Indianola Rotary will celebrate its 100th birthday Thursday with a program very similar to the program held when the club was chartered on Oct. 26, 1922.
Club members will sing “America,” they’ll say the pledge, have an invocation, happy dollars, and speakers. And there will be food.
“That’s Rotary,” said Terry Pauling, who has helped organize the celebration. “The program is Rotary. One hundred years ago, they started it.”
Rotary was founded in 1905 so that “professionals with diverse backgrounds could meet to exchange ideas and form meaningful, lifelong friendships,” says Rotary’s web site.
The Indianola club was founded in June of 1922 and received its charter at a grand banquet in October, according to the Indianola Advocate Tribune, a newspaper of the time. Wives served the food for the male-only organization.
Today, Rotary includes women. The meal will be served by Groggy Dog. And cigars, which were included on the menu in 1922, will not be allowed, said Pauling. Otherwise, the meeting will feel much the same.
“We wanted to have some continuity from then to now,” he said.
That’s not the only connection, said Jennifer Pfeifer Malaney, who started attending meetings with her father, Steve, when she was too young to join the group and women weren’t allowed as members. But Rotary always was more than meetings, she said.
“When dad went for a project, we went for a project,” she recalled. “I knew it was a way to give back to the community.”
Some of the local club’s projects included building the gazebo at Buxton Park, a handicapped accessible playground at Pickard, and the shelter at the trail head of the bike trail, said Pauling. In its early years, the club didn’t put its name on projects, he added, but in more recent years it has started to promote its efforts more. This year, they're working with parks and recreation and others to build a new disc golf course at McCord Park.
And not all of its projects took place in Indianola.
The club donated money for water projects overseas, and Malaney travelled to Nigeria to immunize children against polio, one of Rotary’s core projects. Others on the trip paid their own way, she said, while the Indianola club covered most of her travel expenses.
“They said ‘if you’re going to go immunize for polio, we’ll figure out a way to get you there,’” she said.
The international experience appealed to Ev Laning, who became a Rotarian in the 1970s and eventually served as a district governor.
Laning said that experience taught him how effective an international organization that is “not political or denominational. It is people who embrace the idea of service above self and that has given opportunities for amazing things to happen.”
Rotary, like many service organizations, transcends differences, said long-time member Steve Hall.
“The service club presents an opportunity for people to get together who agree on something that may not agree on a lot of other things,” he said. “That’s valuable, especially now. It’s non-political things that we do in Rotary, but it’s for the common good.”
Malaney has hopes that she’s raising a fourth-generation Rotarian. Her daughter, Kenzi, started attending the weekly meetings at the Indianola Country Club, as a baby.
“I didn’t have childcare, so she came to meetings,” she said. “She had to pick up trash when we did trash pickup. She hasn’t had to park cars.”
But that day will come. Parking cars during the National Balloon Classic is one of the club’s primary fundraisers, and one of Seth Lampman’s favorite parts of the organization, he said.
“I’ve always loved the balloons and the Classic, although it’s a lot of hot sweaty work,” he said. “It’s a super easy thing to want to be a part of because it showcases Indianola.”
He joined Rotary in search of something more than a business networking group, he said.
“Ev Laning and I would not have become friends without a group like this,” he said. “It was a really good opportunity to meet folks as a business owner, with an organization that has a sole purpose of giving back.”
And while many things have changed about Rotary, Lampman said devotion to service has remained the same.
“Even though times have changed a lot in 100 years, there's still people who want to give back to their community,” he said. “That will be the same 100 years from now.”