Rotary Club of Hickory 2019 Awards Day Meeting

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Awards Day, installation of new officers and charitable giving updates were the focus of a special meeting of the Rotary Club of Hickory on June 27th. Outgoing President Linda Lutz celebrated with the club what was probably one of the most successful Rotary years in recent memory.

Katherine Snipes, Robin Snipes Hager with Rotarians (L-R): Joe Britt, Kelly Farr, Jeff Bronnenberg, John Bates, Cliff Moone

The first order of business was special memorial recognition of former Rotarian Charles M. Snipes with wife Katherine and daughter Robin Snipes Hager who were in attendance. A longtime member of the Rotary Club of Hickory, Charles Snipes had over 50 years of perfect attendance at club meetings before he passed away February 24, 2019. Sixteen Rotarians received Charles M. Snipes Perfect Attendance Certificates by club Secretary, Leslie Ferrell, for perfect attendance this year.

Bonitta Ferretti was recognized as 2019 New Rotarian of the Year. Membership is the lifeblood of Rotary and the ability to recruit and retain new members who step in and immediately lend their talents and time to further Rotary’s mission of Service Above Self is the key to Rotary’s future success. Ferretti co-chaired, with veteran Rotarian John Rambo, the 10th Anniversary Rotarian Idol competition which was an outstanding success, the proceeds from which funds the club’s charitable giving throughout the following year. As a result the Rotary Club of Hickory’s charitable giving for 2020 is on sound financial footing.

Many individuals who are not Rotarians serve Rotary, participating and supporting the club’s many endeavors, by lending their talent and time to further the mission of Rotary. Hickory photographer, Bob Huffman accepted the 2019 Friend of Rotary Club of Hickory award for his generous support of Rotarian Idol and for contributing his talents as a photographer to photo document this year’s Rotarian Idol auditions, “meet and greet” contestant socials and the successful competition that took place on May 17, 2019.

The Rotary Club of Hickory strives to make a positive difference in our community through volunteer participation in Rotary sanctioned projects as well as local community endeavors. Rotarian Thomas Griffis received the 2019 Rotarian in the Community Award for his leadership as chair of the Service Above Self Scholarship Committee. This year the number of scholarship recipients was doubled by awarding scholarships to a student from Hickory Career and Arts Magnet School in addition to a student from Hickory High School. Additionally, the award also includes non-Rotarian related service.  For many years, Griffis has served as a tutor at Patrick Beaver Library with the Augustine Literacy Project.  This Rotary year alone, he volunteered over 70 hours which included preparing for the tutoring sessions and the sessions themselves.  Additionally, it is well known that he shares his talent in the community as a member of the Hickory Choral Society and volunteer with Habitat for Humanity.

Club Officers and elected board members comprise the club’s Board of Directors. The Board can be described as the very lifeblood of the Club, as these Rotarians give additional time each month to meet and make decisions that assure a strong and viable club. Board member and past club president, Lynn Loehr, received the 2019 Board Member of the Year award for her role as club treasurer. In addition to managing the day-to-day finances of the club, Lynn’s achievements included the research and selection of a more robust financial application to more effectively manage club finances and obligations going forward.

The 2019 Heart of Rotary award was awarded to two Rotarians for the first time in recent memory. Foundation Chair John Bates and Public Image chair Bruce Bumbarger were recognized as co-winners of the award.

Board member John Bates developed an action plan that resulted in Rotary Club of Hickory receiving recognition as a 100% Foundation Giving club. This designation is awarded to clubs that achieve an average of $100 in per capita giving and 100 percent participation, with every dues-paying member contributing at least $25 to any or all of the following during the Rotary year: Annual Fund, Polio Plus Fund, approved global grants, or Endowment. Achieving that level of Rotary Foundation support allowed the Rotary Club of Hickory to be awarded the Governor’s Distinguished Club Citation at the June District 7670 Conference for the first time in club history. The mission of The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International is to enable Rotarians to advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace through the improvement of health, the support of education, and the alleviation of poverty.

Board member Bruce Bumbarger served as club public image chair, his 10th year in that role. His responsibilities include managing the club website, managing local media and District 7670 communications as well as publically documenting club events, service projects, fund raisers and club charitable giving donations. At the June District 7670 conference, the Rotary Club of Hickory received the Governor’s Award for Best Public Image: Large Club. District 7670 represents 50 Rotary Clubs in 22 counties in western North Carolina.

Jan Bohmuller and Anne Williams were recognized as Co-winners of the 2019 Rotarian of the Year award. Their leadership as Co-chairs of Club Public Service included overseeing more than 50 Rotary events and activities, which included Rotarian Idol, Rotary Service Day at Cooperative Christian Ministry, Rise Against Hunger, Career Day with the Interact Club, Hickory Museum of Art Paul Whitener Art Contests, Teacher of the Year for Hickory Public Schools, Service Above Self Scholarship Recipients, Blood Drive, Christmas Bureau Book Drive, to name only a few. Both Anne and Jan served on the Board of Directors, with Jan serving as Assistant Secretary.

Front Row from left: Linda Lutz, Jan Bohmuller, Anne Williams, Bonita Ferretti; Second Row from left: Gerry Knox, Lynn Loehr, Bruce Bumbarger, John Bates; Not Pictured: Bob Huffman, Thomas Griffis

Linda Lutz, Gerry Knox

Gerry Knox was sworn in as Club President for the July 2019 – June 2020 Rotary year. Tara Bland assumes the role of President Nominee and will serve as president July 2020 – June 2021 when Rotary Club of Hickory celebrates 100 years of service.

Also recognized were eleven Paul Harris Fellowship award recipients for contributions to the Rotary Foundation: Doug Auer, Andy Cote, Bethany Delany, Kelly Farr, Leslie Ferrell, Bonita Ferretti, Hank Guess, Gerry Knox, Rick Seay, David Williams and Kathy Wood. Four non Rotarians were recognized by club members (in parentheses) with Paul Harris Fellowship awards: Charles Reeves III (Charles Reeves, Jr.), Clark Allen and Cameron Allen (Dan Kirby) and Jonathan Waters (Club). The Rotary Foundation helps fund humanitarian activities, from local service projects to global initiatives. The mission of The Rotary Foundation is to enable Rotarians to advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace through the improvement of health, the support of education, and the alleviation of poverty. Donors of US$1,000 or more to the Rotary Foundation Annual Fund, Polio-Plus, or an approved Foundation grant, or people, who have that amount contributed in their name, can be recognized as Paul Harris Fellows.

During the year the Rotary Club of Hickory distributed over $80,000 for educational and other charitable needs in the Hickory area:

  • Catawba County Partnership for Children received a $25,000 contribution to the Dolly Parton Imagination Library Program which is administered by the Partnership. Children enrolled in Imagination Library are mailed a free, age-appropriate book each month until they turn 5 years old. Since its inception in April 2011, The Rotary Club of Hickory has contributed $162,000 to the Imagination Library making the purchase of 81,000 books possible. Imagination Library Currently serves about 5,200 children per month.
  • Two SAS (Service Above Self) Scholarships were awarded to Sidney Brockenborough from Hickory High School and Marlet Gisel Castillo from Hickory Career and Arts Magnet High School. Each student will receive a $12,000 scholarship payable over four years to the university they attend.
  • Wilmer Jenkins Teacher of the Year Awards – A total of $5,000 was presented to 9 outstanding Hickory Public School teachers on May 9, 2019.
  • The Salvation Army received a $2,500 donation for the Christmas Bureau to purchase books for school aged children and other humanitarian efforts.
  • Hickory Community Theatre received a $2000 contribution for Rug Bug Theatre which puts on shows using young actors and actresses for young audiences and their families.
  • Hickory Museum of Art received a $1,200 contribution for the annual HMA Paul Whitener Art show and an additional $1000 Bronze Sponsorship donation. Former Rotary Club of Hickory member, the late Paul Whitener, wanted a place where school age children could express their creativity and display their artwork. The show exhibits the artwork of kindergarten through high school students living in Catawba County.
  • RYLA scholarship – $600 was donated for Rotary Youth Leadership Awards scholarships.
  • Madison Yount, Hickory High Interact Club, received a $1000 annual stipend for her role as adviser. Interact is a Rotary International sponsored club for young people ages 12-18 who want to join together to tackle the issues in their community about which they care the most.
  • Rise Against Hunger received a $1000 donation for its mission to end hunger in our lifetime by providing food and life-saving aid to the world’s most vulnerable.
  • Hickory Public Schools received $500 to purchase musical instruments, a gift that was matched by Rotarian Charles and wife Elaine Young
  • The YMCA received $2500 to continue its mission to build healthy spirit, mind and body and to replace and upgrade necessities for child care.
  • Hickory Landmarks Society received a $1000 gift for Heritage Days at Maple Grove.
  • The Catawba Science center received $1500 for its continued mission of science education for students and the public.
  • Lenoir Rhyne University received a $3000 donation for the “Forever 46” campaign to build a new sports performance center named in honor and memory of former LRU Athletic Director and Rotarian Neill McGeachy.
  • A donation of $5000 for The Light Foundation’s “Lights for Learning” project to purchase 1,000 solar lamps to be placed in the homes of students in the Bayonnais area of Haiti. Rotarians Suzanne Trollan and Patrice Bertrand went to Haiti in order to help facilitate distribution of the lights.
  • A $1000 donation for the United Way Invitational which celebrated 25 years of cross-country competitions in Hickory under the leadership of Rotarian John Hall.
  • ShelterBox USA received $1000 to purchase a ShelterBox which provides humanitarian relief to victims of worldwide disasters. Since many disaster relief aid agencies provide food and water, ShelterBox provides relief in the form of disaster relief tents for families, thermal blankets and groundsheets, water storage and purification equipment, solar lamps, cooking utensils, basic tool kits, mosquito nets, and children’s activity packs.
  • Patrick Beaker Library received $1000 to support the Augustine Literacy Project which works to improve the reading, writing and spelling abilities of economically disadvantaged children who struggle with literacy skills.
  • The Ridgeview library received a donation of $1500 for 10 Playaway Launchpad learning tablets. These tablets are preloaded with educational content geared to kids pre-k through 8th grade.
  • Southwest Elementary School received $2500 to build an outdoor interactive learning space.

All of these contributions were made possible by the Rotary Club of Hickory’s successful fundraising activities, highlighted annually by the Rotarian Idol fundraiser.

The Rotary Club of Hickory was founded in 1921 by Watt Shuford. In adherence to Rotary’s motto of “Service Above Self,” the club has a history of giving back to the community through its primary service avenue of education. For more information about The Rotary Club of Hickory, visit


General Info

  • Meeting Time:
    Thursdays from 12:00PM to 1:15PM
  • Meeting Location:
    430 17th Avenue NW,
    Hickory, North Carolina 28601