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Incoming Fairfield Glade Rotary President Deb Birdsall and Rotarian Jack Williams are so proud to be a part of an organization such as Rotary Club and are equally proud of their club for being named Club of the Year.

The Fairfield Glade Rotary Club has been named the first Club of the Year by the Rotary International District 6780, thanks to its community service, fundraising and membership growth.

“It was such an honor to be awarded the first Club of the Year award,” said Deborah Birdsall, incoming president, during the Rotary Open House held on June 11. 

The club’s mission is to make the world a healthier, happier place. Club projects have focused on assisting schools and youth, helping senior citizens and eradicating polio. 

Rotary’s Music and Memory program provides a personalized playlist of musical selections for patients with Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia. Research suggested the music would help patients be more vocal and active in their daily lives. 

“It was one simple idea that took off, and soon enough, others throughout the state wanted to join in and help,” stated Rotarian Jack Williams. 

The club started by providing a few music devices and playlists to area nursing homes. Soon, other Rotary clubs joined the effort. Frank Horvath, director of Good Samaritan Society at Fairfield Glade, took the program to the state level. On Jan. 19, the Tennessee Arts Commission provided support to expand Music and Memory to 140 nursing homes across the state.

The Fairfield Glade Rotary Club impacts youth through its scholarship program. Each year, the club awards $14,000 in scholarships to students at Cumberland County High School, Stone Memorial High School, the Phoenix School and Tennessee College of Applied Technology. They also sponsor five high school juniors to attend the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards, offering students the opportunity to gain leadership and teamwork skills.

The club is working closely with Crab Orchard Elementary to raise funds for a new playground once construction of a new school is complete. They also joined with the other local Rotary clubs — Crossville Noon and Crossville Breakfast — to award a grant to the city of Crossville to purchase an Omni Spinner, a handicap accessible playground feature, for Garrison Park. 

Eradicating polio worldwide remains a focus for Rotary International. The Fairfield Glade Rotary Club helps keep the focus on this project through the annual Purple Pinkie project. In many parts of the world, once children have received the polio vaccination, their pinkies are dipped in purple dye so they are not vaccinated twice.

Several members of the club have participated in mission trips where volunteers vaccinated children against the debilitating illness.

“I went on a [mission] trip and one mom walked 12 miles while she carried all of her children to get vaccinated,” said Tessi Gilmer, outgoing club president.

Although not completely gone, there are only three cases left worldwide.  

As the Fairfield Glade Rotary Club continues to make strides in making a better community and world, their club has grown with members who have a passion and love for what they are doing. In 1983, the club started with roughly 30 Rotarians. Now, they have grown to upwards of 80 members. Since 2019, they have welcomed 14 new members and increased female membership by five. 

For more information, visit their website, www.ffgrotary.org