I currently write a column each Tuesday for the DeKalb
Daily Chronicle. The column will also appear on this website
each week and be added to the archives.
The Articles started December 2007.
If you've missed any please follow the links on the dates
to catch up.
Home | Columns |
Photos | Books
| Biography | Links
This service club is worth growing
By Barry Schrader.................................May
The National Exchange Club was founded 100 years ago
in March, with similar objectives as the other major service
If you want to join a service club where you can immediately
head a major project or serve in an office, John Hughes has a
place reserved for you.
Hughes is president of
the Exchange Club of DeKalb-Sycamore, and he called me recently
to explain the clubs situation. It has been around since
1993 in DeKalb and Sycamore, but it is overshadowed by the big
three Rotary, Kiwanis and Lions so few people realize
Even though the local club was chartered
18 years ago with 30 members, membership had declined to just
a handful of men and women. To their credit, two of the charter
members Beth Bollinger and Greg Anderson are still
in the club. The club now meets twice monthly at noon on Wednesdays
for lunch at The Lincoln Inn in DeKalb.
Exchange Club president John Hughes displays their banner
at the Lincoln Inn meeting room in DeKalb.
A centennial convention will be
held later this year in Detroit, where the club was founded.
The Exchange Club places its emphasis on Americanism, community
service and youth programs, which is highlighted by its nationwide
effort to prevent child abuse.
The local club
has dedicated two Freedom Shrines one at Sycamore Public
Library and the other at St. Marys School over the
years. These permanent wall-mounted exhibits are a collection
of important documents in American history and usually include
20-30 pieces, all readable with explanations attached.The idea
originated with the Freedom Train that was a part of the nations
Hughes explained that each year
the club raises money to purchase as many as 5,000 small American
flags, which are passed out at the Sycamore Pumpkin Festival.
The club also gives a financial award to a graduating senior
from either DeKalb or Sycamore who has overcome adversity to
get through school and writes an essay describing the struggles.
Another program called So Proudly We Hail identifies
citizens who fly the flag at their home or business on a daily
basis. The local club selects a few individuals each year to
recognize for their patriotism.
Hughes wears more
than one hat in the Exchange Club. He was also elected Division
4 director for the northwestern Illinois portion of the Lincolnland
District, which covers all of Illinois. That position involves
traveling to other clubs to help them. He will be succeeded as
the DeKalb-Sycamore clubs leader this summer by the clubs
President-elect Justin Yahnig, a Sycamore banker. Yahnig faces
a big challenge to revitalize the club. As Hughes said, to
make our programs successful we need more bodies.
This is nothing new to all the area service clubs.
You have to make membership recruitment and retention your top
priority before you can do much else. I speak from experience,
as I was once active in an Exchange Club in Dublin, Calif., where
we had 40 members at the time I was president. Seven years later,
it folded because of dwindling membership.
I cherish the friendships made in that and other service clubs
to which I have belonged. They epitomize volunteerism at its
best, and many nonprofits and community projects rely heavily
on their efforts.
Anyone wanting to know more
about the Exchange Club can visit www.nationalexchangeclub.org
or give Hughes a call at 815-991-5387. I bet he would even be
glad to buy you lunch at the next club meeting.
The columnist can be reached via email at :
or by snailmail at:
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115