National Exchange Club to celebrate 100 years in MarchWritten by Joel Sensenig | | email@example.com
A lot has happened to shape America in the past 99 years, and the National Exchange Club is doing its part to keep alive the best values instilled in each of us during that time.
The 22,000-member service organization, based at its West Central Avenue location, is dedicated to offering people a chance to “pay it forward.”
“The major idea behind the club is it allows men and women in their community to come together and to engage in projects that make their communities better places to live,” said Jim Hartley, executive vice president of the club.
This is accomplished through a variety of programs focusing on Americanism, or “the appreciation of those values within the American experience, be it religious tolerance, be it civic involvement, be it political involvement or be it business involvement,” he said.
The organization, which was created in Detroit in 1911, will celebrate its 100th anniversary in March.
In 1917, the club moved its headquarters to Toledo, which was the site of the second club. Today, its members can be found across 50 states and Puerto Rico.
In greater Toledo, more than 100 Exchange members meet regularly at five clubs, in Toledo, Bowling Green, Findlay, Lima and Monroe, Mich.
With a particular interest in services benefiting youth, the National Exchange Club has taken up child abuse prevention as its national cause. It works with approximately 100 child abuse prevention centers in the country, helping them with initial startup funds and financial assistance once they are in full operation. In addition to promoting Americanism and youth services, the club also promotes various community service projects, provides scholarships on a local and national level and donates time, resources and funds to charitable agencies.
“Our youth services work in tandem with Americanism because part of that is to provide education for our young people relative to the traditional values, in terms of the important documents and the role they play as part of the American experience,” Hartley said.
This summer, the club joined forces with the American Red Cross for a partnership that offers its members a chance to take part in Red Cross activities, including blood drives, projects supporting members of the armed forces and their families, disaster-relief efforts and public safety education.
“Our local [Exchange] clubs can work in conjunction with the local Red Cross chapter in terms of providing services or education within that community,” Hartley said. “We allow clubs a great deal of autonomy in how they structure those programs to respond to the specific needs of their local community.”
For Hartley, who has experience working with Boy Scouts of America and the Red Cross, being involved with Exchange offers another opportunity to make a difference.
“I’m so fortunate to work for an organization that has a focus in Americanism, has a focus on local community involvement, has a focus in making communities better places to live,” he said. “These are items that are philosophically very in tune with my upbringing, beliefs and prior experience. I get to go out and help extend that cause every day. Not just here in Toledo but across the country, so I’m extraordinarily fortunate.”
Hartley said club members often reap similar rewards upon joining.
“People I find that gravitate toward Exchange are those that have been fortunate in their own lives and want to give back and make their communities stronger,” he said, noting that a large share of club members are small-business owners and entrepreneurs. “These are individuals that have been successful in their personal or professional lives and really have a sense that they want to give back. But it’s not just giving back — it’s really paying it forward, because these individuals have benefited from the values that Exchange espouses. The people that have supported you, many times they’re gone. This is creating that legacy by paying it forward by making our country and our community stronger.”
For more information on the National Exchange Club, 3050 W. Central Ave., call (419) 535-3232 or go to www.nationalexchangeclub.org.
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