Rim Country is blessed with a fine collection of service clubs that support our community in countless ways. Including (but by no means limited to) among their ranks Kiwanis, Lions, the Optimists and Rotary, all are dedicated to service with a smile for the less fortunate and those in need. Unfortunately, due to a wide variety of factors, not the least of them being our recent four-year recession, most service clubs have been faced with declining membership in recent years.
Each service club has a special emphasis and variety of activities. As a member of the Payson Rotary Club, I can only speak to its mission, so most of what follows is specific to our club.
Rotary is an organization of business and professional persons united worldwide who provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations and help build good will and peace in the world.
Rotary’s motto is Service Above Self, which proudly expresses the humanitarian spirit of the more than 1.2 million members worldwide.
Rotary is involved in a great number of projects of international significance, including:
Youth exchange, which sends students to spend a year living in a foreign country;
Group study exchange, which sends groups of young professionals with a Rotarian guide to countries throughout the world to learn how vocations are practiced in a variety of cultures;
Grant programs to help with water, hunger and literacy projects in underdeveloped countries.
Polio Plus is Rotary’s long-term effort to eradicate polio. Rotary International launched its anti polio campaign way back in 1985, when much of the world was still subject to its ravages. Today only three countries await eradication: Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria. Rotary has raised over $1 billion to support this program, with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as matching partner.
While international projects draw most of our worldwide publicity, the local club is the cornerstone of Rotary. The Rotary Club of Payson was chartered in 1957. In 1998, we chartered Rim Country Rotary for those members who prefer morning meetings. The two clubs today have about 30 members and are aggressively seeking to increase membership.
Besides working to support Rotary’s international projects, Payson Rotary has a full, year-round slate of activities: three annual yard sales; Halloween Trunk or Treat booth; Electric Light Parade float; Lip Sync performance, in cooperation with Kiwanis and the Optimists; August School Appreciation Barbecue, including great food for all school employees and supplementary funding grants for teachers; Adopt-a-Highway road cleanup on AZ 87 north of East Verde Park; Tips for Rotarians, a fun June evening of good food and music at Fargo’s.
Funds we raise throughout the year go to scholarships for deserving youth in Rim Country, the annual Payson Area Food Drive, the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards program, local charities such as Rim Country Literacy and Payson Community Kids, and individuals and groups of students needing support to attend out of state programs.
This year we are co-hosting with Rim Country Rotary a youth exchange student Sarah Schneider from Austria and sponsoring an outgoing student, Tiana Michele of Payson High School, who is spending this school year, coincidentally, in Austria.
Rotary of course is not all work and no play. We have quarterly social events and two annual banquets, the Christmas party and the awards ceremony in June. And every Wednesday we have a regular meeting at noon at Tiny’s that includes programs on a variety of topics of community interest.
I hope I have piqued your interest in getting involved in the many activities of Payson Rotary. Becoming a member of Rotary is easy. Simply come to two meetings as our guest (yes, Virginia, there is a free lunch) and complete a simple application form. Our membership chairman will then host an orientation at which you will receive more information about our club and the world of Rotary.
Membership in Rotary brings with it the satisfaction of belonging to an organization dedicated to improving the lives of Rim Country residents. But as a member of Rotary you will also enjoy enduring fellowship and make lifelong friendships in the network of Payson area businesses and community service organizations.
For more information on Rotary, please contact our President Marty Stuckenberg at 928-595-1211 or our Web site at www.twitter.com/paysonrotary.