Rotary Club of The Woodlands cultivates fellowship among community leaders

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Since its inception in 1975, Rotary Club of The Woodlands has brought together community leaders from Montgomery and Harris counties working to give back both locally and internationally.

Rotary Club is a worldwide service organization established in 1905 in Chicago by founder Paul Harris. More than 110 years later, the organization has more than 1.2 million members in 32,000 clubs located in 200 countries.

The first charter president, Vernon Robbins, founded The Woodlands chapter on June 19, 1975, as the community was still being built. More than 40 years later, the club has 185 members, including four of its original charter members, who meet every Thursday.

“We have so many community leaders in Rotary Club that when you go to our meetings, you could be sitting next to a school district superintendent, a county judge or [U.S. Rep.] Kevin Brady, and you’re serving alongside those people,” President Judy Olson said. “Rotary Club is for anyone who has a heart for service.”

Rotarians are passionate about six main causes, including promoting peace; fighting disease; providing clean water, sanitation and hygiene; saving mothers and children; supporting education; and growing local economies, Olson said.

With these focal points in mind, Rotary Club of The Woodlands is working to build a Rotary House, which would serve as a place for families to stay while their loved ones are being treated in one of South Montgomery County’s local hospitals.

“The need for a Rotary House has arisen because we’ve had so many hospitals come to The Woodlands area,” Olson said. “We’re starting small with extended stay units at one of our local hotels, and we plan to expand it until we have our own facility.”

The Woodlands club also donates more than $30,000 in scholarship money each year to The Woodlands High School, College Park High School, Oak Ridge North High School, The John Cooper School, The Woodlands Christian Academy and Lone Star College-Montgomery.

Following Hurricane Harvey, the organization established the Community Restoration Committee through which Rotarians repaired and restored affected homes. The club also adopted three local families to support through the rebuilding process.

“The aftermath of Hurricane Harvey is not a sprint; it’s a marathon,” Olson said. “People are going to have needs long after this immediate crisis, and we want to be there to help these folks for the next three to five years.”

In addition to these causes, Rotary Club of The Woodlands also hosts a variety of events throughout the year to support local nonprofits and participate in community events, such as the annual In the Pink of Health, Light the Night and the Montgomery County Youth Services gala.

“People join Rotary Club for three reasons: for service, to network or to build friendships,” Olson said. “Rotary has been a very satisfying and rewarding part of my life for the past 12 years. Together, we can have a big impact and make a difference in the world.”

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Hannah Zedaker

Born and raised in Cypress, Texas, Hannah Zedaker graduated from Sam Houston State University in 2016 with a bachelor's degree in mass communication and a minor in political science. She began as an intern with Community Impact Newspaper in 2015 and was hired upon graduation as a full-time reporter for The Woodlands edition in May 2016. She covers business, transportation, health care and other local news, specializing in Shenandoah City Council and Montgomery County nonprofit organizations.

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