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1244: A taste of the lighter side of Rotary

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  • Sunil K Zachariah
    A taste of the lighter side of Rotary Every so often, you just have to kick back and have fun. The Rotarians who organize the famed Florida armadillo races
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 9, 2006
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      A taste of the lighter side of Rotary

      Every so often, you just have to kick back and have fun. The
      Rotarians who organize the famed Florida armadillo races know that.
      So, presumably, do the Rotarians who meet in a brewery in Burton upon
      Trent, England. And the Rotarians who hold a festival celebrating
      that great delicacy of the American West, Rocky Mountain oysters,
      definitely know how to lighten up and appreciate a bad pun.

      So much of Rotary's work is serious business. In the pages of our
      magazine, stories of Rotarians fighting polio, bringing medical care
      to remote villages, and improving schools inspire us and fill us with
      admiration. But Rotary is also about camaraderie and community
      spirit. This month, we stirred the pot to serve up what's fun,
      fascinating, and truly distinctive about this great organization. So
      sit back, relax, and turn the page — we think you'll enjoy the ride.

      Most extreme presidential changeover
      Best Beverly Hillbillies moment
      Best club for singles
      Best way to wash down a huhu grub
      Bravest taste testers

      Most extreme presidential changeover

      To be president of one Swiss Rotary club, you really have to climb to
      the top. Every year, the Rotary Club of Zürich Turicum tests the
      mettle of its presidentelect by making the person scale a mountain
      for an official presidential changeover ceremony.

      On the last weekend in June, about 30 club members hike up a mountain
      in the Swiss Alps in a ritual you could call an "extreme takeover."
      The Rotarians routinely scale heights of 8,000 feet (in true Swiss
      form), bunk in a spartan chalet and, the next day, get up long before
      dawn to reach the summit for the ceremony.

      "We have to get there before 6 a.m., because that's when the sun hits
      the ice on the ground, and once it melts, we could fall down a
      crevasse," says Balz Hösly, a past club president.

      Other than providing some fresh air and a rigorous test of Rotarian
      stamina,the yearly ritual has created a deep bond among the club's
      members. "During the hike, you get to know your fellow Rotarians much
      better," says Hösly. He adds that none of the Rotarian mountaineers
      work out to prepare, though perhaps they should: "Some end up pretty
      surprised how intense it is."

      Best Beverly Hillbillies moment
      They never moved back to California, and they certainly never built a
      mansion with a "cee-ment" pond, but Rotarians in northern Michigan
      did find black gold one day. The tale starts back in 1923, when
      members of the Rotary Club of Traverse City, Mich., USA, paid $1,100
      for 450 acres and leased the property to the Boy Scouts. The
      foresight they showed when retaining mineral rights to the land in
      the 1950s paid off in July 1976, when oil and gas were discovered on
      the property. Being Rotarians, of course, they didn't squander the
      money, but instead created a foundation and agreed to allow drilling
      only after ensuring protection for the camp's environment. To date,
      the group has awarded $35 million in grants for causes such as
      affordable housing, education, health, the environment, and community
      building.

      The organization played a key role in funding New Designs for Growth,
      a regional land use initiative that looks for innovative ways to
      protect and preserve the communities of northwestern Michigan, home
      to the majestic Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

      Recent grants include $400,000 for the construction of the Goodwill
      Inn to serve homeless families and $100,000 for a new building for
      the Great Lakes Children's Museum. A variety of grants ranging from
      $15,000 to $25,000 support the Traverse Symphony Orchestra, the Grass
      River Natural Area, and Community Reconciliation Services. And those
      Boy Scouts? They still lease land from the Traverse City Rotarians to
      run Camp Greilick, named for the club's third president, Clarence
      Greilick.

      Best club for singles
      It's not every day that two members of the same Rotary club get
      engaged. It's even rarer for a club to end up w i th two sets of
      lovebirds. But when most of the members are in their 30s, chances are
      you're not dealing with a typical club.

      "When I saw the Urban Spirits club, I thought, wow, these are all
      people my age," says Carolyn O'Handley, 35, of the Rotary Club of
      Edmonton- Urban Spirits, Alb., Canada. O 'Handley joined the club in
      2003 and is now president. "It's only about 40 people, so it's very
      intimate."

      That intimacy has translated into two engagements: president-elect
      Rick Harcourt proposed to club secretary Kathy Olson, and vice
      president Kelly Faubert popped the question to fundraising committee
      member Jennifer Donovan. Both couples met through the club. The
      Edmonton-Urban Spirits club does more than just foster romance. It
      focuses on at-risk youth, and members raise funds and volunteer for
      the Boys and Girls Clubs of Edmonton, the Junior Chefs program, and
      Camp fYrefly, a program started by the University of Alberta to help
      gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender teens.

      "Other clubs are used to us doing things a little differently," says
      O'Handley. "We're big on hands-on projects. There's less disposable
      income among our members, so we try to stick with programs where a
      couple thousand dollars a year is going to make a difference. The
      $2,000 we donated [to Camp fYrefly] this year was the difference
      between them offering the camp or not."

      Best way to wash down a huhu grub
      On the west coast of New Zealand's South Island, folks have turned
      eating into an extreme sport. The outpost of Hokitika (population:
      about 3,000) draws huge crowds of people who have a taste for morsels
      like fish eyes and worm sushi to its Wildfoods Festival every March.
      The Rotary Club of Hokitika gets right into the spirit of things,
      selling Jed's Moonshine Whiskey to festival goers wanting a chaser
      for their crispy fried huhu grubs.

      Bravest taste testers
      They say America is the home of the brave, but the bravest of all may
      be those who enjoy that delicacy known as cowboy caviar, Rocky
      Mountain oysters, or Montana tendergroins. And though you may pity
      the bull whose private parts are served up, Rotarians in Oakdale,
      Calif., USA, aren't squeamish when it comes to fundraising. The
      Rotary Foundation is one of the beneficiaries of the annual Testicle
      Festival organized by the Rotary Club of Oakdale and the Oakdale
      Cowboy Museum. The testicles are prepared by Rotarians, says club
      member Fred Claus: "We dice them and soak them overnight in red wine.
      They taste like chicken livers." Last year, the festival raised
      $16,000. Tickets cost $50, which includes all you can eat. Needless
      to say, everyone at this festival has a ball!

      Read more of the lighter side of Rotary in the December 2006 issue of
      The Rotarian.

      Courtesy: eFlash_Rotary
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