About Kalona Rotary

cropped-rotary_ad_giants.jpgWhat do Orville Wright, Thomas Mann and Paul Harris have in common? If you guessed they were Rotarians, you’re right! Since 1905, Rotarians have appreciated the value and service Paul Harris founded the club on.

Rotary is a service organization of business and professional leaders united worldwide who conduct humanitarian projects, encourage high ethic standards in all vocations and work toward world understanding and peace.


The Four-Way Test

One of the core values a new Rotarian learns and a seasoned Rotarian checks his or her attitude by is the 4-Way Test.
For many decades Rotary clubs and Rotarians around the world have used the 4-Way Test as an instrument to develop respect and understanding among peoples. The 4-Way Test is now being used successfully around the world in business, government and schools as a guide to RIGHT thinking. If you get into the habit of checking your thoughts, words and deeds against The 4-Way Test, the experience of others has shown that it will help you become happier and more successful.

The Beginning:

It was probably the right time in history that a group of men from Kalona decided to form a Rotary Club in 1945.  That October 31, Halloween, saw 18 men from Kalona vote to apply for a Rotary Charter.

They were sponsored by the Rotary Club of Wellman, with Ed Gingerich doing most of the work.  They decided to hold their meetings at Robertson’s Cafe at that time.  Later, they would meet in the dining room of the Kalona Hotel, with Flossie Swartzendruber as cook.  In 1960, the Club moved to the Community room of the Farmers Savings Bank.

Soon after the Club was formally admitted to membership by the Rotary International, a banquet was held and the charter presented to the Club by the District Governor, Dan Ryan.   At the banquet, 190 Rotarians and guests were present, including Rotarians from Iowa City, West Liberty, Washington and the sponsoring club, Wellman.

The new club received a wall plaque with the Rotary Seal from the Iowa City Club, a table gong from the Wellman Club, song books from the West Liberty Club and a flag from the Washington Club.  The seal is now part of the present podium, the bell still calls the meeting to order and the banner is still on the wall.

Since Then:

Activities of the Kalona Rotary have been numerous.  There was the contributions to polio plus, which helped eliminate the disease from being the threat that it once was, the allocation of money from those California clubs to the 1993 flood victims, the various fund raising activities over the years.  The Omelet Breakfast has come to be a wonderful time spent with the community.

The two events that have endured the longest, however, are the Senior Men’s Dinner, which was originally held in the downtown Kalonial Townhouse, and in the Community Room of the Farmers Bank, and the exchange students’ picnic, held originally in the Kalona Park until a rainy evening in the Kalona area forced it to move indoors to the Kalona Mennonite Church, where it has been held since.

In fifty years, there have been nearly 2500 programs.  They have covered every conceivable subject and the people have come to present these programs have come from all over the world.  Larry Swartzendruber constructs a bulletin for each meeting.  Each weekly issue contains news of interest to Rotarians, wit, wisdom and information normally pertaining to the subject of the day.