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Rotary Club members earn national honor

WINFIELD - Putnam County Rotary Club members began their most recent meeting with the "Happy Dollars" neon orange bucket making its rounds of the room.

The roughly 30 attendees took turns donating $1 while explaining what they were happy for.

The gesture of just a couple of minutes was a microcosm of what the members say they do best - apply their time, talent and treasure to making their community a better place.

That's how the small Rotary Club in Putnam County has made a big splash.

Thirteen of the club's members earned one of the national organization's special honors and were recognized Tuesday.

They were named Paul Harris Fellows - individuals who have contributed more than $1,000 to the Annual Program Fund, the Polio Plus Fund or the Humanitarian Grants Program of the Rotary Foundation.

Individual Rotary clubs also may from time to time honor individuals who meet high professional and personal standards set forth by Paul Harris, the founder of Rotary International.

Tina McComas, Putnam County Rotary Club president, was pleased to honor so many members at once.

Ernie Hays, who serves as the 2012-2013 District 7750 governor, explained half of the money comes back to the district in three years for clubs to use on local projects. The other half will go toward international Rotary Club projects.

"This Putnam club is, and has been since its inception, one of the leaders in our district in so many ways," Hays said.

The Putnam club has 60 members - and 24 are Paul Harris Fellows.

"We're one of the smallest districts in number of clubs but have the biggest heart," Hays said.

First time Paul Harris Fellows receive a certificate, pen and medallion. Repeat recipients were honored with pens noting how many times they had been honored.

Sam Sentelle, former county school superintendent, sees the club as an opportunity for community service. Sentelle has been involved with the Putnam club since 1996.  He was honored as a Paul Harris Fellow plus one, meaning he has received the honor twice.

"What matters in this life except what you've done for other people?" Sentelle asked.

The following club members were first- or second-time Paul Harris Fellows: Scott Edwards, Melissa Pratt, Ken Higginbotham, Marilyn Pemberton, Wanda Robertson, Cheryl Rust, Sam Sentelle, George Six, Tina McComas and Dave Williams.

Additionally, Bob and Mary Keely were honored as Paul Harris Fellows plus two. The two have been involved with the Putnam club for 12 years.

"Knowing the money goes to help so many other people in need, that's what a Rotarian is really about, service of ourselves," Mary Keely said.  

Club member Chet Marshall was honored as Paul Harris Fellow plus six.

The club raised around $36,000 with its fundraising efforts. The club's district covers southern West Virginia, with more than 1,350 members and 28 clubs. 


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