The Rotary Club of Dunedin, Florida
Chartered January 20, 1947
Tom Hood, a former District Governor from Dunn, NC (1947-1948), was a member of the Clearwater Rotary club and owned a local drug store on Main Street. Along with H.E. Winchester (father of Walter Winchester), Tom Parnell, Ben Skinner, and several others, Hood left the Clearwater Club to start the Dunedin Rotary Club. The club was chartered On January 20, 1947, and held its first meetings at the cafeteria of the Citrus Concentrate Plants on the 2nd floor. Tom Hood became the Rotary Club's secretary and strictly enforced attendance: if you left before 60% of the meeting was over, he would mark you as absent. Stanley Douglas, the father of Bill Douglas, was secretary to Tom Hood. Ken Kerr became the club's first full-term president, followed by Tom Parnell. Walter Winchester, who was too busy setting up his medical practice to join the club, joined the club three months after its charter. Walter, who passed away in 2006, was president from 1949-1950 and remained active in the Rotary Club until his death.
For many years the club was known as "The Banner Club" as a result of its efforts to collect Rotary banners from around the world. Bill Sutton started the collection in 1986 with 400 banners Dunedin already had. His idea was to bring together the banners of all possible Rotary Clubs, about 25,000 at that time. When collecting was discontinued, banners in the Dunedin Collection had come to over 19,000, representing approximately 190 countries. Made of everything from cloth to wood to stainless steel to elephant hide, they tell the story of what Rotary is all about. Most of them focus on geographical location, local products, or cultural history. The entire collection of about 22,000 banners was donated to Rotary International.
Ben Skinner remembered the club's first fundraiser in 1952. The members held a picnic, sold hot dogs and Cokes donated by Publix, and made $1,000. During the following years, the club had many fundraisers and accumulated $30,000. Woody Register, John Powers, Bob Tharin, Sr., and Russ Hair got together and started several community projects such as beach clean-up, building benches, swings, and helping schools. Unfortunately, these activities used up the club's funds, much to the displeasure of then treasurer Frank McCombs, who had held onto these funds for many years. Since then, the club has been actively fundraising and has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars throughout the years. The club was able to start a foundation in the 1990s with $28.000 of seed money due to the fiscal responsibility of treasurer Del Knox.
Over the past 60 years, the Dunedin Rotary Club has completed many projects such as the Stanley Douglas Memorial at the Dunedin Historical Society Museum, a shelter in Hammock Park, and the Rotary banner collection, organized by Dr. Bill Sutton. The club planted islands on the Dunedin Causeway and has held a beach clean-ups. The club has provided many benefits for the community, such as support for the Dunedin High School Interact Club and the annual Adopt a Family program, school supplies for the needy, scholarships for Dunedin High School students, volunteers at the Blue Jays games, and the "Great American Teach-In." The club hosts the bloodmobile monthly at the Church of the Good Shepherd. Other programs supported by Dunedin Rotary include Alcohol-Free Grad Night for Dunedin High School, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Sherriff's Youth Ranch, the Dunedin Public Library, Clothes to Kids, and Dunedin Cares.
Some of the other organizations that have received significant contributions in the past ten years include Dunedin Fine Art Center, Rotary Camp Florida, Dunedin Library, Anclote Lighthouse, Adopt A Family, Literacy Council of Upper Pinellas, Dunedin Commission on Aging, Watson Center, Kiwanis Boundless Playground, Boy Scouts, Pace Girls Center, Children's Home Society, Dunedin Historical Society. Each year the Rotary Club of Dunedin donates about $50,000 back to the local Dunedin community. These contributions were made possible in recent years by income from the Dunedin Rotary Foundation and two fundraisers, The Dunedin Triathlon held in June and a Harley Davidson Motor Cycle raffle held during the winter months.
The Rotary Club of Dunedin and the Rotary Club of Dunedin North jointly raised and contributed over $166,000 to construct the Rotary Centennial Nature Center at Honeymoon Island. In addition, our club has also provided over $100,000 in scholarships to Dunedin High School students in the past ten years. In recent years, our club has consistently been among the top contributors to the Rotary International Foundation in District 6950 and boasts 100% membership in the Paul Harris Society.
The Dunedin Rotary Club's International projects include matching grants to developing nations and sponsoring GSE team members. The Rotary Club has sent GSE group leaders Ann Kennedy to India, Sallie Parks to Scotland, and Julie Scales to Germany. In addition, the club purchased an ambulance for the Jaipur Hospital in India, sent computer software to Croatia, school supplies to Haiti and West Samoa, and shelter boxes to disaster areas around the world.
The Rotary Club began a collaboration with Belize City Rotary clubs in about 2005 by funding a well required for a fish farm in Belize. Several projects to improve a children's home in Belize City have resulted in a better quality of life for children and their caregivers. In 2017 Dunedin Rotary collaborated with Seven Springs Rotary to write a winning global grant of more than $100,000 to support a teacher training program in Belize City.
During Rotary Year 2016-2017, our club's 53 members have focused their energy on serving through hands-on projects with community agencies that we have supported with our donations in the past few years. These include Pinellas Hope, Dunedin Cares, Habitat for Humanity, Pack-a-Sack, Clothes to Kids, and local elementary schools. By extending our hands to those most in need, Dunedin Rotary has engaged our members in activities that have brought us together to have fun while serving humanity.