In a July 1985 address to the Coldwater Rotary Club, Rotary International Governor for District 6360, Tom Sullivan, carried the message from Rotary International recommending a breakfast club be formed to involve more people in the District in Rotary. With the idea planted, members Bob Seaman, Larry Dunworth and Hal Creal began discussing the reality of forming such a club for the Coldwater area. Planning began in March 1986 with the assistance of Dick Marowelli, the District governor’s aide from Quincy.
The first meetings of the provisional club were held at the Quality Inn and Convention Center in July 1986. Rotary International asked the Coldwater Rotary Club, which meets at noon, to sponsor the new breakfast club. With the luncheon club as a sponsor, the Coldwater Township Sunrise Rotary Club was officially chartered on October 8, 1986. The charter membership included 22 members. Sunrise Rotary was the first Rotary Club in Branch County to invite women to join.
Charter officers were President, Bob Seaman; President-elect Larry Dunworth; Vice President Hal Creal; Advisor Dick Marowelli; Secretary Blaine Katz; Treasurer Wayne Haupt. Other charter members included Dick Bettinger, Craig Dally, Tod Dally, Keith Dart, Craig Dunworth, Bob Fischer, Bob Krutsch, Bill McMillan, Norm Heinemann, Bill Renner, Darwin Robison, Robert Rogan, Rex Simmerman, Don Streets, Greg Vorholt and Bruce Young. During the charter year, 20 members became Paul Harris Fellows.
Members set about their work serving the community. An annual money raffle was instituted to raise money for community projects. Membership also began to steadily increase in the new club.
In 1987, a Coldwater Township Rotary Foundation was established. The purpose of the Foundation was to create a fund for club projects. The membership determined that 50 percent of the money raised by the Foundation would be placed in the perpetual fund from which only the interest generated would be used to support scholarships and other community projects. The other 50 percent were to be used to fund community projects the club elected to undertake.
In 1988, member Bob Krutsch gave a presentation on animals and the need for an animal shelter in the community. The building of a Branch County Animal Shelter became the club’s project. Members devoted more than 12,000 hours of volunteer labor over a three-year period, and raised the $275,000 needed for the project. Major projects to fund the animal shelter included the club’s annual money raffle and a special animal shelter lottery held in partnership with WTVB. Members Doug Baxter and Hal Creal were instrumental in organizing the construction of the facility. The Branch County Animal Shelter was completed and dedicated on October 12, 1991 and presented to the people of Branch County by the members of the Coldwater Township Sunrise Rotary Club.
In 1993, President J. Adaire Putnam challenged the membership to identify another, equally important and large-scale community service project. A number of members investigated a variety of community needs. Members Tom and Sharon Shenefield learned that the current Shelterhouse for abused women and children was grossly inadequate to meet today’s needs. Following their informative and moving presentation to the Club, members voted to make securing a new home for the Shelterhouse the next Club project.
Member Hal Creal and his wife, Lillian, stepped forward and donated a large, historic Coldwater home to the effort. The home was named in honor of Hal’s mother Naomi Davis. Under the campaign theme, Because Home Should be a Safe Place, members again donated thousands of hours and raised more than $100,000 in cash; goods and services to renovate the Naomi Davis Home for use multiple families and Shelterhouse staff.
In 1998 Sunrise Rotary assisted with the construction of Kids Kingdom – a community playground for the Coldwater area. With Howard Parsons serving on the Kids Kingdom planning committee
he recruited members to donate numerous hours and services to assemble the playground during the construction week. Sunrise Rotary was also recognized for making the largest financial contribution from a service club to support the project.
Sunrise Rotary members have also assisted the Habitat for Humanity organization. Under the leadership of Bruce Young several members have joined forces to form a volunteer roofing crew and have shingled several Habitat for Humanity homes.
In 2001 Sunrise Rotary members explored the possibility of partnering with the Coldwater-Quincy American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) to construct a pavilion for the growing soccer program. Jim Wodyka, also a member of the AYSO spearheaded the efforts to work with the two boards to pursue leasing land from Coldwater Township to locate the soccer fields and future pavilion.
In 2002 plans were developed for the construction of the pavilion and members began actively developing fundraising plans to financially support this project. Hal and Lillian Creal once again stepped forward to financially support this project and pledged to match all donations up to $300,000.00. In 2003 work was done on the grounds to accommodate the parking and the layout of the playing fields.
Construction of the Creal Soccer Pavilion occurred in 2004. The pavilion includes a community room, a concession, and patio and picnic area and restroom facilities. Members once again made commitments of financial support and labor to assist with the completion of the pavilion. Community member and friend of Rotary, Glen Fry was instrumental in organizing the construction of the facility.
During its short life, the Coldwater Township Sunrise Rotary has received two Rotary International Presidential Citations for the animal shelter and Naomi Davis home projects. This is the highest honor Rotary International can bestow upon a club.
In 2006 Jon Harpst was instrumental in establishing what was to become an annual golf outing, raising approximately $20,000 each year toward major club projects.
Also in 2006 Hal and Lillian Creal began what is to be an annual contribution to the Club to make it possible for the outgoing president to present a Paul Harris Award to someone of their choice who has contributed to Rotary. Chuck Lillis presented the first award to Jim Fry.
Early in 2007 the club partnered with the United Methodist Men and Rotary International to provide bio-sand filters to residents of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. So far approximately $13,000 has been raised toward this pure water project.
In May of 2007 the club decided that our next major project would be the improvement of facilities at Coldwater High School’s Lowe Baseball Field, the Sandy Koufax Baseball Field near Heritage Park and the girls’ softball complex across from Parkhurst Park. It is planned to add covered stadium seating, restrooms, concession stands and press boxes at each location. Fundraising began when nearly $22,000 was raised in June at the 2007 golf outing at Blackberry Patch Golf Club.
Additionally the Hal and Lillian Creal Service Above Self Award was initiated for anyone donating $500 to the Sunrise Rotary Foundation. In the first year two awards were given, with a number of pledges received. We anticipate over time this effort will be like the Paul Harris Award, except it will allow us to continue our efforts for our own community.
Oakie Doakey Roofing Company
When the Sunrise Rotary club decided to build the Animal Shelter (completed in 1991) we did considerable work on the building, including the roofing.
In 1995 Rotarian Past President Bruce Young was approached by Habitat for Humanity to see if Sunrise Rotary was interested in roofing the house they were building. He talked to the club and found that there was an interest and the Oakie Dokey Roofing Company was born.
As of 2009 The Oakie Doakey Company has roofed seven (7) Habitat For Humanity Homes. On another positive note, Bruce approached the Noon Rotary Club and they agreed to side the homes.
Additionally, the company has roofed a few private homes in exchange for Donations to our Rotary Foundation. The most recent roofing project was the Sunrise Rotary Lakeland Pavilion project.
It is impossible to accurately estimate the dollar value of these efforts. Bruce calls upon the club for assistance and members go forth and do another project for the benefit of another family and the community. Another outstanding example of Service above self!
Over the years there has been Rotarian efforts to find projects where both the Noon and the Sunrise clubs could utilize their combined efforts. Their have been combined efforts with the Oakey Doaky Roofing Company on the Habitat For Humanity homes but many were looking for additional efforts that would show the Coldwater Community the results of a combined Rotary effort.
When Chuck Lillis was President he approached the Noon Rotary President Dave Stattler about such a project. Following his presidency Chuck formed a steering committee from both clubs, to investigate the possibility of bringing 4th of July fire works back to Coldwater.
With the help of an anonymous donor, both clubs joined to bring about the 4th of July fire Works program that has, in the years following, brought joy and enthusiasm to the community. Hopefully other combined projects will follow.