BUCKHANNON — The Rotary Club of Buckhannon-Upshur conducted a service project at the Parish House’s Clothes Closet on their fifth Tuesday of September. Club members made a dent in the boxes of clothes needing to be switched out for the change of seasons. The Clothes Closet typically has four service scholars from West Virginia Wesleyan College that are not currently on campus, in addition to others who are of a vulnerable population and have not felt comfortable being out and about, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, the Rotary Club stepped up to assist with this great need. It was suggested to return to the Clothes Closet two or three more times, with five or six members to help again. Club President Julie Keehner explained they do wear masks and remain socially distanced when possible.
The club is hosting a blood drive on Thursday at the bottom of the hill from St. Joseph’s Hospital. They had approximately 81 at their blood screening event on Saturday. October will likely be the last month for blood drives and screenings until next year.
District Governor Sean Sawyer and Assistant District Governor Dan McCarthy spoke to local club members Tuesday afternoon to discuss what has been happening within the district and other clubs.
This was Sawyer’s 32nd club visit since July 1 and he has visited 22 in-person meetings, with Tuesday afternoon being his 10th Zoom meeting. Sawyer explained that the largest misconception he had prior to becoming a District Governor was, “The district is here to serve the clubs, not the other way around.” If it weren’t for the clubs, he said there would be no need to have a district. Sawyer also proudly reported that each of the district grants sought were approved and will be awarded, including the Rotary Club of Buckhannon-Upshur. “Our newly merged district is still in its infancy, but the good thing is we don’t have any bad habits to unlearn… we have a fairly blank slate,” he explained.
This district has the first Rotary Alumni Association in the state and there are only 80 worldwide, Sawyer reported. “I am truly enjoying this opportunity to serve as Governor,” he stated. Sawyer added that there is a future District Governor in each meeting he attends and emphasized that the Rotary Club of Buckhannon-Upshur is no different.
He has planned to have quarterly Zoom opportunities where all 54 Rotary Club Presidents will be present and can discuss their experiences, such as what they’ve liked and disliked. Then the next Tuesday, he’d like to have all club membership chairs join together to discuss how they’re growing, or what struggles they’re facing as a club.
Today, it is possible to talk to whoever you want to talk to, whenever you want. “Access is a good thing when you’re using it for good,” explained Sawyer. With these quarterly Zoom meetings, he explained that when the clubs go to conference, they’re finally getting to meet someone in person who has been a little square on their screen for the last five Zoom meetings — making the world a little smaller. Rich Clemons explained it is possible to Zoom with other clubs any time, “so let’s do it.” Sawyer strongly encouraged communication between Rotary Clubs to share ideas and collaborate for fundraisers.
Keehner expressed gratitude for Sawyer and McCarthy in saying, “It has been very helpful to learn about the district and your plans. There is a silver lining with this most unusual time.” Sawyer concluded, “I am here to serve you all.”
The Rotary Club of Buckhannon-Upshur also recently celebrated their club’s birthday. It has been an interesting year, according to Club President Julie Keehner. “We have accomplished certainly more than I think we ever thought we could,” she stated.
The club also recently welcomed newest member, Dr. Susan Aloi. Dr. Aloi is originally from the DC area; however, she attended West Virginia Wesleyan College, where she met her husband and eventually became a West Virginian. She came back to Buckhannon upon graduating and took a job at the college, but later went to WVU to finish her doctorate. Dr. Aloi eventually returned to Wesleyan, where she dedicated many years and is still doing so part time. She is currently serving as the Health Program Officer for the Pallottine Foundation. She has four children, one granddaughter, and two wonderful dogs.