Things happen at Rotary club meetings – and it’s often those unexpected things that create what is called “Rotary memories.” Recently another memory was made at the Rotary Club of Farragut and it’s part and parcel of what Rotarians know as the “Family of Rotary.”
The Rev. David Bluford, the chaplain at Parkwest Medical Center and a longtime member of the club, usually handles the invocations for the weekly meetings. On this Wednesday we had a visitor who agreed to open our meeting with a prayer.
Past president Keith Bryson announced that we had a special treat in store – that Preston Belcher, the 5-year-old son of Rotarian Megan Belcher, was going to give our invocation. He was sitting with his mom at one of our back tables. She asked Preston if he would do the opening prayer and he agreed.
“Do you want to do it back there or come up to the front?” President Keith asked Preston.
“I’ll come up there,” he said aloud. And he did. He and his mom walked hand in hand to the front of the room.
In front of a room of some 80 Rotarians and guests, this little guy who just began kindergarten at Northshore Elementary School asked us to bow our heads.
Then he sang the Johnny Appleseed Blessing for us:
“Oh, the Lord’s been good to me …,
and so I thank the Lord,
for giving me the things I need,
The sun, and the rain, and the appleseed.
The Lord’s been good to me.”
This Family of Rotary phrase is much more than just a phrase. The club has a very active Family of Rotary committee and its co-chairs are Bluford and past president Ron Lawrence. The committee plans the club’s social events, communicates with members about those who are ill, hospitalized, or have passed away (or their close family members) and also is in charge of our monthly Third Thursday socials held at local restaurants.
The club’s August Third Thursday is today (8/16) and it will be a night of service at “Laundry Love: Knoxville” at the Blue Water Laundry, 3721 N. Broadway. This is a relatively new, service-oriented non-profit that fills a unique niche in the community, offering primarily low-income families and the homeless free clothes washing and drying on the third Thursday of every month.
Laundry Love always has volunteers who want to help the families and this week it will be Farragut Rotarians doing the volunteering. Buford says we have about 16 volunteers now and can use a few more.
The families wash and dry up to three loads of clothes. They are fed a meal and the kids play in a special area — and it’s all free for the families. Since opening they have provided more than 3,000 laundry loads and almost 2,000 meals, all on an annual budget of just $12,000.
The washing begins at 6 p.m., and the last load goes in at 7:30. Volunteers help the families start their loads and also help fold their clothes. Some people arrive as early as 4 p.m. to get the first washing machines. And, Laundry Love provides all of the detergent (pods), dryer sheets, bleach, stain remover and fabric softener, plus the food and drinks.
If you’d like to join us, come on out and help us make more Rotary memories!