Columbus, Ohio USA
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Short North Rotary Club
Beneficial to all concerned
By Psyche North Torok
May/June 2015 Issue

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Music in the Round, a fundraiser, was held at Via Vecchia Winery on March 7, 2015 for the Short North Rotary Club. Top (LtoR): Jared Mahone, Josh Krajcik, Happy Chichester. Bottom: Counterfeit Madison (Sharon Udoh), Kirk Horn (emcee) and Erin Corrigan (Rotary Club president and event chair) Photo | Shelagh Conley

Short North residents may be surprised to discover just how unconventional their local Rotary Club is. “Our club has always been a little bit renegade as far as Rotary Clubs go because we just wanted to do our own thing,” said Erin Corrigan, president of the Short North Rotary.

The group recently changed its name from Capitol Square Rotary to the Short North Rotary (officially the Rotary Club of Columbus, Short North). This revision followed a change in location earlier this year. The club now meets at 463 North High St. in the North Room of Yankee on High.

“We had a problem with people not being able to remember the name,” Corrigan said. “They would call us Cap City; they would call us Columbus Rotary. They would call us all different kinds of things that were not our name. We wanted the name to resonate more with people who live and work in this area.”

Corrigan explained that Rotary projects are quite diverse and might last a single day or as long as two years. The Short North Rotary has worked on local projects benefitting the Mid-Ohio Food Bank, Franklinton Gardens, Faith Mission, and Shepherd’s Corner Ecology Center, to name a few.

“The Short North Rotary has been a valuable partner as we care for land, life, and spirit,” said Diane Kozlowski, program and volunteer manager of Shepherd’s Corner Ecology Center in Blacklick. “The creation, establishment, and ongoing care of our Meditation Trail was made possible through the creativity, resources, and dedication of the club.”

The club has also served internationally in Honduras, Tanzania, and Kenya. “The water project funded by [the] club was a game changer in the long term goals and objectives of our organization,” said John Nganga of the Rafiki Children’s Center in Nairobi, Kenya. The Rafiki Children’s Center has been one of the main recipients of help from the Short North group. “We shall forever be grateful for the partnership between the Rotary Club and our center,” he said.

While the Rotary can have a far-reaching impact, it offers lasting benefits for its members as well. Corrigan cited unique experiences – both local and abroad – as part of what she’s gained by her Rotarian membership.

“I’ve visited clubs in Kioto, Nairobi, and Iceland,” she said. “I went to a convention in Sidney, Australia. I’ve also gotten to know local music really well because of Rotary. Our flagship fundraiser is called Music in the Round, and it showcases four Columbus-based singer-songwriters every year.” Music in the Round was held this year on March 7 at Via Vecchia Winery.

“Becoming a Rotarian has been a humbling experience,” said club member Jesse Henry. “It has opened my eyes and mind to a group of people that have collectively decided to be proactive. I have seen the Rotarians’ many projects become a source of positive energy in Columbus and abroad.”

New members start out wearing a red badge, then “graduate” to the designated blue badge after completing a series of requirements. “Anybody is welcome to come check us out any time,” said Corrigan. We have plenty of people who are just friends of the club who don’t ever join. Our club calendar is always up to date, so it tells everybody where we’re going to be, and when.”

Although group dynamics vary, one common thread among all Rotary Clubs is referred to as The Four Way Test:

1. Is it the truth?
2. Is it fair to all concerned?
3. Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
4. Is it beneficial to all concerned?

“The Four Way Test is a benchmark that Rotarians are supposed to follow for all the decisions they make with their lives,” Corrigan explained. “We say it at the end of every meeting. It’s sort of our ‘marching orders’”

Corrigan hopes that shedding light on the non-traditional nature of the club will spark new membership. Currently the group boasts about 35 members. “We’ve always said, ‘Not your grandfather’s Rotary’ to get away from any stodgy impressions that people might have of the club,” she said.

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