On February 2 the Montebello Rotary Club will reach a new milestone: 90 years of service to the local and international community.
During its 9 decades in the Montebello community, Rotary Club members have taken on a wide range of projects with either local or international benefits, such as raising funds to help eradicate polio through Rotary International’s PolioPlus program and donating clothes and toys to children in orphanages in Mexico.
Other good deeds include reading to students at local elementary schools, partnering with local literacy programs, awarding scholarships to local high school students, donating wheelchairs to those who cannot afford them or adopting a local park. Montebello Rotary Club members have also participated in immunization clinics, helped serve over 3,000 meals to needy families at the annual Christmas at the Cannon dinner and assisted with eye and dental clinics for children and seniors.
The Rotary Club dates back to 1922, when Montebello was still a rural community with a population of less than 3,000. Largely due to the enthusiasm of Fred T. Beaty, editor of the Montebello News, local merchants, professional men and others organized a Businessman’s Club comprised of 25 members who met for lunch at the old Masonic Lodge at 508 Whittier Blvd. The purpose of the club was similar to the Chamber of Commerce – to increase business in the community.
A year later, the idea of the group becoming a service club was born. A committee, composed of Myron McNeal, branch manager of Southern California Edison, Bert Coffman, owner of a local hardware store, and George Dodge, manager of Montebello Land and Water Company, was formed to decide which service club the group should join at which time McNeal said without hesitation, “There is only one service club – Rotary.”
After the committee reported back to club members, things moved quickly and the Montebello Rotary Club, sponsored by the Whittier Rotary Club, was chartered February 2, 1924 with Myron McNeal as its first president. A program benefiting the Boy Scouts of America was one of the club’s first projects, with Rotarians serving as scoutmasters, assistant scoutmasters and serving on Boy Scout committees.
“PolioPlus, the most ambitious program in Rotary’s history, is the volunteer arm of the global partnership dedicated to eradicating polio. For more than 25 years, Rotary has led the private sector in the global effort to rid the world of this crippling disease. Today, PolioPlus and its role in the initiative are recognized worldwide as a model of public-private cooperation in pursuit of a humanitarian goal.” According to Rotary International, the campaign “has already spared an estimated 5 million children from a lifetime of paralysis.”
In celebration of 100 years of Rotary International in 2005, Montebello Rotarians adopted a historical landmark, the Sanchez Adobe, as their centennial project. The club’s goal is to enhance Montebello’s oldest standing structure by improving the grounds, courtyard and interior of the historical landmark built in 1845.
“As we start the equivalent of our fifth generation of members, current club members, like those that have proceeded them over a span of 90 years, have found Rotary to be a truly rewarding experience,” said President Bryan Stanek. “One that not only touches the heart but provides great humanitarian experiences and friendships, not only within the club, but throughout the Rotary world.”
Montebello Rotarians will celebrate the club’s milestone at a special luncheon scheduled for February 12.