Rotary Club Reaches Out Locally and Internationally

HOBBIES ARE GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH

Do you have a hobby? Hobbies can give meaning and purpose to your life in retirement. As Robert Putnam points out in his book, Bowling Alone, it’s easy to discount the importance of hobbies and social engagements. Putnam details the widespread decline in civic engagement, from PTA memberships to neighborhood potlucks and bowling leagues. Over a couple of generations, Americans have misplaced the concept of free time.

SPECIAL PLANS FOR YOUR SPECIAL PEOPLE

Lily is a beautiful, active and full of personality toddler who happens to have Down syndrome. Lily’s parents and I have been friends for years and I have the continuing pleasure of watching Lily and her siblings grow up. While Lily is becoming a physical therapy rock star and hitting all her milestones in a timely fashion, her parents have started planning for the future.

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WHY WE ENJOY OUR HOBBIES

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a hobby as “a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation, engaged in especially for relaxation.” Hobbies include anything from playing a musical instrument to gardening, bird watching or sewing. A hobby is a way of focusing on something you enjoy just for the sake of that enjoyment. It may also be a way to clear your mental palette. You could be stressed out by a situation at work or the challenges of raising children and need an escape.

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“We are in the middle of a membership drive because to do all of these things we need a lot of members,” Van Der Meer added. “We just want to make sure that we have somebody we think will contribute and do things for the club.”


Van Der Meer was formerly a general manager at hotels and state parks, but he wanted something more. “I always felt the community was an important part,” he said. “We have our jobs and careers but life is a lot bigger than that.” Rotary turned out to be just what he was looking for.


Speaking from his experience, Van Der Meer believes your involvement with Rotary will make you feel good. “It gave me a lot of joy to work with many organizations from United Way to Rotary,” Van Der Meer said. “I served on various committees and I do not do it for any other reason than the pure joy of giving.”

If you’ve heard of the Rotary Club but don’t know any details about it, you’re probably not the only curious person reading this article.


“Rotary is the largest and oldest service organization in the world with over 35,000 clubs internationally and 1.25 million members,” said Gerry Van Der Meer, president of the Rotary Club of Lexington.


Rotary started over 100 years ago when several businessmen came together and decided to do some good in the world. Though the club was originally a men’s - only organization, it has diversified and now has women, too.


The Lexington club is the 21st largest with 350 members.


Members are very proud of their growth and giving. “We are the fifth most giving civic organization in the world and are supported in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation,” Van Der Meer said.


The club gives scholarships to high school students and offers mentoring and reading programs for grade-school children. Another popular Rotary event is Dancing with the Lexington Stars, which is held every May. The funds go to Surgery on Sunday.  

ROTARY CLUB REACHES OUT LOCALLY AND INTERNATIONALLY

“The hospitals give their space and doctors and nurses give their time and Rotary provides the money to take care of all the costs for the operations,” said Van Der Meer.


During the annual winter clothing program, Rotary volunteers work at the Kentucky Horse Park. They charge $5 for a picture with Santa to raise money to buy over 800 coats for kids.


The Rotary Club also provides grants. “People will submit what their needs are in small increments from anywhere from $500 to $5,000,” Van Der Meer said. One grant recipient is the Toyota Bluegrass Miracle League, where children play at a handicapped accessible ballpark.


“We like to do things in the community but internationally as well,” said Van Der Meer. “We are currently helping with the installation of solar panels in Rameswaram, India. Our mantra is, ‘Service above self.’ We are people who want to give back. We walk the walk; we do not just talk the talk.

JAMIE LOBER

Jamie Lober is a Staff Writer for Living Well 60+ Magazine

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