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A Message from the Club President
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A Message from the Club President


Welcome to our Club website!


It is truly an honor and privilege to be serving as President of the Stuart-Sunrise Rotary Club, widely known as the Happiest Club on the Treasure Coast.   My wife Sharon and I bought our home in Palm City in 2004, and moved here in 2010 to be closer to three daughters and 7 grandchildren who all live nearby.  As a former President of the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rotary Club, I immediately started attending Meetings of the Stuart Rotary Club and the Stuart Sunrise Rotary Club to learn more about the community.  I learned a great deal and made many friends at both clubs.   I learned that Martin County is a loving, giving, and welcoming county.  Knight Kiplinger once laughlingly told me that “Martin County is the place for folks who think they hate Florida.”  


 

 

Rotarians have been the heart and soul and leaders of Martin County since 1929, when the Stuart Rotary Club was founded by the Ft. Pierce Rotary Club.   The Stuart Club meets in Sewell’s Point at the Dolphin House and Shrimp Bar.  Our Sunrise Club meets at the Monarch Country Club in Palm City.  We were formed 32 years ago in 1984, chartered by the Stuart Rotary Club.  If you are looking for a local club, you should visit all three (including the Hobe Sound-Port Salerno Club), and choose the one best suited to you and your family, in terms of location, meeting time, members and spirit.   You will be welcomed by any of the three.  At our “happiest” Thursday morning Sunrise Club in Palm City we would be deeply honored to have you join us.

 

Please read on for a moment to see why I am a Rotarian, and more particularly why I am a Stuart-Sunrise Rotarian.

 

First, why am I a Rotarian?

 

I joined Rotary in 1970, in Bethesda, Md.  I was invited to join because I was a member of the Maryland Legislature and Rotary was an organization for proven Professional, Business and Community Leaders.

 

I became a Rotarian a few years later when I was drawn into the heart and soul of Rotary.  In 1978, the new President of the neighboring Potomac Maryland Rotary Club visited our club.  His name was John Sever.  He was a doctor, an immunologist at the NIH.  His message to us was brief.  He had spoken with the President of Rotary International, and suggested that, since smallpox had just been eliminated on the planet at a cost of $100 million, Rotary should take on the worldwide elimination of Polio.  He explained that even with the Salk and Sabin vaccines, there were many areas of the world where people did not trust governments, and that Rotarians were the largest international group of community leaders universally respected and trusted.  John also said that, in time, Rotary should be able to raise $100 million.  I was overwhelmed.  I had been involved in a few multi-million capital drives for worthy clients, but one hundred million was beyond my belief.  But I said o.k. and by some scraping at a hundred dollars a year, was able to become a Paul Harris $1,000 Fellow.   Today, after nearly 40 years, and after raising well over SIX BILLION DOLLARS (that’s billion with a B), Rotary is “this close” (a couple of countries away) from eliminating Polio.  Eliminating it on this planet.  Eliminating it forever.  I attended the International Rotary Convention in Calgary, and heard our RI President Herb  Brown from Clearwater Florida tell of his visit to Pope John Paul in 1994, when John Paul rose and walked across the hall to honor him and say “Thank you Rotary for saving the children of the world.”  Rotary Serving Humanity. As one very wise person observed, “I joined Rotary for business and contacts and I continued in Rotary to Change The World!”

 

Second, why am I a Stuart Sunrise Rotarian? 

 

As great as all of Martin County’s Rotary Clubs are, I found a deep spirit and happiness in our Sunrise Club.  It is not just the “happiest” club (a label which belongs to anyone arising at dawn to face the day with a smile), but a Club of incredibly honest, sincere, and dedicated Rotarians.  One of the most amazing moments of my life was when Rotarian Rene, one of our senior members who had owned Fifth Avenue beauty parlors in New York which served many Hollywood stars and world celebrities, was asked to share a Rotary Vocational Moment.  Rene was an immigrant from Germany.  He told us that in the early 1960s, an African-American staff person had washed a prominent American’s hair prior to her hair cut or treatment.  The woman, who was one of the most powerful women in the world at that time, called Rene aside and told him to “never let one of those persons to ever touch my hair again.”   Rene’s response was immediate and firm.  “Get out of my salon” he said.   “You are not welcome here.”  Moments like that live in your memory, and never fade. 

 

Our Club is made up of many individuals, each of whom, from their heart, lives our Four Way Test every week:  First, Is It the Truth? Second, is it Fair to All Concerned?  Third, Will It Build Good Will And Better Friendships? And Fourth, Will It Be Beneficial To All Concerned?  We have some of Stuart’s finest financial advisors and estate planners, we have our area’s  finest marina owner, and finest yacht broker, best Realtor and best printer.   We have several artists, a museum director, a remediation contractor who can restore any tragedy, and a great veterinarian and a fine chiropractor, as well as several highly respected county officials, and many community and professional leaders. 

 

Our club has donated more than $150,000 in scholarships to County high school seniors, most of whom are the first in their families to go to college.  We continue to work with local high schools in establishing Interact Clubs. Our support of local youth groups culminates in a 4-day Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) program, a leadership development program run by Rotary. RYLA has become a life-changing program for many of our youth and includes presentations, activities and workshop covering topics such as ethics, communications, conflict management and community and global citizenship. We distribute dictionaries to third graders, and his year, our club is planning to re-establish our Rota kids program in the local Boys and Girls Club, with a focus on third through fifth graders.

 

Each year Rotary International has a theme for us to consider and follow in our quest for “Service Above Self” and helping others. This year our theme is “Rotary Serving Humanity.” Our duty as Rotarians is to make a difference in both our community and in other parts of the world where there is a real struggle with clean water, disease, education, literacy, sanitation, peace and conflict resolution, and providing economic opportunities to end the cycle of poverty. 

 

We are always looking for the right people to help us to accomplish the goals we can be most proud of as Rotarians. Our own community and most definitely other parts of the world need us and our commitment to “Service Above Self.”  If you are not a member of Rotary please consider joining us as a guest at one of our meetings.

 

Yours in Rotary Service,

 

Harry Lerch

President Stuart-Sunrise Rotary