District Gov. McClenahan: Santa Paula Rotary started lifelong devotion to service
By Peggy Kelly
Santa Paula News
Published: August 14, 2013
By Peggy Kelly
Santa Paula Times
Little did Jack McClenahan know when he was invited to attend a Santa Paula Rotary Club meeting in 1978 that it would turn into a lifelong devotion.
Now Governor of District #5240, McClenahan revisited and recently spoke to members about attracting new members and joked with Al Guilin, who as president invited McClenahan to that 1978 meeting. Ventura South Club’s Bob Braitman, #5240 Assistant District Governor, introduced McClenahan, now a member of the Ojai-West Rotary Club.
A former high school teacher and coach in Berkeley for 12 years, McClenahan later worked in educational fund development for 32 years before he retired. He was Rotary Club of Ojai’s voting delegate to international conventions in Munich 1987 and Philadelphia 1988. With his wife Jane, he has attended ten Rotary conventions, sometimes serving as District 5240 convention promotion chair or co-chair or otherwise supporting the convention promotion effort.
After joining the Rotary Club of Ojai-West, he was fundraising chair for the club’s RI centennial project, Rotary Community Park, served as Club President in 2005-06 and finished third in the district for per capita giving to The Rotary Foundation. He has been a Director of The Rotary Rose Parade Float Committee from 2007 to the present. McClenahan and Jane are Rotary Foundation Major Donors, Benefactors, and multiple Paul Harris Fellows, as well as donors to the Rotary Club of Ojai-West Foundation.
McClenahan said during his travels of addressing various clubs he has talked about Santa Paula Rotary, “The day Al brought me to Rotary... I was working at St. Thomas Aquinas,” where McClenahan was director of college relations. Alan Teague was on the school’s board of directors and he suggested McClenahan start visiting area clubs to spread the word about the college and when he contacted Guilin, “He suggested I came down to see what the club was about... I did and expected a stuffy, old businessmen’s club, but there was loud singing, joking, heckling - I enjoyed myself!”
Invited again and again by Guilin, a month later McClenahan became a member. Inviting a person to a meeting is a great introduction to Rotary, where they’ll hear interesting programs and “meet people they like.”
Santa Paula Rotary used to serve meals family style, and McClenahan said his favorite was ham and lima beans, “which my wife hates, but whatever keeps you in Rotary” is different to everyone. A decline in district club membership seems to be reversing, and “every member has a role in getting new members... 2012-2013 marks 25 years that women have been in Rotary,” and 18 percent of club members worldwide are women. In the United States it’s 25 percent, in District #5240 30 percent, “and in some clubs women are more than 50 percent” of members.
Rotary is diverse in other ways. As McClenahan noted, “It’s not about age, it’s about when Rotary is right for you.”
Santa Paula Rotary’s Pumpkin Patch is know as one of the most successful fundraisers in the district, “a massive undertaking” for all members and supporters.
“Don’t forget the widows,” who McClenahan said can bring energy, resources and passion to a club. “The most important Rotarian,” he noted, “is every Rotarian... every Rotarian, every member has a role. I don’t like to hear ‘They’re just a knife and fork Rotarian’” who attends only for lunch. “So what? Rotary started as a social club and they pay dues, contribute by attending events... that’s important to Rotary. You hear of Rotarians that are just check writers... blessed are the check writers!”
McClenahan said Rotary is a “movement, it’s a global movement for humanity, something to be proud of,” that still works to eradicate polio. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has now pledged to match Rotary’s Polio Plus program 2-to-1, up to $35 million annually, which if fully realized will have a value of more than $500 million.
Overall, said McClenahan, “Rotary is not just the service, it’s the love you bring to the service.”