Things Change… Things Stay the Same!


rotary wheel logo colorThe Rotary Club of Jamestown, NY was organized on May 31. 1919 and received its Charter of membership on june 17, 1919 – 100 YEARS AGO! For the past 100 years, this Club has met almost every Monday at 12:15 for lunch and fellowship to foster Rotary’s motto “Service Above Self.” The noon meetings include lunch, interaction with friends and fellow members and a speaker that brings news of community activities and projects to the members of the Club.

This year has been a banner year of celebration for the Rotary Club of Jamestown and its members as it has celebrated its past achievements and develop plans for future projects. AND THEN EVERYTHING CAME TO A HALT! No more meetings, no more fellowship, no more handshakes! For the past 100 years, Monday at 12:15 had been set aside by local members for the fellowship of Rotary!

Because of the COVID 19 pandemic, in addition to the loss of interaction with family and business and religious aspects of life, members had lost Rotary, their avenue of “Service above Self” to their community! Oh how THINGS CHANGE!

Not to be put aside, Rotarians quickly put their heads together and devised a way for Monday Club meetings at 12:15 to continue. The Club’s President, Cheri Maytum-Krull, who already worked remotely from home, was familiar with ZOOM, a relatively easy and versatile computer program for video conferencing used by many organizations throughout the world. Madam President set to work, with other members of the Board of Directors assistance, to decide on steps to keep the Club in virtual contact until the pandemic restrictions are lifted.

Every Sunday, the President sends out a blanket email to the members of the Club informing them of the details of the meeting and giving the members their sign-in information. Members can either download ZOOM on their computer or join the Zoom meeting through a Link that she sends out. Members begin signing in at about noon and can chat among themselves before the formal business meeting begins. People can reveal their own screen sothey can be seen by the others, or they can black out their screen. Members can also mute their voice or participate in the conversations. Once the meeting begins, the President mutes everyone and the screen shows only her, unless she recognizes another member.

The meeting begins with a virtual Pledge of Allegiance and an invocation (given by rotating members each week). The President then gives the week’s announcements and calls on committee chairpeople to give their reports. Members can indicate to the President that they have a question, and they are called upon.

Rotarians have been meeting at the Doubletree Hotel Ballroom since late last summer and now each member, voluntatily, on the honor system, is putting aside the money they would have paid for their lunch to replenish the Club’s operating funds that normally would have been collected each week from fines and the announcement of Happy Bucks (births, graduations, a promotion at work, etc.). Every attempt has been made to keep the Rotary meeting as normal as possible.

Finally, the week’s speaker presents the program to the Club. The Speaker presents for 10 to 15 minutes and then questions are accepted from the membership. Speakers range from CEOs of local businesses, not-for-profit organizations, education programs and sometimes Rotary business objectives are presented. Participation/attendence in the Rotary ZOOM meetings are not mandatory, but have been averaging about 40 members per week. The Secretary of the Club takes attendence at the meetings and members are given credit for their particiation which has always been an important driver of Rotary.