Hamburg Ruritan Club celebrates 60 years of service

EDINBURG – The Hamburg Ruritan Club celebrates its 60th anniversary this year.

The club has 36 members, including some who have been members since the club was chartered on June 5, 1956.

Prospective club members must be invited by a current club member and show a “volunteer spirit” said Barry Sweitzer, club secretary.

Volunteerism is a major component of being a Ruritan member. The club motto is “Fellowship, goodwill and community service.”

Sweitzer noted that when the club first started, members had to be a free white male. He said membership has changed drastically over the years – men and women of any ethnicity are welcome.

Local rising seniors, known as ruriteens, have also been a part of the club and have continued on with community service work after graduating, Some have visited other nations, such as South Africa, and have returned to share their experiences with club members.

The club is set up like many other organizations with committees that include environmental, public service, citizenship and patriotism, business and professions and social development. When a member joins the club, he is assigned a committee to participate in, based on what the member is familiar with and what he likes to do.

Club member Bob Perr said members attend national and local conventions throughout the year to receive training and learn how to grow their local club, and member Ann Follansbee said the club participates in various fundraising activities throughout the community.

“We all do volunteer hours at different organizations over the county,” she said.

Activities include participating in the Edinburg Ole’ Time Festival, food sales, trash pick-ups, bell ringing for the Salvation Army, filling stockings for children during the holidays and participating in the Spring Forward afternoon tutoring program for children after school.

Members agreed that the Ole’ Time Festival was one of the most fun and largest fundraising events the club participates in.

Club member Landon Fadely noted “It’s like homecoming,” as members get to speak to the community they serve and find out what’s needed in the region.

“We don’t brag about what we do, but we do a lot of good things,” he said.

The club also gives out scholarships to graduating students in the area, added Follansbee.

As of now, 11 scholarships ranging from $100 to $1,000 each will be given out this year. To receive a scholarship, an applicant must fill out an application for review by the club’s scholarship committee.

In honor of members’ many years of service and to celebrate their successes, the club will hold an anniversary dinner open to members and invited guests at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Stonewall Jackson High School.  An annual auction will be held for those who attend. Past auctions have included homemade wines, desserts and handmade hats and mittens by club members.

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or ktoy@nvdaily.com