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Downtown Businesses

Washington Rotary Club: Bringing Good To The Community

The Washington Rotary Radio Auction was last week, I am sure you have heard about that. However, do you know what other activities and events the Washington Rotary Club does? And are you aware that they are part of an international organization? I’ve always been curious to learn more about Rotary myself, so I had Sharon Monzyk, a long-term member and former president of the club, over for cookies and tea and she shared more about their work.

Sharon, please tell us what is Rotary’s objective.

Rotary is a worldwide organization of business and professional leaders that provides humanitarian service and strives to better people’s lives. Our main objective is service — in the community, in the workplace, and around the globe. Rotary clubs are open to people of all cultures and ethnicities and are not affiliated with any political or religious organizations. There are 1.2 million Rotarians around the world, who make up more than 34,000 Rotary clubs in nearly every country: that’s how strong the organization is. The Washington Rotary Club is one of the biggest in the area, with 137 members.

The Rotary Radio Auction is a big annual event. Every night of the auction there are around 30 Rotarians who volunteer their time in an attempt to raise money for the community. Photo: Curt Dennison Photography.

What are some of the events that the Washington Rotary Club organizes?

We just completed our annual Radio Auction. The club has been doing it for about 30 years, and it is our second largest fundraiser. We would like to thank all of the local businesses who donated items for the auction. All proceeds go toward improvements in our local community, there are always projects that can make our life better and need funding.

The Car Raffle we do every year is our biggest fundraiser. A maximum of 1000 raffle tickets are sold for an opportunity to win a GM car/vehicle valued at $32,000 from Modern Auto OR a cash prize of $20,000. Tickets for it are already for sale. The raffle drawing is on Sunday of the Washington Town and Country Fair at the Rotary Wine Tent. Although the tickets seem somewhat expensive, people don’t hesitate to buy them because they know the money goes for a good cause, straight back to the community.

We also have our Annual Pancake Breakfast, which is held in September each year at St. Francis Borgia Grade School cafeteria. Both area high schools, Washington High School and St. Francis Borgia Regional High School each receive funds from the breakfast. Band students from each of the schools help work the breakfast, and usually some of the funds the schools receive go toward purchasing band equipment.

The Washington Rotary Club also sponsors many other organizations and projects. You can see some of the members of the club making Thanksgiving baskets for families in the community. Photo: Curt Dennison Photography.

What is your favorite event that the club does?

I love to be involved in all of the Rotary activities, but the Riverfront Trail Day is probably the one I cherish the most. It is a day of fun at the Riverfront Trail Park for senior citizens and disabled individuals. Activities include tram rides, wheelchair escorts, refreshments and bingo. A lot of works goes into organizing the event, and it always depends on the mercy of the weather. However, it is wonderful to see how much the people appreciate it, and they look forward to it every year. The ladies dress up and fix their hair, the high school kids come and help push the wheel chairs, the bingo is always an exciting part of the day, and the happiness in everyone’s eyes is the reward we receive for all of our hard work. This event would not be possible without the help of the Parks Department and our wonderful community.

Everybody enjoys the Trail Rides at the Rotary Riverfront Trail Day. Photo: Curt Dennison Photography.

The high school kids are ready and willing to help! Photo: Curt Dennison Photography.

Bingo is always a hit! Photo: Curt Dennison Photography.

How long have you been a member of the Washington Rotary Club?

I have been in the club for 17 years. We have luncheons every Thursday at the Knights of Columbus Hall. At every meeting a member of the club delivers a presentation on different things going on in the community, that we can possibly fund or help with. We support a  numerous list of organizations and projects, some of which include Loving Hearts, Emmaus Homes, Relay for Life, Exceptional Equestrians, Washington All Abilities Playground, Washington Farmers Market, etc. It makes me feel good knowing that by donating some of my time and effort, we bring improvements into the community and help people live a better, happier life.

Sharon Monzyk and Barb Hellmann at the Rotary Riverfront Trail Day. Being a volunteer can be very rewarding Photo: Curt Dennison Photography.

How can one become a member of the Washington Rotary Club?

Everybody is welcome to join us at one of our Thursday luncheons by contacting a current Rotary member. The membership fees we collect go to the The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International. It is a nonprofit corporation that promotes world understanding through humanitarian service and educational and cultural exchanges. At every meeting we pass “the change bucket” – every member puts some of their spare change and we collect $35 that pays for a cataracts surgery for one person in India. It’s amazing to know that Rotary has such an outreach, not only on local, but also on International level. Some of our members travel and do volunteer work abroad, like providing free dental service for children in third-world countries. Although Rotary clubs develop autonomous service programs, all Rotarians are united in a global campaign to eradicate polio. We are all here to learn and help each other, and this is exactly what Rotary’s primary purpose is.

The Washington Rotary Club, located in Washington Missouri, was founded in 1970. Take a look at their website here, and make sure you “like” them on Facebook, too. A big “Thank you” to Curt Dennison, who is also a Rotarian, for sharing his photos for this post.

About Slava

I am a twenty-something Bulgarian girl in the USA, re-discovering the world through the lens.

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