As a result both the Rotary club and the Stratford Lakeside Active Adults Association were forced to find new accommodations.
After parring the list of potential landing spots down to three, a majority of the Rotarians voted last week in favour of the Lorne Avenue Veterans’ building.
The Festival Inn and the Knights of Columbus hall finished second and third, respectively.
A test-pilot meeting was held at all three locations prior to the vote.
“The meetings felt like Rotary meetings, so I’m sure that it will be the same,” Bathe said.
Plans are to bring the plaque with them. A bronze sign on the right side of the Kiwanis’ entrance reads, ‘Rotary Meets Here Thursday 12 Noon.’
Longtime club member Michael Fox saw a similar sign during an international Rotary trip and suggested they have one installed.
“I thought, why don’t we have one of those? We’re right here in a tourist town,” Fox said.
Since being fastened to the façade it’s turned into a recruiting tool, convincing theatre-goers to check out the club.
“We’ve had people who were lined up to see a show one day show up here for Rotary the next,” Fox said. “They come in and they meet people, some of them are people who have been coming back for years.”
After forming in 1922, the Stratford club met at the former YMCA until the mid-1980s when it moved to the community centre.
Club officials anticipate the Veterans’ venue will only be their home for two or three years until the city’s proposed community hub comes to fruition.
Source: Stratford Beacon Herald