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Rich Clemens discusses ways the Rotary Club might increase membership.

Unofficial new Buckhannon-based Rotary Club discusses community service ideas, membership incentives

BUCKHANNON – A group of residents that intend to form a new Buckhannon Rotary Club held an organizational meeting to discuss what the new club might do differently than the past Buckhannon Rotary Club, which had its charter revoked Aug. 1.

The new club does not officially have their charter or a name yet, but they heard from Becky Hunn, the District Membership Chair and a member of the Rotary Club of Morgantown North, and David Cooper, the District Governor Nominee for 2021-2022 and a member of the Rotary Club of Tucker County, to plan for the future club.

Hunn was present to talk about ways her club has worked on growing memberships and how to keep current members interested in the club.

Becky Hunn, the District Membership Chair and a member of the Rotary Club of Morgantown North, speaks at the club’s meeting Tuesday.

“When we give everybody a voice, no matter if it’s at the club level, at the district level, once we bring everybody to the table, and they start talking, things happen,” Hunn said. “Everybody starts learning, neurons start clicking and you start to see things from other people’s perspectives. When that doesn’t happen, things get stale.”

Rich Clemens, a member of the former Buckhannon Rotary Club, said he had some suggestions for the future club that may help appeal to a wider range of people, including mixing up locations and times for meetings and looking at more interactive projects.

Members of the unofficial new Buckhannon-based Rotary Club meet Tuesday in Engel Hall at Chapel Hill United Methodist Church to discuss ways to serve the community and bolster membership.

“My suggestion would be, let’s get away from the four meetings (a month) here, week after week. Quite frankly, some of the programs get a little boring,” Clemens said. “What if we had a meeting a month here – a good old traditional ring the bell, sing the songs, good old Rotary for everybody that wants to attend, say on the first Tuesday of the month, and then on the second Tuesday of the month, Rotary meets someplace else, perhaps at a restaurant.”

He also suggested having evening meetings, rather than afternoon meetings, which might allow people who aren’t able to make noon meetings to participate in the club, thereby upping Rotary’s membership.

“It would allow all the people that are locked into their jobs to come to meetings,” Clemens said. “I talked to a bank official and he said, ‘Hey, I could never get away at noon, that was when everybody came to talk to me. Even though l would love to be in Rotary.’ You’re automatically throwing out all the school teachers. There’s a lot of people who would like to be involved. They’re committed, and they’re already doing those kinds of things.”

Cooper, the district governor nominee for 2020-2021, said he hopes this Rotary Club will also start to take advantage of having West Virginia Wesleyan College in the community.

“The only thing I would like to see, especially from this group, once you guys get your charter and all that, is Wesleyan is right there [and included],” Cooper said. “If you guys can have them come and be part of your group, it would be very beneficial.”

Cooper said membership shouldn’t become this club’s only priority.

“If you remember, the last six or seven years, membership is all we talked about,” Cooper said. “I was so sick and tired of hearing about it because it’s like we can’t do anything else except for membership, and we couldn’t motivate and get people up and doing what they need to be doing.”

Clemens said he hopes this new club will focus on more projects out in the community.

“One of the things that I really miss from this club is the kinds of projects we did – and we did very few of them – but one was to fill the backpacks,” Clemens said. “We did one, one Christmas where we filled shoe boxes and we sent them overseas for Christmas. Those warmed me from the inside. Writing checks does not do it for me.”

The new Rotary Club plans to meet at the Chapel Hill United Methodist Church in Engel Hall every Tuesday at noon.

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