Dowagiac Rotary Club to host Friends and Family Night

DOWAGIAC — The Dowagiac Rotary Club is gearing up for one of the biggest events of the year.

The Dowagiac Rotary Club will host its annual Friends and Family Night from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on April 26, at the Dowagiac Elks Club, 300 Riverside Dr., Dowagiac. The evening will feature a speaker, appetizers, desserts, a meal of choice of grilled shrimp, vegetable tortellini or pork tenderloin, a cash bar and other refreshments and activities. The evening was discussed at the rotary club’s weekly meeting Thursday afternoon.

The event is open to all members of the public and is intended to introduce the Dowagiac Rotary Club to potential members, said rotary member Jennifer Ray, who is organizing the event.

Ray said that the event has been successful in increasing membership in past years.

“It’s kind of a ‘get to know us,’ type of event or party,” she said. “We also have a special speaker, so that people are feeling that maybe they would even like to join our club.”

One of the main draws of the event is the speaker, Ray said. In the past, the event has hosted a wide variety of speakers, ranging from Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz to Southwestern Michigan College students to a Valparaiso University basketball coach.

“Sometimes the people in our communities have the most wonderful stories that we don’t get a chance to hear very often,” Ray said. “We like to shine a light on that. … It’s really special.”

This year, Don and Joan Lyons, of Lyons Industries will be featured as speakers. As it is the 50th year of Lyons Industries, the club wanted Don and Joan to present about how they became one of the biggest businesses in the Dowagiac area. 

The topics Don and Joan will cover will include: what it has been like to do business internationally in Dowagiac, what challenges and opportunities they have faced and what they consider to be their secrets to success.

“[Lyons Industries has] really established an international business in Dowagiac, Michigan,” Ray said. “They really have a story to share. There have been up and downs, but they hung in there and have created a successful business that has become world renowned. … They have really impacted our community in terms of economic development.”

Ray said she hoped that people will attend the event and enjoy themselves.

“We hope people will want to join us in a more permanent way or to just get to know the friends and family of our members,” she said. “We always have a good time and hope others do as well. It’s just a fun time.”

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