Rotary After Hours was chartered as a Rotary Club 10 years ago, in 2011

"I would not wish a year of my life away in order to be able to catch a glimpse of what the future holds for this group of young people but suffice it to say I believe that they will charter, they will function at the very highest levels of what Rotary is about: fellowship, leadership, integrity, diversity and service and that within a year this club will have over fifty members. I believe that I have looked at the face of the future of Rotary and this is it."  - Dean Dickinson, Downtown Rotarian, Past D6250 Governor (& Marissa's Dad) in 2011
Have you ever wondered how our club come to be? Who started it? Are they still members? 
In July of 2010, past District Governor Dean Dickinson (yes, the same guy that loves to join our club meetings!) had a conversation with a couple of young professionals here in La Crosse, including our very own, Justin Garvey! Area Rotary Clubs were struggling to attract younger members into their clubs and they wanted to know why. 
Their reasons:
  • They have little in common with the club members
  • The age spread between themselves and current members is an issue
  • The cost of joining an existing club is an impediment
  • The meeting times of most club do not work for them
  • They would like to network with their own generation
The area Rotaract Club at the time decided they were not interested in converting to a regular Rotary Club, so a handful of what turned out to be our founding members gathered at the end of July and discussed the possibility of forming a New Generations Club and recruiting all new members to charter the club. The target group would be 22-32 understanding that there would be no age ceiling. 
The Rotary Club of La Crosse agreed to a feasibility study and in September the group gathered again and brought friends, with 22 in attendance. In October two meetings were held and the attendance has grown to over 30 interested young people. "Once we started meeting 2 times per week in 2010, we never stopped," said Justin Garvey. They were committed to chartering as a Rotary Club when they had 36 members. The group chose their name, The Rotary Club of La Crosse-After Hours and the Rotary Club of La Crosse agreed to be our sponsoring club. "It does make the process sound a little less complicated than it felt at the time," adds Justin.
We owe a debt of gratitude to our founding members. Where would we be without their perseverance to form our club? Today we have 64 incredible individuals making up our membership. The impact RAH has had over the past decade is immeasurable. Stay tuned for more stories on RAH's founding as we celebrate our 10th birthday this year!
Picture from RAH's Chartering Dinner Celebration in 2011