Rotary is a worldwide organization of business and professional leaders that provides humanitarian service, encourages high ethical standards in all vocations, and helps build goodwill and peace in the world. Approximately 1.2 million Rotarians belong to more than 32,000 clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical areas.
Among the group of visionaries who founded the Rotary Club of Bluffton were some of the most distinguished citizens of the township. In order to forge a bond between themselves and the Bluffton community they took to heart the motto of all Rotary Clubs, which is "service above self."
The Bluffton Rotary Club was chartered on April 18, 1988. At the time Bob Onorato, president of the Hilton Head Rotary Club, approached Carl Wellard and said he felt Bluffton was ready for her own club. Carl immediately went on a recruiting mission as well as finding a place to meet, and a cook. Arizona Palmer and her husband Andrew were christened the first cooks with her son Al taking over after Arizona's death in 1997.
Carl Wellard was successful in signing on twenty members and Ed Lau completed all the "paper work", and with the help of Paul Terefenko, the Rotary Club of Bluffton was born.
The first project was a community Thanksgiving Dinner and an oyster roast. The oyster roast has become one of the major fundraisers of each Rotary year.
So many projects have taken place since 1988. Each year is filled with an unbelievable amount of dedication towards our world, our country and our own community.
In 2005, Rotary International contributed $24.2 million and countless volunteer hours to help immunize more than 400 million children in 49 countries against polio - a crippling and sometimes fatal disease that still threatens children in parts of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. In 1985, Rotary created PolioPlus and set one of the most ambitious goals in the history of global public health to immunize the children of the world against polio. To date, Rotary has contributed nearly $600 million toward polio eradication. More than 1 million Rotary members have volunteered their time and personal resources to help immunize more than two billion children in 122 countries. The Rotary Club of Bluffton has done their part in the funding of this ambitious project.
The youth of our community are very important recipients of Rotary's generosity. Each month during the school year, The Rotary Club of Bluffton, recognizes a "Student of the Month" with a certificate and a $100 Savings Bond.
The Town of Bluffton finally had space to lay out a variety of fields for the children in the Bluffton community to practice and play sports. The fulfillment of Oscar Frazier Park, however, gave birth to another dream - that of an efficient building in which to have community events and meetings. This was the beginning of the Rotary Community Center. The Rotary Community Center is a charming Lowcountry-style building with wrap-around porches outside and plenty of room inside. Prior to its construction, there was no space in the community of sufficient size and flexibility for the people of Bluffton to meet and fellowship in their different venues, so there was a tremendous desire to see this dream come true and The Rotary Club of Bluffton provided the answer. With the Bluffton Rotary acting as the guiding force not only has the community center building been completed but the "Field of Dreams" has also been completed. This is a large lawn area that extends out from the front porch of the community center and is used for concerts, picnics, playgrounds, and many other family-oriented festivities.
In addition to all these accomplishments, the Rotary Club of Bluffton has an impressive list of annual projects such as Christmas gifts for families less fortunate, relief funds for disaster victims, sponsoring exchange students, awarding scholarships and participating in international water projects.
The present club has around seventy members, the common bond is care for our community, the children, a willingness to take a few minutes each week to fellowship and place "service above self."
Bluffton Rotary meets every Wednesday morning, 7:30 a.m. at the Rotary Community Center at Oscar Frazier Park.
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