FOUR CORNERS – They’re an international organization, with chapters across the globe, doing work to save lives, help the needy, and improve local communities.
One of the top goals right now for the Rotary Club, said Mary Ellen Kerber, is ending polio in every nation in the world.
“We have Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria, which are the only countries left,” she said. “There are fears of another outbreak there.”
Rotary International, also known as the Rotary Club, is a service organization to bring together business and professional leaders to provide humanitarian services, encourage high ethical standards, and help build goodwill and peace in the world. There are 34,282 clubs and more than 1.2 million members worldwide – including in Four Corners, where Kerber is the current president of the local chapter.
They meet regularly at the Carrabba’s Italian Grill Restaurant at the Formosa Gardens shopping plaza on U.S. 192 in Four Corners. Kerber, who is also the manager of Formosa Gardens, said they do a lot of work in the community and stay very active.
But what they really could use right now, she added, is more members.
“We are the Little Club that can,” she said. “Even though we’re only 12 members, and we’re up against clubs with 60 members or more.”
It can be challenging to bring on new members in an area as transient as Four Corners, where the counties of Polk, Lake, Orange and Osceola meet at U.S. 27 and U.S. 192. The area went through a residential construction boom in the last decade, followed by the emergence of a growing number of new commercial shopping plazas.
But the collapse of the real estate market left some of those newly built subdivisions as virtual ghost towns, and the area has struggled to shake off the impact of a high inventory of unsold homes and foreclosures.
Now Four Corners is starting to attract more commercial development, and Kerber hopes more and more business leaders get involved in the Four Corners Rotary and contribute to the good work they do.
“There were people who didn’t think our club would survive three years ago, and we proved them wrong,” she said. “But we do need to build up our membership.”
The Rotary Club just started a business directory, so business owners who are active in a local Rotary chapter can contact one another.
“The Rotary would like to promote business between Rotarians,” said Celebration Realtor Christian Bohyn, a member of the Four Corners Rotary. “If you need something, look in that directory and see who does what. It’s so I know I have people in there I can trust.”
The Four Corners Rotary Club is active in a lot of charitable work. They’ve assisted the Sunshine Foundation’s Dream Village in Davenport, which provides terminally ill and abused children and their families with a free visit to the local theme parks and attractions, and the Rotary Club is assisting that non-profit organization with its biggest fund-raiser of the year, the Grand Masque Ball at the Reunion development on Oct. 27.
They also help people who are disabled, said Tom Brannigan, a member of the Four Corners Rotary. The club is now able to install a wheelchair ramp for anyone in the Four Corners area at no cost or expense. The person must have a permanent need for a wheelchair, and essentially be housebound without a ramp.
“We’ve been able to build ramps to their mobile homes,” he said. “Otherwise, they would be shut in their homes.”
Doing this volunteer work can be a very rewarding experience, Kerber said.
“Fellowship is the key,” she said. “I enjoy meeting so many other Rotarians from other places. It’s just amazing to hear how much these clubs are giving back.”