Florence Rotary Club Celebrates its 70th Anniversary

by Pat Moynahan on November 10, 2015

70th-anniversaryFLORENCE – The Florence Rotary Club celebrated its 70th anniversary on Monday, November 2.

The organization has grown from a handful of business people who struggled to find a permanent home for Rotary to the second largest Rotary Club in District 6740, which includes all the clubs east of Interstate 75 in Kentucky.

The organization also has grown from a handful of dedicated citizens into a 105-member strong club that undertakes major service projects from Florence to Africa. In recent years, the club has helped create the Boone County Veterans Memorial, funded a room at St. Elizabeth Hospice, established Teacher of the Year and Citizen of the Year awards, launched a youth service club and raised thousands of dollars for scholarships and international youth exchanges.

“For a long period of time, we were homeless,” said Ed Monohan, who joined the club in 1976 and ranks as the longest serving member. “Then we found a permanent home at the Commonwealth Hilton and that’s been the key to survival.”

Finding a home was just one of the challenges. Florence Rotary had 17 members when Candyse Jeffries became the first woman to lead the organization in 1993. “We struggled to find projects that a few people could accomplish,” she recalled.

Membership soared after Florence Rotary pulled off its first international project in 2006, according to Mike Crane. The club raised more than $30,000 to purchase uniforms for school children in Tanzania. Four people from the Florence Club went there  at their own experience to deliver school uniforms.

“Those children couldn’t even go to school because they couldn’t afford uniforms, and they had to wear uniforms,” Rusk said.

For 16 years, Shawn Carroll has organized a golf outing that provides college scholarships for students in Boone County. The Youth Exchange led by Jack Lundy has enabled students to visit France and sent students to several other countries for a school year. And, in 2012 Barbara Rahn and Sharon Almquist started an Interact Club, a youth service group for high school students in the county that has done volunteer work in the Dominican Republic the past two years.

“It’s such a joy to see these young people grow into responsible adults,” she said.

It’s also a joy for long-time members to see the growth of the club and the vast array of community projects and volunteer service hours Florence Rotarians put in each year.

“What you can accomplish with the numbers and support is unbelievable,” said Dennis McEvoy, a past president of the club and a past district governor of Rotary. “This isn’t just a meet and eat group.”