This year's Annual Trip Raffle (a Rotary Club of Americus tradition) was celebration of a very unique year. The pandemic created opportunities for the club to meet many of the needs of the community, but made it difficult to have regular monthly socials created to "build better friendships" - one of four guiding principles that Rotarians think, say and do: The Four-Way Test · Is it the TRUTH? · Is it FAIR to all concerned? · Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS? · Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?
The year-end event was also used to pay homage to The Rylander's Centennial and the partnership the Americus Rotary Club has had with the iconic theater. Discussions in the Americus Rotary Club regarding the need for a civic auditorium in Americus led to construction of the Rylander Theater in 1921. After being closed for more than 40 years, the newly-restored Rylander Theater reopened in 1999 and the Americus Rotary Club was a significant contributor to its restoration. In March of this year, the Americus Rotary Club wrote for and received a $10,000 grant from The Rotary Foundation to help replace projector equipment and wiring, just in time for the theater's reopening after a year of closure. "The Rotary Club of Americus has been wanting to help fund this equipment for some time and were so glad to have the opportunity to make it happen," exclaimed Angela Smith, club president 2020-21.
As a result of the grant and to celebrate the club's 100 year partnership with the Rylander, it seemed apropos to hold the club's year-end celebration on stage. The club even had a large cake on hand and sang "Happy Birthday" to the Rylander before cutting it. Managing Director Heather Stanley was on hand to address the group and draw for the prizes given away throughout the evening. "Our partnerships within this community are crucial to our mission and our success. We are so fortunate to have the support of the Americus Rotary Club as an organization and to also have the individual support from so many of its members," stated Stanley. "The grant we received is much needed and will be utilized to further our impact in the community. We are truly grateful for the generosity and support shown to the theatre over the years."
Every Rotarian got a little something as they arrived as each got to choose a tumbler, branded with the club's logo. Extras were sold with proceeds donated to polio eradication efforts. Prize winners who won during the drawing (which included three trips) were Mark Scott (1st), Darryl Brown (2nd), Kenny Phillips (3rd), Mike Cheokas (4th), Jimmy Whaley (5th), Russ Childers (6th), and Michelle Parker (7th). All prizes were a nod to art, culture, and history, while the decorations were art deco and straight out of the roaring twenties, the era when the Rylander opened a century ago.