This group of civic-minded business professionals gathers every Thursday evening from 7 to 8 p.m. at their usual place, a white building located next to Tom’s Texaco in Golden Meadow. Their building is marked with a huge, 6 foot, blue and yellow cog wheel, reminiscent of something out of Spacely Sprocket’s factory from the Jetsons.
They are called Rotarians. Sounds like a race of people expected to beam onto the Enterprise. The Rotarians are all earth-bound people focused on making our world a better place. They are members of the Golden Meadow Rotary Club.
Rotarians have been gathering weekly and doing good deeds in our community since 1943. Their first president was Dr. J. Andre Gravois, and I am sure he isn’t from space, or any of this dynamic group’s members which since 1989, includes women.
Since its charter was awarded in 1943, the Golden Meadow Rotary Club has accomplished some amazing things throughout our community that we take for granted. They established blinking lights at Falgout Funeral Home in Galliano, the Golden Meadow Bridge and street lights throughout the town of Golden Meadow.
And they do much, much more. They added rubber around the playground equipment, three lighted tennis courts and a basketball court at Oakridge Park in Golden Meadow.
But their reach extends far beyond Golden Meadow. They currently award scholarships to students from South Lafourche High School attending Nicholls State University – currently they have four students at NSU on a $3,500 scholarship.
Doctors Without Borders, Engineers Without Borders, Architects Without Borders, etc., the list goes on … are all Rotary Club initiatives.
In 1985, Rotary focused on the eradication of polio from our planet. They are almost there! Along with the World Health Organization, Rotary International has eradicated the disease throughout the world. Only Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria remain.
“That’s because of war in those countries. We haven’t been able to go in there yet,” says Mike Collins, a long-time Rotary member who has served as District Governor and traveled to some exotic locales doing good.
“I was in the Philippines when we administered the polio vaccine to people,” says Collins. “The vaccines are given yearly for 5 years. After that time if no cases of polio are found, the country is polio free. And, the cost is only $.60 per dose. If we can eliminate polio from the final three countries, our world will be polio free!”
Peter Pitre has been a 34-year Rotarian and has perfect attendance at the meetings. He has witnessed the effects of their polio eradication efforts first hand.
“A guy in our company from India came up to me and hugged me,” says Pitre. “He told me ‘thank you’ for eradicating polio from my country.”
India has been polio free for two years now.
Rotary Clubs are linked to District Clubs which are linked to a National Rotary Club and Rotary International. Rotary is on six continents. It’s a global organization with local roots.
“After Hurricane Katrina, I sent an email to the Rotary Clubs in our district and sent it up the ladder stating that we needed water,” says Collins. “Within a week, we had 40,000 gallons of water. We are a group that certainly values service to community more than service to self.”
Their ideas for good deeds come from various sources, one of which is their local members.
“We are trying to get younger people involved to keep our ideas and projects new and fresh,” he says. “We also get ideas from other Rotarians at conferences, through exchange programs and our monthly magazine.”
Grand Isle and Lockport have a Rotary Club as well. Each is autonomous and performs different acts of good for the communities they serve. Their fundraising is also different. That’s why this group decided to gather at one of their member’s homes Thursday instead of their traditional meeting place. They are preparing shrimp for their upcoming fundraiser.
“The Rotary Bayou Music Festival and Shrimp Cook Off is our largest fundraiser of the year,” says Collins. “It’s held Saturday, October 4 at Oakridge Park.”
The event features bands and a shrimp cook off. So far, there are ten teams registered for the competition.
“Participants pay $15 and can eat all the boiled shrimp they want, all of which are prepared by our teams of competitive boilers,” says Collins. “The teams show up at 8 a.m. and begin preparing. We provide the water to boil and the shrimp. The doors open at 11 a.m.”
Every penny the 501(c)3 non-profit organization receives goes right back into our community in the form of good acts.
“Every dollar Rotary spends is accounted for,” says Collins. “When we gather on Thursday nights, we have a meal that we pay for. Rotary money is only used for community projects.”
Collins gets emotional as he looks at the 700 pounds of shrimp being de-headed and iced down.
“It gives me goose bumps to see this shrimp … all of this represents money - money for Rotary that we can use to do good in our community for the entire year!”
Rotary Club volunteers peel shrimp for the annual Rotary Bayou Music Festival and Shrimp Cook-off set for Saturday, October 4 at the Golden Meadow Oakridge Park.
Posted on Fri, September 26, 2014
by Marc Kimball, Contributing Writer