National Exchange Club celebrates 100th anniversaryWritten by Tom Fitt | | firstname.lastname@example.org
A century ago, a handful of Detroit businessmen thought it would be wise to establish a forum where citizens concerned with societal topics could share ideas and assist in moving America toward altruistic goals.
Thus was the birth of the National Exchange Club. A half-dozen years later, in 1917, the club established its national headquarters in Toledo where, on March 27, a centennial celebration will take place from 2 to 4 p.m. The lawn of the Exchange Club’s headquarters on West Central Avenue will display 100 American flags. Inside, the facility offers a facsimile collection of 29 historic documents, including the Mayflower Compact of 1620, the Martin Luther King Jr. “I Have a Dream” speech from 1963 and much more.
Since its beginnings in 1911, the Exchange Club has grown to a membership exceeding 22,000, with 700 local clubs throughout the United States and Puerto Rico. Among several Northwest Ohioans who aid in the day-to-day operations of the club is Jim Hartley, national executive vice president.
“I guess you could call me the chief staff leader for the organization,” said Hartley, originally from central Ohio, but now a Toledo resident. “We have a staff here in Toledo of 19 individuals, but we have over 22,000 member-volunteers across the country.”
Speaking of the Exchange Club’s role in the community, Hartley said, “There are many great service organizations, but Exchange works to be solely an American-based service organization. Exchange made a conscious decision to be American-focused.”
The community projects taken upon by “Exchangites,” as the Club calls its members, varies locally from club to club, Hartley said.
“Our Greater Maumee club takes students into a courtroom to observe judicial operation. You’ll see other clubs which will sponsor Freedom Shrines. In Monroe, a new Freedom Shrine was dedicated in the city’s library last November.” Freedom Shrines offer historical documents or facsimiles, provided by the Exchange Club.
“Other of our clubs are involved in community patriotism and parades, so we don’t focus on just one item,” Hartley said. “Many times, when you think of the ‘Lions (Club),’ you think of eyeglasses. But Exchange, by its nature, affords a great deal of autonomy to our local clubs to structure programs that meet the specific needs and interests of their own communities.
“We do have a national project, the prevention of child abuse, but we also have what we call our regular programs regarding Americanism, community service, youth services. A number of clubs in our local area will be doing various scholarship recognition programs and contests. But, on a club-by-club basis, they will each determine the activities they wish to undertake, and we will support them in a variety of ways. We just don’t have a kind of cookie-cutter philosophy.”
Call (800) 924-2643 for more.