Rotary Club 25
Enriching the community for 100 years
Photo by Brian Rauvola
Many of us wish we had more time to volunteer. Some of us have dreams of somehow saving the world or making a significant contribution to World Peace or finding the cure for Cancer. Others believe that even the small things we do can make a difference and dive right in and join boards, community groups and organizations that donate their time and money to making our community better. One such group is Rotary Club 25. Two hundred and fifty members strong, this is the oldest and most affluent Rotary club in Duluth.
Rotary was originally formed to promote the concept of “service above self.” Rotarians around the world practice this creed by giving back to their communities and in many cases, their world, in international projects such as the quest to eradicate polio globally. Our own local rotary clubs do many service projects both in our area and in exotic destinations like Peru, Africa and Mexico. Rotary Club 25, however, stands out above the others in size, scope and ability to support the community in projects that require funds many times above the means of the other, smaller clubs.
One of the oldest Rotary Clubs in the world, Club 25 celebrated its 100th birthday on June 3, 2011 with a spectacular gift to the City of Duluth – the lighting of Enger Tower. Roni Salo, outgoing club president wanted to make a significant contribution to the community during her tenure, which coincided with Club 25’s 100th anniversary. A centennial committee was formed, headed by Raija Macheledt, to plan and execute the celebration.
“It was amazing,” Salo expressed, “to be able to celebrate 100 years of service to the community and to our members and to be able to lead the club during that period. The Centennial Celebration was a great opportunity to bring together our members with Rotary District Governors and the Rotary International President.”
Raija and her committee began planning the Centennial Dinner and Celebration more than a year ago. Timing was critical as it had to fit the schedule of Rotary International President Ray Klinginsmith, who travels globally in service of the Rotarian mission to make the world a better place. And it had to be a party worthy of all the volunteer efforts of Rotarians through the past 10 decades -- not too elaborate so that it didn’t take funds away from the truly important work, but noteworthy in a manner that attendees and the community at large would remember and support.
In order to highlight the contribution to the City, the lighting ceremony at Enger Park was planned to take place during the celebration at the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center so that those attending could view it from the DECC’s Harborside Ballroom windows. A last minute glitch almost prevented the most important part of the celebration from taking place as a significant power outage occurred that night in Duluth. Ironically, Roni is a Minnesota Power employee and she joked in her speech that even the most intricate of plans are sometimes waylaid by circumstances beyond anyone’s control.
As it turned out, the lighting ceremony went on without a hitch and there is now a beautifully restored and amazingly lit Enger Tower thanks to Rotary Club 25. They are the “lighters” of Duluth, having lit the Aerial Lift Bridge and the Historic Union Depot as past contributions from their Club. And in giving us that light, they enrich themselves and us. For as contemporary poet Ben Sweetland stated, “We cannot hold a torch to light another’s path without brightening our own.”