After 50 years of service, the Rotary Club of Hampton County is only getting younger and more energetic than ever.
‘This is a working club,’ said Foundation Chair and longtime officer Hazel Smith. ‘Rotary’s motto is ‘Service Above Self’ and in this club it’s always about service, never about self. It’s about serving our community and reaching out to the district and the world. We don’t just sit back and watch someone else do the work. Everyone pitches in.’
Founded on Nov. 23, 1960 and sponsored by the Rotary Club of Walterboro, some of the known charter members include Andrew J. Smalls, Jr., John P. Hatcher, Buddy Bullard, Ki Richards, Henry Brunson, Jr. and Albert McNab.
Over the past five decades this service organization has raised and contributed thousands upon thousands of dollars and man hours to local, regional, and worldwide charitable efforts.
‘The last eight years have been the most active years the club has ever had,’ said Smith. ‘We are living up to that service above self. Our club lives up to that motto, and in my opinion the Hampton club is the best Rotary Club in the world.’
The club, joined by close to 100 past members, celebrated its golden anniversary with an event at Market Square in November, during which the group received the rare recognition of becoming one of only three percent of clubs worldwide to boast 100 percent Paul Harris Fellows. The Paul Harris Fellowship, named for the founder of the international organization, is bestowed upon Rotarians who contribute a total of $1,000 to the Rotary Foundation.
‘This is an incredible club,’ said Rotary District Governor Rick Moore. ‘These people bring something to Rotary that is so special.’
In fact, some longtime members are multiple Paul Harris Fellows, such as Smith (11 times over) and Wilson P. Tuten, Jr. (4).
During the event the club wasted no opportunity in continuing its tradition of giving by presenting a check for $5,793 to the Allendale-Hampton-Jasper Regional Library system for the purchase of five new Dell computers for the Hampton County libraries.
A tradition of service
The club’s top fundraising activities since 2000 include its annual Radio Auction, the Vidalia Onion Sales project, and the Rotary Calendar sale. Recently, its younger members have gotten more creative, hosting a wine tasting and even the Hampton County Watermelon Festival Mud Runs, all for a good cause.
Today the club’s largest service projects include a youth baseball camp, a dictionary project, and a scholarship program of each of the county’s three high schools.
In 1999 Rotarian Aubrey Horres began the club’s Dictionary Project, in which dictionaries are presented to every third grader in Hampton, Allendale, and Bamberg counties. The project was Horres’ passion, and after his recent passing the club named it the Aubrey Horres Dictionary Project in his honor.
The club has also partnered with the Little Red Dog Foundation to purchase handicapped bicycles for local special needs students, and every year adopts a local family in need by buying Christmas presents and holiday food.
The club had donated thousands in grants (both of its own and District Simplified Grants), including the recent purchase of a batting cage for the local youth baseball league.
‘A lot of kids have been helped by that,’ said Smith. ‘It’s one of the best projects we’ve ever done.’
The club grants have also provided: books for adult literacy, $5,000 to furnish a room at a local nursing home, $1,000 for First Steps, $500 for the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, funds for Hurricane Katrina victims, and much more.
The Hampton group supports other local causes, such as Relay For Life and the Festival of Trees. The club also works directly with local youth, sending students to Boys State and Girls State, supporting the Interact Clubs, funding the Wade Hampton High Robotics team, and sponsoring foreign exchange students.
The Hampton club was named the Hero Club of 2001 by S.C. Gov. Jim Hodges for their work in helping children.
On a worldwide scale, the club’s efforts are helping to eradicate polio, provide clean water and shelter boxes for distressed or disaster areas, or raise money for Alzheimers research. In the past four years the club has contributed $5,542 to the End Polio Now Campaign. Thanks to Rotary, this disease is close to being eradicated from the face of the earth.
The club has also earned many Rotary Foundation awards through the years, including the Rotary International Presidential Citation, The Three Star Club Award, the District Governor’s Citation (several years running), the Centennial Award, the Literacy Award (three years running), the EREY award (for having every member give to the foundation), the 100 Percent Sustaining Member Award, The House of Friendship Award, the Image of Rotary Award, District Secretary of the Year (Hazel Smith) and countless conference display awards.
The club and many of its distinguished members have earned numerous other community-based honors throughout the years, and pass on awards of their own. Each year the club names a Rotarian of the Year and a Citizen of the Year during its annual dinner meeting. Some of the notable citizens honored recently include Wade Freeman, Tony Gross, Marie Ellis, Joyce Horres, and Mildred Rivers.
And many Rotarians continue giving, even after death. Past President Chad Westendorf has pledged $10,000 of his life insurance to the Rotary Foundation upon his death, and several other members are benefactors of $1,000.
For more on the club go to www.hamptonrotary.net.
The 2010 Rotary Club of Hampton County includes: Greg Ackerman, Ernie Avant, Josh Barnes, Jimmy Bilka, Crissy Brunson, Greg Brunson, Rabi Brunson, Al Crosby, Michael DeWitt, Jr., Lee Ellis, Debbie Elrod, Hank Foy, Craig Gooding, Harry Hafer, Blake Hodge, George Knight, Collins Lane, Kathy Lyons, Mike Meyer, Holbrook Platts, Hazel Smith, Milt Smith, Tracey Thompson, Bill Tuten, Jr., Camille Welch, Chad Westendorf, Fred Westendorf, Mary Ann Westendorf, and Edward Ross Chellis.
Hampton Rotary Past Presidents:
Andrew J. Smalls, Jr., John P. Hatcher, Albert McNab, William C. Player, Harold P. Gooding, Robert T. Saxon, Henry Brunson, Jr., W. Grady Long, William c. Player, Wilson P. Tuten, Sr., James Henry Wood, W.E. Ki Richards, Lamar Osborne, Esdorn O’Quinn, Gerald R. Ulmer, Anthony G. Talarico, R. Earl Perry, Jerry A. Hatcher, Jeff D. Thomas, F. Holbrook Platts, Wayne A. Zurrender, W.V. Bowers, William R. Koger, Jr., Max M. Maurer, Oliver L. Barnes, Jr., Harold S. McMillan, Berl Davis, Ronald L. Mixson, Frank A. McClure, Wilson P. Tuten, Jr., Jim Daniel, Aubrey S. Horres, Ron Huber, Chip Priester, Laura McKenzie (first female member and president), Lee Ellis, Tom Watson, Parks Moss, Ernie Avant, James E. Walsh, David Wood, Hazel C. Smith, Terry Pruitt, and Chad Westendorf.
Locals who served as Asst. District Governors include: Aubrey Horres 1997-98, Laura McKenzie 1998-2000, Parks Moss 2000-01, and Tom Watson 2001-03.