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Rotary Club of Prescott says good-bye after almost eighty years


Rotary Club of Prescott says good-bye after almost eighty years

PRESCOTT - If there is ever an event or project going on in town, it's always been a good bet that the Rotary Club of Prescott is somehow involved.

It was announced last week, however, that the local service club, which has been serving Prescott and its residents since 1939, has folded.

"The club is coming to an end," said past-president Ken Durand Sr. at a luncheon Rotary put on last week for the cast and crew from the St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival.

"It doesn't have the support, and we can't attract the members anymore."

Membership in the Rotary Club of Prescott has been dwindling slowly over the years, and it was getting more difficult for the few active members remaining to continue as the club has done for decades supporting and spearheading many initiatives that sought to make the community a better place.

"It's unfortunate but it was time, I think, to recognize that continuing the club just didn't seem to make sense," said Durand Sr., who served several terms as president of the club over the years as well as a tenure as area governor.

As of its disbandment, membership in the local club numbered about seven to nine people, and it's been under 15 people for the past five or six years.

"We've tried to get members," said Ken Durand Jr., the current area governor for Seaway East and a past president of the local club.

In the club's heyday in the 40s, 50s and 60s, local membership was well over 100 people, but even as those numbers shrunk, the club continued in its mission to serve.

Over the decades, right up to last week, Rotary Club of Prescott has had its hand in many great programs and projects and supported many important community events. Back in the early 80s, Prescott's iconic clock tower was a Rotary project, as were the waterfront pavilion and the marina lighthouse more recently.

The club has also supported bursaries and scholarships for South Grenville District High School and TR Leger, and for many years maintained youth groups--the Interact and Early Act clubs--at both the high school and Wellington Public School. The Rotary Club has always been eager to support young people and get them more involved in the community. A few years ago, several young members organized a very generous Pennies for Polio campaign and just recently, a young Prescott resident returned from Denmark, where she was participating in a year-long exchange program sponsored by the Rotary Club.

The number of barbecues and breakfasts the club has put on over the years can't be counted, and even recently its remaining members, assisted by its youth wing, donated $1,600 to Fort McMurray to help residents displaced by last year's forest fires. Rotary has also supported many different charities, including Easter Seals, and in years past provided university scholarships to area graduates, including one to Georgetown University as recently as 1998.

Without more people to help, though, all of these efforts had to come to an end, at least in Prescott. Durand Jr. is moving on to join the Rotary Club of Brockville, and hopes that club will be willing to at least keep a hand in Prescott.

Several of the local club's members were on hand for the Shakespeare luncheon and were disappointed that so illustrious an organization that has done so much good for so long has to close its doors.

"I'm sad to see it go," said Bob Dayman, who has been a member since the early 90s. "I enjoyed the camaraderie."

Candy Alexander, who came on board about the same time as Dayman, expressed much the same sentiment.

"It was a lot of fun being a Rotarian," she said, adding that club members are grateful to everybody that has contributed to or helped out the club.

"We thank everybody in the community for the years of support."

The Rotary Club has left an impressive legacy, and over the years, its members have embodied the group's motto of service over self, and though it was necessary given the membership shortfall, the club's record of accomplishment only made it harder to fold.

"It wasn't an easy decision to make," said the younger Durand.

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