By Peter Zuniga, Correspondent
On Tuesday, August 28, Trevor Smith was inducted as the new president of the Belton Rotary Club. The District Governor for the club, Jerry Chapman, visited for Smith’s induction.
Free lunch was provided by The Gin, where the meeting took place. After the pledge of allegiance, an opening prayer and announcements were made, Jerry Chapman rose to give a speech to the club.
Chapman recounted, when in high school, the first person he met who had polio, a disease that Rotary International has donated more than $1.7 billion dollars toward eradicating since 1985. “Her name was Sydney Roberts,” Chapman said. “Sydney was the first person in my life I had ever met that was a victim of polio.” They first met in Mineral Wells. Their friendship left an impact on Chapman, as he remembers her exuberant attitude and undeterred spirit, despite the disease that disabled her.
This early memory is what encouraged Chapman to join a Rotary Club. Talking about his first experience with Rotary, Chapman said, “…I learned about Rotary’s effort to eradicate polio in the world. It started in 1985. And I knew I wanted to be a part of an organization that was trying to make sure there was going to be no more 16 year-old Sydney Roberts in Mineral Wells, Texas, suffering from that crippling disease.”
Dedicated to a number of causes, Rotary International is an organization with 1.2 million members and over 35,000 clubs across the globe. For over 100 years, the organization has sought to fight disease, support education, advance local economies and much more.
Beyond fighting disease, Rotary International has worked to promote peace, through education, and the funding for prevention of issues like domestic violence. They also have recently partnered with UNICEF, World Vision and the Red Cross to bring clean water into needed areas.
Across the globe, in Poland, a camp program was organized for Ukrainian children, traumatized by the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. The camp has served to ease the silent anxiety of the children, and give them an escape from their home life.
91 percent of all donations given to the Rotary Foundation go to their service projects. Within the clubs, local communities especially feel the impact. The Belton Rotary Club’s most recent project was their fundraising event, a reverse raffle. All funds from the event were used for scholarship requests, the construction of school flag poles, and to supply grants to other community organizations.
“You know it’s great to visit the Rotary Club of Belton and see their excitement and passion about making a difference in this community,” Jerry Chapman said. “…it’s just rewarding to know there’s people that really care about what’s going on here.”
Even now, President Trevor Smith has cast a vision for the club. “I really want to expand the club.”, Smith said. “I really want to add a lot more people, particularly in age group. I would like to see us a little more diverse.”
Club meetings are held weekly at The Gin on Tuesdays, at noon, and are open to the public.