By Sarrah Peters
On May 11, 1917, the Gadsden Daily Times-News announced “Rotary Club Formed in Gadsden.” One hundred years later, the Gadsden Rotary Club is still serving the community. The club’s motto is “Service Above Self.”
On Thursday, May 11, the club held a luncheon to celebrate the landmark anniversary. Rotary Club President Steve Hildebrant presided over the celebration. The keynote speaker was Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill. Merrill presented the club with a proclamation from the Alabama State Senate recognizing the club’s centennial.
Former Rotary President George Day presented a brief history of the club. The club honored its charter members and past presidents. The Rotary Club awarded the first ever Service Above Self Award to Rev. Willie Joe Simmons, the founder of the Community Development Project and the local Community Thanksgiving.
Rotary Club Assistant District Governor Wilbur Masters presented a time capsule with a list of club presidents and articles about the club’s projects.
The Rotary Club has many service projects it carries out in Gadsden.
Earlier this year, the club sponsored an anti-bullying rally, which happens annually. This year, they were able to have it while school was in session.
“We are very big in literacy,” said Hildebrant.
The Rotary Club is very involved with the Gadsden Public Library. The club was a big donor for the Gadsden Public Library Park, which recently won a Beautification Award. Recently, the club provided Beautiful Rainbow Catering Company, a school program for special needs adults, with appliances for the restaurant now located in the library.
The club donates dictionaries to all third graders in the Etowah County and Gadsden City school systems.
The club honors one fifth grader in each elementary school with the Rotary Award, recognizing the students’ accomplishments. The club awards a scholarship to a junior or senior involved in Gadsden City High School’s Interact Club, which is like a junior Rotary Club. On May 11, Gadsden City High junior Seth Perry was awarded a scholarship for $1,000.
Hildebrant said that it raises money through dues, but also hosts the Little Black Dress fundraiser, which raises money to provide critical care transport for UAB’s Children’s Hospital.
“At the event over the last few years we have had a number of people from Gadsden who have either been children that were transported and are now adults or have had kids of their own that were transported,” said Hildebrant.
The Gadsden Rotary Club also supports United Way, the Family Success Center, Salvation Army and more.
The Rotary International Foundation is very involved in preventing polio, a debilitating disease that is now nearly eradicated worldwide.
To join the Gadsden Rotary Club, contact a Rotary member or call Hildebrant at 256-549-7200. After a visit to the club, members will vote to approve the new membership.