About Brookhaven Rotary
In the winter of 1989, Rotarians from the Rotary Club of Northlake began the task of forming a new Rotary Club in DeKalb County. After several organizational meetings over tacos at the Sheraton Century Center Hotel, The Rotary Club of West DeKalb received its charter on May 9, 1989 under the leadership of District Governor Ted O'Callahan from the Rotary Club of Decatur. The club began meeting at the Viscount Hotel located near the intersection of North Druid Hills Road and Buford Highway with about 28 members. The club celebrated its new charter as a member of Rotary International with a Charter Night Party held at the Capital City Country Club in Brookhaven with many representatives from the clubs and leadership from the district in attendance.
The Northlake Rotarians nurtured the new club through its first year of life. They provided programs for many meetings and always had representatives attend West DeKalb meetings to be available for support, advice and encouragement. The Charter President was Kerry Campbell who was the only member with past Rotary experience. Kerry attended the District 690 (at the time) District Conference at Jekyll Island on the last weekend of April 1989 along with Tom Kent, Jr. and George Martin to represent the club, even before the official charter of the club had been received.
The new club became an active member of the DeKalb Rotary Council in its first year by participating in many projects of the council and starting many new projects on its own. At the District Conference in 1990, the new club was recognized for its achievements during its first year receiving Best Avenue of Service awarded in several areas of service. Unfortunately, Charter President Kerry was transferred to Valdosta and left the club on May 1st, to assume his new duties with the Georgia Power Company. Tom Kent, Jr. became the second president of the club starting a few months early and serving under DG Ralph Thurmond for the Rotary Year of 1990-1991. The club continued to add new members during its first two years and many of them are still members of the club today.
The club moved its meeting place to the BellSouth Executive Park Learning Center located on the northeast corner of North Druid Hills Road and Interstate 85. This became a great meeting place for the club in the early years and a convenient location for make-up visits for Rotarians from other clubs. The club was widely known for its good food, good programs and friendly atmosphere.
The club hosted it first Georgia Rotary Student during this year, welcoming Gustaf Lind from Sweden to our state to attend West Georgia College. The club swept the Avenue of Service awards at the District Conference on Jekyll Island and fell just short of winning the Best Club second year and has been a leader in the district in giving to the GRSP Endowment.
George Martin was the third president for the Rotary Club of West DeKalb. Under his leadership, the club received its first recognition as the Best Small Club in District 690 at the District Conference at Jekyll Island. The club had now established a strong tradition of attending the district conference and winning awards from the district. George was a new member genius and was strongly committed to the Rotary Foundation. The club grew its membership into the 30's and was a leader in the district in giving to the Rotary Foundation and participating in its activities. One of the club's most successful projects was the Books for Africa project which supplied used school books for African students through Matching Grants with the Rotary Foundation in many countries.
The Rotary Club of West DeKalb went on to be recognized as Best All Around Small Club in the district five more times in the 1990's and was Runner Up the other years. In 1990-2000 the club was recognized as the Club of the Decade under DG Al Lipphardt. In 2000, Charter Member Tom Kent was nominated to become the first District Governor from the club to serve the district in the Rotary year 2002-2003. The club had several members who served the district in many roles. For example, Bill Smith served as GRSP Trustee, International Service Director and Assistant Governor.
In 2003, the club moved its longtime meeting place due to the closing of the Bellsouth EPLC. After meeting for a short time at the 57th Fighter Group Restaurant near Peachtree DeKalb Airport, the club settled into its new home at the Capital City Club in Brookhaven. The club also changed its name to The Rotary Club of Brookhaven to have better community identification and recognition. The club hosted Bingo Nights at Wesley Woods Nursing home every month. The club has hosted numerous projects at local schools including an Interact Club at Cross Keys High School and many literacy projects at Woodward Elementary School. Under the leadership of Charter Member Nancy Reynolds, the club previously held a fundraiser called the Pound Out Polio Road Race. The initial purpose of the race was to help meet the club's pledge to finish the Rotary International Polio Plus immunization program. It grew into the club's biggest fundraising event at the time and also helped purchase equipment for the DeKalb County Fire Department to save lives in serious fires.
Currently, the club has taken on another large fundraising project directly benefiting the SHARE Military Initiative at Shepherd Center. The Service Above Self Golf Invitational has donated more than $700,000 to the program since 2010. Club members continue to build on the success of this effort while strengthening existing service projects which includes a job fair at Covenant House, greeting troops with the USO at the airport, donating food during the holidays to the Salvation Army, collecting used durable medical equipment for FODAC, a book donation program to pre-k and kindergarten classes at Woodward Elementary and ongoing support for the Brookhaven Police Department.