It’s an honor that few Rotary clubs can claim.
So when the Rotary Club of Brandon achieved 100 percent participation in the Paul Harris Society, Rotary officials from throughout the district traveled to Brandon to help the club celebrate.
“This occasion does not happen very often,” said Doug Andrews, District 6890 chairman of the Rotary Foundation, the organization’s charitable arm. “So, this is definitely a big deal for the Brandon Rotary Club.”
“One hundred percent participation is very difficult to achieve because Rotary clubs have so many members coming and going,” said District 6890 Gov. George Robertson-Burnett. “Only five of the 45 clubs in the district have done it.”
District 6890 includes Rotary clubs in Hillsborough, Highlands, Polk and Hardee counties.
To become a Paul Harris Fellow, Rotary members must donate at least $1,000 to the foundation in addition to paying club membership fees and participating in community fundraising projects.
In the case of the Brandon Rotary Club, all 56 members have qualified as Paul Harris Fellows, earning the privilege of wearing the Paul Harris Society lapel pin. Some club members, such as current club President Fred Schwabe, have received multiple pins over the years. But this is the first time all of the club members will sport the pins.
The Brandon Rotary Club members will have another chance to celebrate the achievement when it hosts its annual installation banquet Thursday at the Tampa Club, 101 E. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa. During the banquet, Craig Oldham will be sworn in as club president. Chuck Burgess will become president-elect. Bland Eng will be named sergeant at arms and Kim Pontillo and Pat Forsythe will continue on as treasurer and secretary, respectively.
Founded in 1961, the Rotary Club of Brandon was the community’s first Rotary Club, although the area is now home to five other clubs: Rotary ’86, the Brandon South Rotary Club, the FishHawk-Riverview Rotary Club, the Tampa East Rotary Club and the Valrico Rotary Club.
Chicago attorney Paul Harris founded the Rotary Club in 1905 to provide fellowship and public service opportunities for businessmen. Today, Rotary International has 34,000 clubs around the world.