Local Rotary Club has more projects on the way …

Its mission is service above self. Chartered in 1968, the Marshfield Rotary Club is home to more than 35 community-minded individuals dedicated to serving above self and participating in Rotary International’s mission to promote understanding, goodwill and world peace.

The organization has served the community through many projects. Its signature project is maintenance and upkeep of the Marshfield Rotary Park, where club members have planted trees and helped to finance the rubber surface around the playground.

The Marshfield Rotary Club also works with the Boy Scout troop in Marshfield, provides scholarships to graduating seniors and organizes the Don’t Meth With Us program for Webster County students. The Don’t Meth With Us program is designed to educate children and families about the consequences of methamphetamine while arming them with the tools necessary to combat illicit drug use and addiction.

The Marshfield Rotary Club’s Don’t Meth With Us program was started in the 2013-14 year and has featured many guest speakers, who have shared their own experience with drugs and the impact it had on them. Two noted guest speakers included David Parnell and Tiffany Eis. Both were former methamphetamine addicts who each suffered physical and emotional damage from their years of involvement with the drug. They shared their experience with Marshfield R-I students during the Don’t Meth With Us assemblies multiple times. Amy Wilkerson served as the chair of the committee for three years and then Cynthia Black came on board as her co-chair in 2016.

“The program has reached 8,690 students in Webster county since 2013,” said Wilkerson. “This includes fifth-graders each year and then some high schools multiple years with speakers. Last year, we reached 865 students, and that was just the elementary schools. We give them T-shirts and a pledge card so they can practice what they’re going to say when someone approaches them and tries to get them to do drugs.”

Last year, during its 50th anniversary, the Marshfield Rotary Club was challenged to dream big, and so members decided to fund the construction of a new restroom and concession building at Marshfield Rotary Park. In November 2018, the Marshfield Rotary Club was given a grant in the amount of $10,000 through the Webster Electric Foundation’s roundup program for the purpose of funding the project. The Marshfield High School building and trade class will also provide the labor for the project, which will begin in September.

“We think a new restroom and concession building will be good for the park,” said Debbie Wiese, president for the 2019-20 term of the Marshfield Rotary Club. “Our current facilities there are in disrepair and really need those improvements, so the Marshfield Rotary Club decided to tackle the project.”

In addition, Wiese said her hope is to have a Rotary Club room in the future activity complex out by the pool, but that project will be something down the road.

Wiese has been involved in the Marshfield Rotary Club since 2007. For her term as president, Wiese said she hopes the organization will be able to give back to the community, increase membership and help as many people as they can.

“What attracted me to the Rotary Club was its focus on serving others,” said Wiese. “That’s something I hope we can accomplish this year and be actively involved the community.”

The Marshfield Rotary Club also supports the global causes of the Rotary Club organization as a whole, including ending polio. According to the international organization’s website, the Rotary Club has been working to eradicate polio for more than 30 years. As a founding partner of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, the organization reduced polio cases by 99.9% since its first project to vaccinate children in the Philippines in 1979. The organization has helped immunize more than 2.5 billion children in 122 countries, and so far it has contributed more than $1.8 billion toward eradicating the diseases worldwide.

The Marshfield Rotary Club has also done its part to contribute to the cause.

“A percent of the money we do for our dues goes to help eradicate polio,” said Wiese. “We send money from our club to the foundation to help fund people to go and give the medicines overseas and things like that. I really didn’t know what they did when I joined the club, but it didn’t take me very long to realize they were definitely serving a good cause, trying to serve not only our county and our community, but overseas to eradicate polio.”

Throughout the years, many Marshfield Rotary Club presidents and members have come and gone. In 1968-69, William Spinabella was president of the club. Among the members was Howard Fillmer, who was extremely active in the Marshfield Rotary Club. He served as district governor of area Rotary from 1976 to 1977, and both he and his wife were named Paul Harris Fellows. Billy Schroeder was also involved in Rotary Club around that time. His wife, Neva Schroeder, was the first woman to join the Marshfield Rotary Club in 1991. Although they live in Houston, Texas, they can still be involved in the Marshfield Rotary Club meetings, thanks to the “Rule of 85,” which is a provision listed under "excused absences" in the Standard Rotary Club Constitution. It says that if a member’s combined age and years of service equals 85 years or greater, they are at least age 65 and they ask to be excused, then they are excused. With this special classification, Bill and Neva Schroeder are not required to attend every meeting.

“We still enjoy attending meetings when we can,” said Neva Schroeder in a previous article in The Mail. “When we travel through Marshfield, we stop in for a Rotary Club meeting, but we have not been able to do it as much as we used to. The Rotary Club is a great organization. Their motto is ‘Service Above Self,’ and they work hard to stand by that motto.”

Webster County Clerk Stan Whitehurst joined the Marshfield Rotary Club in 1992. He commented on the organization’s accomplishments and service to the community during an interview with The Mail in response to its 50th anniversary last year.

“You really don’t think of the passage of time until you hit a huge landmark,” said Whitehurst. “It is important to pause and reflect on those things we have accomplished, but it is also important to keep our eyes forward on the future and how we can help the community.”  

The Marshfield Rotary Club meets at noon every Tuesday at the Marshfield Lions Club building. Those who are interested in joining the club are welcome to attend.

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