LIBERTY — The Liberty Rotary’s membership is 88 strong, and like a piano that has 88 keys, the club is making harmonious music that is impacting lives all over the city and the Northland.

The group celebrated its annual installation Wednesday, June 26, at Belvoir Winery.

The group has given hundreds of hours of service to Rebuilding Together Kansas City, Harvesters, Rake the Town, Hillcrest Hope Adopt-A-Family at Christmas, Salvation Army bell ringing, Shoes for Orphan Souls, and the Liberty Hospital Foundation 5K and half marathon.

During Greater Kansas City Day, the Liberty Rotary raised funds for both the Rotary Youth Camp and the local Earnest & Edna Shepherd Center.

Past President Frank Dixon, with the most recent Past President Wendy Coffey and a few other members, ventured into elementary schools with Rotary Readers in 2017. The program launched at Lillian Schumacher and Manor Hill elementary schools in the Liberty district. Rotary Readers aims at providing new books for children to improve their reading and create their own personal libraries. Dixon and a couple of other Rotarians have gone into the schools to work on reading, spelling or other subjects in which a child needs help.

“We ended up having members read weekly in the classrooms and provided books for more than 120 students to take home,” Coffey said. “We also gained a new Interact group at South Valley Middle School with 60 members. Plus we have a new Interact Club at Liberty High School with special needs students.”

The Liberty Rotary Club membership is among 1.2 million worldwide in 35,000 clubs. Among the large organization’s goals is to eradicate polio.

The Liberty club honors a member of the club each year that exudes and amplifies the Rotary motto “Service Above Self.” The Rotarian of the year is named after longtime member Sam Chapman, who was a Rotarian for most of his life and lived the principles of Rotary daily.

The recipient this year is Dustin Prockish, the development and operation director for Hillcrest Hope. With the Rotary, he has begun serving as the administrative director and will continue this role through 2020.

“A good organization runs well when the backstage foundation is strong as well as those who are seeking the stage,” Coffey said. “Dustin’s service is that gift.”

Coffey relinquished the gavel to Jodi Sundaram, who will serve as president for the 2019-20 year.

“I’ve been a Rotarian for three years, but I can tell it has become a life-long passion,” she said.

Sundaram said she wants to work boosting membership participation and create a mentoring program for new members.

“We are also looking at a greater Kansas City Rotary project,” she said. “It’s designed to unite a large group of Rotary Clubs from all over the Kansas City area with clubs from Missouri and Kansas to establish service projects in the community.”

The first project, with a fall roll-out, is being titled Rotary Reads.

Sundaram said the plan is to have Rotarians reading to third- and fourth-grade classrooms in their specific communities. The book will tell the story of Andy and Elmer and the Rotary service values. She said there are at least 150 elementary schools in Kansas within the service area and 144 in Missouri.

“If we reach all the schools, we would be reading to 23,520 children and spreading the Rotary Service Above Self message,” she said. “Rotary is a great place to seek fellowship. I’m excited to see where our club can grow from here.”

Southeast Editor Kellie Houx can be reached at kellie.houx@mycouriertribune.com or 389-6630.

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