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Elba Civic Club Plans to ‘Light Up Rotary’

Last Tuesday the Elba Rotary Club passed the torch to it’s next commander in chief.  Laurie Chapman, mother of two and CEO of Wiregrass Weddings, succeeded former President and local attorney Bart Boothe.

Boothe is a former member of the Opp Rotary Club but after opening an office in downtown Elba he soon made the switch.  “Elba Rotary Club had much better meals”, says Boothe.  “We eat good here.”

Laurie Chapman is a graduate of Auburn University.  She enjoys community development, entrepreneurship and puppies and now owns Wiregrass Weddings, an internet-based wedding stationery business she started 15 years ago after moving to Elba.

Chapman has been a member of the Elba Rotary club for about 8 years and was once appointed to serve as president before, however, due to sickness in the family she was obligated to step down after about a month.  Now she’s back and has already set goals based around next year’s rotary theme.

“[The theme] is set by the international President and this year is Light Up Rotary”, said Chapman, whose priority this year will be to “fire up” membership.  “A lot of bigger towns have around 30 members.  Elba only has 17.  Membership is something I really want to focus on.”  This is one of the lowest memberships the Elba Rotary Club has ever seen.  Even in its inception it began with 25 members.

Last year’s theme was Engage Rotary.  Bart Boothe believed that many service organizations are too quick to donate money before they donate time.  “Last year’s theme was all about making sure that we give but also that we participate”, said Boothe. 

Worldwide, Rotary has made it its priority to eliminate the polio disease.  Polio is a crippling and potentially fatal disease that is still a threat in some rural parts of the world.  In 1985 Rotary International launched its PolioPlus program as an answer to the critical effects of the disease. 

Since then the PolioPlus program has successfully eradicated 99% of infections.  “We’re this close,” said Boothe as he holds up his thumb and index figure illustrating the percentage.  Rotary international—along with its partners—have decreased the number of annual cases from 350, 000 to less than 250.  

Elba has been doing its fair share in the community as well by throwing fundraisers and community events.  The Foggy Bottom 5k run is one of the annual events that the Rotary club hosts to raise money and awareness.  “Griffin Shirley took the lead on that, he’s a runner.  He started the 5k about 3 or 4 years ago and it’s been very successful.”

In addition to the 5k the Elba Rotary Club also hosts an annual golf tournament, which has been running strong for about 18 years.

The Elba Rotary Club Meets for lunch every Tuesday at noon in the First Baptist church.  

Tags: Elba

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