The Big Sandy Mountaineer -

Bob Nelson, a real Rotarian


March 6, 2019

Bob Nelson who has been known by Mr. Rotary, joined Rotary in the fall of 1983, 36 years ago. He joined because he has always been a believer in service organizations. Here he could see if he wanted to be involved in the community of Big Sandy, Rotary was the organization to join. "I could see what a difference it was making in the community. And it was actually doing what a service organization should be doing."

There are at least three most influential projects he is participating in while he is in Rotary. Most see Rotary as just a local service organization, but it is actually an international organization. When Bob first joined Rotary International, "they started the Polio Plus Program, a vision with the mission and audacity to say they were going to eradicate it by the turn of the century, and I thought right. But now there are only two to three hot spots left in the world." Bob mentioned that both he and I knew people, families that have been destroyed by polio and understand the value of vaccinations. We know the crippling effects of disease.

The second most influential project he believes is the statewide Rotary Literacy Project they have with Dolly Parton's Imagination Library Project where children 0-5 years receiving a free book a month. Also, every Rotary gives every 3rd grade student a dictionary.

Everything Bob has been involved in locally is because he believes in it. Maybe the greatest local influence that Rotary has made is what "we have done for all the youth", ... baseball fields, play grounds, Girls/Boys state, and numerous local activities. The most visual project may be the Christmas decoration and the kids love Easter Egg Hunt." The values he believes in come to fruition at Sheehy Park. "Sheehy park is a beautiful park, and it isn't used it enough. What a neat thing, a mountain stream, a bridge, vaulted toilets, a building if you want to get out of the weather, plenty places to park and camp, hiking and the falls. Just total beautiful relaxation so close!"

Two big projects coming to Rotary in the future: Walking path is huge. They want to have sidewalks from the high school to the grade school. It is a huge project and may take a while to complete because the funding/grant monies aren't around right now.

They are also working on an Information Gazebo at the cemetery. Actually, there are three cemeteries, and they want a gazebo with the plot maps and complete informational list of all people in the cemetery. They actually are working on maps of all Chouteau County Cemeteries. The gazebo will have some permanent signs along with signs which will be able to be renewed as necessary. They would like to have information about each person who is there.

A new project will be helping to put up new lights in the auditorium, which is being worked on right now so the lights will be in place by the time our town play, Bedtime stories, is ready to perform.

The last thing Bob mentioned was, "We always need new members. What I'd like them to

to do is discover a project they would like to become involved." A project that will involve them in the community and allow them to feel as Bob does, totally connected. "I am kind of a believer if you are involved in a community you need to find a way to give back to it. Doesn't need to be Rotary. For example, look at our EMT and fire department, and how incredible they are. You can get involved."

"I remember when we first started the banquet and they started talking about it and raising money. He remembers Barb Dixon came in and asked "us for $45 to send a girl to Girl's State. We voted yes, but we didn't have any money to give." The idea was we were going to sell tickets for $100 for two people. But don't worry, they said, we'll only sell 200. I said, "like that's going to happen! The vision was there, and look what that vision has accomplished."

Maryetta Engle Is the youngest member of Rotary. She has been a member for about one month. "I feel Rotary is an excellent organization to give my time too." She thinks it is hard to pinpoint just one project that is most important. "But what they do for kids is really important."

She added, "I know it is a struggle to get new members. And it's important to help."


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