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Concluding his year as club president during our Centennial, Doug Hartford delivered the following report during the club meeting on June 29, 2010:

I would be remiss if I didn't have a centennial fact for you at some point today. So here it is. The year is 2009-2010. Your President and Board set a goal for the year to maintain all of our regular service and social programs as we celebrated Saint Paul Rotary's 100th birthday in a manner that was both appropriate and fun. Today's centennial fact is, I believe that we accomplished that objective.

Here's the run down:

  • In our community we painted a house for a needy senior citizen, we cleaned up Cleveland Circle in the fall and planted new flowers this spring.
  • We provided an outstanding leadership training experience for 100 area high school students at Camp RYLA and recognized another 100 middle school students and an outstanding teacher at our Education Day luncheon. We provided dictionaries to 3,000 Saint Paul third graders.
  • We rang bells for the Salvation Army for the 63rd straight year and contributed to the Boy Scouts as we have every year since 1911.
  • We had outstanding speakers throughout the year and I particularly want to thank Program Chair Doug Bruce and his committee for their fine work.

And as always our reach went beyond our local community.

  • We provided funds for flood relief in Atlanta and earthquake relief in Haiti.
  • We sponsored outbound exchange students in Brazil and Japan and hosted a student from India.
  • We hosted a Friendship exchange group from Brazil and a Group Study Exchange Team from India.
  • We exceed our goals for contributions to the Rotary International Foundation, Polio Plus and the Saint Paul Rotary Foundation and met our commitment to District 5960's Fast For Hunger Program. As a side note, our club currently boasts 106 Paul Harris Fellows (slightly over 50%) and nearly 75% of our members have made gifts to the RI Foundation at some point.
  • We completed an agricultural education/water project in Ecuador and launched another effort to support students in Guyana as part of our long-standing relationship with the Rotary Club of Corriverton.

We also began the year with a goal to, as I put it to the Board, "leave the sand box a little neater than we found it" We have made some real progress in this area. A change in office location has reduced our monthly rent. Improvements in our electronic billing and payment systems have reduced both our accounts receivable and our credit card fees. It is also now possible for members to look on the web site and check their donor recognition status with the RI Foundation or the Saint Paul Rotary Foundation.

Much of this has also helped us to manage our finances in what was a most challenging year. While we will finish the year in the red as we expected and about where we expected, most of this is the result of one-time expenses that will not carry forward to haunt future Boards.

Membership is the one area where the challenges of the economy kept us from achieving the goals we set at the beginning of the year. Our attrition was not very much above average during the year, but we were unable to recruit as many new members as we usually do. The result is that our membership at year end will stand somewhere between 195 and 200. It is not where we hoped to be, but the good news is that we think we have hit bottom and the trend seems to be turning in a more favorable direction.

That's what our regular year looked like but this after all, was our centennial so there are a few other things to report on as well.

At the center of our celebration were our Centennial Service Projects - The Partnership with Feed My Starving Children and the Century Scholars Program.

As you heard, or read in the HUB, our members, their families and friends - a total of 490 volunteers - packed 114,480 meals for starving children last month - well beyond our 100,000 meal goal for this event. These meals have already found their way to hungry children in Guatemala and Zimbabwe.

And, by year's end, the truck which we purchased for Feed My Starving Children will have supported about 20 mobile packing events - including our own - in cities from Minnesota to Texas. I don't yet have numbers for June, but based on what we knew at the end of May, these events will have involved over 42,000 volunteers who will have packed more than 8 million meals - enough to feed over 21,900 children for an entire year. To put that in perspective, that means every member of this club has personally played a role in keeping 111 children from starving for the next 12 months. That, my fellow Rotarians, is making a difference!

We have equally good news to report in regard to our goal of establishing an endowed Century Scholars Program which, at maturity, will provide four $20,000 scholarships to Saint Paul high school students who have attended Camp RYLA. At our birthday party on June 10th it was my great pleasure to announce the three finalists for Saint Paul Rotary's first Century Scholarship which will be awarded in the coming year.

To support all this required money of course.

Despite the fact that the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression started as Saint Paul Rotary launched its $750,000 capital campaign, co-chairs Nancy McKillips and, Paul Verret did an amazing job. To date the members of this club have pledged nearly $550,000 to support our centennial campaign. And, I expect Nancy and Paul will be equally successful in generating the remaining $200,000 in the coming months. Some of you may well be hearing from them in that regard in the near future.

And to make sure the accomplishments of our first hundred years were fully preserved, we also published a second volume of our club history covering the years since the last volume was published.

And oh, yes, we also did have some fun this year. There were Rotation Days, an outstanding Holiday Party atop the Crowne Plaza, Fireside Chats, a golf outing and a bike ride, a fall trip to the apple orchard and a wonderful kids and grandkids program.

And we did a few special things as well to celebrate our centennial year. I hope you were able to attend our 100th birthday party a couple of weeks ago and meet our visitor from 1910. I also hope that you enjoyed our special centennial luncheon in February with our colleagues from Minneapolis and our Rotary International President, John Kenny. I might note that Minneapolis President Vicki Turnquist and I are committed to reinstating the annual meeting of our two clubs that was part of the first 70 years of our histories.

It has been a very special honor for me to serve as President during this very special year for Saint Paul Rotary. I'll leave it to you to render the final judgment on what sort of year this has been; but for me, I'm reminded of the last verse of an old song - recorded by - among others - the Kingston Trio and Frank Sinatra -

"I think of the year as vintage wine from fine old kegs. From the brim to the dregs it poured sweet and clear. It was a very good year."

Thank you for the privilege of serving as your president.

 
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