The Rotary Club of Gainesville has something to celebrate after being named Rotary Club of the Year in the extra-large club category in its district.
Members received the award May 1 at a Rotary district conference in Asheville, N.C. They surpassed Rotary Clubs in Dalton, Athens and Rome for the coveted award. The Rotary Club in Dalton won last year.
"It was very close - Dalton did a great job as well," said district governor Gene Windham, who helped make the final decision on this year's winner.
Judges looked at community service, international service and membership. Windham said the Rotary Club of Gainesville performed high in all the categories, and that's what set them apart from others.
The award has been a long time coming, said Rob Fowler, Rotary Club of Gainesville president. The last time the club received the award was in 1989.
"I think it's a culmination of a great year and I am proud of the club," Fowler said. "I'm proud of what we have accomplished and proud of our members and what we stand for. The club's dedicated concept is helping others locally and globally, and I think we set the standard for that."
Over the past year, the 200-member club has been busy with several projects, Fowler said, including building wheel chair ramps, working with Red Rabbit to get funding for bus stop shelters, maintaining upkeep at Rotary Park and joining with Northeast Georgia Medical Center to send more than $200,000 worth of medical equipment and supplies to the Dominican Republic.
The club donated $5,000 to the Rotary Foundation after the tsunami and earthquake hit Japan and also raised funds for the Polio-Plus campaign, which focuses on eradicating polio.
"We worked hard last spring to put together a plan of what we wanted to accomplish for the year and set some goals and objectives and we met those objectives," Fowler said.
The club also took home awards for top achievements in membership, community service, youth service, vocational service and public relations. And the club was awarded the Rotary International Presidential Citation with Distinction for "performing outstandingly well" Windham said.
Fowler was one of three presidents out of 70 clubs to get the Governors Service and Leadership Award.
"Recipients for this award have performed above and beyond just their job as club president and made major contributions to the district and fellow Rotarians," Windham said.