Rotary Club of Faribault

Passing the gavel: Faribault Rotary inducts its 100th president

Reprinted with permission from the Faribault Daily News

Hand to hand, a gavel passed through 31 past presidents of the Faribault Rotary Club until it reached Amy Amundson — the 100th president.

The passing of the gavel signifies the effort and dedication of each president, those in attendance and those unable to attend, to bring the club through its first 100 years, practicing the Rotary tradition of “Service above Self” and showing full support for Amundson and her year of service focused projects.

Amundson was sworn in as president Wednesday by her predecessor, Keith Kramer.

Each year, Rotary Presidents help oversee and administer service-oriented projects to benefit the community as well as expand the reach of the club.

In Kramer’s year, the Faribault Rotary Club ran the Warm Our Community event for the first year and added a Habitat for Humanity workday where volunteers helped paint a house on the north side of town.

Warm Our Community is a clothing drive in November to collective gently used outerwear — gloves, coats, boots — so area kids can keep warm during the notoriously frigid Minnesota winters. After the drive, people in the community are invited to stop by and pick out as many items as they need.

Kramer also continued the sponsorship of the Faribault Rotaract Club — a service minded organization in which South Central College students organize themselves and complete projects in the community.

One of the Rotaract Club projects this year was volunteering at Believet Canine Service Partners, which trains dogs and provides them to veterans free of charge.

“Veterans who suffer from PTSD or a visible disability who can’t get around as easily anymore without interruptions tend to confine themselves to their homes,” Rotaract President Piper Nelson said. “It’s debilitating, but with the help of these service dogs, veterans can get back to enjoying life and completing basic everyday activities.”

Though the students were not qualified to help with the training, they did care for the dogs and took them on walks. They also had the opportunity to learn from watching a veteran work with a service dog.

“For us, this is a huge deal,” Nelson said. “It’s not just picking up garbage in a park, which also makes an impact, but this is something that directly impacts not only each of us Rotaractors, but also the dogs and the vets. It’s more than doing something to gain something in return; it’s doing something hoping to help another in the best way possible.”

“This year has been a big success,” Kramer said. “We do things once and learn what we can do better next time… It’s an opportunity to get involved in one or more areas you’re passionate about. It’s awesome people, doing awesome things.”

Volunteering since 1920, Rotary members are continuing to better the community into their 100th year as well.

Rotary clubs can be found throughout the world. Just last week, Rotary member Richard Huston added 10 flags from three different continents — Australia, Germany and the United States — to the 80 flags representing locations where Faribault Rotarians have visited other Rotary Clubs.

This year’s universal mission of Rotary Clubs is to connect the world.

“We want to bring about world peace by connecting people around the world,” Amundson said. “When you have friends in a different place, you care more about that place.”

The mission of connecting people also impacts people on a local level.

“The vast majority of the club is youth focused,” Amundson said. “Youth are important because they are our future in the community.”

Amundson said club members are involved, volunteering to read one-on-one with students as Rotary Readers; inspire kids and teach them about virtues at Respect and Courage Retreats; and help them increase their GPA as part of Faribault Schools’ STRIVE program. And that’s only a partial list, she said.

Faribault’s 59 Rotary members are always ready to lend a hand. For the 100th year, Amundson asked the members to keep track of every bit of service they provide in the hopes of achieving 5,900 acts of service i— 100 hours per person — n the community by next year.

“It’s surprising how many are doing this already,” Amundson said. “We’re always looking for more members to expand our impact. The more members we have the more good we can do in our community.”

Reporter Renata Erickson can be reached at 507-333-3129. Follow her on Twitter @FDNrenata.

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