President's Year in Review

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The 2010-2011 Rotary Year began on July 1 with our inaugural Duck Race Event.  The duck races included a kids’ swim meet and a more serious International Service Organization Swimming Championship of Webster Groves (ISOSCWG) grudge match that saw the Rotary International Dream Team of Frank Bloemke, Mike Oppermann, Brian Corrigan, and Dick Sant whomp up on a greatly overmatched Lions squad to secure the International Service Organization Swimming Championship.  The race was not without incident, however, as Frank, our captain and leadoff swimmer, very nearly false started, and Mike, our alternate captain, came precariously close to being charged with an early take off.  Proceeds from the event funded a water safety program we developed.


July 2 marked our club’s return to the July 4 parade.  Faith Markus rode in Gene Magre’s convertible and stole the show as our first ever Pancake Festival Queen.  Also, Steve Schaefer provided a truck upon which we erected the ShelterBox tent.  Other parade participants included Kirby Smith (on a bicycle), Rod Cooper, Lee Moss, Chuck Weed, Charles Schneider, Jack LaBarge, and Fred Hill.  Afterwards, participants enjoyed hospitality at Diane Lamboley’s.


The next few days appeared to be uneventful, but they actually featured behind the scenes scheming that would lead to our ill fated scooter raffle plus planning for our second annual Car Show, led by Fred Hill, that took place in September.  At some point during this period, Steve LaBarge secured two fine exchange students for us, Ailce Duarte-Fletcher found them places to stay, and Seth Langton rounded up a few more to ship off next year.  Meanwhile, President Elect Rod Cooper organized a well attended work day for Habitat for Humanity. 


The traditional kickoff of the Webster Groves Fall Social Season a/k/a The Festival of Pancakes led by Chuck Weed and his able assistant/heir apparent Kim White came next.  Bill Massie reckoned that this was our 50th Annual Pancake Festival, so it was announced as such without serious challenge, and Faith’s bejeweled spatula and tiara made a second appearance.  As always, proceeds from the event provided scholarships for local high school and supported other worthy causes.


The calendar year wound down with the Progressive Dinner which featured the traditional announcement of club election results on the Pirozzi’s front steps. Ailce Durate-Fletcher will serve as club president for the 2012-2013 Rotary year.  Later, Webster Groves Mayor Gerry Welch (wife of Rotarian Pat Welch), possessing a politician’s instinct that an adequate amount of social lubricant had been applied, sold the rest of our Rotary coffee, another project that debuted during the 2010-2011 year.


2011 saw the implementation of the Alan J. Hoener Awards for High Ethical Standards and our club’s first ever Webster Groves Rotary Hoops Madness basketball contest. The awards were promulgated in response to a request by RI President Ray Klinginsmith that more be done to honor Alan, our former club President and District Governor.  Bob Smutz, the chairman of the Four Way Test Committee, announced the winners at the Chamber of Commerce’s Awards banquet. Bob’s speech was outstanding and memorable.  Unfortunately, we may be looking for a new venue for presentation in upcoming years.  Scott Krejci and Brian Corrigan organized the basketball tournament that raised money for The Rotary Foundation.  Enthusiasm for this enterprise was not diminished by the fact that Dickie Sant, my son, took first prize.


Rod Cooper continued his work with the International Service Projects in Honduras that he has spearheaded for several years.  Due to Rod’s efforts, our Rotary club was the lead club for a $50,000 international grant that provided clean water to an additional 700 residents of Pimienta, Honduras.


On the Club Service front, major achievements were also recorded.  Under Dan Moore’s leadership in the 2009-2010 Rotary Year, greater emphasis was placed on membership recruitment, and the results were very impressive.  This momentum carried into 2010-2011 and was accelerated by the great work of Nancy Battersby, our Membership Chair.  Nancy implemented a recruitment program that led to installation of nine new Rotarians through April.  The membership committee also implemented a new member orientation program to more quickly acclimate new members.  (The first orientation session in years took place at, of course, the Pirozzi’s and was attended by new Rotarians Katy Sant, Tim Graham, Ann McReynolds, and potential Pancake Queen, K Wentzien.) The sure result of the orientation sessions will be a more effective club with improved retention. Another Club Service highlight was the outstanding job that Claire Winkler did in her second year as Program Chair.  Our programs were consistently enjoyable and informative.


Our Youth Service projects were, as always, a big hit.  Frank Bloemke organized Career Day again.  It featured an appearance by his son in law, Brian Rohlfing, who offered inspiration and taught Phil Wojack how to juggle, nearly.  Also, Darlene Pratte and Ann Weidemann led a group of high school students to Jefferson City to shatter youthful ideals of how government works. The Scholarship Committee, chaired this year by Yvonne Johnson, selected four deserving students to each receive $1000 scholarships, and about 30 kids participated in our inaugural water safety program.


Ongoing projects include the work our club continues to do with the Group Study Exchange program, the implementation of a Quilt Show, scheduled for June 2011, and our charity, surplus fish dinner  party.  Justilien Landry again led our GSE efforts, and our club again was the lead host club in the St. Louis area, this time for a team from Mexico.  Darlene Pratt put in long hours to initiate a Quilt Show that is bound to provide enormous financial support for our charitable causes for years to come, and, as I write, Club Secretary Kim White is figuring out how to monetize surplus laboratory test fish generously provided by Bruce Hemming.


2010-2011 was a banner year for the Rotary Club of Webster Groves, and our efforts garnered us Rotary’s Presidential Citation with Distinction, but this is merely the continuation of a tradition started long ago and the reflection of the hard work of our members.  The year was a success, but goals remain unmet.  Fortunately, the spirit and enthusiasm evident at the year’s onset has not waned, they have intensified. We closed the year Bigger, Bolder, and Better. Best of luck to 2011-2012 President Rod Cooper, the 2011-2012 Board of Directors, and to all of our members. Thank you all for the opportunity to have served as your Club President for the 2010-2011 year; I will never forget it.  Thanks.


Dick Sant

Club President 2010-2011