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Rotary Club honors members at annual banquet

Rotarians were able to share their goodwill experience with spouses, friends and special guests at the 2007 Partners Evening last Tuesday. Approximately 200 people attended the banquet, which was held in the Fellowship Hall of First Baptist Church of Thomson.

The banquet was planned by 2007-08 President William Irwin, and included special guests Ruth Wilson, Lucy Wilson, Assistant District Governor Lee Wheatley and his wife, Marilyn, District Governor Nominee Gary Moore and his wife, Irene, Assistant District Governor-Elect Lucinda Clark and her husband, Robert, and Daniela Visbal, the Georgia Rotary Student from Colombia who is attending Augusta State University.

Mr. Irwin gave the audience a brief history of the Rotary Club, which he said was founded in 1905 and has over 1.2 million members in 165 countries. Mr. Irwin announced the club's new motto for 2007-08: Rotary Shares.

"We have a lot of opportunities as Rotarians, not only in third world countries, but right here in our own back yard," he said.

The club's annual presentations were recognized following the dinner. Rotarian Epp Wilson announced the new member of the Paul Harris Bequest Society, which was presented by Gary Moore to Alan and Judy Shapiro. Past President Mike Wall said the Thomson Club has not had a Bequest Society member in many years, so the award was a distinguished one. The recognition is given to couples who have made commitments in their estate plans totaling at least $10,000 to benefit the Rotary Foundation.

"(Alan and Judy) just love people, and they love sharing what they have. ... They are generous with their time and their resources," Mr. Wilson said. "Y'all don't know a lot about them, because they are quiet people. But they just get involved. They love the community... I'm convinced the good Lord smiled on Thomson... when He brought Alan and Judy Shapiro to us."

Rotarian Jennifer Allen presented the Jean Harris Award, given to a non-Rotarian woman with outstanding community service, to Genelda McClain, the managing director of MANNA, Inc.

Ms. Allen said each month, MANNA provides over 400 needy families with groceries and help with utility bills.

"She has given countless hope to many," Ms. Allen said. "... And MANNA is not the beginning and end of her giving to the community."

Rotarian Doug Keir presented the Lee Arrendale Award to George Lokey. Mr. Keir said the award recognizes the importance of service to society, and is given to a member with high vocational standards who has best exhibited the primary Rotary motto of "service above self."

"This is very humbling, because there are a whole lot more folks who deserve this a whole lot more than I do. Anytime we Rotarians have the opportunity to give back to the community, I hope we'll do so. Thank you," Mr. Lokey said.

Club President Ben Howell, Jr. presented the Will Watt Fellow Awards to Bud Lunceford, the former owner of Lunceford Pharmacy, and Mike Wall, the owner of WTHO radio station. Mr. Howell said the award recognizes Rotarians who have given $1,000 to the Georgia Rotary Club Student Program, which provides funds for students from all over the world to attend college in the state of Georgia. The Thomson Rotary Club supports the program by paying $100 per member.

Also recognized were Paul Harris Fellows Ben Barmore, Bill Jopling and Larry Thompson for contributing $1,000 to the Annual Programs Fund. Ben Howell, Jr. received the Paul Harris 1 sapphire pin for contributing at least $2,000, and Ben Howell, Sr. received the Paul Harris 2 sapphire pin for contributing at least $3,000.

The Rotary Benefactors recognized for $1,000 donations to the Permanent Fund were Bobby Culpepper, Bob Flanders, Guill Johnson, Don McNeill, Lewis Smith, Ben Howell, Jr., Alan Shapiro and Judy Shapiro.

Following the awards presentation, entertainment was provided by Elizabeth Long and Friends, with Little Roy Lewis as a special guest.

Web posted on Thursday, March 29, 2007

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