By Dave Russell

 

Jackson County is well known for having a big heart and coming out to help neighbors in need. The Sylva Rotary Club has stepped up to help for 90 years.

Working can be a problem for some who want to participate in Rotary but face the time constraint of the daytime meetings. Not any longer.

Folks interested in Rotary but unable to attend the lunch meetings have a new option – a satellite club that meets in the evening.

“Rotary International, the largest service organization in the world, has allowed for satellite clubs as a way to spur recruitment,” Membership Chair Eddie Wells said.

The Rotary Club of Sylva as currently constituted is a lunch club. The satellite club will differ in that there is no lunch, meaning reduced membership dues, he said.

Dues for the weekly daytime gathering are $182.50 per quarter, Wells said.

“For the satellite club, they are $50 a quarter,” he said.

The group meets the first and third Tuesdays of the month at the Paper Mill Lounge in downtown Sylva. They have had two meetings, and the next one is set for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Members in the evening group are still members of the Rotary Club of Sylva and will follow the daytime group’s bylaws.

“They have their own schedule and they decide what projects they want to do,” Wells said.

The evening group’s chair, Tavish Panozzo, serves as the satellite club’s representative on the Rotary Club board.

“She was the first person I called when I wanted to do this,” Wells said.

“We have 17 members already,” Wells said. “It’s growing fast.”

While the evening club is different in some ways, the core mission is still the same, Wells said.

“It’s the same premise,” he said. “You meet up and you try to do good in the world.”

Applications for the Rotary Club of Sylva are available on the website www.sylvarotaryclub.org/ under the Club Links tab.

As for projects, Panozzo said the main focus of the group is children and the elderly.

“We are in our beginning phases,” Panozzo said. “We are going to expand on Hands On Jackson’s activities.”

Hands On Jackson is a program that gathers volunteers and resources to fan out across the county helping the elderly and others with projects they can’t take on themselves.

“Hands On received more applications for help than they could accomplish, so once a quarter we’re going to take one of those applications and do the project,” she said.

The first project will involve cleaning gutters, tacking up some trim and cutting back some invasive bamboo.

“We’re also doing Project Fire, so we are cutting wood and delivering that wood to the elderly or people in need,” Panozzo said. “We sponsored a child for Cub Scouts because the rates went up, and we did some fundraising for that.”

They hope to work with Jackson County Public Schools and make sure every child has a pair of shoes, she said.

The application process takes about two weeks for Rotary officers to review, but virtually everyone gets in, Panozzo said.

“We’ve never in the history of our Rotary Club had anybody say ‘no’ to anybody who wants to participate,” she said. “And then we induct them into the club. We can use all the members we can get.”