Sun Lakes Rotary celebrates 31 years

Rotarian Wayne Johnson

Rotarian Wayne Johnson

Norm Noble

The Sun Lakes Rotary Club was chartered 31 years ago. The club was conceived in 1985 when Chandler Rotarian Andre Felix put an advertisement on the Sun Lakes Clubhouse bulletin board to see if anyone was interested in attending Rotary. Rotarian Wayne Johnson, who had just moved to Sun Lakes, noted the advertisement and responded. The next week, eight Sun Lakes retirees met around a lunch table and decided that there was a need for a Rotary club in this fast-growing Sun Lakes active adult community.

The Sun Lakes Rotary Club was chartered as a Tuesday morning club with 15 members and, from there, grew to 140 members. In 2000-2001, it helped charter a Thursday noon club, The San Tan Crown Rotary Club. From a low of 15 members to a high of 140 members, the club now has approximately 85 members.

Wayne Johnson is still an active member and the only charter member left in the club. During his membership, he has served as club president, a member of the board of directors, held several committee chairmanships and is a Paul Harris Fellow. In total, Wayne has been a Rotarian for 61 years and unless illness or a family situation intervenes, hasn’t missed a meeting in all these many years.

The Sun Lakes Rotary Club has done some extraordinary things since its foundation in 1986. There are long lists of charities that have benefited from the club’s support – Neighbors Who Care, Boys & Girls Clubs of the East Valley, the Sheriff’s Posse, Gift of Life-Arizona, to name a few. But the largest beneficiary is the Chandler Unified School District because of the club’s primary outreach toward education. Club members spend hundreds of hours each year mentoring children from third grade through high school.

One special project that has captured the club’s attention the past several years is giving dictionaries to every third grade student in the Chandler United School District. To date, the club has given dictionaries to over 44,000 third graders.

For the past several years, the club has taught a program called “Choices” to every ninth grader in the Chandler United School District – to encourage them to complete high school. To date, the club has taught this program to over 50,000 ninth graders.

It is a major focus of Rotary International to eradicate the dread disease of polio by immunizing more than two billion children worldwide. The Sun Lakes Rotary Club has joined in this effort with gifts of over $100,000 since the club’s inception in 1986.

The club meets for breakfast every Tuesday morning at 6:30 a.m. in the Oakwood Country Club Ballroom. The meetings start at 7:00 a.m. and end promptly at 8:00 a.m. Cost of breakfast is $12. To make reservations for any meeting, contact Rotarian Fred DePrez at 480-892-7499. For Sun Lakes residents, if you want to know more about the club, contact Charles Loew at 602-721-3680. SunBird residents should contact Walt Mills at 480-883-8007.