Over the past 22 years, Brentwood Morning Rotary has built a strong and devoted membership that enjoys both fellowship and community service.
Originally sponsored by the Brentwood Noon Rotary Club, they were chartered on April 23, 1999 with 45 Charter Members. The Brentwood Morning Breakfast Club started because there was a need for another club for those who couldn’t make lunch.
“Their charter is special,” said John Miles, then District Governor. “It was signed by me, as well as the Charter President, Larry Boyd, and the Rotary International President, James Lacey. That rarely happens, but everyone was at the Sheraton Music City for a four-district conference.”
For the past 22 years, the Club has championed literacy in an underserved elementary school by providing a group of 10-12 members that go to the school once or twice a month to read to second and third graders. It is a program they took over from the Nashville South Club, which no longer exists, with the Breakfast Club taking over the Nashville South literacy committee and their activities.
“During National Reading Month,” said Club member George Campbell, “we provide 800 to 1,000 grade appropriate books for students in kindergarten through fourth grade to take home for their personal library and to make sure they have a new book for their Summer reading assignment. The first time that students are exposed to the program, they bring the books back to the school the next day because they do not understand that it is a gift. Some parents insist it be brought back, so we put labels in the books that say, ‘Given to ____ by Brentwood Morning Rotary Club’, and we ask the students to write their names in the blank space so their parents know it is a gift.”
Currently, the Club works with Tusculum Elementary, but for the first 15 years of the program, it was J.E. Moss Elementary. The club devotes about $4,500 per year on the project providing books for more than 900 students. They also provide dictionaries to 150 fourth graders at the beginning of each school year.
In addition to their literacy program, they provide two $3,000 college scholarships to graduating seniors at Brentwood High School. They are also the sponsors for Interact at Ravenwood High School, which has 100 members.
“We have also served the community in other ways,” said Campbell. “We had an ‘Adopt-a-Mile’ in Maryland Farms for many years, and done Harpeth River clean-up with the Noon Club. We provide an annual appreciation picnic to Brentwood Police and Fire Departments, also in cooperation with the Noon Club. We have done Habitat builds, provided Williamson County Medical Center with iPads, and we’ve planted trees a couple of times.”
Rotary is an International organization, and they have worked with the Lawrenceburg Club to fund a Honduras water well project, and they have helped with Rotary International’s Shelter Box program.
“It’s tough to do an international project on your own with 40 members,” said Campbell. “But some of us have visited meetings in other countries. For example, in Mexico, the meetings are in the evening and they can last up to four hours. And others have gone to Rotary meetings on a cruise ship!”
To raise money for their many projects, the Club has sponsored a musical event to which they invite the public. They have had concerts and writer’s nights at both Brentwood High School Performing Arts Center and Franklin Theatre.
Rotary has been around for more than 110 years. Started in Chicago, Illinois by a group of businessmen, their concept of mutual support and community service caught on and moved quickly around the world. It is currently more than 1.2 million strong in 200 countries.
The organization has six areas of focus, dedicating themselves to working on the world’s biggest issues: promoting peace; providing clean water, sanitation, and hygiene; growing local economies: saving mothers and children; supporting education; and their largest effort, fighting disease.
Since 1985 Rotary has been dedicated to eradicating Polio, and has, with the help of the Gates Foundation, donated more than two billion dollars toward the effort. It is currently 99.9% eliminated.
Rotary also brings together local leaders in business, government, education, and non-profit together once a week to listen to speakers and to provide business comradery and support.
“This club is about friendships and lasting bonds,” said past president Teresa Beard. “And we make new memories along the way.”