In a ceremony delayed two years due to COVID, the Brookings Rotary Club finally celebrated its status as a “100 Percent Paul Harris Fellow Club” on May 31. The club achieved the designation in 2020 by having every member qualified as a Paul Harris Fellow. Acknowledgement of the honor originally was to have been part of the club’s 100th anniversary.
            A Paul Harris Fellow is one who has donated at least $1,000 to The Rotary Foundation (TRF), or for whom someone else has donated $1,000 in his or her name.
            The club celebrated by awarding certificates and pins to members who achieved that status two years ago, and also recognizing those who have since achieved “Paul Harris Plus” status, with the $1,000 donation repeated in subsequent years. One other new member has also since achieved PH status and was recognized.
            Donations to TRF go to help with projects in one of seven areas of global and community service: Promoting Peace; Fighting Disease; Providing Clean Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene; Savings Mothers and Children; Supporting Education; Growing Local Economies; and Protecting the Environment.
            “Although projects usually are focused on one of these seven areas of service, often other areas are positively affected as well,” said Dr. Dan Little, Brookings Rotarian, Past District 5610 Governor, and current TRF Chair for the District. “It is a very distinct honor for the Brookings Club to have every member represented so generously towards the work of the Foundation, and a very rare occurrence for a club to achieve this one hundred percent status.”
            Little shared remarks with the club, noting ways in which TRF had responded directly to the crisis in Ukraine by shipping medical supplies, supporting wheelchair access and participating in other projects. Special guests at the meeting were Ukrainian refugee Olya Muzychenko and her children Denis and Kirill. They were introduced by SDSU professor Dr. Will Prigge, who was instrumental in helping the family re-locate safely in Brookings.
            Club President Don Norton welcomed Past President Jennifer Soma to the meeting. Soma was Club President in 2020 when the ceremony was originally to have taken place and returned to Brookings this week from her new club home in Pierre-Fort Pierre to help distribute the certificates and pins.
            The club members enjoyed a special celebration cake after lunch and its customary fellowship. “Our celebration may have been delayed a bit, but the work of Rotary is even more important today than in 2020 when our club first achieved this recognition,” said President Norton. “It’s a great time to be a Rotarian!”