Rotary District 6540, which covers the northern third of Indiana, is currently working to establish a Rotary club in Huntertown with the help of town officials.
District representatives met with Town Council members Nov. 16 to discuss some of the steps they are taking to keep that process moving.
“Rotary is always looking to expand our presence and the service that we do in communities where we see a need,” said Tim Gibson, a Fort Wayne resident who will serve as Rotary District 6540 governor in 2022. “… What we see in Huntertown is a community that is currently underserved, but also when you forecast out the growth of your community and draw a little bit wider circle around Huntertown and encompass that, the projections for the growth moving forward is very evident to everyone at Rotary who has paid special focus to Huntertown.”
Jane Roush, the governor elect for District 6540 and a member of the Albion Rotary club, said once the club is established, it would not only give people the opportunity to serve, but would be a resource for town officials as well.
“We make a big difference in our communities, but it’s also bringing together those people in the community, and we’re there and available to leaders in the community for needs that come about, so I think that’s a big thing,” she said.
Gibson said the type of club that gets established “would be driven by the desires and passions of the people in Huntertown.” Rotary focuses on the areas of peace and conflict resolution, disease prevention and treatment, water and sanitation, maternal and child health, basic education and literacy, economic development and the environment. However, no two clubs are alike, Gibson said.
“It’s really an open architecture as to the type of club that will be established in a particular area,” he said. “We want to identify people, the demographics, and how they see their community being better, and how Rotary can play a part in that role — to take a club, take dedicated, motivated individuals, leaders of that community, and they formulate committees and projects that are specific to the needs in their community.”
District 6540 currently consists of 56 clubs. In order for a club to be fully established, it must have a minimum of 20 members. Groups of fewer than 20 but at least eight members can operate as satellite clubs, which Roush said is common for clubs just starting out.
The next step in establishing a Huntertown club, Gibson said, is identifying a list of key people in the community who might be interested, and meeting with them over Zoom. Town Council members and Town Manager Beth Shellman are currently working with the district to help identify interested individuals.
“I think this is a good thing, so I’m looking forward for it to take off,” Council member Brandon Seifert said.
Once enough prospective members are identified, the district would establish a budget to support the initial startup costs. The membership would then continue to support the club financially through service projects.
“We do the education, we do the training. It’s really grassroots, organic because this is going to be a club made up of people from Huntertown who live there, have a vested interest there, who want to see it become better, and as a result they want to play an active role in all those things happening,” Gibson said. “… The club would evolve as your community evolves, but one thing that would stay the same is Rotary’s motto, ‘Service above self.’
Rick Zolman, a member of Rotary Club of Fort Wayne who helped establish the Summit City South Rotary Club of Fort Wayne, noted that a club in Huntertown could present partnership opportunities for Carroll High School’s Interact Club, which is sponsored by Rotary. Zolman is chair of the district’s New and Innovative Clubs Initiative.