Rotary isn’t just a group, it is a way of life — at least that’s what any full-fledged Rotarian would say.
Before each meeting Rotarians recite the Four-Way Test, better viewed as the Rotarian’s creed.
First, is it the truth? Second, is it fair to all concerned? Third, will it build good will and better friendship? And fourth, will it be beneficial to all concerned?
Rotarian Bob Hawk believes that if The Four Way Test is followed there would be fewer problems in the world.
According to Hawk, Rotary isn’t only to meet and eat, but it offers something for all interest types.
“If you can’t find something to light your fire, your wood is wet,” Hawk said.
Iola’s Rotary Club has not only helped its local community but also has affected many foreign countries such as Chile. There are 18,000 Chileans who can now see better because of the Vision Quest project, which was started by the Iola Rotary Club.
The project provides inexpensive reading glasses by using raw materials and the training needed to allow people in developing countries to make their own glasses.
“In 15 to 20 minutes you can have a pair of reading glasses,” Rotarian Ellis Potter said.
“I don’t know how people survive without their eyesight,” Rotarian Judy Brigham said.
The Iola Rotary Club has also been involved in the Belize Water Project, which provides Belizeans with water filters that makes dirty water drinkable.
Rotarians have been fighting polio on a world-wide scale. There are only three countries still reporting cases of polio — Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria.
On a local level, Iola Rotarians have helped bring awareness to the disease and have raised funds to help purchase the expensive vaccine.
Rotary, overall, has raised more than $1 billion to the effort.
Rotarians who choose to travel overseas, for immunization days for example, pay their own way, but once in the foreign country they stay with other Rotarians.
The wagon wheel Rotary emblem makes for more than a handsome pin. It “means you are welcomed,” all across the world, Potter said.
Going into a foreign country can be intimidating, but with 1.2 million Rotarians worldwide, the network affords an instant connection.
“We might have a lot of differences between us. Different language, districts and locations, but the differences are minor in comparison to our similarities. We have the same wants, desires and goals,” Hawk said.
If the international trips and efforts aren’t appealing, Rotary spearheads many local projects.
Because of the Rotarian’s efforts a playground was put in at Windsor Place and the Mary Martin Art Gallery in the Bowlus Fine Arts Center was built. Every other month Rotary holds a paper drive, they have given out scholarships to local students, they give watches to graduating seniors, they have given elementary students dictionaries and twice a year they clean up a part of U.S. 54.
The new Allen County Hospital is also on Rotarians’ radars and they are helping raise funds to buy it new equipment.
Rotarian’s generosity extends to communities, near and far. When the tornado went through Joplin, Rotarians worked with Habitat for Humanity to rebuild houses.
“I feel completely confident that if we had a disaster we would have Rotary at our doorstep,” Brigham said.
Along with the many projects on Rotarian’s plates locally and worldwide, the group is always open to new project suggestions.
“Most projects aren’t dictated, it is usually an individual’s interest,” Potter said. “Our projects are usually grass roots projects.”
Rotarians join the club for their own reasons but one thing they all have in common is what is known as the Rotary moment.
“When you are in another country putting reading glasses on people, all of a sudden you get it,” Rotarian Tom Brigham said. “It’s what keeps you going, it’s what touches you.”
ROTARIANS are always looking for new members to join the group.
Iola’s Rotary Club meets every Thursday at noon at The New Greenery.