Rotary Club of New Richmond
The Founding Years
The Rotary Club of New Richmond WI was chartered on June 30, 1987 with twenty-nine members. That date also marked, for Rotary International, the first time that women had been allowed to become Rotarians. The chartering of the New Richmond club meant that it was the first in Rotary District 5960 to charter with women members. The club's three women became the first women Rotary club members of our District. Six of those charter members, including two of the three women, are still active club members.
The first officers of the club were President Chuck Greene, President Elect Earl Olson, Secretary Bud Anderson, Treasurer Ray Twite and Directors Connie Counter, Jim Kruizenga, Jim Remington, and Jim Zajkowski. Other charter members were Gary Bakke, Kevin Burr, Gerald Christensen, Richard Cox, Thomas Derrick, Gary Johnson, Bill Kucirek, Philip LaVenture, William Peirson, Richard Schurtz, Rev. Alfred Shepard, Keith Swiggum, Bill Winchester, Jr., Gerald Klasen, Marilyn McCarty, Jean Needham, James Sherack, Joseph Beuning, James Brenk, Lowell Johnson, and Alvin Waschke.
Within a few weeks, the new club demonstrated its commitment to the ideals of Rotary by greeting its first Inbound Youth Exchange Student, Frederick Luizi from Belgium. By spring 1988, the club's newsletter, Currents, began publication; the club's Goodwill Exchange banner was designed and the 38 members committed to a club pledge of $30,000 for the Rotary International Polio Plus Campaign.
By 1992 had reached 51 and the Club's membership reached sixty-three in 1999, but now ranges in the forties and fifties, with 40 as the current membership.
The Club began its support of the Rotary Foundation when 31 club members pledged $600 each to be matched by $400 earned by the group's fundraising. Those members were on the road to becoming the Club's first Paul Harris Fellows.
In November, 1988 Dick Schurtz, Kevin Burr, John Haasch, Gary Bakke, Jim Sherack, and Earl Olson were named the first Paul Harris Fellows; with six more members named each of the four succeeding years. The club was honored by District 5960 as the number three club in per capita Foundation contributions in 1991-92, and number two club in per capita Foundation Contributions in 1992-93. The Rotary Club of New Richmond has named 69 Paul Harris Fellows in nineteen years, has numerous multiple and sustaining Paul Harris Fellows and continues to match funds for members.
Student Exchange Program
The Inbound Student Exchange program has brought foreign students to our community annually, with our next student soon to arrive. We have enjoyed students from 13 countries, including Belgium, Sweden, Norway, Brazil , Costa Rica, Germany, Poland, Denmark, New Zealand, Japan, Venezuela, Ecuador and France. We have also sponsored eight New Richmond Outbound Students to Costa Rica, Australia, Venezuela, England, Finland, New Zealand, Sweden, and Denmark. Sponsorship of the Winter Weekend for the District 5960 Youth Exchange students in February, 1989 and again in 1991 allowed members and their families to meet over 80 foreign students each year as they enjoyed winter sports, fellowship and food for two plus days in New Richmond. Both students and Rotarians loved the experience!
Community involvement began immediately and within two years, a Rotary Scholarship was established, restoration of the city's Nature Center began and an Adopt-A-Highway project was confirmed for the club. These activities still continue each year.
The club in early 1990 responded to the Mayor's suggestion, and initiated a patriotic Fourth of July celebration honoring the U.S. military services. Children's games, food, a band concert, program and spectacular fireworks display are all part of the evening. We now cooperate with the New Richmond Area Chamber of Commerce, Kiwanis and Star Prairie Lions Club to continue the tradition and join them in raising 4th of July funds in an annual Spring Sparkler Golf Tournament.
Major New Richmond projects have been supported by the club, including the Friday Aquatic Center ($5,000), Mary Park renovation ($9,800), City Recreational Pathways ($4,000). Other contributions have assisted the Fire Department to purchase night vision equipment, the Police Department to purchase a digital camera. Smaller gifts, too numerous to list here, continue to be donated to dozens of other local projects.
Visits and tours of local businesses and industries have given our Rotarians connections to the community. In addition, high school and technical college student guests at Rotary meetings have provided links between education and our club. One outcome has been participation in BICEP, the Business, Industry, Community, Education and Parent Partnership that continues today.
The Rotary Club of New Richmond now sponsors two very successful student programs. One is the STRIVE Scholarship program, in which high school students with low grade point averages compete to raise their grades to earn scholarships. The second is the Middle School Essay Contest which invites 6th, 7th, and 8th graders to write essays on Rotary themes. Three cash awards are given for each grade, and winners are recognized with their parents at a club luncheon meeting.
The New Richmond Club has participated in numerous international projects, beginning in 1992 with a $2,500 gift to purchase a tractor for Uganda, then later supporting Ugandan women's banking and health care projects. We have shipped containers of books, desks, furniture, clothing, wheelchairs, hospital beds and equipment to Costa Rica and food and household items to Nicaragua. We have given funds to aid street children in Brazil, purchased a mini-van for a Brazilian school for girls, provided Bosnia-Serbia relief, sent books and bikes to Africa and joined other clubs in worldwide projects.
Current and past Club members Phip Laventure, Ruwal Freese, and Sandra Tonsing have visited Costa Rica and Honduras to coordinate some of our projects. We have a sister city relationship with Somoto, Nicaragua through the Partners of the Americas program. Member Lynda Pracht has visited Somoto, and Lynda returns every few months to assist with the Sewing Center Project and the marketing of their products in the United States.
Ten Group Study Exchange (GSE) teams have been visitors to our community. Three GSE teams have stayed with Rotarian families: Taiwan in 1990, East Africa in 2000 and Japan in 2001.We have also enjoyed one-day visits by teams from the Philippines, South Africa, Sweden, Chile, India, and Brazil. Each team has visited local businesses, and has socialized with Rotary members and families in a "potluck" supper evening. The club was honored to have Phip LaVenture represent New Richmond and District 5960 as a GSE team member to Mongolia in 1999.
Other Club Activities
The Rotary Club of New Richmond participates in several community events to raise funds for important causes. We have donated over $8,000 to the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life. Our major fall fundraiser, the Rotary Rose Sale, has been very successful and has allowed us to fund the parks, aquatic center, and trails. Our newest fundraising event is the St. Croix Art and Culinary Show which was a smashing success in its first year. Funds assist with local educational and community projects. Members of the Rotary Club of New Richmond have been involved in many Rotary activities since 1987.
We celebrated the formation of a new club in Amery, Wisconsin in April,1997 after working with District 5960 in its development. Several members have participated in District 5960 leadership: Earl Olson as Youth Exchange Officer for India and Egypt, District Advisory Council member and as Club Service Director; Denny Nybakken as Assistant Governor; Al Stevens as Program/Club Bulletin Director and Marilyn McCarty as Vocational Service Director, Ambassadorial Scholarship Chair, and Assistant Governor.
Club members have attended Rotary International Conventions in Nice, France; Calgary, Alberta, Canada and Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A. Many of the club members have visited clubs worldwide--as observed by over 150 Goodwill Banners from 40 countries, 18 states and the Virgin Islands. The Rotary Club of New Richmond has received the Presidential Citation each year it has been offered, yet continues to seek new ways to be involved in our local, national and international community.
We are proud to be Rotarians - part of a worldwide organization that serves others and promotes international understanding, goodwill and peace.