SML Rotary History

The Rotary Club of Smith Mountain Lake was chartered on December 12, 1990, with the help of two Rotarians from clubs in Roanoke – Joyce McWane and Sid Mason. Joyce became our first President. The original club had 15-20 members.

The new club met at Chestnut Creek Country Club (now Westlake Country Club) for breakfast. Our meeting times and places changed over the years. We were a dinner club for about 10 years before returning to breakfast meetings. We met at Camper’s Paradise, Sal’s, and then Dairy Queen, before returning to Westlake Country Club.

sml-sunrise-rotaryIn our early years, our community service projects included planting trees at Dudley Elementary School, and repairing homes for needy families. We added porches, patched roofs, and painted rooms for local families. Since 1999, the club has provided Thanksgiving baskets to needy families, and honored exceptional elementary school teachers. In 2007 we partnered with the Rocky Mount Rotary Club to purchase and install playground equipment at the Franklin County Community Park at SML. Recently we have pursued and won several Rotary matching grants to increase the impact and reach of our projects – some of which have been international. SML Rotary members all personally support the long-term global Rotary project “End Polio Now.”

Our first fundraiser was the reverse raffle of a boat. We repeated this for several years, then reverse raffled a Sea Doo. One year we sold tee shirts to raise funds. We began selling SML’s finest Christmas trees in 1999, which continues today. In 2003 we began selling and installing 911 emergency dock signs, a combination fundraiser and community service project that also continues. In 2009 our second and final July 4 outdoor concert at Bernard’s Landing had the bad luck of occurring on a rainy day. In October 2008 we sponsored our first “Nite at the Races” at the W.E. Skelton 4-H Conference Center; that fundraiser has become a well-supported favorite of the community.

Today our membership is 30-35 men and women, typical of the 34,000 Rotary Clubs worldwide. We’re large enough to have a meaningful impact on our community, yet small enough to enjoy close camaraderie. Please share your friendship, and put “Service above Self” as an SML Rotarian.

– by Cindy DeMarco, SML Rotary Charter Member

Photo: SML Sunrise, by Brian Raub.