August 28, 2017 Official Visit to The Greater Shoals Area/ Sheffield Rotary Club

The club meets on Mondays at noon in Sheffield at Ronda P’s Restaurant.  Their president is John Pemberton and their assistant governor is Harold Lewis.  Ronda P’s opens for lunch with great home cooking.  This club was founded April 1, 1920 and is one of the oldest clubs in the quad cities area of North Alabama.

The service project that this club is most proud of if their Scholar Dollar program.  They partner with the Florence Rotary Club to raise money for scholarships awarded to students who plan to attend the community college in their area.  Both clubs are increasing the scholarships to include students who plan to continue their college experience by attending the area college, the University of North Alabama which offers 4-year degrees.  These scholarships go to graduating seniors who might not have the opportunity to attend college without this financial help.  These scholarships are based on need, as well as grades and leadership.

This club also recognizes Law Enforcement Excellence by identifying the “Officer of the Year” every year.

To raise money for their community service projects, they also partner with the Rotary Club of Florence in the Scholar Dollar Auction.  I attended this auction this year for the first time and came home with a $25 bottle of wine (it was good) and a necklace and earring set for my sister – wonderful value and I plan to return next year.  These two clubs together with other partners in the area of the quad cities raise over $300,000 for this scholarships.  Are they making a difference in their community and the world?  I definitely think so.  Thank you, Rotarians of the Greater Shoals/Sheffield Rotary Club.  I’m thankful for the work that you do to make a difference in today’s world and our future.

Wednesday, August 23 Official Visit to the Rotary Club of Boaz

This is my first visit to the Boaz Rotary Club, but not my last.  Steve Burgress , the club president, welcomed me to Snead State Community College where they meet.  While there, I asked about all of the service that they do.  Here’s what I learned.

The members of the Rotary Club of Boaz Alabama are concerned about environmental degradation, illiteracy, world hunger and children at risk. The Boaz Rotary club members travel to countries like Haiti after a devastating earthquake and are still returning year after year helping that country rebuild.  Club members answered the need of flood victims in Pakistan along with those that suffered the aftermath of Katrina where Rotarians throughout the world raised $19 million in donations and grants for the relief and recover in the New Orleans area.

The Boaz Rotary club established a Peace Camp in West Africa offering scholarships to people in third world countries and hosting “Friend Exchanges” with other Rotarians to bring different cultures together from around the world so that everyone can learn from one another and continue toward the world someday living in peace.

On their website, the have this comment:  “The motto “Service Above Self” holds true as Boaz Rotarians answer the needs of so many people who would be overlooked or pushed back because “maybe somebody else will do it”. “  A true description for the Boaz Rotarians who are Making a Difference in their community and the world.

The last question that I asked was about Fund Raising to support their service projects.  They shared a story with me entitled “The Lemon Shake Story”.  It seems that one of the Rotarians has a recipe for a Lemon Shake.  His family uses the recipe to make money for various needs.  The club members decided to do the same for an event in Boaz.  They set up a serving truck, purchased the required supplies, then asked for the Lemon Shake recipe.

Here it is:  Fill a jug full of water.  Add lemons and sugar.

Wait a minute, the members said.  This is lemonade!  Yes, the Rotarian said, but see, you shake the jug – hence the name, “Lemon Shake”.

I did get their permission to share this story.  I laughed so much during my visit – what a great club, doing so much, to make a difference in their community and our world.

August 22, 2017 Official Visit to the Rotary Club of Fort Payne

Fort Payne Rotary Club was chartered in February of 1947, and is the oldest civic club in DeKalb County.  The club’s President is Phillip Smith and the club’s Assistant Governor is Bubba Masters.  Today, Tim Davis, the club’s president-elect, conducted the meeting.

The club is active in the community and sponsors several area high school students each year with college scholarship assistance.  The club annually gives a Christmas party complete with Santa and gifts for the clients of the ARC of DeKalb County, and also annually recognizes a lady in the community for outstanding service as the Rotary Rose for the year.  I have had the privilege of attending the Rotary Rose celebration for the past 2 years.  It is wonderful to see all of the winners of this award – a very special time.  The club has been doing this since 1966, combining this event with its annual meeting.  The club spearheaded the successful effort to raise $1.1 million to equip every classroom in the Fort Payne School System with an interactive white board and subsequently assisted in funding iPads for every student in middle and high school.  Most recently the club succeeded in establishing a Rotary license plate in  Alabama and uses the funds from this program for its ongoing scholarship efforts.  Other projects include Boy Scouts of America, the city of Fort Payne Pavilion, the Women’ Care Center, United Givers Fund, African Clean Water Project, the Summit of Fort Payne and the Tennessee forest fire relief fund.

The club is proud to have supplied two past District Governors as well as several District officers and plans to continue as a valuable resource in the community for service to others. The Rotary Club of Fort Payne Rotarians are also proud to be a part of the Polio Plus campaign to rid the world of this disease.

Wednesday, August 16: Official Visit to Greater Huntsville Rotary Club

Today’s visit is to the Rotary Club of Greater Huntsville.  This club meets at the Redstone Federal Credit Union in Cummings Research Park of Huntsville.  Their president is Ron Wainwright.  Their assistant governor is Gene Pfeiffer.  This club is very active in their community.  Their  service projects include Wheel Chair Ramp Builds, Tool Trailer, and the Scarecrow Trail.  This club applies for District grants and have an ongoing global grant which provides books for children in Uganda.  This project is headed by Rodger Qualls.  Another project include Winterizing homes for the elderly working through CASA.  To raise money for their service projects, Greater Huntsville hosts a Gala which includes a silent auction, live band and great food.

On the day of my visit, Greater Huntsville hosted a delegation from several African countries including Kenya, Uganda, Zambia and Tanzania.  It was wonderful Greater Huntsville Africa.jpgmeeting these people who are representing their countries well on this visit to the United States.

The Rotary Club of Greater Huntsville is a great supporter of the District.  Clif Borderick, Ron Brown, Mary Grace Evans, Ed Stone and IPDG Gary Andrew are serve at the District level.  My thanks to each of you and to your club, filled with Rotarians who are making a difference in their community and our world.

Official Visit to Vestavia Hills Rotary Club, August 11, 2017

This makes 6 official visits this week, and I’m still having lots of fun visiting Rotarians throughout District 6860.  Also, North Alabama is beautiful to drive through.  Wonderful trips and I am never in a hurry to get somewhere.  It has been rainy this week, but that’s OK too.

Vestavia Hills meets at noon on Fridays in the Southminister Presbyterian Church in Vestavia Hills, a beautiful city to the south of Birmingham.  David Martin is the President and Mike Wade is the Assistant Governor.

This Rotary Club hosts The Iron City Chef 2017 competition where Top Chefs face off Iron Chef Style at Jeff State Community College.  This event also hosts a silent auction.  Over $700,000 has been raised over the past 25 years.  Guests at this event will enjoy a signature dish from each chef and vote for their top choice while enjoying entertaining and appetizing evening for charity. The top two chefs will then compete for the title of Iron City Chef 2017.


Beneficiaries include the Vestavia Hills Math & Debate Programs.  The math and debate teams are wonderful ambassadors for Alabama and the Vestavia community as they travel around the country.

The Students & Families in Africa also benefit.  Vestavia Hills Rotary Foundation supports efforts to bring clean water to communities in Zambia and materials necessary to create functional classrooms.

The Jeff State Culinary Scholarship program also benefits.  Interace Club Scholarships are provided annually to high school seniors who have demonstrated courages, academic success and service above self.

Official Visit to Roanoke Rotary, August 10, 2017

Another trip to southeast Alabama to visit the Rotary Club of Roanoke.  Jerry Knight is the club President and Tom LaFon is the Assistant Governor.  Tom had a conflict and was unable to visit with me.  The club meets at Sunny’s Home Cooking – another excellent buffet.  I’m really enjoying the food on my visits.  Among their service projects, Camp ASCAA and the Main Street Theatre are their most important projects.  This article is copied from the Roanoke Rotary Club’s web site.  Roanoke Rotarians are involved in the revitalization of the Main Street Theatre.  I was privileged to visit this location and view all of the work that has been done to this historic area for the use of the residents of Roanoke.  Congratulations.  The story is below.

Roanoke’s first theaters, beginning in 1906, were mostly used for opera concerts using a white curtain with lit scenes.

By September of 1944, Roanoke have four theaters – the Martin, the Ritz, the Star, and the Auditorium Theater.  Of all the theaters, Roanoke’s most popular and longest running was the Martin Theatre, built in 1941.

In November 1968, the World War II movie, Tora, Tora, Tora was playing at the Martin Theatre and a reconstructed Japanese Zero fighter plane was brought to the Roanoke air strip for citizens to come see. This created a lot of enthusiasm for the locals.  The movie Theatre was filled to capacity each night!

During the nights of the Christmas parade on Main Street, the Martin would play Christmas music from loud speakers so shoppers could hear the carols all over the street.  Additionally, the Martin hosted Santa Claus in the lobby of the theatre for children to sit on Santa’s lap and share their wish list. 

In 1978, during a horrendous lighting storm, the beloved theater was struck by lighting and burned to the ground. 

In 2011, the theater building was donated to the Roanoke Rotary Club Charities.  

Roanoke Rotary Club’s long term goal has been focused on the revitalization and restoration of downtown Roanoke.  Initially, Rotary worked with the city to help encourage, discuss and develop plans for the beautiful streetscape project, currently being completed.  Having the Martin Theatre property donated, the club now plans to make it the “crowning jewel” of the downtown district.

The first exciting of the restoration project was lighting the restored theatre sign which brought smiles to generations old and new.  Today, the open air theatre is inviting to adults and children, Roanoke citizens and visitors.  The property is available for a lunch hour, a family picnic or rental for a special event.  Foremost, we hope that everyone will see that the possibilities are endless!