The Exchange Club of Statesboro celebrated the 100th anniversary of the national club Tuesday with a cake, a meal and an educational presentation by National Exchange Club President Margie Miller.
The local club was presented with proclamation certificates by Bulloch County Commission Chairman Garrett Nevil, Statesboro Mayor Joe Brannen, and by member Lisa Glisson, representing state Representatives Jan Tankersley, Butch Parrish and John Burns.
After a buffet luncheon at RJ’s Seafood and Steaks, the club enjoyed hearing from Miller, who pointed out significant milestones in the National Exchange Club history.
Founded in 1911, the National Exchange Club “has a long history of … making our communities better places to live,” she said. “That’s a wonderful thing.”
In 1896, a group of men began meeting to better their world, and the idea for a club to make a difference grew. The club was chartered in 1911, and the word “exchange” came to symbolize the exchanging of ideas, Miller said.
By 1919, there were 17 organizations with 1,300 members. By the 1920’s, Exchange Club members were very active and wholeheartedly supported aviation, she said. By 1941, the club’s enthusiasm resulted in 13,000 markers painted on the roofs of barns and other buildings to help guide airplanes. The club began to have a reputation for “truth, integrity and relationships,” she said.
In spite of the Great Depression in the 1930s, the Exchange Clubs grew an helped in the nation’s recover efforts. During World War II, the clubs were closely affiliated with the military and promoted the sale of war bonds. Americanism is one of the club’s most important issues, and “from the beginning, the Exchange Club has been an organization of patriots,” Miller said.
In 1964 the club adopted the “One Nation Under God” project and the Service to Youth project. Clubs award scholarships to deserving youth, especially those who overcome adversity to succeed.
In 1979, the Exchange Club adopted the prevention of child abuse as its national cause, and “more than 100 advanced centers have helped 1.7 million children” escape abuse, she said.
In 1985, the Exchange Club voted to accept women into its folds. And today, Miller is the second woman to hold the national presidency.
The Exchange Club of Statesboro has been in existence for 18 years.
“The City of Statesboro has been given a gift with the charter of the Exchange Club of Statesboro in 1993,” Miller said. “This club has served well.”
The Statesboro club has received over 40 national awards, including the National Care Award, for noted efforts in child abuse prevention. Tuesday, the club presented the Family Skills Center in Statesboro with a check for $500 to further help that effort.
“The goal of our Exchange Clubs is to make our communities a better place to live,” she said. “They’re doing great in Statesboro. This club is so involved in the community.”
Cassie Justen, president of the Exchange Club of Statesboro, said “This is a big day for us today.” She explained the four main focuses of the club – Americanism, youth, community service and child abuse prevention.
Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414.