Hudson Rotary thriving after 90 years of community service

Staff report
Pictured are past presidents of Hudson Rotary, many of whom are still active. From left are: Rich Warfield, Kathryn Sines, Ron Strobl, Joe Avella, Alison Pfeister, George Snider, Gail Royster, Dave Basil, Jim Hackney, Andy Morris and Lee McCauley.
Chris Foster
Peter Spacagna

The year 2020 has presented the ultimate challenge to the Rotary Club of Hudson, testing its strengths in engaging its members, attracting new members, presenting meaningful weekly speaker programs, raising funds for community needs, serving local youth and planning for the future.

The club reports it had a successful 90th year in most regards including an evolving strategic plan for the coming years. Some of the areas embraced by the club’s membership include the following:

Weekly meetings:

Using Zoom technology, a meeting has been held every week since the pandemic “stay at home” order featuring many of the typical topics from past years. Speakers from a variety of professions, businesses and institutions provided engaging, enlightening and useful presentations that got high marks from Club members. Major topics included medical/psychological guidance, summer fun parks and activities, educator advice, local foundation focuses, major league sports insights, candidates for office debates, local business success stories and panels of our own members sharing ideas. Typical on-line weekly attendance has averaged 35 members and guests.

New members:

The club lost a few longtime contributing members, but gained some participants from various professions including: John Adams, finance; Phil Butto, HHS administration; Chris Foster, Hudson Councilman; Bill Libby, veteran Cleveland Club Rotarian; Pete Spacagna, General Manager auto dealership; Jane Howington, City Manager; Keith Viers, banking; Chuck Nnabuife, home healthcare finance; and Bill McClure, retired. All have committed to becoming involved in a chosen service area of the Club.

Fundraisers:

Even though the club had to cancel its Annual Gala from which generates a majority of its funds to support local causes, the club in conjunction with the Clock Tower Rotary and EMS Outreach Hudson raised over $25,000 from the public and internally to purchase personal protective equipment for Hudson EMS and Fire Departments. The Gala will return in 2021 honoring our past presidents many of whom are still active with the club.

The group also successfully solicited contributions from club members this fall, in lieu of the annual roses and popcorn sale, to bolster its Hudson High School college scholarship program.

The Hudson Rotary Foundation continues to contribute to community causes even though, understandably, less foundation funding has occurred this year. However, over the past 20 years, the Foundation has granted over $750,000 for Hudson area community needs.

Youth Education support activities:

The Rotary Club of Hudson continues to be involved with Hudson High School and Western Reserve Academy educational programs.

The Service Learning class at HHS has long been supported by Rotary with funds and club member participation. In turn, the Service Learning students participate in our weekly meetings as speakers. Many club members join in Service Learning class exercises at the high school and local camps.

A Rotary Interact Club was recently established at WRA with the students choosing service projects in line with Rotary guidance. Both HHS and WRA participate in the Rotary Four Way Test speech contest providing entertainment and enlightenment for Rotary Club members.

Each year, multiple $3000 scholarships are granted to college bound students selected by an interviewing process involving Rotary members.

Scouting is also very important to the Rotary Club of Hudson who built the original log cabin on Main Street in 1931 and continues to support Scouting activities in Hudson and at Camp Manatoc. Scouts regularly appear at Rotary meetings to report on their activities and assist with fundraising events.

Strategic Planning:

The Covid-19 pandemic has altered life in the community and in the Rotary Club of Hudson. Consequently, it was decided to develop a strategic plan for the next 3-5 years that would anticipate the club’s challenges and opportunities going forward. A strategic planning committee has been meeting since August and has examined all facets of programming, membership, fund raising and community involvement. Recommendations for the future will embrace its sustainability, leadership, new member recruiting, fund raising and community commitments. A major high profile community project will probably be in the club's future.

All who are interested in the work the club does and the community and school involvement it is involved in are invited to examine the website www.rotaryhudson.org.