Fort Wayne Rotary Centennial: Celebrating a Century of Service Above Self
Our projects: More than a century of service above self 
Since its founding in 1915, the Rotary Club of Fort Wayne has been a club of action, with a wide variety of service projects. Here is a summary of key service projects throughout our history. 
Early years: Sponsored Fort Wayne’s first public swimming pool in Lawton Park, served as a “booster club” for Fort Wayne’s entry in the Central Baseball League, held a leadership role in routing the Lincoln Highway through Fort Wayne, instrumental in founding the Irene Byron Tuberculosis Sanitarium and, in general, “Acted as a clearinghouse and sponsoring organization for most every worthwhile civic project.”[1] 
Mid-century: Sponsored a Boy Scout Troop at the former County Home, established and has maintained a robust Rotary Youth Exchange program, and held large annual banquets in the ‘50s and ‘60s for international students and other “internationals” living in Fort Wayne.
1980s: Launched a $100,000 campaign to support Rotary International’s “STOP POLIO NOW” quest to eradicate polio. The club met the goal within 90 days—with a 5 percent bonus.
1990s: Donated the “Avenue of Trees” lining Clinton Street and Headwaters Park.
2000 and beyond: In 2004, the Rotary Club of Fort Wayne adopted Washington Elementary School in downtown Fort Wayne—an endeavor that continues today. In 2005, in honor of Rotary International’s 100th anniversary, the Club established and still maintains the “Circle of Hope” in Headwaters Park.
The Club financially supports these youth-based projects. Figures are annual allocations.
  • Sponsors annual Rotary High School Speech Contest ($500 in prizes)
  • Awards annual Cleo Fox Music Camp Scholarships to high school students ($3,000) 
  • Hosts inbound and outbound Rotary Youth Exchange students: 2014-15 inbound student from Lima, Peru, and outbound student traveled to Denmark; 2015-16 inbound student from Germany and outbound student traveled to Slovak Republic.  The club has hosted 34 inbound exchange students from 16 different countries and sponsored 27 outbound students from 18 countries.  ($2,600)
  • Conducts annual “World Affairs Conference” for area high school students ($1,500)
  • Assists in hosting area Rotary Youth Leadership Award weekend for area high school students ($3,700)
  • Sponsors high school “Student Rotarians,” with one student awarded scholarship ($1,000)
  • “Adopted” Washington Elementary School – various projects and events ($3,000) 
Environmental: Clean up area riverbanks twice a year.
  • : Conduct blood drive (American Red Cross) during holidays.
Today: The Club is engaging in a series of forums and discussions to determine key efforts for its “second century of service.” 

Rotary Club of Fort Wayne 2015 Centennial: Celebrating through Service
The Rotary Club of Fort Wayne is celebrated its 2015 Centennial Year through these three significant tracts: 
  • A lasting legacy gift of the Rotary Club of Fort Wayne Centennial Tower to the greater Fort Wayne community
  • An international service project to build a middle school in the Village of Gléi, Togo (West Africa)
  • A local service project to install 100 Little Free Libraries around the greater Fort Wayne community
Lasting legacy gift:
Rotary Club of Fort Wayne Centennial Tower 
  • Height: 22 feet
  • Location: Downtown Allen County Public Library Plaza, adjacent to West Wayne Street
  • Designer, builder: The Verdin Company of Cincinnati custom designed the Tower for the Fort Wayne Club. The Company has completed 50,000 installations worldwide and is in its sixth generation of building bells, clocks, and tower

  • About the Tower
    • Four backlit clocks visible night and day
    • A sculptural globe representing Rotary’s international reach
    • A digital carillon to play an infinite variety of tunes
    • A portable digital keyboard, enabling visitors to play the electronic carillon
    • A base with various plaques about Rotary International, the local Club and a recognition of donors
    • Weight is 7,000 pounds
  • Design and installation: MSKDT & Associates, Inc., led by MSKTD partner and Rotarian Jim Kratzat, is providing the architectural coordination and structural base design. The Hagerman Group, led by president and Rotarian Nate Fink, is constructing the base and installing the Tower.
  • Installation: August 24, 2015
  • Dedication/ribbon-cutting: 10 am October 2, 2015 
  • Cost: $122,000 for the Tower and about $47,000 for base, plaques and installation.  Members and former members of the Rotary Club of Fort Wayne have exceeded all fundraising goals, with pledges exceeding $200,000.  The Allen County Public Library and the Fort Wayne Development Commission have also made contributions.
International Service Project:
New middle school in the Village of Gléi, Togo (West Africa) 
  • History: The project’s roots date back to 2010 when Jason Daenens, current club President and past chair of the Club’s International Services Committee, attended the 6th Annual West Africa Rotary Fair in Accra, Ghana.  During the conference he learned the Village of Gléi, Togo, needed a new middle school, books and other supplies. In 2011, The Rotary Club of Fort Wayne International Service Committee, led by Daenens, developed an education/literacy plan in partnership with the Rotary Clubs of Lomé-Lumier and Atakpamé, Togo; US Peace Corps -Togo; and Rotary Club 1 Chicago to support the Gléi middle school.  During 2012 and 2013, the Rotary Club of Fort Wayne purchased playground equipment, supplies and textbooks, with the help of other clubs and Rotary District 6540 (Northern Indiana) grants.  In 2013, the Board of Directors of the Rotary Club of Fort Wayne unanimously voted to build the Gléi Middle School as the Club’s Centennial International Service Project.  Daenens coordinated a joint funding sponsorship with Rotary Club No. 1 of Chicago and Togo Rotary Clubs totaling over $45,000.  Total cost for all Togo-related projects is $59,000, which impact nearly 28,000 Village of Gléi residents.   
  • Building the school: In the spring of 2013, the Club launched the project, using a model to “build a classroom at a time.” The first two of eight classrooms were built that spring.  
  • Today: The last two of eight classrooms are near completion. School attendance has grown from around 600 students to more than 880 students due to the greatly improved learning environment.  
Local Service Project:
Installing 100 Little Free Libraries in the greater Fort Wayne community
In 2013, the Local Service Committee of the Rotary Club of Fort Wayne recommended the Club install100 Little Free Libraries around the community as the Local Service Centennial Project.  The project supports one of Rotary International six areas of focus to promote literacy.
Based on the concept of “Take a book, return a book,” the free-standing Little Free Library structures provide a way to share books freely, to promote literacy, to foster fellowship, and to enhance the quality of life. 
The Rotary Club of Fort Wayne has partnered with scores of organizations throughout greater Fort Wayne to steward the Libraries.  Structures can be found by city fire stations, along trail routes, within neighborhoods, inside Citizen Square, adjacent to and inside schools, and many other areas. 
The Club installed its first Little Free Library in the summer of 2013 in front of the Club’s “adopted school,” Washington Elementary.  Since that first Little Free Library, more than 85 Little Free Libraries have been installed around the community. The Club expects to install the 100th Little Free Library in the summer of 2016.
To learn how you can install a Little Free Library, contact Candace Schuler: 260-418-6142 or

[1] Walley, E., A History of the Fort Wayne Rotary Club, 1915-1965: 50 Years of Service, 1965, p. 5.