It's not your father's Rotary Club

Legacy Rotary Club member Eric Fleske, left, receives the club’s charter from then-District Governor Terry Godfrey of Cyril.

There’s something different about the Legacy Rotary Club in Norman. Its eclectic mix of members meet less often than traditional Rotary groups, and when they do get together, you might find them seated at a restaurant instead of a conference room.

And yet, it’s what this group has in common with other Rotarians that makes it so appealing to its members — it strives to affect positive change.

Although Legacy was formally chartered more than a year ago, its founders began envisioning what the club would look like more than two years ago.

Carol Dillingham, who currently serves as president, said her fellow charter members met with individuals from existing Rotary clubs and others who were interested in Rotary, but were dissuaded by its reputation for “rigid” meeting attendance requirements and other “old school” things that seem more like fraternity hazing than activities that strengthen relationships, build community and offer opportunity for service. 

“Rotary in a nutshell is all about the people who have embraced the simple — but not necessarily easy — principle of ‘service above self,’” she said.  “Rotary is good people sharing their strengths in service of others first.”  

Legacy is Norman’s fourth Rotary Club, joining the Norman Rotary, Sooner Rotary and Crosstimbers Rotary clubs. Those groups meet weekly at specific locations and times. The noon club meets at First Christian Church on Thursdays, Sooner Rotary meets at 7 a.m. Tuesdays at Golden Corral and the Crosstimbers Rotary meets at 6 p.m. Tuesdays at Rotary House, 1531 W. Boyd.

Dillingham said they struggled to find a name that would reflect the organization. Most of the members are younger than the “average Rotarian,” Dillingham said, and many have young children they want to include in after-hours club activities. Each member also brings fresh ideas to enable growth in this worldwide organization that represents “service above self” in all things.

The club differs with its meeting schedule. Rather than meet each week at the same time and place, the club has a lunch meeting the first Tuesday of the month and an “after work” social meeting the third Thursday of the month. Members also count a monthly service opportunity as a meeting and attending another club or an online meeting makes the month full. It doesn’t have monthly board meetings, either — instead, members gather for strategic planning luncheons to build goals and objectives. 

“While this makes it a bit difficult to keep up with us, we are working on our web presence so that fellow Rotarians can find us,” Dillingham said. “We also differ a bit in that we make a strong effort to include our families in at least one social activity per quarter.  Our ‘grow your own’ Rotarian project has many of the youngsters of our members asking ‘when do I go to Rotary next?’”

Dues are lower than other clubs by design, Dillingham said. From its inception, the Legacy membership felt that Rotary was missing exceptional members by having prohibitively high dues in many clubs. Not only are dues lower, but the club also has a volunteer option to contribute $5 per month to a “scholarship” fund for the club.  

“Legacy members generally prefer to participate in service activities rather than just funding them,” she said. 

In their first year, the club “adopted” Thunderbird Clubhouse for the current and next fiscal year. With the generous donation of Mike Thompson of Thompson Pools, Legacy has already given the Clubhouse patios a makeover. Future activities will meet needs for things that the members have identified, Dillingham said, and some of those ideas include job readiness coaching, emergency veterinarian visits, pet food, exercise equipment and programs, additional storage space and a new activity van. 

In addition to growing its membership, Dillingham said the club has created fundraising activities to support their service projects and engage more regularly with other local Rotary clubs on larger projects. Dillingham said the club is currently looking to create a summer “Legacy Fest” fundraiser with a Bar-B-Q and Blues theme that will be a family friendly event, as well as their key fundraiser.  

“We are not ‘your father’s Rotary’ and welcome everyone to come check us out,” she said. “We may not be every Rotarian’s cup of tea, but we do have fun.”

Sarah Kirbyskirby@normantranscript.comFollow me @skirbyreports

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