Based on the outpouring of support from residents to organizations recently profiled in this column, it is evident that Harrisburg has a large base of caring people.
The act of giving frequently produces just as positive a result for giver as for the recipient.
With the diversity of people from Harrisburg and their professions, there is no limit to what residents could accomplish if they banded together.
Individually, many adults of the community have shared their personal and professional experience by volunteering in the schools, churches, sports leagues, charities, and town events, greatly benefiting the residents.
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Recognizing the spirit of giving and service of Harrisburg residents, the Southwest Cabarrus Rotary Club invites adult professionals to consider joining their group.
Rotary International is a worldwide organization of approximately 30,000 local clubs made up of business, professional and community leaders. The groups are nonpolitical, nonreligious and open to all cultures, races and creeds.
The Rotary motto is "service above self" and the main objective is service -- in the community, in the workplace and throughout the world.
The Southwest Cabarrus club originated in 1999 as the Harrisburg Rotary Club and later changed the name to broaden boundaries beyond Harrisburg.
Currently, the president is Richard Lewis and there are approximately 22 members, most of whom live and work in Harrisburg.
To join a local club, Rotary International requires that members hold, or be retired from, a professional, proprietary, executive or managerial position.
Members of the Southwest Cabarrus club meet weekly for lunch from 11:45 a.m.-1 p.m. in the Rocky River Grille at the Embassy Suites on Speedway Boulevard.
Meetings include a time for members to socialize, a meal, updates on business followed by a guest speaker. Members must maintain regular attendance and pay dues to the club. Dues are $30 quarterly and $130 quarterly to cover weekly lunch programs.
Some benefits of membership in Rotary include interaction with other professionals and opportunities to discover and meet humanitarian or town needs by participating in service projects.
According to Dale Gentle, service projects chairman for the Southwest Cabarrus club, like many other clubs, Rotary has also been a victim of the tough times with slow membership growth and a reduction in the results of fundraising activities.
To combat the trying times, the group developed a program called "Every Rotarian Every Month" (EREM) allowing the club to continue supporting worthwhile organizations in the community. Each month the club adopts a different charity, and club members do their best to personally fill that organization's "wish list."
The idea started with a simple request from the Cooperative Christian Ministry in Concord for household cleaning products.
Instead of dipping into the club treasury, Gentle invited individual members to purchase and bring to the club the desired commodities.
The response was so positive that members have continued supporting a different organization each month including purchasing school supplies for the Cabarrus County Schools, donating to the Humane Society of Concord and Greater Cabarrus County and Cabarrus C.A.R.E.S. for cats.
During the holidays, the club partnered with the Interact Club at Jay M. Robinson High School, giving time and approximately 700 shoe boxes of gifts to Samaritan's Purse Operation Christmas Child.
"The EREM project has helped members reveal the causes they cherish," said Gentle. "By contacting organizations to identify their needs and then delivering the donated items, the club has broadened its relationships and learned more about the surrounding community."
For the past 10 years under the N.C. Department of Transportation's Adopt-A-Highway program, the Southwest Cabarrus Rotary club has cleaned up Speedway Boulevard at least a couple times a year and has planted medians on roads connecting with Speedway Boulevard in partnership with the city of Concord.
The club support extends beyond our community to help internationally, as well. Each year the club sponsors a high school exchange student from a foreign country through the Rotary Youth Exchange program. This year, 16-year-old Ketan Chaudhari, a 10th-grader from India is being hosted by the club.
"Students are expected to do their best in school, but the emphasis of the exchange is cultural, and they are expected to be ambassadors for Rotary, their countries and their families," said Gentle. "We try to involve them in community and cultural activities and give them opportunities to travel and see more of our region and country."
Many more initiatives by the Southwest Cabarrus Rotary Club are underway for this year including the third annual 5K race in April hosted jointly with the Harrisburg branch of the Cannon Memorial YMCA.