Wednesday, January 16, 2013
In 1923 women weren’t permitted to join a Rotary Club, but the clubs in Charleston found themselves in need of some capable assistance when it came time to plan the first Rotary District Conference in Charleston that year. More than 700 Rotarians and their wives from Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina were to converge on Charleston, and the all-male club needed help in the party planning department.
The Charleston Rotary Anns formed in January 1923 and went on to organize accommodations and entertainment for the visiting Rotarians, including a tea at the Charleston Museum, an oyster roast at Folly Beach and the District Governor’s Ball.
The 27 women who had formed this auxiliary group decided to keep their work going and the Greater Charleston Rotary Club Auxiliary became the first such organization in Rotary International. This year, the club will celebrate its 90th anniversary with a gala on Jan. 25 at the Charleston Marriott.
The club’s 70 members meet monthly and function much like a regular Rotary Club with the mission of “service about self.” The women engage in several charity projects each year, including last year’s fundraising for the Florence Crittendon Home, support for My Sister’s House and providing blankets and gifts for 60 Meals on Wheels recipients at Christmas.
Barbara Franklin, a former club president and active member, could certainly join a Rotary Club today but she appreciates the history and longevity of the auxiliary club. “I love the legacy of it,” she said.
Past President of the Charleston Rotary Club Auxiliary Barbara Franklin pours tea for member Maureen Grayson on Jan. 8 at the 90th President’s Tea, an event held each year to honor the past presidents of the auxiliary. The Charleston Rotary Club provides the cake, and every president in attendance lights a candled. Additional candles are lit for deceased presidents.