Rotary of Atlanta West End Celebrates an Unusual Year, Gears Up for What's Ahead

On the evening of July 16, Rotary of Atlanta West End celebrated at their annual Installation Banquet, online. Twenty-seven club members gathered for a "virtual potluck," and several brought out their coats and ties and fine china to make the Zoom call as elegant as our typical in-person event.

President Paige McKay Kubik led a fully packed and inspiring agenda as her final responsibility as AWER president for RY2020.  She presented District Governor Mr. Kirk Driskell. Governor Kirk expressed deep appreciation for having been invited to the Installation Banquet and shared several inspirational thoughts about the meaning of being a Rotarian during a pandemic. He expressed gratitude for being permitted the honor of giving the oath of office to President Kimberly Weaver … whereupon he swore her in as AWER President for RY2021, followed by swearing in of the Club's Board of Directors for the coming year.  The 2020-2021 board includes: President Elect – Edward Henderson; President Nominee – C.J. Stewart; Immediate Past President – Paige McKay Kubik; Treasurer – Don Schewe; Secretary – Neil Shorthouse; Foundation – Sumeyra Ozturk; Vocational Service – Kevin Wilson; Public Image – Judith Fuller; New Generations – C.J. Stewart; Membership - Matt Parrish. 

After dinner, Paige invited Mr. Ceasar Gaiters, Assistant District Governor from the South DeKalb Club, to induct three new members who joined after the club began meeting online due to the pandemic. Robert Thompson, Sumeyra Ozturk, and Amber Champion have all been official members for months, but now have also had the ritual of induction.

Paige presented a slide show reminiscence of her year as President, and spoke about important accomplishments for RY2020. The club was in need of rejuvenation when the Rotary year began, so members chose three focus areas for the year ahead: Grow and engage membership, connect with the West End, and focus our service in the area of education. Despite the pandemic, we made significant progress in each area. Led by Matt Parrish we added 13 new members: Rose Caplan, Amber Champion, Jared Evans, Necole Gibbs, Christopher Hempfling, Carita Jackson, Marion Lessington, Sumeyra Ozturk, Collin Smith, Kyra Solomon, Robert Thompson, Kevin Wilson, and Cleta Winslow. We significantly increased activity in the West End, such as hosting a neighborhood reception for the Essential Theatre Georgia playwright festival, sponsoring a table for the West End Neighborhood Development jazz event at the Wren's Nest, hosting a prospective member event at Boxcar at Hop City, increasing social media connections to our West End community, and performing service at Washington Park and Washington High School. One goal President Paige had for increasing engagement of members was greater use of technology to connect. We had no idea when setting that goal that we would get a crash course during the pandemic! Our last four months online saw attendance actually increase, and service continued through virtual connections.

Paige thanked the retiring board, as well as several Rotarians for special service to the club: Akia Lewis for spearheading our District Grant application and reporting, Richard Gerakitis for his continued service as Club Administrator; Eric John, our club historian; Rose Caplan for her help in recruiting speakers after we switched to online meetings; Frances Ellison-Dansby for organizing our holiday events; Judith Fuller for stepping in as Keyway editor; Elma McCutchen as our Georgia Rotary Student Program liaison; and Uku Urb of Estonia as our most involved GRSP member in AWER history

The club celebrated awards it received at the recent District Celebration in Columbus: Runner-Up, Best Vocational Project; Runner-Up, Best Bulletin; Governor’s Citation; Best Membership Retention; and Interact Certificate of Achievement.

Paige then announced this year's Rotarian of the Year, Matt Parrish, for the tremendous work he did this year in increasing club membership by 42%. It wasn't just the numbers that earned Matt the award. It was the attention to engaging these new members, and to recruiting members who truly reflected our club's commitment to Service Above Self, Atlanta's West End, and an inclusive world.

Paige then "virtually" passed the gavel to President Kimberly. Paige said Kimberly's intellect and warmth and enthusiasm qualify Kimberly as the exact right person to lead the club forward and build on the work begun this year. The attention Kimberly has given to preparing and to talking with members about their hopes for their club and personal interests and engagement have helped her to craft a well-defined path forward.

President Kimberly shared it was her close friend Ann Cramer who urged Kim to consider AWER as an organization worthy of her association – “…indeed it is!” – she emphasized. She expressed gratitude for being a part the serious Service Above Self tradition the club has upheld for 62 years, which she considers remarkable. She deems our Club as wonderfully friendly, lovable and consequential – “It’s small and mighty” … and with emotion, Kim affirmed, “It is my family.” Some initiatives she sees for RY2021: Certainly, AWER will continue its Education Legacy at Brown Middle School, and Booker T. Washington High Schools, but she also wants to include M. Agnes Jones Elementary School. Kim also declared our need to join with others in confronting the huge health disparities facing people of color, and as a part of that remains committed to working on matters of racial and gender fairness and equity. Further, she’s expecting the Club members to unite with C.J. Stewart on important juvenile justice initiatives. And Kim said, “We will always be close to and be supportive of Our Lady of Perpetual Help and the noble and necessary devotion to its hospice support of persons with cancer, and stay committed to Alzheimer’s research – with our Coins For Alzheimer’s Research Trust via the C.A.R.T. bucket weekly donations.”

The meeting concluded with all reciting together the FOUR WAY TEST:  Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

View the slideshow celebrating Rotary of Atlanta West End's 2019-2020 year together.

Posted by Neil Shorthouse
July 16, 2020 9:00pm


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