When current Rotary Club of Bearden president Dick Hinton hands the gavel over to the new president Wayne Underwood on June 29, he will do it knowing that his leadership made a difference. For the first time in the chapter’s history, the club earned the Rotary Citation for the 2017-2018 year. That’s a citation given to chapters that are looking toward the service organization’s priorities: strengthening clubs, focusing on humanitarian service and enhancing awareness of Rotary.
The presidency of a Rotary chapter is a three-year progression, with the future president serving as vice-president, then president-elect, then president. When Hinton stepped into the president’s role in June 2017, he made a list of big goals and shared them with his board.
Hinton saw the citation and its dashboard of goals as a benchmark for what the chapter needed to do.
“It’s not about winning recognition. It was, if we did these things, we were going to have a good year. It was a way to measure that,” he said. “I’m big on specifics. It’s hard if you’re working in an organization and don’t have a clear idea of what we do.”
In the weeks since the chapter accomplished the goals necessary to achieve the citation, its members have checked off even more accomplishments. The chapter also received a number of awards and recognitions from its district.
One very specific goal Hinton had for his presidency was to increase membership of those under the age of 40. Nationally, only five percent of Rotarians are under 40.
“I hopped all over that statistic,” Hinton says. “I saw that as a great way to start a campaign.”
Older generations’ ways of doing things won’t necessarily translate into what the Millennials want from a service organization, he says.
“The way things were done in the 1960s won’t work anymore.”
Of the eight new members added, five are under 40. There is also a significant gender gap in Rotary, and adding new women members is also a goal. Three of the eight new members are women.
“We are lucky to have some new folks who are just on fire for Rotary,” he says.
Most weeks the chapter hosts an informative speaker. Recent guests have included Lynn Petr, executive director of STAR, a therapeutic riding academy based in Loudon County and in South Knoxville. A few weeks before, conservationist Bill Stanley talked about the reintroduction of elk into Tennessee. There are also off-site field trips, including a just-completed behind-the-scenes tour of Neyland Stadium.
Service work in the chapter includes reading to Pond Gap Elementary students, working with Mobile Meals and contributing to the Rotary’s longtime work in polio eradication and other international service. The organization also just gave a $5,000 donation to construction at Everly Brothers Park.
The Rotary Club of Bearden normally meets Fridays from 12:15 to 1:30 at Bearden Banquet Hall, 5806 Kingston Pike.