Dowagiac Rotary Club looks toward the future

Published 10:16 am Friday, April 19, 2019

DOWAGIAC — Standing in front of the Dowagiac Rotary Club, President-elect Melody Wallace pointed to a photo of sailboats without sails projected against the wall behind her.

“The wind is always changing, but these sailors are not prepared to change because their sail isn’t up,” she said. “We can’t be like those sailors. Change happens rapidly. The wind changes really quickly, and we need to be prepared.”

During Thursday’s regularly scheduled lunch meeting, the Dowagiac Rotary Club looked at ways it can change and adapt to continue to be a successful, relevant club in the community. The discussion comes as a part of a broader push by the club to reevaluate how it is reaching the community.

“Rotarians are change agents,” Wallace said, addressing the club. “We want to influence the community and the people around us in a positive way.”

As part of the meeting, Wallace had groups of Rotarians discuss what they see as the positives of the Rotary Club and what changes they believe the Rotary Club could take to continue to steer it into a positive direction. Suggestions ranged from gaining more members to hosting an annual community event and getting back to its roots as a service organization.

Wallace herself suggested that the club look toward the youth as the future of the club by becoming more involved with Rotary Interact Club, Rotary clubs that are run through local schools, and by creating a scholarship committee for the scholarship to Southwestern Michigan College that the Rotary Club gives out every year.

As the president-elect of the Rotary Club, Wallace said that she wants to focus on ways the club and improve and adapt to change during her time in leadership.

“The world is changing really quickly,” she said. “If we want to keep serving this community, we have to be willing to change to.”

The most successful clubs in Rotary International are the ones that have found ways to continually adapt and change in order to stay relevant, contributing members to their communities, Wallace said, adding that she wants the Dowagiac Rotary Club to be one of those successful clubs.

“We want to change in ways that are positive for the community,” she said. “I think the main thing we want to do is add value to people here. … People are looking for a way to have value in their lives, and Rotary, as a leader in the community, has the opportunity to do that and make a difference, whether that is in little ways or through bigger service projects. That is what we want to continue to do here.”