Imagine the city of Bemidji without Paul and Babe, without a Water Carnival or a Dragon Boat Festival. No 4th of July Parade or Home, Sport and Travel Show. These events, among many others over the years, have become part of the identity and culture of our great city. And they are all made possible thanks to the hard work of our local service clubs.
One of the best things I did when I moved to town was join a service club. I knew very little about the club, and joined for selfish reasons. I wanted to meet new people and thought it would be good for my job. I had no idea what to expect when I attended my first meeting. I envisioned something similar to the clubs my dad was in when I was a kid. Lots of old men sitting around drinking coffee and collecting money from its members.
Like everything else, service clubs have evolved over the years. They’re definitely not “old men’s clubs” anymore. Men, women, young and old are invited to join. Our local clubs are about action and community stewardship. Drive around town and you will see many logos of our area service clubs attached to many great projects. They are very hands on, lending time and money to help many non-profits and those in need. Every week, you will find a service club quietly doing something great to help make Bemidji a better place to live.
Besides the local impact service clubs make in Bemidji, every service club has a national and/or global presence. Rotary is active in the eradication of Polio worldwide. Lions are very active supporting sight programs and services across the world. Shriners have been funding children’s hospitals in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Many other clubs have national programs.
If you haven’t been in a service club before, I encourage you to give one a try. You will be surprised how much you have in common with other club members. Ten years later, I am still active in a local service club. Joining was one of the best decisions I ever made. My only regret is I wish I joined sooner.
For more information about a few of our local service clubs, see the links at the right of the page.