Fifty-one years ago, a few civic-minded business leaders of Perry started meeting at lunchtime at the then-New Perry Hotel to talk about the nature of their businesses and to discuss ways to serve the community better. That weekly group that adopted the motto “service above self, he profits most who serves best,” morphed into what is now a strong 60-member Perry Rotary Club. True to the ideals of its founders, this club strives daily to make a difference in the community and the world.
Visitors to Perry will not miss the Rotary Centennial Park along Courtney Hodges Boulevard on the banks of the Big Indian Creek. Rotarians led by Stephen Feitshans, Bill Davis, State Senator Larry Walker, Perry Mayor James Faircloth and numerous others who opt to remain anonymous toiled and transformed this once garbage dump into an oasis. The club proudly claims this as a marquee accomplishment and a milestone in its history.
The promotion of literacy is another one of Rotary’s missions. Led by Rotarians Cheri Adams and Sara Barron, the club established a Rotary Reads Program, a fascinating undertaking where Rotarians spend an hour a week reading to children at the Morningside Elementary School. For the past two years, the club has distributed thousands of books to elementary school students in all grade levels at Tucker and Morningside Elementary schools to enhance the children’s reading skills during the summer break. Additionally, every year the club awards college scholarship funds to deserving high school seniors. To help promote international friendships, indefatigable Rotarians have doggedly worked to obtain financial grants used to build sanitation facilities in impoverished elementary schools in Nicaragua and a medical clinic in India.
Due to space limitation, not all the works that Rotary has done in this vibrant Perry community for the past half century can be enumerated. However, a significant aspect of the founders’ dream — to be in solidarity with the less fortunate in the community — cannot be overlooked. Thus, every year, especially during this season of giving, the club assists the Perry Volunteer Outreach and other charitable organizations in their noble missions.
It has been asked many times how Rotary works. It is always a team effort that disregards fanfare and abhors self-congratulation. Suffice it to say, Perry Rotarians are ordinary citizens with extraordinary hearts and minds always seeking opportunities to make a positive difference in people’s lives. In 2017, awed by the success of the Rotary endeavors around the globe, the Rotary International president proclaimed: “Rotary is God’s gift to humanity.”