Ruritan clubs serve well

Published 7:15 pm Monday, July 18, 2011

As a reporter in the birthplace of Ruritan, I’ve been to my share of Ruritan Club anniversaries.

Just in the past year, I’ve been a guest at anniversary celebrations for both the Chuckatuck and Magnolia Ruritan clubs. There have been numerous other events throughout the almost five years that I’ve been working here — including, of course, the annual anniversary celebration for the founding of Ruritan in Holland, which includes a parade and barbecue cook-off.

The anniversary dinners are all similar in several ways. First of all, there’s always a fabulous dinner, which I understand is typical of Ruritan meetings in general.

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Then follows the roll call, which also happens at all Ruritan Club meetings. The interesting part, for me, is trying to figure out what the nicknames would be rated if they were a movie.

Magnolia and Chuckatuck mostly earned “G” ratings, but other clubs-that-shall-not-be-named have been a little further up the scale. (For those in the back, all Ruritan members choose — or receive — a nickname that they use to answer the roll call.)

And finally — here’s where the anniversary dinners differ from ordinary meetings — all of these anniversary dinners include a booklet at each place recounting the history of each club.

These booklets always make fascinating reads, from the history of how each club was formed to the fundraisers and community projects they’ve done.

At the Magnolia club, for instance, one of the first things they did after forming in 1951 was to work on getting a stoplight at the main intersection in the Magnolia area. Members of the community all chipped in to pay the power bill.

The club also sponsors a Boy Scout troop, sends girls to Girls State, gives out scholarships, gives donations to widows in the community, built a ball field, supported exchange students and more.

Clearly, Ruritan clubs all over America are doing good things for their communities. More than 30,000 members in more than 1,000 clubs throughout the country still are handing out scholarships, sponsoring Boy Scout troops and doing other wonderful things to support their community. But membership in them is dwindling because of a lack of community interest.

I would encourage those who are not involved in Ruritan or any community organization to find one and get involved. The investment of your time will pay dividends far into the future.