Club News Archive
South Haven Rotary celebrated its 59th Paul Harris Fellow on Tuesday, June 23. President W.C. Askew is pictured presenting the award to
member John Harding. John has been a member of South Haven Rotary since 2004. The Paul Harris Fellow recognition acknowledges individuals who contribute, or have had contributions made in their name, to the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International. It was established in 1957 and today the number of Paul Harris Fellow exceeds one million. See South Haven's Paul Harris Fellows
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South Haven Rotary Club sponsored its third community pancake breakfast of the summer on Sunday, Sept. 6. Nearly 600 breakfasts were served. The proceeds from the breakfasts will be used to support South Haven Rotary's community outreach programs which last year totaled $14,000 given to more than 20 organizations. Enjoy photos from our breakfast. - See more at: Haven Rotary Club sponsored its third community pancake breakfast of the summer on Sunday, Sept. 6. Nearly 600 breakfasts were served. The proceeds from the breakfasts will be used to support South Haven Rotary's community outreach programs which last year totaled $14,000 given to more than 20 organizations. Enjoy photos from our breakfast. - See more at:
A family who has contributed to the well-being of the South Haven community in so many ways over the years is being recognized by the Rotary Club of South Haven.
The club's 2021 Community Service Award was presented to the Marcoux family -- Jim and Paula, Jay and Julia, Chad and Will during the Rotary club annual induction and awards event on Tuesday, July 6.
The gathering at the city's Johnston Park Pavilion was the club's first in-person event in more than a year.
The award, now in its 13th year, annually recognizes residents who make a difference in the community while embodying the spirit of the Rotary slogan, Service Above Self.
"The Marcouxs are truly a family committed to our community and the people who live here," said Rotary President Dan Thompson. "
Jim has been a driving force in creating the South Haven Community Foundation. He has served as the Foundation's executive director for a dollar a year since it was incorporated in 2005. The foundation has awarded over $450,000 to local non-profits over the years.
"Jim and Paula have instilled a spirit of giving in their children," said Thompson.
Paula has worked tirelessly behind the scene making meals and desserts in her own kitchen whenever asked to assist people in need. She is active in the Blessings in a Backpack program through the South Haven schools.
Jay has a history of donating cooked and balanced meals to people in need. During the early weeks of the COVID pandemic he organized local restaurants to contribute food from their shelves to people in need.
"Jay has the business perspective of identifying need and opportunity," said Thompson. "Food that could have easily gone to waste was redirected to meet a community need."
Jay continued to provide prepared meals to both the South Haven and Covert food pantries during the pandemic, even when his business was shut down. He has also provided food to the Thursday night dinners at the Congregational Church from November to April for many years. and he serves on the board of We Care I.N.C.
Jay has often said that Julia is his inspiration. It was because of her encouragement that Jay has been involved in so much community service. For example, when Jay asked Julia if he really had time to join the We Care Board she said "you always have time to do God's work."
Chad has been described as the family's unsung hero. "It is Chad's  willingness to give more of himself to the family's business enterprises, allowing other family members to be in touch with community needs," said Thompson.
An example of the numerous community initiatives supported by the Marcouxs was a generous donation to the Project Christmas Hope when there were not enough items for older kids.

Rotary Supports Bronson

Pictured left to right: Mark Odland, South Haven Rotary immediate past president; Rotarian Paul Hix; Dan Thompson, South Haven Rotary president; Bill Roberts,
South Haven Rotary president-elect; Rotarian Dr. Richard Swanson; Heather Oestrike Schipsema of Bronson Health Foundation; Dr. Matthew Dommer,
Chief Operating Office of Bronson-South Haven Hospital; Rotary District 6360 past Governor Margie Haas; Chris Fitzgerald, Bronson -South Haven Chief Nursing Officer.
South Haven Rotarians celebrated the opening of the new $22 million Bronson South Haven Hospital on Tuesday, June 22 with a tour of the state-of-the-art facility, highlighted by the presentation of two Rotary grants, one for a new Telehealth Initiative and the other in support of a history wall featuring the story of healthcare in our community.
The history wall tells through photos the century-long story of health care in the South Haven community. Longtime physicians in the community are pictured. Included is the cornerstone and bricks from the 1941 hospital building. Two display cases will feature items representative of healthcare over the years. The project was made possible by a grant from the South Haven club and District 6360 Foundation.
Pictured are Rotarian Dr. Richard Swanson and Darcy Knapper, Manager of
Bronson Practices with some of the telehealth supplies.

The Rotary-Bronson Telehealth Initiative is an outgrowth from the limitations on personal; interactions between patients and health care providers during the COVID pandemic. It is helping people in need of care at home by providing durable medical equipment, including pulse oximeters, diabetic monitoring supplies, scales and thermometers. It is also promoting better access to care through telemedicine by providing computer tablets so residents can have virtual doctor visits and communicate electronically with their provider. Grants totaling nearly $17,000 were presents by South Haven Rotary, the Rotary District 6360 Foundation and South Haven Rotarian Paul Hix.

High School Scholars Honored

The Rotary Club of South Haven has announced the recipients of its 2021 scholarships.
"We are pleased to continue a tradition of recognizing outstanding graduating South Haven High School seniors through the presentation of scholarships in recognition of their academic achievement and for the ways in which they have applied Rotary's 'Four Way Test' in their lives," said Rotarian Dene Hadden who coordinates the scholarship program.
The honorees are Summer Corke who will study marine biology at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, Megan Morse who will major in pre-pharmacy at Grand Valley State University and Daisy Solis who will study biochemistry and molecular biology at Michigan State University. Each recipient has been presented a $1,400 scholarship.
"A major area of focus for the South Haven Rotary is education and we are proud to support the youth of our community," said President Dan Thompson.
Rotary of South Haven sponsors an annual Educational Fund Raiser that provides support for these scholarships and the South Haven Public Schools Foundation.  The club also receives matching funds from Rotary International that increases the available scholarship amounts significantly.  In addition to the individual scholarship program, Rotary of South Haven has established an endowed scholarship fund of nearly $200,000  at Lake Michigan College that provides funding for graduating seniors of South Haven High School who choose to attend LMC. 
The COVID pandemic posed many challenges for everyone. For South Haven Rotary president Dan Thompson the challenge was extraordinary and for his year-long commitment to service beyond self he has been named the South Haven Rotarian of the Year.
The entire country was in a state of lockdown. Weekly in-person South Haven Rotary meetings had been declared off-limits. One traditional event after another was cancelled.
"We were in the midst of a life threatening pandemic and the future of our club as a relevant service organization had to be reinvented," noted member Mark Odland.
Thompson stepped to the plate. He kept the club meeting weekly via ZOOM technology, adapted the club's pancake breakfast to a virtual event and kept a clear focus on growth of membership. Club members maintained their generosity toward the community by contributing an estimated $56,000 to local causes.
A Rotarian since 2017, Thompson was presented the award during the club's recent annual induction event. Ironically, it was the first (and last) in-person meeting convened by him.
President Bill Roberts is pictured presenting a $5,000 grant on behalf of South Haven Rotary and Rotary District 6360 Foundation toward the creation at Lory's Place of a new Supportive Care Office where adults and children will received specialized help in overcoming the grief of losing a loved one. Bill is pictured presenting the grant to Stephanie Kohler, executive director of Lory's Place.

Educator of the Year

A South Haven teacher who changed careers out of a desire to serve young people is being presented the 2021 Education and Services Award by the Rotary Club of South Haven.
The Rotarians, in collaboration with the South Haven Public Schools system and the South Haven campus of Lake Michigan College, annually recognizes a teacher or educator in the community. The Rotary club contributes $250 to the South Haven Public Schools Education Found in the name of the honoree.
Candidates for the award are nominated by administrators at their respective school.
Madelyne Bettis graduated from Florida State University with a degree in mechanical engineering. Her work as a project engineer at a Holland, Mich. company centered on the introduction of interior automotive components, but she felt a higher calling.
She decided to enter education and to pursue a Masters degree in secondary education at the University of Phoenix. From 2006-2013 she taught in the Covert school system. She became a member of the South Haven High School faculty in the 2013-14 school year.
She is the team-based teacher leader of the SHHS mathematics department and teaches all levels from pre-algebra to advanced placement calculus.
"Mrs. Bettis capitalizes on students' strengths as she provides opportunity and support for participation in her classes," said high school principal and nominator Ryan Williamson. "She provides ample time for all her students, both before and after school, to assist any student requiring additional understanding of the subject."
"Watching the growth of students at all levels is rewarding," said Bettis. "You can't control what happens when a child leaves your classroom, but you can control what happens when they are present by making it the most positive, encouraging, accepting place they know. Only then can the students be excited about learning."
She is active in the Lily of the Valley Church in Covert as a participant in praise, worship and dance, Sunday school and youth ministries. She has participated in Our Town Players productions and is a former Girl Scout leader.
She is an active member of the school improvement team and is the sophomore class sponsor at the high school. She has  been a sponsor of the Student Council, Diversity club and Robotics team.
Mrs. Bettis and her husband, William, have three children. All have been in the South Haven schools system. Lauren is a 2019 graduate and currently a college student while Sydney and William are 9th and 11th graders respectively.
South Haven Rotarians are pleased to support the Student Art Exhibition 2021 sponsored by the South Haven Center for the Arts. President Dan Thompson is pictured presenting a $500 grant to Art Center Executive Director Kerry Nagy. Because of COVID limitations, this year's exhibition will be held outdoors through the installation of yard signs and window clings at various area schools. The work of 64 young artists will be featured beginning May 4.

A Tree (actually two)
Grows in South Haven

Arbor Day 2020 came and went without its usual fanfare last spring because of the COVID pandemic. But it wasn't forgotten by members of the Rotary Club of South Haven. On Wednesday, Oct. 21,  the Rotarians continued their annual tree planting tradition by placing two trees in historic Stanley Johnston Park on the city's north side.
President Dan Thompson and fellow Rotarians joined City Manager Kate Kosier and City Arborist Aaron Priebe in planting two Autumn Brilliance Serviceberry trees. They are an early spring-flowering tree, truly a plant for all seasons: it has beautiful spring flowers, handsome green leaves, striking orange to red fall color and silver bark.
The Rotary club works with Priebe in determining locations for the annual project. This year's trees replace two deteriorating spruces near the Johnston Park formal garden along Dyckman Avenue.
South Haven has been recognized as a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation for the past 16 years. Priebe said the city this fall planted 28 trees throughout the city. Johnston Park opened in the 1890s. It was originally named the Grove and renamed Oakland Park for its many oak trees. In 1969 it was renamed Stanley Johnston Park in honor of the developer of the Haven line of peaches. The formal garden was first created more than 100 years ago.
The Rotary Club of South Haven has earned the Rotary International Gold Citation, the most significant award a Rotary club can achieve, for 2019-20. During a year that was challenging for many Rotarians around the world, our club, under the leadership of President Mark Odland, demonstrated a commitment to achieve its goals, which ultimately helps strengthen Rotary and shape its future. Only seven percent of all Rotary clubs worldwide receive this recognition.

Rotary's Community
Service Recognized

The Rotary Club of South Haven was recognized for its support, dedication and service to the Greater South Haven area by the South Haven Area Chamber of Commerce on October 6. The Club was presented the Chamber's Community Investment Award. Club representatives Dan Thompson and Mark Odland were also presented a State of Michigan Special Tribute by Representative Beth Griffin.
The tribute reads:
LET IT BE KNOWN: That we are proud to join with the South Haven Area Chamber of Commerce in recognizing the Rotary Club of South Haven with the 2020 Community Investment Award. This award is a reflection of the Club's unselfishness and commitment to the common good that is most commendable. While the members of this distinguished organization celebrate receiving this award we also offer our thanks for the service they have shared within South Haven and throughout Michigan.
"Service Above Self" is the motto of the Rotary Club of South Haven since the Club's founding in our community in 1956.  In the years that have followed, this organization has adapted to the changes in society, membership and expectations. Through it all, the Club has maintained their mission of service.
In a typical year the Rotary Club donates an estimated $40,000 to community charitable causes. This past year has been exceptional. The Rotary Club provided significant donations to We Care I.N.C.'s utility assistance program, responded to the Martin Luther King Jr. Day appeal for laundry detergent by donating nearly 500 containers, contributed to the City of South Haven's new splashpad project, and funded the installation of a fire detection system at the historic Scott Club. The Rotarians have also continued their decades-long support of Lake Michigan College and the South Haven Public Schools Foundation and have recently created four new scholarships for South Haven High School graduates.
As the Club is recognized with the Community Investment Award, the members and officers of the Rotary Club of South Haven will remember the vision of many people and the hours and years of commitment that have brought the group to this point. Fittingly, as they look to the past, they will also be casting an eye to the future and to the many ways in which South Haven's Rotary Club will continue to reach out in our State.
IN SPECIAL TRIBUTE: Therefore. This document is signed and dedicated to commemorate the Rotary Club of South Haven as the South Haven Area Chamber of Commerce 2020 Community Investment Award recipient. We commend everyone who has contributed to its success and thank them for the manner in which their members have strengthened Michigan.
Signed by
State Representative Beth Griffin
State Senator Aric Nesbitt
Congressman Fred Upton
Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist II
Governor Gretchen Whitmer

Rotary Supports Kids

The Rotary Club of South Haven was a major donor in support of the construction of a splashpad near the city's South beach. President Dan Thompson presents a check as the final payment on the $17,500 pledge to Mayor Scott Smith and City Manager Kate Hosier. The pledge included $10,000 from the club, $4,000 from the Rotary District 6360 Foundation and $3,500 from the District 6360 Karl Sandelin Grant program. The splashpad is intended to provide a safe haven for kids, especially when Lake Michigan conditions are not conducive for swimming. The splashpad depicts the South Haven-based Friends Good Will, a replica of an 1800s sailing schooner that's featured at the Michigan Maritime Museum.

Citizens of the Year

South Haven Rotary is pleased to present its 2020 Citizens of the Year Award to Joel and Heidi Gesiakowski, owners of the Taste restaurant in downtown South Haven. Joel and Heidi have dedicated themselves and their business to the community from the day they came to our town in 2012.  They donate time, resources and food to many worthy causes.  Recently they were awarded the Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year Award, and a State of Michigan Business Excellence Award.  They have also been featured on Michigan Public Broadcasting’s “Under the Radar” program. During the current COVID crisis, Joel has broadcast a virtual Sunday afternoon cooking class.


Educator of the Year

A South Haven teacher who took an extraordinary path to becoming an educator has been presented the 2020 Education and Service Award by the Rotary Club of South Haven.
Anna DeVries, a third grade teacher at Lincoln Elementary, has been honored as an educator who exemplifies attributes that go beyond teaching.
DeVries taught in Covert and Benton Harbor prior to joining the South Haven system in 2014. Her grandparents, Don and Dorothy Jackson, were both teachers. DeVries' classroom at Lincoln Elementary is the same room where her grandfather taught.
DeVries' path to a career in education is especially impacting.
"If you knew me when I was younger, you would have never guessed I would have followed in my grandparents' footsteps. I once dropped out of high school. I was disconnected and lost in the school system. After I had my daughter, I returned to school and found myself at home in a classroom because I truly enjoy learning.
DeVries graduated from Eastern Michigan University and became a reading specialist after getting a Master's degree from Western Michigan University.
"It is from these personal experiences that I grew a passion for helping every student succeed. Connecting those students who struggle academically and emotionally is important to me," she said.
Lincoln Elementary principal Katie Jobson, in her nomination of DeVries, observed that "not only does the ongoing development of her craft lead Anna to be a strong presence in the classroom, but the way she develops positive relationships with her students is noteworthy. Anna is our go-to person for science instruction, providing leadership and new learning to her-colleagues."
In this unique time of a prolonged school closure due to the COVID pandemic, DeVries is credited with establishing ways to connect with her students online and for being quick to respond to their needs.
"As someone who once hated face-timing, I have quickly learned to love it when I see the joy on the faces of the kids seeing their friends," DeVries said.
"Equality is an issue that definitely sparks my passion," said DeVries. "Creating equal opportunities for all of our students to succeed, regardless of wealth, race, culture, or beliefs, is something I strive for every day. Unfair opportunities that lead to a gap in achievement is something that disturbs me, something that may likely be getting worse with distance learning, and something I work to fight against as much as I can."
"Anna's generosity with her time is a benefit for her students, her colleagues, and the greater South Haven community," said Jobson.
She is also active in the community, serving on the Board of Foundry Hall and as treasurer for the South Haven Education Association., She has been involved with Girls on the Run, encouraging young girls to have positive self images of themselves. She has partnered with the garden club on projects that have beautified South Haven schools, including an outdoor learning area at Lincoln.
The Rotarians, in collaboration with the South Haven Public Schools Educational Foundation and the South Haven campus of Lake Michigan College, annually  recognize an educator who exemplifies the attributes of quality teaching and is an active volunteer in the South Haven community. Nominations for this honor are received from the education community. A $250 contribution will be presented to the Educational Foundation in DeVries' name by Rotary.
Over the past 15 years the Rotarians have also contributed over $200,000 in support of financial aid for students at the South Have campus and to benefit programmatic initiatives within the South Haven public schools systems.

New Scholarships Awarded

Four new scholarships for members of the graduating class at South Haven High School have been created by the Rotary Club of South Haven and are being awarded for the first time.
"Rotary has been actively involved in supporting education in our community for many years," said club president Mark Odland. "In this new scholarship program we looked beyond academic achievement in reviewing applications and considered ways in which the students have applied Rotary's "Four Way Test" to their lives."
The Four Way Test is used by Rotarians worldwide as a moral code for personal and business relationships. It can be applied to almost any aspect of life.
Two of the new scholarships are being named in honor of Rotarians who died in recent years -- Don Hixson in 2018 and Glenn Pietenpol in 2019. Memorial gifts and a grant from Rotary District 6360 helped fund the program.
The recipient of the Pietenpol Scholarship is Sierra Garber. She plans to attend Lake Michigan College and then pursue a nursing degree at Western Michigan University.
"In a letter of recommendation Sierra is referred to as having a "heart of gold" and has always shown a strong concern for all of the people around her," said Rotarian Dene Hadden who chaired the club's scholarship selection committee. "She plans on following in the footsteps of her grandmother and become a nurse."
The Don Hixson Scholarship is presented to Opal Eddy. She will attend the University of Michigan. "A person recommending Opel observed how hard she worked to be fair to her classmates, including helping them to succeed."
The third Rotary Club scholarship is presented to Victoria Loikitis who plans to attend Western Michigan University. "Victoria is always looking for ways to be of service and never places her own interests about the needs of others," noted a letter of recommendation." She has shown maturity well beyond a person of her age."
Katherine Schooley is the recipient of the fourth scholarship. She plans to attend Western Michigan University. "Katy's character and integrity are not something that she constantly forces, but instead are woven throughout how she was raised and who she is at the core," noted a letter of recommendation.  Her selection as Miss South Haven was based at least partially on her desire to serve our community and to make sure that everyone in our community is well served.  She humbly chooses to tackle life's challenges with an "others first" mentality."
The new scholarships are in addition to another fund supported by the South Haven Rotarians. Since 2004 the club has donated nearly $200,000 to the Rotary Scholarship Fund held at Lake Michigan College and to the South Haven Schools Fund managed through the Greater South Haven Area Community Foundation. 
Pictured from left to right: Sierra Garber, Katherine Schooley, Victoria Loikitis, Opal Eddy.

Kenya Hospital Recognizes Rotary

The dream of South Haven Rotarian Dr. Marty Graber to open a hospital in Ngoswani,Kenya is about to become a reality.
Dr. Graber has devoted his life to helping the people of the Maasai Tribe, first with school buildings and now a community maternity and child care hospital. South Haven Rotary has been among the supporters of Dr. Graber's tireless work. The hospital's surgery suites acknowledge Rotary.

A Record Breakfast Servings!

South Haven Rotarians served a record 1,916 breakfasts at the club's 48th consecutive year Blueberry Festival Fly-in Breakfast on Sunday, August 11 at the South Haven Area Airport. Thank you South Haven for your support. Thanks to you the Rotary Club of South Haven over the past year has donated over $40,000 in support of local, regional and international non-profit initiatives. Enjoy photos from the breakfast.

Rotary District 6360 Governor Margie Haas joined South Haven Rotarians in flipping pancakes during own annual Independence Holiday breakfast on Sunday, July 7. President Mark Odland offered some tips. Enjoy photos from our breakfast.

Leader of the Parade

Rotarian Jerry Gruber was the grand marshal of South Haven's Sesquicentennial parade on the Fourth of July. He was driven in the parade by fellow Rotarian Tom Ruesink. Rotarians were responsible for organizing the units in the parade and our own Rosalie Plechaty chaired the committee of judges. Enjoy photos

Service to Community Recognized

Pictured left to right are President Mark Odland, honoree Al Ruppert and President-elect Dan Thompson.
The Rotary Club of South Haven honored longtime businessman and community benefactor Al Ruppert by presenting its Community Service award to him at the organization’s recent annual dinner.
The Rotarians annually honor a resident who makes a difference in the community while embodying the spirit of Service Above Self.
A resident of South Haven since 1972, Ruppert founded Clementine’s restaurant in South Haven and Clementine’s Too in St. Joseph and the HawksHead Links golf course and Inn in South Haven.
“Al has given back to the South Haven in immeasurable ways including donating generously of his time, talent and treasures to make our community a better place to live, work and play,” said Rotary president Mark Odland.
At the dinner the club also recognized Tom Renner as its Rotarian of the Year.
“Tom truly exemplifies “Service Above Self,” said Odland. “He is passionate about Rotary and loves to be at just about every volunteer project we sponsor.”
The club announced its officers for 2019-20.  Odland will continues as president while Dan Thompson is president-elect. Rhonda Wendzel will continue as secretary while Bob Straits will serve another term as treasurer. Board members will be Dene Hadden, Paul Hix, Steve Larsen and Richard Swanson.

Our Club Hero

South Haven Rotary Club has proudly declared member Robert (Bob) Straits its “Club Hero” for 2019.
Straits will be honored during the Rotary District 6360 conference on Mackinac Island on Saturday, May 18. Each member-club in the district is invited to declare a “Club Hero” for recognition at the annual gathering.
“Bob Straits is a perfect example of what it means to be a Rotarian. He represents our club with dignity, and is always in search of ways the South Haven Club can be of service to our community. He exemplifies our core belief of ‘Service Above Self’, and is most deserving of this recognition," said President Mark Odland.
Bob has been a Rotarian since 1985, first in Kalamazoo and in South Haven since 2010. He is currently treasurer and is a past president (2015-16).
In 2009 he was presented the Irving S. Gilmore Lifetime Achievement Award for his three decades of service to dozens of community organizations in the Kalamazoo area. He served five terms on the Kalamazoo City Commission. He has been passionate about serving on organizations that assist socially and economically vulnerable persons.
In South Haven is also treasurer of We Care INC and a current board member and past chair of the South Haven Community Foundation.
He retired from the W. E. Upton Institute for Employment Research where he served as administrator and director.
He and his wife Kathy of 50 years have two daughters and three grandchildren. The Straits family has roots in southwest Michigan going back to 1892.
He received the bachelor's degree from Southern Utah University and graduate degree from Western Michigan University. He served in the U.S. Naval-Air Helicopter Combat Squadron II.

Educator of the Year

A South Haven educator whose teaching technique helps her students relate what they learn to their own lives and experiences has been presented the 2019 Education and Service Award by the Rotary Club of South Haven.
Julie Sheppard was honored during the Rotary club’s South Haven Future fundraiser on Saturday, April 27. Julie is pictured with Rotarian Dan Thompson.
The Rotarians, in collaboration with the South Haven Public Schools Educational Foundation and the South Haven campus of Lake Michigan College, annually  recognizes an educator who exemplifies the attributes of quality teaching and is an active volunteer in the South Haven community. Nominations for this honor are received from the education community.
Rotarian Dan Thompson, chair of the club’s recognition committee, presented to the Educational Foundation a $250 contribution in Sheppard’s name.
Sheppard teaches fifth grade at North Shore elementary school. She is also the advisor for the South Haven Public Schools History Club which year-after-year is  viewed as one of the best in Michigan and on a national level. Later this spring the History Club will be represented at the national competition a tenth consecutive year.
"Mrs. Sheppard has a special gift for bringing the subjects of social studies and history to life for her students," said her nominator. "She displays endless patience and is always looking for ways to accommodate students' learning styles so every student can be successful."
She is also active in the community, partnering with the Historical Association of South Haven on projects, serving on the board of Our Town Players and assisting many local students in 4H activities. She also coaches the Baseline Middle School volleyball team. In 2017 she was presented the Kalamazoo County 4H Leader of the Year Award.
"In short, Mrs. Sheppard goes above and beyond to ensure she does her best for her students, her school family and the community of South Haven."
Sheppard has taught in the South Haven school system since 1988. She received the Bachelor of Arts degree from Nazareth (Mich.) College and the Masters degree from Western Michigan University.
She lives in Gobles on a 103 acre horse farm with her husband Dale and three sons, Justin, Antonio Garrett and Nic. She volunteers her time in many ways. For example, she boards the North Shore Elementary school's miniature fainting goats, Sirius and Dobby, at her farm during the winter months.
"I am deeply humbled and appreciative of this kind award," said Sheppard. "I have always felt it was my purpose in life to make the world a better place and the place to start is with empowering and educating the young minds of tomorrow. It takes a village to do the job and I am grateful for the villages in which I live and in which I come to work. I touch all kinds of lives with my volunteer and other educational services, and they all impact mine for the better."
The Rotary Club of South Haven has raised nearly $200,000 since the event’s inception 15 years ago. The funds that are raised provide financial aid for students attending classes at the South Haven campus of Lake Michigan College and benefits programmatic initiatives with the South Haven public schools system.

A Growing Club

Pictured from left to right are: sponsor Don Hodgman, new Rotarian Pete Swanson, sponsor Ted Weber, new Rotarian Ross Woodhams, sponsor Scott Mark, new Rotarian Sue Duvall, new Rotarian and sponsor Rosalie Plechaty, new Rotarian Francis Peet, new Rotarian Don Dobbin, new Rotarian Kevin Schooley and sponsor Steve Miles.
In response to a challenge from Rotary District leadership and Rotary International, President Mark Odland of the Rotary Club of South Haven has made new membership recruitment a top priority for 2018-19.
A Membership Plan was created under the direction of President-elect Dan Thompson. An assessment of past membership recruitment successes and failures was conducted and ideas for attracting new members in specific categories such as age (younger), gender and diversity were presented. The Club's bylaws were reviewed and subsequently amended to add a Corporate Membership classification. Membership is now a regular topic at Board and Club meetings. Rotarians who are sponsors of new members are regularly reminded of their vital role in helping the new Rotarian to become engaged in the life of the Club.
South Haven Rotary has added eight new members since December for a net increase of five to a current roll of 54. Two new Rotarians joined through the new Corporate classification. While we celebrate the addition of these new members we also mourn the loss by death of two longtime South Haven Rotarians, Don Hixson and Glenn Pietenpol. Another member moved out of the area for employment reasons.
"We are fortunate to have Rotary held in a very high regard throughout our community," said Odland. "At the same time, we are an unknown to a lot of folks. Increasing awareness of our Club has become another high priority for us with initiatives in that regard being developed."

Community Pride

Thanks to South Haven Rotarians,  the finishing touches on a major renovation to the gymnasium at South Haven High School has been accomplished with the installation of purple-and-gold banners heralding the accomplishments of athletes and teams over the years. The banners were donated to South Haven Public Schools by the Rotary Club of South Haven with matching funds from our District Foundation. The South Haven Rotarians were also the donors of the time-worn banners installed in the gym in the early 1980s. The banners will be formally presented to the school district by Rotary president Mark Odland at halftime of the January 25 boy's basketball game. See more photos.

In Service to Community

South Haven Rotarians were among the community volunteers who participated in a service project on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. We gathered to package 5,000 pounds of rice to be distributed to local food pantries. See photos.
2017 Rotary in Review

ervice to Community

South Haven Rotarians marked the start of Earth Week and celebrated the birthday of Rotary International founder Paul Harris on Monday, April 19 by planting a bur oak tree in historic Johnston Park.
South Haven Rotary was among the supporters of Project CURB, an initiative to beautify through landscaping the outdoor areas at the high school.  Work was recently completed at the entrance to the gymnasium-natatorium.
South Haven Rotary is among the supporters of the placement of a weather buoy on Lake Michigan approximately two miles offshore. President Dan Thompson presented our contribution for the project to Richard Chapman of the South Haven Steelheaders. Visit the buoy website

Rotary Supports Telemedicine Initiative


The Rotary Club of South Haven has awarded a $10,000 grant to Bronson Health Foundation to assist South Haven area residents with home healthcare and telemedicine needs.

The Rotary-Bronson Telemedicine Initiative will help people in need of care at home by providing durable medical equipment including pulse oximeters, diabetic monitoring supplies, scales and thermometers. It will also promote better access to care through telemedicine by providing tablets so residents can have virtual doctor visits and communicate electronically with their provider.

Funding for the first half of the grant was recently presented to the Foundation, with the second half scheduled for distribution in May.

“The COVID-19 pandemic really put a spotlight on the need for this type of assistance,” explains Dr. Richard Swanson, a member of the Rotary Club of South Haven’s board of directors and a retired rheumatologist. “A lot of people in our community live in rural areas and may not be able to get to a doctor’s office or may not have full internet access,” says Swanson. “These resources will allow people to monitor their health at home and give them continuity of care so they don’t have to make frequent trips to a physician’s office. In the end, this could help reduce hospitalizations and allow some that are hospitalized to go home sooner.”

Distribution of the resources to patients will be managed through Bronson South Haven medical practices. “This initiative is a great example of how Bronson and the community can come together to remove barriers to access,” says Liz Semaan, executive director, Bronson Health Foundation. “We are so thankful to the Rotary Club of South Haven for making this a priority project to assure the greater South Haven community is supported.”


Rotary Year in Review

2020 was unlike any other year in the history of the Rotary Club of South Haven. While we have been able to meet in person for nearly a year, it hasn't stopped South Haven Rotarians from being active in the community. Here is a collection of photos highlighting the Year in Review.