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!

Official Visit to Scottsboro Rotary, August 9, 2017

I visited the Rotary Club of Scottsboro on Wednesday, August 9, 2017.  This club meets at noon at the Western Sizzlin Restaurant.  Their club President is Chris Cameron and their Assistant Governor is Gene Pfeiffer.  Gene joined me for this meeting.

The Scottsboro Rotary Club is made up of 3 groups.  The membership includes 86 members.  The Scottsboro High School Interact Club that The Scottsboro Rotary Club sponsors has about 100 members.  The Northeast Alabama Community College (NACC) Rotaract Club that Scottsboro also sponsors has 25 to 30 members.

Collectively the Rotarians of Scottsboro engage their community with over 200 members!   It’s not only about meetings.  It’s about engaging and actively helping our community thrive.   People of Action is the phrase to remember  when you think Scottsboro Rotary.

The Scottsboro Rotary Club was established in 1958.   These Rotarians are celebrating 60 years of service in Scottsboro and Jackson County in 2018.  The Rotarians support the IMPACT Learning Center.  They have given over 15,000 books to Scottsboro Elementary students with our annual Drop Everything And Read  (DEAR Day) program.   They also provide Scottsboro Rotary Scholarships to the Scottsboro High School annually; usually around 15 are awarded each year.

As you can see, this club does so much to improve their community.  Thank you.

Official Visit to Lafayette Rotary Club, August 8, 2017

I visited the Rotary Club of Lafayette on August 8, 2017.  As far as I can tell, the Lafayette club is the furthest club from my home in Decatur.  They are located in the south eastern part of the District of North Alabama.  I use my Garmin GPS system to find these meeting sites, so really was unsure about my geographical location – but their president, Ken McMillan explained that I was visiting the Rotary Club that is the last club that separates North Alabama District 6860 from South Alabama District 6880.  Lafayette is a lovely small town.  Two ladies escorted me into the fellowship hall for my visit.  They prepared the meal for us.  The food reminded me of my grandmother’s cooking and they served steamed okra – one of my favorites, along with blueberry cobbler – so good!

This club is 96 years old.  I noticed two flags, one is the banner and looks like the original banner that the club was given 96 years again – in great shape and I hope that they will continue to display this banner for many years to come.  The second was a small banner with the 4-way Test, again another symbol of Rotary and looked aged as well.  I’ve never seen this 4-way Test Banner before.  In addition, the tables were filled with Blue Rotary Song Books.  I don’t believe that this book is published presently, and we sang two songs from the book, R O T A R Y and American the Beautiful.  Lovely singing.

Tom Lafon, the Assistant Governor was in attendance during this visit.

For ninety-six years now, the Rotary Club of Lafayette has been instrumental in developing a community of service above self. One of the oldest Rotary Clubs in the region, the Rotary Club of Lafayette’s members have a remarkable history of generously giving their time, money and knowledge to support Lafayette`s youth, underprivileged, cultural arts and education programs.

Thank you, Lafayette Rotarians, for all that you do for your community.

Official Visit to Birmingham Sunrise Rotary Club, August 8

This club meets on Tuesday mornings at the Harbert Center is Birmingham.  Andrew Edwards is the current Club President and Susan Caples is the Assistant Governor for this club.  The club’s presence on the internet explains the club’s many service projects.

“Rotary Club of Birmingham Sunrise, A Club that Breakfasts Together Changes the World Together

Since 1986, The Rotary Club of Birmingham – Sunrise, or Birmingham Sunrise Rotary Club, as it is more commonly called, has worked together to solve educational problems, to help children, and to work towards providing clean water to our community here in Birmingham, and communities as far away as Quito, Ecuador. Often referred to as “The Best Breakfast in Birmingham,” Birmingham Sunrise meets most every Tuesday morning at 7:00 to share fellowship, an interesting and sometimes unusual slate of speakers, and a hot southern breakfast of eggs, grits, bacon, sausage, potatoes, fresh fruit, cereals, and toast (along with plenty of good hot coffee to pry the eyes open). Our weekly meetings are intellectually stimulating and well worth the early hour. But, you really see the Birmingham Sunrise Rotary Club come to life at times other than our legendary breakfast.

You will see our club excel when we meet to clean up a section of the Cahaba river, helping to ensure clean water for Birmingham residents. You see us at our best when we’re out at the Hoover Met, setting up tents for the annual Pig Iron barbecue, which benefits Children’s Harbor. We are our finest when we’re sweating and tired, having blazed new sections of trail for Birmingham’s Red Mountain Park. And when you see individuals from our club spending time from their busy days to help tutor children for the Cornerstone Schools, you can sense our commitment to service above self.”

I applaud Birmingham Sunrise for their community efforts on behalf of Rotary International and our Rotary District 6860, but most of all for their unlimited efforts to improve their community.  Thank you for all that you do.

Official Visit to Oneonta, August 7, 2017

Oneota Visit.JPG

My visit to the Rotary Club of Oneonta was Monday, August 7.  Jim Ed Clayton, their president welcomed me.  The picture shows me with Jim Ed and Mitchie Neel , Executive Director of The Blount County Education Foundation .  This club meets at Charlie B’s Restaurant in Oneonta.  The food is excellent and Charlie B was in the restaurant working with the servers on the buffet line.  Danny Cooner, their Assistant Governor also attended.

Their major service is to provide scholarships to deserving local high school graduating seniors.  Scholarships to college seems to be a common them among the North Alabama rotary clubs.  To raise money for these scholarships, the Rotarians organize and conduct a Dodge Ball Tournament, hosting 16 teams in a double elimination tournament.  This fund raiser pulls in approximately $5,000 and these dollars goes to the club’s scholarship program.