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New Rotary groups in formation

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Two Springfield Rotary clubs are spreading the footprint of their “Service Before Self” motto by backing new ventures.

The Rotary Club of Southeast Springfield is forming the Rotary Club of Springfield Metro, with hopes of recruiting more than 40 charter members. Rotary Club of Springfield North is sponsoring the formation of Springfield Rotaract Club at Missouri State University, an offshoot of Rotary targeting individuals between 18 and 35 years of age.

To John Horton, president of the southeast Springfield club, the formation of a new volunteer service club will let people who can’t make an early morning or lunch meeting become involved in the Evanston, Ill.-based international organization, which has 1.2 million members and 33,000 clubs worldwide, according to www.rotary.org.

There are roughly 530 Rotarians among Springfield’s four Rotary clubs. Horton, who is president of Layer 3 Technology, said two clubs meet in the morning and two meet at noon.
“For me, breakfast is out of the question. I’m just not a morning person,” Horton said. “Lunch … is a two-hour commitment during the work day.”

Because attendance at a weekly meeting is required of Rotarians – though individuals can make up meetings by attending another club -– a morning or mid-day commitment isn’t an option for some, he said. The Metro club will meet at 5 p.m. Tuesdays at Missouri State University’s Meyer Alumni Center, 300 S. Jefferson Ave.

“A 5 o’clock meeting will allow someone to easily leave work, stop off and attend a Rotary meeting, and they’ll be out by 6 and can be home by 6:15.”

Another benefit is that the evening meetings give members extra time afterward to plan projects and socialize, Horton said.

“By the time the other meetings get out, everyone has to go back to work,” he said. “I’m not saying everyone in the club is going to stay after, but you have that option.”

Bonnie Keller, past president of the southeast Rotary and president/CEO of Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Ozarks, leads an eight-member planning committee taking steps to charter the Metro club. An informational meeting will take place at 5 p.m. Nov. 30 at the MSU Alumni Center, and about 190 potential members will be invited, she said.

“For this club, we want a good mix of business, nonprofit and organizational representatives,” Keller said, adding that annual dues are expected to be around $250. “We want all those people to share their focuses with Rotary’s motto.”

While every Rotary tries to support the Rotary Foundation, the group’s 501(c)3 that helps charitable causes around the world, Horton said each club can choose the initiatives it wants to get behind. Some are global, such as Rotary International’s PolioPlus program, while others are local, such as southeast Springfield’s newest initiative, called Don’t Meth with Us, which Horton said is an anti-methamphetamine education program for fifth graders.

The new club’s charitable focus, Horton said, would be determined by its members.
“We’re chartering it, and we’re sponsoring it, but we’re not going to force them or tell them what to support,” he said. “Once they get together, they’ll decide what they’re passionate about.

The MSU Rotaract will have the same ability to set its charitable course, though Brett Sheets, president of the north-side Rotary club, said the roughly 10 to 12 people who are committed to joining the new club already appear to be leaning toward certain projects.

“They want to sponsor a child, they’ve mentioned that more than once, and they’re wanting to do a world-themed fundraiser,” he said.

Springfield’s original Rotaract Club meets noon–1 p.m. the second and fourth Tuesday of each month at Bass Pro Shop’s Uncle Buck’s Auditorium. Convenience and an initiative by MSU students are among the reasons a second club is being formed, Sheets said.

“Noon meetings are not good for (students), and the location is better, too,” he said.

For now, the group is holding weekly informational meetings 7–9 p.m. Thursday at the Plaster Student Union, Room 315-C. Once the group reaches its goal of 25 committed members, the meetings will likely take place every other week and last an hour, he said.

“The goal is to have 25 members to start, and the club is open to anyone of Rotaract age, not just MSU students,” he said.

Dues will be $12 a year, with a $10 initiation fee. Club officers have been named – Annathar Alexander is president, Kareem Sameul is vice president, Abioye Olushola Olorunda is treasurer
and Marlee Nutt is secretary – but still have to be voted in.
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