Poplarville Rotary soon celebrates its 81st anniversary

Published 7:28 pm Thursday, February 8, 2007

Poplarville Rotary Club celebrates its 81st anniversary the day after Valentine’s Day.

Founded on Feb. 15, 1926, the Poplarville Rotary Club was chartered by the Lumberton Rotary Club, a club which no longer exists, said past district governor, board member and sergeant of arms for Poplarville Rotary, Dr. Becky Askew.

The original Rotary Club was founded by an attorney named Paul Harris on Feb. 23, 1905, in Chicago and has grown to more than 30,000 clubs in more than 165 countries with about 1.2 million members, she said. The Poplarville chapter has 42 members.

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Next week, both the Poplarville Rotary and Picayune Rotary celebrates more than 80 years of community service with a joint luncheon. Picayune’s 82nd anniversary is Feb. 25.

One of the biggest works in Pearl River County in which the Poplarville Rotary Club has been involved is the Safe Harbor program through the Lower Pearl River Valley Foundation, National Recreation Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Rotary International.

Dr. Ted Alexander said that Poplarville Rotary has more than $500,000 to fund the Safe Harbor program, which will carry it through the end of the summer.

“That is one of the biggest things Rotary has done, is be involved with something like that,” said Poplarville Rotary president Tara Rouse.

Rouse said that Alexander was the member who got Poplarville Rotary involved in the Safe Harbor program, which started as Healthy Lifestyles but grew into Safe Harbor after the events of Hurricane Katrina. Now that the emergency of the storm is passing, the club can get back on track with the Healthy Lifestyles program, Askew said.

The objective of Rotary is to ensure the ideal of service to the community since its motto is “Service Above Self”, Askew said.

Rotary consists of community members who are professional and business leaders in each community. Membership is by invitation only. Rotary members donate their time and talents to the service of communities all over the world, Askew said.

After the storm, Rotarians the world over came to help in the recovery effort, Askew said. Chancery Clerk David Earl Johnson said one man from a chapter in England brought some shelter boxes that are capable of holding a family of eight and withstanding temperatures from 16 degrees to 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Since other counties needed them more than Pearl River, they were sent to Hancock and Harrison counties, Johnson said.

California Rotarians drove a medical unit to the coast and helped with its recovery effort, Askew said.

“Those people just stopped what they were doing — makes me want to cry,” Askew said.

The Poplarville Rotary Club sponsors the Poplarville Boy Scouts and provides an average of two scholarships a year to Pearl River Community College students. Poplarville Rotary also assists various other youth groups on the high school and college levels, Askew said.

Rotarians in New Jersey recently sent $7,000 to the Poplarville Rotary for Pearl River Central School District families affected by the storm, said Poplarville Rotary treasurer Donna Carter. So far, about $5,400 has been used to help students in the district with uniforms, shoes and school supplies.

In addition, the Poplarville Rotary helps Brother’s Keepers with providing food, money and toys to needy families, Rouse said.

She said organizations that need assistance from the Poplarville Rotary Club should call 601-403-1342 to talk to her.

“If there is a need for anything in the county, they can come and ask and we’d be glad to look into helping with that,” Rouse said.

Poplarville Rotary will host a Relay for Life at the PRCC football field from 6 p.m. to midnight Friday, April 27 and the Blueberry Jubilee 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, June 9. The Jubilee will sell hot dogs, hamburgers and sodas to raise money for the community, Rouse said. There will be a run-walk going on during the Jubilee until 5 p.m. in downtown Poplarville, she said.