Kittanning Rotary recalls 90 years of 'service above self'
By Brigid Beatty
Published: Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2011
KITTANNING -- Members of the Rotary Club are celebrating 90 years of local and international service. Living up to their motto: "Service above Self."
According to Harry O. "Pat" Wolfe Jr., about 35 people attended the anniversary gala dinner on Dec. 7 at the J-Barn Country Inn in Sarver to celebrate the Kittanning Rotary Club, Charter 1021, District 7280.
Although the Kittanning Rotary Club first met in the basement of the First Presbyterian Church on Sept. 23, 1921, the origins of the national Rotary Club go back to Chicago in 1905.
Today, the organization is active in more than 165 countries with 1.25 million members and 33,976 clubs.
Wolfe, who holds a doctorate and is a former assistant superintendent of the Armstrong School District, joined the Rotary in Blair County in 1958 and became a member of the Kittanning Rotary in 1968. He said he thinks the club has continued for as long as it has because of its strong commitment to the local community. Several years ago, Wolfe and other local Rotarians, planted shrubs and flowers in the northern end of Kittanning's Riverfront Park and planted ornamental grasses and perennials around the base of the park's historic Cottonwood tree.
Herman Krummert was the club's 2010 president. He said that the people who join Rotary want to help the community on a local and global level.
"It's a club of business people who bond together and do good deeds," said Krummert. "It's a fraternity of sorts, these are good people and I enjoy their company."
One of the Kittanning Rotary Club's main objectives has been the promotion of literacy within the county, said Krummert. Over the years, Rotarians have provided dictionaries to third-graders and instructed them on how to use the books which students are allowed to keep. Krummert said the club also buys second-grade reading-level books and donates them to the school libraries.
Jo Ellen Bowman, director of HAVIN, will become the Kittanning Rotary Club's 2012 president in July. She said she is passionate about promoting literacy and is hoping to increase club membership to further those efforts in the community.
Since 1982, a select number of Armstrong area high school students have participated in the club's Rotary Youth Leadership Award (RYLA) program. Krummert said students showing strong leadership potential who have earned a 3.5 QPA are nominated by school guidance counselors.
Eligible students must submit an essay to the club, provide information on academic and extra curricular activities and go through an interviewing process. Among the selected students attending the week-long RYLA camp at Westminster College in New Wilmington, one student is awarded a $60,000 scholarship to attend the college.
The club also awards four area students with a $500 scholarship each year.
And once a year, the Rotary Club of Kittanning selects several area students to participate in the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh to learn about, discuss and debate current global issues.
"The purpose is to facilitate understanding of people of different cultures and to promote peace," said Krummert.
This year the topic was the "Arab Awakening," he said.
The Rotary's PolioPlus program, started in 1985, is a program designed to combat the disease around the globe. Polio is an infectious disease that can cause paralysis and death.
Edward Dunmire was president of the Kittanning Rotary in 1979 when the last case of wild polio virus was reported in the United States. His desire to eradicate polio stems from a personal experience with the disease.
Dunmire said his friend died from polio in 1953 while the two were in high school. That was when the disease was at its highest rate in the U.S., said Dunmire.
"It was really a scourge," he said.
And with polio still infecting populations in Afghanistan, India, Pakistan and Nigeria, there is a potential for the disease to be reintroduced in areas with undervacinated populations where it had been eradicated in the past, said Dunmire.
Yet the fight continues and much has been accomplished through the philanthropic efforts of charities and clubs such as the Rotary.
In 2007, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation awarded Rotary International a $100 million challenge grant to underwrite Rotary's goal of wiping out polio. Since then the Gates Foundation has awarded an additional $255 million and Rotary has committed to raising $200 million by June 30. According to Dunmire, the Rotary is close to meeting that goal.
Bowman said the club has 23 members and is seeking new ones.
Wolfe said local professionals, those who have leadership positions within the community and who are active in civic, educational, patriotic and philanthropic organizations are asked to join the Rotary.
In addition to the current work being done by the Kittanning Rotary, the club is planning a Winter Classic Weekend on Feb. 25 and 26 which will be a community event including skiing, biking, a walk/run, a Snowball golf outing and a chili cookoff.
• Water project in the Dominican Republic
• Literacy project in Haiti
• Pavillion at the Boy Scout Camp Rococco
• Upgrade of adult day care at Lifesteps in Butler
• $300 scholarships for Rotary Outstanding Vocational Awards
• Contribution to the United Way
• Contribution to Capital Fund Drive YMCA
• Contribution to HAVIN
• Contribution to Progressive Workshop
• Contribution to Rails to Trails
• Contribution to Salvation Army Bell Ringing
• Contribution to Hose Co. 6 for life-saving equipment
• Contribution to Hose Co. 6 fire safety materials for kids
• Work projects for Rails to Trails
• Contribution to State Police Camp Cadet
• Contribution to Police Canine team
• Contribution to Access Abilities Foundation
• Food drive for HAVIN
Record of service
A list of the Kittanning Rotary's past participation was published in an article by the Leader Times on Sept. 25, 1971, and was mentioned again during the club's recent gala celebration:
• In 1925, the club sponsored the Kittanning Boy's Band, which expanded in 1955 to include girls.
• In 1925, the club raised money for the Crippled Children's Fund which evolved into the club's ongoing support for Children's Hospital.
• In 1949, the club developed a recreational sports program called the Lenape Boys League which was franchised under the national Little League rules a year later.
• In 1952, the club raised funds and built an addition to the local Girl Scout's camp.
• In 1954, club members supported the Sea Scouts Explorer, Post 604, by purchasing a Navy surplus vessel and restoring it to make it seaworthy. They named it 'The Flying Cloud.'
• In 1957, the club formed an international partnership with the Rotary Club of Katanning in western Australia and participated in an annual golf match for the chance to win a coveted Boomerang Trophy.
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