BUCKHANNON — Since beginning a new charter two years ago, the Rotary Club of Buckhannon-Upshur has grown significantly. Beginning with 30 members, the Rotary Club has since added 12 new members to the already diverse group.
Past President Julie Keehner noted, “This type of growth is quite exciting for our club.” During Keehner’s term as President, the club reportedly added five new members. Starting the fiscal year off right, the club added their newest and youngest member during Kathy McMurray’s first meeting as President on Tuesday afternoon.
On her first day of McMurray’s term, Keehner wrote a letter to the club and began by saying, “As I turn the gavel over to my/our friend, Kathy McMurray, I wish to thank you all for your contributions to my year as President. In spite of the unusual nature of this past year (and part of Dan’s term, as well), our club came together in ways that made an important difference in our community. I am proud and grateful.” She concluded saying, “This is the second time Kathy has been my successor as President—and, we are truly lucky to have her in this role. I am proud to turn the gavel over to her and am here, as the Past President, to assist in any way—as I know each of you are. Here’s to another great year for the Rotary Club of Buckhannon-Upshur. Onward and upward!”
As she embarked in her new role, McMurray stated, “Rotary International President Shekhar Mehta is challenging all Rotarians to continue to increase the impact of our work within our communities and the world. His theme “Serve to Change Lives” calls on us to grow our membership so that there are more “people of action”—as Rotarians are known—working on the service projects that lead to positive change in our communities.”
Newest—and currently the youngest local club member—Wilt told The Record Delta she joined Rotary because there was a void in her life when her 4-H service activities came to a halt due to the pandemic. “I grew up doing a lot of service projects. I was in 4-H from around age 8 until recently with COVID. I did a club back in my home county [Doddridge County] so I had these little kids I would do stuff with all the time and there was a big hole in my heart where all this service used to be,” she explained. Wilt noted she is very excited to meet new people, make new friends, and be involved in the club’s service projects.
Although Wilt didn’t originally know she would be the youngest member, she emphasized, “If we are all coming together to do something for the community, it doesn’t really matter what age you are. I think there’s a lot to learn from the people that come before us. So, I am in a great spot to learn.”
One of Rotary’s service projects that really caught Wilt’s interest was the COVID-19 vaccine clinics. Wilt saw a picture of member Don Nestor volunteering at one of the clinics and realized she was very interested in getting involved with that mission. “Helping out your community is really important,” she noted.
Aside from the COVID-19 vaccine clinics, Rotary also partners with St. Joseph’s Hospital staff to hold blood screenings and blood drives. McMurray explained, “We also look forward to continuing our blood screens and hope to double the number of appointments we can offer at each session. We know how important this service is as we continue to hear personal stories of how an illness was identified and/or managed through regular blood screens. And many of our members stand ready to volunteer at future vaccine clinics if a booster dose of vaccine is recommended later this year. Our members truly enjoy supporting the many needs of our community, especially our hands on service projects.”
When asked what she is hoping to gain from her involvement with Rotary, Wilt noted, “It’s almost like a high when someone is thankful for you helping them. I’m looking for that… I just legitimately care about people. I just have a community service heart.”
Wilt recently graduated from West Virginia Wesleyan College in 2017. She completed her master’s degree at West Virginia University in Accountancy and decided to move back to Buckhannon. Wilt has worked at Arnett Carbis Toothman in Upshur County since 2017, but she became full time in 2019 as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).
McMurray noted that their club was also recognized at their recent District Assembly Conference for their growth in membership. Although they have an already diverse group of individuals, and an approximately equal number of men and women, they’re really hoping to further expand the club with younger members of the community, McMurray noted. She also mentioned, “Our members are exceptional when it comes to service and fellowship.”
Club members are always contributing to Rotary’s top charities, both locally and internationally. “Our donations are very important to that cause,” she expressed. Although Rotary as a whole focuses on polio eradication, their efforts and contributions are vast and far reaching. During the district conference, McMurray also learned that some funds will be contributed towards renal dialysis centers in rural Indian communities.
The group is tentatively going to resume in-person meetings again in September, as they have been meeting virtually since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. McMurray noted, “We invite all who might be interested in our service projects or want information on membership to send us a message on Facebook.” The club’s page is “Rotary Club of Buckhannon-Upshur” or follow the link https://www.facebook.com/BURotary.