Dowagiac Rotary Club president gives final speech as leader

Published 9:44 am Friday, June 26, 2015

Dowagiac Rotarian Matt Cripe would be the first to admit that, when he was named president-elect of the local service organization two years ago, he wasn’t exactly a model member, often missing their weekly meetings at the local Elks Club.

After serving a year at the helm, though, the local dentist has learned the importance of showing up, and more importantly, engaging in the many services the organization has to offer the community, he said.

“Rotary, for anyone, not just the president, can easily become a fulltime job if you want to,” Cripe said. “There is so much to do, so much to get involved with; you can easily make it a fulltime job. Our responsibility, our job, for each and every member, is balance work, family, life and Rotary.”

Cripe found himself in a unique position during the club’s meeting Thursday, as the outgoing club president was the featured program during the afternoon’s changing of the guard ceremony.

Cripe shared his experiences serving as the head of the local chapter with the rest of members during his final address of his yearlong term, before officially turning over the gavel to incoming president Jennifer Ray.

“When I started off being president, I said there were three things I wanted to do: I wanted to show up, light up and build up,” Cripe said. “All year long, everything we did was focusing on that.”

The outgoing leader pointed out some of the new initiatives the club introduced during his term. Over the past year, Rotary members began to expand their presence at events outside the club’s control, wearing blue vests with the club’s symbol on the back at business functions and volunteer events.

The club also expanded on its partnership with the Dowagiac Union High School Rotary Interact club, helping them sponsor a polio fundraiser at the school and holding their first ever “Interacter Parent Appreciation” night.

Cripe also took the opportunity to encourage members to put even more effort into improving the club and the community in the future, using a passage from Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” to emphasize the importance of everyone doing their part.

“You can get involved as you want, or you don’t have to be as involved,” he said. “But when you come, get involved, do the best that you can, and that is going make our organization great. Or it will make our organization fail.”