Medina Rotary sees big growth in membership

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 October 2023 at 8:40 am

Retired NFL kicker Mike Vanderjagt spoke at club’s meeting on Wednesday

Photos by Tom Rivers: Some of the Medina Rotary Club members are shown Wednesday outside The Walsh in Medina where the group meets for lunch meetings at noon on the second and fourth Wednesdays each month. Pictured from left, first row: Skip Helfirch, President Peter Bartula, Stephanie Mason and Ben McPherson. Second row: Edee Hoffmeister and Gloria Brent. Third row: Barb Jantzi, Gary Lawton, Dan Doctor and Jennifer Hill-Young. Back row: Dawn Meland, J.T. Thomas, Carl Tuohey and Joel Payne. There are at least 10 other members in the club who aren’t pictured.

MEDINA – The Medina Rotary Club is on an upswing with a big increase in members and more projects to benefit the community.

In the past four years the club has grown from 8 to 25 members. It was recently notified by Rotary that Medina is in the top 4 percent of all Rotary Clubs in North America for growth in the past five years.

The club used to meet weekly and would fine people for missed meetings and happy events in their lives, whether getting a new car, celebrating an anniversary, being featured in the news or other life milestones.

But Medina Rotary now meets twice a month, the second and fourth Wednesdays for lunch at The Walsh. The club doesn’t fine members if they can’t make a meeting.

“You got to be realistic with folks whose lives are so busy,” said Ben McPherson, who was the club’s president during a big growth period from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2023.

McPherson praised the club’s long-time members for keeping Rotary alive in Edina during some lean years. The club maintains a friendly atmosphere among members with several community service projects in the works.

The club on Wednesday discussed several fundraisers including a $5,000 corn hole tournament on Jan. 6 at Dubby’s in Albion, a meat raffle on March 9 at the Ridgeway Fire Hall and a plan to add Buddy benches at Medina parks. Those benches would be made by students at the Iroquois Job Corps Center.

The club hosts a pickleball tournament, picks up trash along the canal, gives out scholarships and helps in other ways throughout the year.

“I saw that they were trying to better the community and that really spoke to me,” McPherson said about when he joined in 2019.

Mike Vanderjagt, center, is pictured with Medina Rotarians Carl Tuohey, left, and President Peter Bartula.

Vanderjagt recently moved to Lyndonville. A native of Canada, he wanted to be close to Lake Ontario and a short drive from Canada. He has been a volunteer kicking coach for the Medina football team and coaches other kickers in the region. One of his players, Medina’s Cole Callard, has emerged as a Division I kicking prospect as well as a soccer standout.

Vanderjagt scored 1,067 points in a nine-year career during the regular season, including a league high 145 for the Colts in 1999. He was first team, all pro in 2003 when he scored 157 points and made all of his kicks – 37 of 37 field goals and 46 of 46 extra points.

He scored 54 more points in nine playoff games. He played for the Colts for eight seasons and then finished his career with the Dallas Cowboys in 2006.

Vanderjagt said he enjoys living in Lyndonville and Orleans County.

“It’s a beautiful part of the country,” he said.

He also shared with Rotary about some of his business ventures.

Mike Vanderjagt, in red shirt, speaks with the Medina Rotary Club on Wednesday at The Walsh. The club often has speakers from the community share a program. The meetings are also a chance for members to provide updates on projects.

The group shares a meal together and strives to maintain camaraderie with no politics.

Gary Lawton has been a member for over 20 years. He said he is thrilled to see the club grow and do more work for the community.

At one point, the club was down to three active members. Now it is adding local business leaders, professionals from the school and hospital, retired residents and others.

“I’m so excited it’s growing again,” Lawton said.