Morning in Rotary: New Brighton/Mounds View club adds breakfast meetings

Gerry Tietz, president of the New Brighton/Mounds View rotary club, ended the Nov. 21 lunch meeting with a proclamation; it’s a new era for the rotary club. 

He applauded the consistent membership and contribution of what he affectionately called “grey hairs,” but said it’s time to begin courting new, younger members. 

The way forward is flexibility, Tietz said. “The days of kicking people out after missing four meetings — that’s out.”

One of the things Tietz said he always heard was an obstacle for people considering joining the rotary club is the two hour lunch-time commitment for meetings. So, thinking flexibly, Tietz introduced the idea of breakfast meetings. 

Breakfast club meetings, led by Michelle Caron, are now held Thursday mornings starting at 7 a.m. Lunch meetings, led by Tietz, are Tuesdays starting at 12:15 p.m. All meetings are at The Exchange Food and Drink in New Brighton. 

Rotary International is a service organization. Meetings feature a meal and speakers covering all kinds of topics. Recent speakers have talked about construction projects like U.S. Bank Stadium or updates to the Target Center — including virtual tours — as well as charitable organizations the rotary group can contribute too. Members also take the occasional field trip for tours. 

 

Breakfast versus lunch

The New Brighton/Mounds View breakfast and lunch groups will be entirely different. Caron’s morning group will have a speaker schedule and discussion topics of its own. Tietz’s lunch group will do its own thing. 

Because each group is different, Mary Stewart, who handles communications for the rotary chapter, suggests potential members commit to one group. But, if a rotary lunch member misses a meeting, they are encouraged to go to the lunch meeting if they can, and vice-versa. There was no breakfast meeting the Thursday of Thanksgiving, for example, so some breakfast members went to the Tuesday meeting on Nov. 21.

Rotary organizes meetings to bring businesspeople and professionals together to provide humanitarian services. But the 100-year-old institution always considered conducting business during rotary meetings, or with people in clubs, taboo. The club’s purpose was to be entirely humanitarian. 

Tietz said, to entice more people, that thinking is out, too. Rotary is now open to networking. 

Charitable service is still the primary focus of the group. At the Nov. 21 meeting, members discussed youth homelessness. While considering which organization to contribute to, club members talked openly about their priorities. 

One member stood to talk about the importance of maintaining a perspective of religious plurality while contributing to organizations with specific religious affiliation. Another spoke about her belief that only organizations that offer overnight services for the homeless should be considered. 

The conversation was followed by the day’s speaker, a representative from Help At Your Door, a nonprofit organization that provides assistance necessary to help the elderly stay in their homes. 

New Brighton and Mounds View area residents mingled over a buffet-style lunch. This meeting’s meal was burgers, salad and tater tots.

All meetings end with what’s called “happy fines.” Members talk about something that makes them happy while paying a one dollar fine. That money is put into a fund that contributes to humanitarian organizations and college scholarship funds. 

Membership is $300 annually and each meal is $13. Membership inquiry forms can be found on the New Brighton/Mounds View Rotary website, www.nbmvrotary.org.


 

– Solomon Gustavo can be reached at sgustavo@lillienews.com or 651-748-7815.

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