LEWISBURG — A well-established chain of “service above self” was recently broken when a local Rotary club surrendered its charter.
Member Ruth McCord said Lewisburg Rotary was first chartered March 1, 1920 and was the first Rotary club in Lewisburg.
“Technically, there was the Lewisburg Rotary Club,” McCord explained. “It was also called the Lewisburg Downtown Club or Downtown Lewisburg Rotary Club.”
Their unofficial names made things less confusing, McCord added. They met downtown, as other service clubs had at the Lewisburg Club on Market Street.
She noted they were originally a dinner club.
“A few years ago we stopped meeting at the club,” McCord added. “We lost a caterer, which made it difficult for all the service clubs there.”
McCord said Lewisburg Rotary has had to deal with declining membership, a problem common to many service clubs and other organizations.
“Unfortunately, there tend to be older individuals in the club,” she added. “Younger people tend to not join as often. It doesn’t mean they won’t and can’t.”
McCord speculated that younger adults may be happier with connecting via online platforms.
“Rotary is doing more of that,” she noted. “It would be possible to establish a satellite club for those who don’t want to come in every week. It would be possible to set up a community action group for people who want to be involved in a project without doing weekly meetings.”
McCord noted that some contributing members have been lost simply through the passage of time.
“We’ve lost some truly wonderful people,” she added. “Also we have some great people that moved away.”
McCord added that personality issues occasionally arose, prompting the start of a second Rotary club in the Lewisburg area to meet once per week in the evening.
“That made a third club in Lewisburg,” she said. “Which was a lot of clubs for the population.”
McCord said the group was down to five members, with one unable to be very active.
Projects through the years included selling whoopie pies or popcorn for the Downtown Lewisburg Arts Festival or the Wolfe Field fireworks held in conjunction with the Union County Veterans’ 4th of July Parade.
There was also an annual Christmas party for a unit at the Selinsgrove Center, which more recently became a collaborative effort with Middleburg Kiwanis. McCord said member Bob Steinberg, also with the Middleburg Kiwanis, will continue that tradition.
When the club closed out its treasury, McCord said the group decided to donate what it had to the Donald Heiter Community Center.
“It is not a huge amount of money, but it is something good for the community,” she concluded. “They do good work.”
“Service above self” is a motto of Rotary International.