As the Rotary Club of Beeville prepares for its next large fundraiser, some members have taken a pause to look back at the Rotary Club of Beeville’s century-long history.

Jon Fischer is the oldest member of the Rotary Club of Beeville and the chairman of the membership committee. Showing his sense of humor, Fischer notes that he was not alive when the Rotary Club of Beeville opened on May 1, 1921. The Rotary Club of Beeville went on to become the third oldest rotary club in the San Antonio District.

According to Fischer, Rotary International was started in 1905 in Chicago. After San Antonio opened its rotary club in 1912, Cuero and Beeville followed less than a decade later on the same day.

Fischer recalled that for many years, Rotary International did now allow women to join the Rotary Club. However, a United States Supreme Court decision on May 4, 1987 ruled that women could not be excluded from the club on the basis of their gender.

Following the decision, the Rotary Club of Beeville allowed its first woman to join in the mid-1990s.

“The Rotary Club in general is an organization of business leaders and community leaders whose primary opportunity is community service,” said Fischer.

Internationally, the Rotary Club has had the opportunity to provide better hygiene and water for third world countries. It also promotes peaceful coexistence, the protection of the environment and a Polio eradication program.

Fisch noted that the Rotary Club and Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, have put in over $1 billion. They have managed to immunize 4 billion children with Polio.

“Polio has been eradicated from the face of the earth everywhere except two countries,” said Fischer.

While Fischer is proud of what the Rotary Club has done internationally, he is especially pleased with what the club has done in Beeville. In Beeville, the Rotary Club is primarily designed to assist the Bee County community. The club supports education through a scholarship program. This program has provided $12,000 in scholarships per year. In addition, the club also donates $15,000 to $20,000 that it donates to multiple different charitable organizations. The members also help clean the streets, in addition to other community services.

“We are very active in the community, but to be totally frank, we have a very small voice,” said Fischer. “Very few people know what we do behind the scenes.”

Fischer said that part of the reason people do not know much about the Rotary Club is because of advertising in diverse media. He noted that there are people who primarily use the newspaper, social media or radio.

“One of the things we would like people to know is that the Rotary Club of Beeville is a growing organization,” said Fischer. It consists of community “leaders and business leaders who get together once a week and try to figure out a way to improve the quality of life in Bee County.”

Fischer encourages people in the Bee County area to look at the club as an opportunity for them to express their desire to help the community. Although one can only become a member through invitation, interested members can still contact the club to see about being incorporated into the program.

The Rotary Club of Beeville has had its ups and downs, managing to successfully work its way through difficult times. Although the club is in good standing financially today, Fischer recalls financial issues back in the 1980s. Following the death of its treasurer, the Rotary Club of Beeville struggled to pay its dues. However, the restructuring of the Beeville Rotary Club brought the club out of that situation. Today, the Beeville Rotary Club is extremely solvent.

Despite the fact that the Rotary Club of Beeville has existed for a century, it has maintained its own mission statement thanks to Rotary International. All clubs follow the same mission statement provided through Rotary International.

In addition, Fischer attributes the evolution of the Rotary Club to the inclusion of women in the club. Fischer noted that more interesting ideas have been brought forth thanks to this evolution.

The next fundraiser for the Rotary Club of Beeville is set for Oct. 27. The theme for this upcoming fundraiser will be a 1920s prohibition era speakeasy. The funds raised through this event will be used for scholarships to surrounding schools. Johanna Quinones, the president of the Rotary Club of Beeville, encourages attendees to dress up for the era.

•mtamez@mysoutex.com•

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