The Rotary Club of North Bethesda, chartered by Rotary International in March 1974, is one of 68 clubs in Rotary District 7620. The club was the first breakfast club in the metropolitan Washington-Maryland area. The founders believed that our meeting time – 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. – would be convient for both Rotarians and guest speakers. Finding a suitable location in the North Bethesda area to accommodate our Friday morning breakfast meetings was no small task.
In the early days, the North Bethesda/Rockville Pike corridor was not as well populated as it is today. Although our breakfast locations changed several times over the years, each change contributed to the success of the club.
The commitment, energy and standards set by the Charter Members remains just as strong today as 30 years ago. The 26 founders, drawn from the local business community, can take great pride in what they started in 1974. Although most of the Charter Members have moved from the area, their legacy lives on. The six remaining Charter Members – Joseph B. Bunker, Donald E. Howard, Harvey H. Holland, Kent W. Mason, Glen F. Blong and Tas Tousimis – are just as active in club activities today as they were a quarter of a century ago.
The club is well known for its exciting, informative and fun-filled meetings. Many visiting Rotarians and guests have complimented the club on it’s meeting activities. Some said they could not believe that we could have so much fun at seven-thirty in the morning. Our meetings run from seven-thirty to eight-thirty with no exceptions. All guest speakers are alerted to this schedule.
Our speaker programs are among the best. Scheduling some 50 speakers over a year is a real challenge, but thanks to member efforts and the coordination of our president-elect we have met the challenge. Speakers address a wide range of local, national, and international topics. We have had many foreign embassy representatives who help us understand their country, government speakers who explain the workings of their agency, and many others who explain their work in the community.
The club publishes a weekly newsletter to keep all members informed of club events. The newsletter contains valuable information on what you missed if you could not attend a meeting and provides a schedule of upcoming activities.
The club celebrates member birthdays, reminds members of their anniversary, and endeavors to remind members of their spouse’s birthday. When a significant event occurs in a member’s life, the member may announce the event during the meeting by paying a “happy buck.” When a member is late for the meeting or does not wear the Rotary pin the member is fined by our Sergeant-at-Arms. These nominal fines go to the club treasury. The club has many committees which allow all members to be actively involved in Rotary Club projects. This is where the real work is done. The success of the club rests on those hard working committee members who generously give their time. Our members collectively donate thousands of hours to Rotary each year. This dedication serves as a powerful force for good in the community.
Club officers and directors set the tone for club meetings and inspire club projects. Although officers and directors are elected each Rotary year (July 1 – June 30), they share the vision and commitment of our founders.
The club competes with other Rotary clubs in the District’s awards program and has received numerous awards over the years. Written submissions on various award categories are prepared by club members and presented to the District for evaluation by the District Awards Committee. The awards are presented by the District Governor in recognition of outstanding achievements and projects during the year. The presentation takes place during the District convention.
Attending the annual District convention is another important part of the Rotary experience. The convention provides an opportunity for all 68 clubs in the District to get together and exchange ideas for club activities, attend seminars on new developments in Rotary, and network with other Rotarians. The convention is an inspirational experience with something for everyone. Members of our club have attended every District convention for the past 30 years.
In 1994, the club formed the Rotary Charitable Foundation of North Bethesda to facilitate the handling, processing, and distribution of funds to worthwhile causes. The foundation can receive member and non-member donations. All donations are tax deductible and go to the club’s charitable activities. The proceeds from club fundraising events are disbursed by the foundation with the joint approval of the board of the club and the foundation board.