Summer meeting will conclude 60 years of service
by Alex Wondaal
LANSING, Ill. (June 2, 2018) – In January of this year, members of the Lansing Rotary Club decided to terminate the organization after it could no longer accomplish the acts of service it had set out to provide.
The club was founded in 1958 and will conclude this summer. At its largest, the club had 65 members but is now down to only 15.
“We knew we couldn’t continue our commitment,” said Ed Lugowski, the club’s longest serving member. ”The writing was on the wall. The economy has changed and the world has changed.”
Lugowski began his service in 1978. He served as president of the club in 1983 and 1984 and then again from 2006 to 2013. He had perfect attendance at club meetings for 39 years.
Lugowski explained that support from local utilities companies has decreased and that there are fewer small business owners in Lansing that are able to support the club. Only two of the fifteen remaining members still live in Lansing, and Lugowski said that the distance has added difficulty to organizing attendance. He said that fighting and arguing amongst the group never happened and that disunity in the club had nothing to do with its termination.
Every year, the club was able to reward between seven and twelve high school graduates from Illiana Christian High School and T.F. South with a $1,000 scholarship by selling raffle tickets. However, with so few club members, raising the money has been a struggle. The club was hoping to raise money to help build a high school in Uganda, but after that project failed, the money raised was given to Lansing high school graduates one last time.
The club also raised funding for hundreds of dictionaries for schools in Lansing and five surrounding villages.
Lansing Rotary Club member Peter Boonstra said he will miss “a strong level of camaraderie we shared as we worked on service projects.”
Boonstra added that he was glad the group was diverse in the members’ races, genders, and professions. As the principal of Illiana Christian High School, he was thankful for the club’s strong emphasis on education.
Lugowski said his favorite part of the club was the exchange student program that gave children and young adults from all over the world the opportunity to live in Lansing and go to schools in the town. The year that Lugowski joined, the Lansing Rotary Club was hosting a girl from Holland, “and she proved to be a joy.” That experience revealed the importance of the Exchange Program, so when Lugowski’s sons were older, the family housed three exchange students, one each from Colombia, Argentina, and Malaysia. Lugowski says he now thinks of these as adopted children.
When the group was larger, the Lansing Rotary Club used to meet at the Lansing Country Club. It later moved to Popolano’s and now meets at Dixie Kitchen.