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History of Oshkosh Rotary Club
History of the Oshkosh Rotary Club In 1916, Charles W. Hoyt, recently arrived in Oshkosh from Galesburg, IL., told Oshkosh business and professional men of a national service organization called Rotary, then only 11 years old. A group of 12 of these men began to meet in December of that year in the basement of the Elks Club. On March 1, 1917, the group was chartered as a club member of Rotary International, with Hoyt as its first president.
 The Oshkosh Rotary club’s meeting “homes” since that Elks Club basement have included the historic Athearn Hotel (until management raised the price of meals from 55¢ to 65¢), Pioneer Hotel, Park Plaza Hotel, and our current location,  Best Western Premier Waterfront Hotel at City Center.
Service to the Oshkosh Community
 Supporting programs to benefit the Oshkosh community has been an Oshkosh Rotary Club hallmark from its earliest days. Those early projects included programs with the Oshkosh Normal School (now UWO), the Salvation Army, and the Boy Scouts; sponsoring a dental clinic at the high school (only one high school in town then); and setting up gardening and landscaping classes.
 More recently, the club worked with kids from South Park Middle School, our PALS school, to clean up South Park; supported the “South Park Bookworms Project”, giving financially disadvantaged children their own books to increase literacy; held a work morning at the Oshkosh Area Community Pantry and joined with other Rotary clubs in Oshkosh to meet a $10,000 challenge match for the Pantry; supported Dayby-Day Warming Shelter’s expansion with a gift of mattresses and storage bins; and raised funds through its annual Flower Sale for the Mobile Dental Clinic of Tri-County Community Dental Clinic, bringing needed dental care to those who cannot otherwise pay for it.
The club collaborated with Oshkosh Southwest Rotary and Oshkosh Morning Rotary on the “Rotary Shared Harvest” project, in which excess produce from farmer’s markets and home gardeners is collected and distributed to the Oshkosh Area Community Pantry. In 2012, over 10,859 pounds of food was collected by Rotary volunteers. Cash donations to Shared Harvest purchased another 3,840 pounds, for a total of 7 tons in food donations this season to the Oshkosh Area Community Pantry. Look for the “Shared Harvest” booth in summer 2017 at the Downtown Oshkosh Farmer’s Market on Main Street on Saturdays.
 Service to the International Community
Opportunities for international service, the factor that distinguishes Rotary from many other service clubs, have long been part of the Oshkosh Rotary Club. An Eye Saver Program, developed by club member Bob Schoenwetter in 1986, was adopted by RI District 6270 as part of its worldwide service. Our club’s particular effort raised funds to conduct eye camps in India.
 In 1989, the Oshkosh Rotary Club joined in the “Polio Plus” effort of Rotary International to eradicate the disease of polio from the world. Our club has proudly continued its participation in this program, and can report that this massive RI effort is poised on the brink of achieving its goal. New cases of the disease are being seen today in a small handful of countries, but so long as one child in the world develops the disease, no child in the world is safe. Oshkosh Rotary Club has been part of this fight for over 25 years, and is determined to see it through to the successful end.
 Since 2000, this club has engaged in humanitarian projects in Peru. These include funding the construction of a new dormitory at the Community of Children Sacred Family orphanage, Lima; providing computers for a Lima trade school; and, in partnership with Oshkosh Southwest Rotary, supporting the installation and operation of locally sustainable mechanical “soy cows”. The soy cows produce nutritious milk and bread for children and the elderly from soybeans, and are located in La Molina, a suburb of Lima, 8 and Ate, an extremely poor Peruvian community. These efforts comprise “Project Peru”. Club members have also been afforded the opportunity to visit Peru to meet the people served by these projects, most recently in November, 2011.
The efforts of a 15-member Rotary club in Eshowe, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, to meet a desperate need for schools in the predominately rural Zulu township developed into partnerships with organizations and individuals, including many Rotary clubs, all over the world to accomplish this task. The model used is that the local community raises 10% of the cost of the school (around US$1,000), with the other 90% provided by the partner. In this manner, the club has facilitated the building of 2,800 classrooms and laboratories at 800 locations, along with 700 water systems and 1000 latrine blocks.
The Oshkosh Rotary Club involvement with the Eshowe Rotarians began roughly 15 years ago, with supporting Matching Grants from The Rotary Foundation to equip classrooms and laboratories, and build water systems and latrines, inaugurating the project known as, “Outreach Africa”. Several years ago, two members of our club visited KwaZulu Natal, seeing firsthand the results of these contributions, and came home committed to raising funds to build a school in a community where there were not enough classrooms to teach children beyond 9th grade. The rest of the club joined in that commitment, and the school was completed in 2008. Students at the newly constructed Nomeva High School were provided with 200 textbooks and related materials through a District Simplified Grant obtained by the club in 2009. Students at the newly constructed Nomeva High School were provided with 200 textbooks and related materials through a District Simplified Grant obtained by the club in 2009. In 2011, the club obtained another District Simplified Grant to provide Ngedlezi Primary School, which serves 350 children, with reading tables and chairs for its library, and shelving for the library books.
Service + Fellowship = Oshkosh Rotary Club
 In addition to its core purpose of service activities, the Oshkosh Rotary Club prides itself on its strong traditions of fellowship and diversity. Weekly meetings, Mondays at noon, afford the opportunity to get to know each other at the Best Western Waterfront Hotel. Meetings usually feature some of the most interesting speakers in Oshkosh and beyond, and have continued over the club’s long history to be a brief oasis of congeniality in a hectic world.