A Grand Night for Great Causes; Twenty-Seventh Annual Rotary Auction

Rotary Member Kimberly Thomas, Co-Chair Carrie Graham, Club President Susan Jones, and Co-Chair Hiroko Walter

A roof over your head on a rainy night, a warm bed to sleep in, pots ‘n pans and a sturdy stove…all that and much more—a bit of dignity—can arrive in a portable Rotary ShelterBox after the mud slide that washed your village into the sea or the earthquake that shook your home to rubble. What if you could make all that happen for someone by simply taking home a shiny new lawn mower or a big basket of luxurious bath indulgences? It will be a piece of cake for you at the Twenty-seventh Annual Rotary Auction on April 20, 2012.

 “I really enjoy doing it,” says Rotarian, Carrie Graham, Jamestown’s Branch Manager for Manpower. This is her eighth year chairing the Rotary auction committee. “It’s great watching the community coming together for such a good cause…in spite of the sleepless nights and all the work,” she adds with a smile. “It refreshes you to know you are helping someone.”

Last year, according to Graham, the Jamestown chapter of Rotary International raised $25,000 for local grants to deserving organizations and individuals, for disaster relief around the globe, for an international student exchange and more. Auction proceeds also help Rotary International wrap up their project to remove polio forever from Planet Earth.

“We’re ‘this close’,” says Sue Jones, Jamestown Rotary president, describing the Rotary’s worldwide Polio Plus project. Polio once raged in epidemic proportions around the globe, affecting millions every year. It has now been beaten down to a rare handful in a few remaining hotspots. We are ‘this close’ to the historic, final defeat of this tenacious scourge.

Outbound Exchange  Students with                     Randy Sweeney, Community Foundation           leaving soon from Jamestown are Nalan Wells, traveling to Australia and Dana Filsinger, traveling to Spain

Graham says there are at least two ways to participate in the auction and the work it supports. First, for a great Friday night out, with hors d’oeuvres, a cash bar, a bidder card and a couple of hours in the company of one of the country’s most entertaining and successful auctioneers, Chuck Ludwig—a special treat in itself—simply come to the Dr. Lillian Vitanza Ney Renaissance Center, 119-121 West Third St. in Jamestown. The doors will open at 6 p.m. on Friday, April 20, 2012, with a $5 donation.

The second way to join in is to donate an item to be auctioned. Up for bids this year, for instance, are a John Deere JS36 Self Propelled Lawn Mower donated by Z&M Ag & Turf, a one year membership to JCC Total Fitness donated by JCC Total Fitness, a beautifully refinished antique trunk donated by Skip Proctor, an HP Office Jet 4500 All-in-One Printer donated by WCA Hospital, a $400 gift certificate donated by Spectrum Eyecare, a 1-week stay at a luxurious seaside Marriott condo in Hilton Head, SC, donated by Jamestown Rotarian, Jim Smith, and dozens of baskets of luxury goods, delicious treats and even practical items.

To donate items or gift certificates, or even to make a cash contribution, a phone call is all it takes. Call Carrie Graham, auction chair for the Jamestown Rotary, at 499-2935 any day before Friday, April 20, though the sooner the better, as the auction staff is already in the final whirlwind stages of preparation. Contributions are tax deductable and deeply appreciated.

Imagine a place where a luxury would be a class of water you can drink without getting sick, says club president Jones, or a day when you can drink that glass of water without walking 5 kilometers to get it. Jamestown’s Rotary drilled wells to make that clean water an everyday reality in two rural villages last year, in sub-Saharan Niger and in Haiti. The Rotary auction helps make life-giving contributions like that possible every year.

Money raised by the Rotary Club of Jamestown’s fund raising events are divided 60/40 between community and international projects. The auction is the biggest fundraiser of the year for the Rotary Club, whose mission is always “Service above Self.”

The In-bound and Out-bound Youth Exchange Program, for instance, promotes world peace and understanding through good works and education. Jones’ granddaughter was in Japan with the Youth Exchange Program at the time of last year’s tsunami and earthquake and able to experience and report first-hand on the devastating events. Rotary students in Japan returned home early to lessen the burden on their hosts, but many plan to go back with a renewed and deepened understanding of life in another culture.

The Rotary Club of Jamestown also provides smaller grants or other forms of assistance to 10 to 20 greater Jamestown area community organizations for equipment, special projects and programs.

Among the most popular auction items are the Money Pies. The auction begins with some of the most delicious, home made and hand crafted pies in Chautauqua County, baked by Rotary members. Each of three pies is accompanied by an envelope, one of which contains $200, one with $100 and one with $50. The bidding is always lively and the pie is always mouth watering…and whichever prize the winning bidder earns is always the best secret ingredient.


Rotary Exchange Students (L to R), Asako Nakamoto of Kanazawa, Japan; Emilie Bjerre of Odense, Denmark; Virag Hollos, Am Rotary's Exchange Student from Eastern Europe; Judith Aisthorpe from Australia

While the items up for bid are always outstanding, Graham wants people who come to the auction to know that their bids earn much more than a fine article of trade or a service. The bids all serve a higher purpose; to improve the lives of friends and neighbors at home and around the world. This is not meant to be a low price flea market built for bargains, but a valuable opportunity to make the best contribution one can make to “Service above Self,” and to receive a sincere and high value Thank You in return.

The auction was founded by auctioneer Chuck Ludwig 27 years ago as a Rotarian committed to community service. A signature Ludwig addition to each year’s auction is an absolutely punctual start, always at exactly 7:05 P.M. Anyone unable to attend in person, but still interested in supporting the community, can join the silent auction for items such as gift certificates and more, by visiting extras.post-journal.com/RotaryAuction/.

A Grand Night for Great Causes – The Twenty-seventh Annual Rotary Auction, will take place at the Dr. Lillian Vitanza Ney Renaissance Center, 119-121 West Third St. in Jamestown. The doors will open at 6 p.m. with a $5 donation and hors d’oeuvres, a cash bar, and a bidder card. The auction begins at 7:05, exactly.