Kyrene Corridor Rotary Club first with Centennial charter

To the casual observer, it was just another benchmark in the normal chronology of events that, since 1904, have welcomed 1.2 million members into the family of Rotary International.

However, for those who appreciated its significance, the official chartering ceremony for Rotary Club of the Kyrene Corridor held a uniqueness all its own.

In just slightly more than a year, the local chapter of one of the world’s most renown organizations has grown from a handful of founders to nearly two dozen fully accredited members, all of whom can lay claim to charter-member status.

What’s more, say officials, the club has the distinction of being the first in Arizona to receive its charter during Rotary’s 2004 centennial year.

The local Rotary organization, newest of more than 30,000 such clubs in 166 countries, was the brainchild of Barb Feder, a former Rotary district governor and longtime owner of Framin’ Works, who collaborated with Kyle Maki of Wrangler News and Mary Contreras, a local State Farm agent, to launch a membership drive in October 2003.

The would-be club’s connection to the established core of Kyrene Corridor businesses, coupled with Rotary’s reputation for worldwide humanitarian service, quickly caught the eye of a number of area executives, and the campaign to generate members was off to a quick start.

First in line: attorney Tom Hickey, accountant George Kimbler, business entrepreneur Dave Kline, sales exec Jerry Mosteller and, finally, Keller Williams Realtor Wally Stuebner, who became the club’s first president.

Members convened weekly at interim locations until moving into their now permanent quarters in August, following a luncheon-meeting format that has been standardized for Rotary chapters around the world.

Here, however, with a younger and seemingly highly energized membership, some of the stereotypical similarities with longer-established clubs are less noticeable.

What many historically saw as an “old man’s club” (not to overlook the addition of women to the ranks 30 or so years ago) seems to have put on a face with a new look.

Members Maki, 25, and Jeff Brock, 23, illustrate a demographic not altogether comparable to other Rotary clubs around the world.

Maki, who serves as club secretary, says he seemingly was the youngest member attending a two-day training workshop for state officers last spring.

“Much of the discussion was about diversity, about encouraging clubs to actively recruit younger members,” said Maki.

“In our (Kyrene Corridor) club, we have at least four members 30 or under,” he said. “Visiting Rotarians who have shared their impressions sense that our club has a positive energy, with no stigma that we’re boring,” a reputation some of the longer-established clubs seem to have.

The younger contingent in the Kyrene Corridor club, however, is balanced by such members as Ras Rowe, a retired college professor who has been a Rotarian for years. Rowe rejoined Rotary after dropping out several years ago because he liked the youthful composite of the Kyrene Corridor group.

“This is great for us,” says Maki, “because it gives us the dual advantage of a younger group but the ability to learn from those with a lot of Rotary experience and connections.”

And, he notes, starting earlier in Rotary will enable new members to reap the benefits of a world-class organization for many years to come.

Rotary Club of Kyrene Corridor meets Mondays at noon. Information: (480) 966-0837.