Rotarians try to live by their organization's "Four-Way Test."
"Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned?"
When Fulton Rotary President Mary Ann Beahon passes the gavel of the presidency to new president Jennifer Books at tonight's installation dinner, those qualities will be on the minds of every person attending.
Her year at the helm is over, but her activity is not.
"I will still be active," she said. "I am the 'public image' chair for the district — District 6080 — and membership chair for our club. I've never been secretary or treasurer, but I chaired committees and then was president-elect last year."
The installation dinner will begin at 5:30 p.m. with a social hour, followed by chow time at 6:30 p.m. and the program at 7 p.m. The event will be at Aldridge Lounge at William Woods University in Fulton.
While Beahon joined Fulton Rotary in 2010, her association goes back further.
"My husband (Mike) had been a member since we moved back to Missouri in 1995," she said. "My daughter was also a member; she joined when she graduated from college in 2003. I felt two Beahons in the club were enough."
When Mike was about to became president of Fulton Rotary in July 2010, he asked for his wife's assistance. She agreed as their daughter had moved away by then.
"So it was time for a second one (Beahon)," she said.
When Mike Beahon passed away, fellow Rotarians comforted Mary Ann — something she will always appreciate, she said. It's the people of Fulton Rotary and the service they do that keep her involved.
"When Mike died three years ago, Rotarians were so supportive that if I hadn't already been so whole-heartedly committed at that time, I would have become so," she said.
During her childhood back in Two Rivers, Wisconsin, her parents also taught her the value of community service.
"My dad was on the city council and Boy Scout Council, and my mom was on the Girl Scout Council. And United Way, and a bunch of things," Beahon said. "They taught me that you get so much, you should give back. Rotary gives me an opportunity to do that."
Beahon has collected a two-page memo of accomplishments Fulton Rotary members have achieved in the last year. One example: Membership has grown with 20 new members — eight of whom are age 40 or under.
"Fifteen percent of the club is now under 40," she said. "Women's membership in the U.S. runs about 25 percent, but our club is currently 52 percent women. Our officers for the coming year are all women — not that we didn't ask the men to step up."
Also in the past year, two corporate members joined: Dollar General and Presbyterian Manor, and an Evening Satellite Club also started, including people who find evening meetings more accessible.
Fulton's Rotary also donated $2,650 to PolioPlus, $9,335 to The Rotary Foundation, and even donated colored pencils and volunteer time to SERVE's back-to-school event. A coat and blanket drive was conducted with local Rotaract (youth group) students, meals provided at a local soup kitchen, and two blood drives — along with many more activities.
"I like guiding the club in the direction we should be going," Beahon said, adding several intense "visioning" gatherings, which began four years ago, helped club members create a set of long-term goals.
Past Rotary president Bob Sterner said he met Beahon years ago through Rotary.
"I got to know Mary Ann when her husband Mike joined the Rotary," he said. "She is one of the most enthusiastic, active presidents we've ever had in my time. She set out some goals at the beginning of her year (as president). The formation of the evening club was one of her goals that has been realized."
Starting tonight, the top job will belong to Jennifer Books, who works for the American Red Cross.
"Jennifer started her Rotary career as a Rotaract in Columbia," Beahon said. "She has been our long-time secretary and was secretary and president-elect last year. She really helped me tremendously."
Debbie Laughlin also will be installed tonight, as president-elect, and Jacque Braas as secretary and Joan Berry Morris as treasurer. Besides Beahon, other directors will include Jan Reyes, Debbie LaRue, Bill Bryant, Bob Hansen, Charlie James, Bob Sterner, Brenda Loeffler, Jill Gamlin, Sherry McCarthy and Charlie Anderson. New Satellite Club members and officers will also be installed, including chair Casey Clevenger, chair-elect Carol England, secretary Andrea Whelan and treasurer Tim Conner, along with directors Ilana Holland, Brittany Abbott, Cliff Atterberry, Nancy Hanson and Denise Kingsley.
A host of other people also will be recognized, including Denton Kurtz being awarded the Paul Harris Fellow.
"I have thoroughly enjoyed my year as president, but it's time to pass it on to someone else," Beahon said. "You want fresh ideas, fresh blood. It's good to pass the gavel."