Presidential reflections of Rotary

Peter Strawitz and Wayne Vidrine address their ideas for the growth of the Ville Platte Rotary Club

By: TONY MARKS
Associate Editor

The past, present, and future came together as outgoing Rotary President Peter Strawitz and newly installed President Wayne Vidrine discussed projects aimed at the growth of Ville Platte’s club.
One main issue is that of membership. According to Strawitz, the club “kind of swapped numbers for numbers” this year. He said, “We lost nine or 10, but we gained nine or 10. We had a lot of renew members which is a great thing to see, so we really added to our role on new re-members which are those who were in the club, left, but came back.”
“I want to do something that we’ve never done before,” Vidrine said as he addressed the membership issue. “I want to propose that we amend the bylaws to allow for corporation memberships rather than individual memberships so that way we can get a designee of a place like Cameron or the hospital to attend the meetings every single week. Hopefully that’s one of the things to sustain our membership at that 52 or 55 level.”
Strawitz and Vidrine went on to discuss another important issue which is Rotary’s involvement in the education of students in Evangeline Parish. One of the ways is through the Interact Club at Sacred Heart. “We worked with the Interact Club, and that’s a great deal to Larry Lachney and his determination and dedication towards the youth,” Strawitz said. “To see Rotary in a high school setting and how long we’ve been with them is a great deal of dedication also by the moderator Kim LeJeune.”
Other areas in which Rotary is involved in education are through scholarship opportunities and the Choices Program. “We also continued to provide educational assistance and aid by supporting scholarships to LSU-E and also South Louisiana Community College,” said Strawitz. “Education is paramount, and that’s something that our Rotary Club is very proud of supporting.”
“We also work with our public school system in that we go around to the different public schools in the Choices Program,” added Strawitz. “Anybody who has been a part of that program knows how very instrumental that program can be and is. It teaches the child at the eighth grade level the importance of staying in school.”
“I think our club needs to continue to pursue that effort at whatever cost it is to the club,” he continued. “There is no more valuable asset than an educated and trained workforce to help sustain growth, and we want to see that here in Ville Platte and in Evangeline Parish.”
According to Vidrine, “We’re going to do what we’ve always done to keep our projects and our scholarships going.”
The Rotary Youth Leadership Awards Camp (RYLA) was held here in Evangeline Parish this summer at Indian Bayou, and Strawitz and Vidrine discussed what it means for the area. “I know that’s something near and dear to our hearts to have it here in our home parish and to be able to serve,” Strawitz said. “It was quite interesting, and we had a great time. I’ve never seen so many meatballs.”
Vidrine led a group that cooked a meatball stew for the campers at RYLA. “We fed meatball stew to two people who have never eaten meatball stew in their lives.”
Aside from what to cook on the menu for RYLA, Vidrine shared his thoughts on moving the camp to Chicot State Park, which is what he called the “crown jewel of Evangeline Parish.”
“We have some challenges,” he said. “Some of the challenges are the conditions at Chicot State Park. This club and Prof LaFleur are responsible for the creation of Chicot State Park and the Arboretum. It’s been a project of ours for a long time, so that’s going to be one of my pet projects this year. The conditions are horrible,” he added. “We need the group camp for RYLA to use. Five of the cabins at the group camp flooded and went under water a few months ago. The insurance company’s gone and submitted the estimates, and the state still doesn’t have a check.”
Vidrine went on to thank Representative Bernard LeBas for his efforts in getting the park back where it should be. “We got some of the problems solved. We’re working on getting Lieutenant Governor Nungessor down here for a walk-thru visit of Chicot State Park. If we get those repairs done, then we get RYLA back over here for a long time.”
Strawitz touched upon the fun the club had this year cooking pork steaks at The Grand Hoorah and upon the importance of fellowship
“We also started something very different this year,” he said. “It started out as a membership social, but it morphed into a social for membership. Everybody enjoyed that, and I hope we get to continue that. I think fellowship is so important and so meaningful.”

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