Club History

These notes are from Jim Baker

When our Rotary Club was originally chartered, in July 1970, it was chartered as the Rotary Club of East Clearwater. It was later changed to the Rotary Club of Clearwater East. The reason - when it was East Clearwater it appeared under the “E’s” in the Rotary International Directory, rather than the “C’s”. So when visitors looked for Clearwater Clubs they could not find us.

For the first 20 years or so the general policy of the Club Board of Directors was that we were not going to be a fund raiser for other groups. That the groups receiving funds would have to have an active Clearwater East Rotarian involved, hopefully more than one Rotarian. We were going to be a Service Club and a fun Club.

At one time we were known nationally as “The Playboy Club”. A lot of the members actually arrived at Club meetings an hour early to enjoy “Happy Hour”. There was an active Bar service in our meeting room from 11 to 12 o’clock.

About six months after Andrew tore up south Florida. A former member of our Rotary Club, Bill Newman, was then a member of the Homestead Rotary, told Dick Bell how depressed the members were in his club. Bill knew that we were a fun club and could put some life back into the Homestead Club. About 10 of our members went to Homestead one weekend with a truck full of about 300 Oak Trees. With help from Homestead City Management people, Homestead Rotary Club people, we planted the trees in some of the hardest hit areas. We had a great outdoor cook feast, with beer, soda pop, bar-b-que, hamburgers, etc and lots of fellowship. Everywhere we went in town everyone wanted to know if we were the Tree People. It was a great weekend in spite of Andrew’s devastation throughout that area.
Some of our first Club projects were: About half the Club members became certified instructors in “Driver Education” and in pairs taught Drivers Education Classes with Pinellas Safety Council and the Police Dept.

1. One of our biggest and most rewarding projects was tailored after a Seattle Club project. The objective was to teach about half the people of Clearwater how to give CPR. We founded the “Clearwater Heartsaver” with support from the American Red Cross and the Clearwater Fire Dept. The Red Cross certified our instructors. We held classes about 3 times a week in churches, mobile home rec centers, industry plants, and anywhere people wanted a class.
2. Another big project was with the City of Clearwater. The City furnished the containers and the dirt and we supplied about 500 Oak Tree seedlings and planted some and took care of them. They were given away on the City Arbor Day.
3. Operation Joy was a big project. About 30 days after school started teachers would tell us the names of children coming to school in the same clothes every day. We would contact the parents and invite them to bring their kids to Target (or go pick the kids up) at 6am on a Saturday morning. Sometimes we had as many as 150 kids. Target supplied donuts, orange juice and coffee. A Rotarian or Rotary Ann would then take their assigned kid shopping at Target for school clothes. Each kid was allowed to pick out $100 in clothes.