■ Editor’s note: This is one in a series of feature stories concerning organizations that benefit the Imperial area. Volunteering in a community, through organizations, is a way to pay back for the benefits that the community offers an individual.
By Carolyn Lee
The Imperial Republican
In 1905 the world’s first service club, the Rotary Club of Chicago, was formed by Paul P. Harris, who wanted a professional club that mirrored the same friendly spirit of the small towns in which he’d grown up.
The name Rotary derived from the early practice of rotating meetings among members’ offices.
Rotary’s popularity spread, and by 1921 Rotary clubs had been formed on six continents.
The Imperial Rotary Club was formed in 1966 with Robert Bourne as president, followed by Bob Young. It currently has 14 active members.
In more than 34,000 clubs worldwide now, members volunteer in communities at home and abroad to support education and job training, provide clean water, combat hunger, improve health and sanitation and eradicate polio.
Polio existed in 125 countries in 1985 when Rotary addressed the illness.
According to member Lori Pankonin, Imperial members raised awareness in the schools in October on Purple Pinkie Day, coloring the tip of the pinkie of students and teachers and showing pictures of the effects of polio.
“Significance of the purple finger is that a child’s pinkie finger is dyed with iodine to identify them when the vaccination is given in mass in third world countries,” she explained.
Imperial Rotary established Interact Club, a high school version of Rotary, through the efforts of Annette Kasselman. Sam Cahow recently took over the president’s duties from Suzy Kasselman.
The students recently sold YUDA bracelets made by Guatemalan students as an impact project to help peers across the globe, Pankonin said. Proceeds will educate a Guatemalan student for a full year.
Rotary also recently held a Lebanese dinner to support purified water systems in that country’s schools; donated water bottles for the recent SCORE camps; gives scholarships to graduating seniors; adopts a highway section for cleanup; will donate dictionaries to a class at Chase County Schools next year;
volunteers at Imperial Theatre; hosted a group study exchange with Brazil for education, and donates money for international disasters, with the money going to other Rotary Clubs that make sure the donation reaches its destination.
Pankonin said Imperial Rotary has made a “big push” toward supporting Rotary Foundation, and has had 12 members named Paul Harris Fellows in the past two years.
Paul Harris Fellows are those who contribute $1,000 to the Foundation or who have earned recognition points.
In the past, Rotary’s membership reflected professions, with one member representing a profession.
Pankonin said that no longer is the case, and anyone is welcome to join. Those interested may contact any of the officers, who are President Tom Gaschler, outgoing President Bill Bryan, Secretary Cheryl Bryan or Treasurer Jerry Lines. There are also several committees.
Cheryl Bryan has expanded communication of the organization, sharing pictures and happenings on the Rotary club of Imperial, Nebraska Facebook page.
The group meets every Tuesday noon at Brickstone Grille & Sports Bar, with a weekly program involved.