By Joel Hall
Founded by a handful of local business leaders in the 1960s, the Rotary Club of Clayton County is celebrating 50 years of public service.
Recently, the international service organization's local chapter was recognized by state Rotary leaders, and inducted its officers for the 2009-2010 year.
During the induction ceremony at the Southern Regional Medical Center Education Center in Riverdale last week, Mike Twomey stepped in as 2009-2010 president, replacing outgoing president, Ron Corbin. Twomey, whose full-time job is president and executive director of the Morrow Business and Tourism Association, said he is excited about leading the organization in its 50th year of service.
"When I was nominated almost 18 months ago, I didn't realize it was the 50th year," Twomey said. "I have big shoes to fill. For us to still be around for 50 years, means that we are extremely viable."
Rotary International, founded in 1905, is a service club with 1.2 million members in 33,000 clubs worldwide. The organization has worked to combat hunger, improve health conditions, provide education and job training, promote peace, and eradicate polio.
According to Twomey, the local chapter has several ongoing service projects, including delivering hundreds of fruit baskets to seniors at the J. Charley Griswell Senior Center; an ongoing literacy program in which the chapter purchases books for needy children; a Christmas program done in cooperation with the Clayton County Department of Family and Children Services, in which children can purchase presents for their caregivers using "Rotary Bucks;" and the Georgia Rotary Student Program, in which the local chapter sponsors an international student for one year.
During the induction ceremony, Rotary District 6900 (Western Georgia) Governor, Roy Strickland, honored the chapter with a 50-year plaque. Arthur Morrison, 79, a charter member of the Rotary Club of Clayton County, and a past chapter president, accepted it on behalf of the club.
"We weren't thinking in terms of 50 years when we got started," said Morrison. "We were just trying to get something started, and it went from there. I'm very happy that they are still going on. It's done a lot of good over the years."
Twomey said in the 50th year of the chapter, he would like to give the organization a bigger county presence. "We're hoping on increasing community projects and community awareness," he said. "They've heard about Rotary, but a lot of people don't know what Rotary is. We want people to know what the Rotary Club is about."