The decision last week by the Fort Frances Rotary Club to turn in its charter has left our community weaker for it.
On the one hand, it’s just another in a list of casualties among local service clubs, such as the Jaycees and Kinsmen. But on the other, is it a harbinger of the fate our remaining service clubs face?
In the case of the Rotary Club, according to founding member Bill Badiuk, it wasn’t so much the number of current members, but a lack of interest, especially among the younger generation, to get involved. In other words, it was the same people doing all the work—and no one was willing to step up to fill their shoes.
That’s a problem facing other service clubs here in town and across the district. Up for debate is why. Are younger people having to spend longer hours in the workplace to keep their job or make ends meet, thus having less time or energy to volunteer?
Are young parents seeing all their free time taken up by getting their kids to minor hockey or soccer practice, to Tae-Kwon Do or Beavers? Or has society simply shied away from community service because it’s easier to be a “couch potato?”
What we take for granted, though, is the wonderful work these dedicated club members have done for everyone’s benefit—day in and day out—over the years. And it’s our communities that will suffer most if someday this all vanishes.
Sure, the Rotary Club may find another club to sponsor the Santa Claus parade each November. It also intends to fulfill all its current obligations, including work at the McIrvine Road park before disbanding completely.
But can other clubs fill the void when they, themselves, are having trouble attracting new blood?
In the short-term, the folding of the Rotary Club is a sad loss for Fort Frances. Unfortunately, unless more of us are willing to work for our communities, it may just be the latest victim of many in the long run.