Chad Inabinet is the Rotary Club of Ludington’s new president, inducted recently in the club’s first full in-person gathering in more than a year.

“It was an immense pleasure and joy to have so many members show up to celebrate the past years accomplishments, and begin discussions regarding our upcoming year’s projects and goals. After a year of virtual meetings, it felt really amazing to look out across the room and see Rotarians and spouses in person,” Inabinet stated in a press release.

He works as the dean of students at West Shore Community College, and he and his wife have lived in the Ludington area for 13 years. They have two sons.

Inabinet takes over the president’s role from James Jensen, who spent his entire time as club president overseeing virtual meetings.

Still, the club was able to thrive, adapting well to the challenges COVID-19 wielded.

The club even increased membership this past year, with 79 members currently, up five in a year.

“As the reality of the COVID pandemic began to set in during March and April of 2020, the members of Rotary Club of Ludington made a commitment to continue our efforts to serve our community, especially as we all faced this new challenge,” Jensen stated in the release. “That meant significant changes to our traditional way of operating while never wavering from our mission to help others.”

Dealing with the pandemic

During the pandemic, Inabinet took on the role of offering a small in-person option to join the virtual meetings. He hosted what was referred to as the “party room,” which took place in a variety of local restaurants, keeping the number of attendees low to stay safe and within state COVID-19 health rules.

Inabinet takes the reins as the club returns to meeting at the Ludington Area Center for the Arts, still every Thursday at noon. All are welcome to attend and learn more about what the club is all about.

Also, as a result of what the club has learned through the pandemic, “we will always have an interactive, online Zoom presence during our meetings so that our members can still join us for a myriad of reasons,” Inabinet stated.

“Sometimes members don’t feel 100 percent, can’t get away from their busy schedules to attend the lunch meeting in person, or are out of town on vacation or for work, and would otherwise want to be a part of the weekly meeting. Every week, members will receive the weekly agenda, along with a zoom link to join virtually.”

The club seeks to embody its motto, “Service above self,” even as revenue dropped drastically in the past year.

The Fourth of July weekend, when the West Shore Art Fair offered the opportunity for a return to elephant ear sales, the club got back into the business of making money to fund its projects.

The club made more than $5,000 during the two days of ear sales.

“After purchasing our new Rotary Food truck prior to the pandemic, it is a relief that we’re back to making money. These funds are vital to continue the community work we focus on each year,” Inabinet stated. “Our budget is made up strictly from our elephant ear sales, our Rotary Holiday Action and donations from club members and many generous contributors living in our community. Without the ability to access all these fundraising opportunities, it is that much more difficult to serve our community through various programs and projects” Inabinet stated.

Rotary projects include mentoring struggling high school students through its STRIVE program; providing scholarships to area students; helping the library offer book delivery to local schools; providing dictionaries to area third-graders; planting, weeding and pulling petunias; picking up trash along the highway and local waterways; and, supporting international service projects including polio vaccinations and more.

The club makes money not only from elephant ear sales to its Rotary Holiday Auction held the first Wednesday in December at Lincoln Hills Golf Club, and online. That, too, is a go (at least for now).

The club meets every Thursday at noon. All are welcome. See the Rotary Club of Ludington website or Facebook page for more information and watch the Daily News for updates.

Goals for the year

• Engaging current club members after more than a year of isolation, and growing membership to allow the club to expand outreach and impact within the community.

• Maintaining and enhancing current club programming, specifically focused on education for children in the community.

• Looking for ways the club can provide support to underdeveloped countries through international partnerships, other Rotary clubs, and Rotary International.

• Assessing the current club’s various initiatives and determining whether certain activities are still relevant to the community needs, and identifying gaps in the community that members can support through modeling “Service above self.”

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