PARKERSBURG - More than 150 Rotarians from around the state are expected for this weekend's Rotary District Conference at West Virginia University at Parkersburg.
Officials Friday morning were busy organizing the multipurpose room where Rotarians were beginning to filter in for the conference that runs through Sunday.
Greg Smith, governor for Rotary District 7350, said this marks the first time area Rotary has held a mid-year conference and only the third time Parkersburg has hosted a conference.
Photo by Michael Erb
Greg Smith, left, governor for Rotary District 7350, and Rotary International representative Todd Lindley, right, stand next to a “Welcome Rotarians” sign on the campus of West Virginia University at Parkersburg. Friday marked the start of the three-day Rotary Club District Conference, bringing together more than 150 area Rotarians.
"We haven't had a district governor from this area since 1984," Smith said. "This is kind of nice bringing Rotary back to the area."
Smith said the event would not have been possible without the support and work of the Parkersburg Rotary Club and the Wood County Rotary Club.
"It has been been a team effort," he said.
Rotary International representative Todd Lindley of Missouri is a guest of honor at this weekend's events, representing Sakuji Tanaka, Rotary International president for 2012-13. Rotary International represents 532 districts in more than 200 countries world wide.
"I think this is a great time to bring Rotarians together," he said. The mid-year event gives members a chance to gain additional training, learn about grant opportunities and have fellowship while working on year-long projects.
Lindley said he often attends such events to bring greetings and convey messages of support from Tanaka.
Friday night's speaker was Beverly Simon who talked about her personal experience living with polio and about the Rotary's quest to eradicate the disease worldwide.
Smith said the topic and guest held a special significance for him because Simon is his sister-in-law.
"For me it is a topic that is really close to home," he said. "Rotary has set a goal to eliminate Polio in the world, and we are really close to being successful."
Other speakers will discuss Rotary youth exchange and services, international services and the future of Rotary.
An orientation for new members also will be held today. After the conference ends Sunday, Rotarians will attend the Air Expo 2012 at the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport, Smith said. Smith is a former organizer of the air show.
The conference, generally held in the spring, was moved to the fall near mid-term of the governor to better assess programs and initiatives of the Rotary, Smith said.
Service above self is the Rotary motto and the reason why the district is evaluating the impact of its programs upon communities, Smith said. The 1,250 members in the 31 Rotary clubs represented in the district are involved in numerous service programs including the E-Mentoring initiative of the Education Alliance in West Virginia, service projects with high school Interact Clubs and raising funds for food banks, such as the Mountaineer Food Bank, he said.