The Kalispell Rotary Club will celebrate a century of service in style next weekend, hosting a party on Saturday, Feb. 1, at the Snowline Acres Event Center to mark the club’s 100th anniversary.
“We are basically throwing a party to celebrate all that Rotary has done for the community over the past century,” former Kalispell Rotary Club President and event organizer Janice Lake said. “It really is a celebration of the past, present and future. It’s a really big deal for us. We want to help people break out of the mid-winter doldrums.”
The party will feature a catered menu highlighting foods from around the world, a cash bar and dancing to the music of local band “Ten Minutes Late.”
The party begins at 5 p.m. and tickets are available for $50 online at www.kalispellrotary.org.
Organized in December 1919, the Kalispell Rotary Club received its charter in January 1920, becoming just the 11th Rotary Club in Montana and the first in the Flathead Valley.
According to historical documents compiled by the Kalispell club, the idea to organize the Kalispell chapter came at a time when the town’s population had grown to 6,500 and “business and professional men were growing in number and in competitive spirit. A small-town, first-name atmosphere was being replaced by the less personal drive for progress and growth.”
Kalispell Club founder Carl Hummer encountered the Rotary Club while on a personal trip to Tucson, Arizona, and decided to bring its philosophies back with him to the Flathead Valley.
What began with 15 charter members in 1920 has grown to as many as 140 members, but is currently hovering around 100.
Building on the international service organization’s stated purpose of bringing together business and professional leaders in order to provide humanitarian service and to advance goodwill and peace around the world, the Kalispell Rotary Club put together a number of notable projects over the years, including its ever-popular youth basketball program, the construction of Kidsports Miracle Field, the continuing quest for the eradication of polio around the globe, and most recently, the Great Bear Festival and Dig Rotary Day.
The Kalispell Rotary Club also played an instrumental role in the formation of the Glacier-Waterton International Peace Park in the 1930s. A collaborative project between Rotary clubs in Montana and Alberta, Canada, the Peace Park was created by U.S. President Herbert Hoover and Canadian Prime Minister R.B. Bennett in 1932, one year before the opening of the Going-to-the-Sun Road.
According to club historian Caitlin Overland, it’s the club’s interest in local and international goodwill projects that embodies the spirit of the organization.
“I think one of the things that is compelling about our club and about Rotary in general is that projects to help the local community are as celebrated as the international projects,” she said. “Our Rotarians are people of action and they are getting things done. I’m proud to be a part of all of it.”
Once an all-male organization, the Rotary Club has changed a lot over the past 30 years. The Kalispell club inducted its first female member, Nancy Manning, in 1989, and Rita Fitzsimmons served as the club’s first female president from 1995-1996.
“There’s an old joke that says that Rotary is a group for old men and their fathers. It just isn’t that way anymore,” Overland said. “Now we have women and younger people getting involved. It really is for all people who want to help people in their community and abroad.”
As always, the club is looking for new members to help carry on the spirit of service.
“We want anyone with a heart of service who is willing to help grow the ideals of Rotary,” club member Gina Holland said. “Everyone is there because they want to be, not because they have to. These are people that are giving from their hearts.”
For more information about the Kalispell Rotary Club, visit the website at www.kalispellrotary.org.
Reporter Jeremy Weber may be reached at 758-4446 or firstname.lastname@example.org.