History of our Club

Rotary Club of Hilton Head Island

Chronological Listing of Notable Events



1967    Our Club Charter issued on March 17th. First Club Meeting held on April 13th.

1968    Sponsored start-up of Boy Scout Troop 233, first on Island.

Began Holiday baskets program for needy Families.

1973    Purchased the first ambulance (partnering with the community for funding) for the newly established Island Rescue Squad.

1975    Bell Ringing for the Salvation Army began as an annual project.

This annual project continues today. Hosted District 7770 District Conference.

1976    Rotary Scholarship program began to recognize outstanding and deserving high school students. This program has continued each year since.

1977    The first ‘Big Event’ social and fundraiser for community service -projects, these reverse car raffles held until 1982, raised over $170,000.00 (partnering with the community). Benefiting the Island Youth Center, later named the Island Recreation Center.

1978    Adopted the planning, construction, and operation of a Youth Center as a major community service project. In all, the Club raised over $200,000 (partnering with the community) for the construction and operation of the center. The grand opening of the original building was held in 1980. The Youth Center would become the Island Recreation Center when the new building was completed in 1988. Our 1992-1993 Club President, Joe Owen was hired as the first Youth Center Director.

1981    Sponsored our first Interact Club at Sea Pines Academy. In 1982, Hilton Head High School Interact was founded, and in 1985, at the May River Academy. All Three clubs were actively operating programs for youth, world hunger, and helping our volunteer efforts at The Heritage Golf tournament.

1982    District Conference held again on HHI.  Van Landingham Rotary Club sponsored. 1982   First annual Student recognition award presentation, this program continues today.     

1983    Started Leadership Hilton Head from an idea by Rotarian Carol Minick. The Club provided the initial funding and, along with the Chamber of Commerce, formed a joint committee to set up the system of application, nomination, and curriculum. The Chamber of Commerce continues to sponsor this program today.

1984    First annual teacher recognition program for our local school teachers. This project continues today.

1985 The Rio-Bonito, Brazil project was begun through the efforts of Bart Siebers and Paul Klein under the direction of Elliott Steadman. Local resident Peggy Koniz-Booher solicited and then headed the initial research effort to provide health care to this impoverished area. The project grew to a District-wide fundraiser which provided a grant used to cover staff for immunizations, health and sanitation training, and infant care. The “project” eventually became part of a larger effort funded by the Kellogg Foundation.

1987    Island Recreation President and Rotarian Bob Selton signed the land lease for a site for the current Recreation Center.·

Construction was overseen by former Rotary Scholar Don Furtado.

The new building was dedicated on August 28, 1988. Funded by a Town Bond Issue, the Center benefited from substantial Club Funding and one of the multi-purpose rooms is designated as the Rotary Room.

1987    The PolioPlus House was constructed in 5 1/2 days and 2,142 man hours largely through the efforts of Rotarian and Home Builder Dick Low. The project was a response to Rotary internationals’ goal to eradicate polio worldwide. Through countless hours by Dick and other Rotarians, the coordinated effort of the Van Landingham Club, Hilton Head Home Builders Association, and Clubs throughout District 7770, over $78,000 was raised for the PolioPlus effort. The project provided one of the most widely coordinated efforts in our community’s history.

1988    Sponsored the Bluffton Rotary Club, the Island Recreation Center opened.

1988    Provided the seed money and through the efforts of Rotarian Bob Sullivan, initiated the idea of establishing a Senior Citizen’s Center on Hilton Head. The S.H.A.R.E Center (Seniors, Health, Activities, Recreation, and Education) opened on May 16, 1989, and currently has over 500 members at its new home in Shelter Cove. The center has since been integrated into the Island Recreational Center.

1989    Our first woman member: Aileen Lau Dickenson was inducted.

Raised $11,000 for the construction of the Island’s first bus shelter in front of McDonald’s near Sea Pines Circle. It bears a plaque with the Rotary Wheel stating, “Donated by the Rotary Club of Hilton Head Island”. Additional shelters were constructed at the north end of the Island.

1990    Five additional women members inducted. Began refurbishment of the Low Country Human Development Center at Camp St. Mary’s. This was a hands-on project consisting of painting, carpentry, landscape, and drainage work and continued through 1993. Hosted District Conference.

1991    Purchased a van for the newly established Boys and Girls Club. The Rotary logo appeared on the side of the van. Projects for the Boys and Girls Club continued through 1996 with hands-on projects with their students: kayak trips, Christmas parties, theater, movie nights, restaurant nights, fishing, and other field trips.

1992   First year providing volunteers at the Heritage Golf Tournament, received $3,000 for our efforts. This volunteer project continues today.

1993    Largely through the efforts of Rotarian Deno Caloudas, provided the funding, planning, and construction of the community service club sign in front of Windmill Harbor.

1994    Sponsored the Jasper County Rotary Club.

1995    Began Coins for Alzheimer’s Research Project in our Club. “CART” continues today under the watchful eye of Rotarian John Snodgrass.

1995    Largely through the efforts of President John Wilson, the Club began a project to raise money for soccer fields, including lighting, at the new Crossing Park. The two-year project raised over $35,000.00 through a series of coordinated youth raffles within the public schools.

1995    Began planning the La Rivera, now General Roca, Argentina water project headed by Rotarians Brian Carmines and Joe Pitts. The

$30,000 raised provided potable water to 160 homes and 500 plus people.

1996    Began the Heritage Ecology Project whereby Rotarians picked- up and organized trash collection efforts on nine holes of the Harbourtown Golf Club during the MCI Heritage Golf Tournament. In 1997, handled all 18 holes, and organized over 1700 volunteer hours, which realized over $25,000 for the Club’s scholarship fund. In 1998 we managed 6 holes which along with staffing the “Will Call” booth provided $15,000 for our Scholarship program. Hosted District Conference.

1997    Began a Club Gift of Life Program largely through the efforts of Rotarians Brian Carmines, Dr. Bob Laughlin and Bruce Pitkin to help needy individuals with health Problems receive care. Money was raised to transport, support, and arrange accommodations for patients while their treatment and recovery are completed. Our first recipient was four-year-old Edgar Neto Vasquez from El Salvador who received facial reconstruction as a treatment for a congenital abnormality. Neto and his mother, like recipients after him, stayed with Rotarian families as part of the

caregiving project.

1997   Sponsored the Sunset Rotary Club of Hilton Head Island, an evening Club. 

1998    Hosted Valentine’s fashion show luncheon headed by Rotarians Florence Albaugh and Beja Strum. The well-attended luncheon raised nearly $14,000 for local and District 7770 Alzheimer’s research projects.

1999    Hosted the first national Gift of Life Conference at the Hilton Hotel. Our annual Heritage Tournament Golf project this year was at our usual “Will Call” booth, Pro Bank, and for the first time Fore Caddies and Bus Greeters. The efforts of 130 Rotarians resulted in over $30,000 raised for scholarship and charitable giving programs. First Gift of Life Golf Tournament held at Moss Creek netted $3,500. It was chaired by Doug Stetson. Donated $10,000 to Rotary internationals’ humanitarian aid effort in the Balkans. Hosted our first Open-World team from Russia.

Gala 99 provided over $50,000 to four local charities. Began Alzheimer’s Respite & Resource Fund Raising.

2000    Began extensive research, led by Bernie Riedel, into the possibility of building a Community Facility to house non-profit service organizations. Gala 99 held on May 22 raised in excess of $30,000, with the raffling off of a Honda. Proceeds were disbursed to Deep Well and the Children’s Center when the project was eventually abandoned. Began Law Enforcement Recognition Breakfast open to all officers.

At a regular Club meeting, recognized Deputy of the year and Security Officer of the year as selected by their peers.

Began supporting ‘Cooks and Books’ for the Literacy Association by providing volunteers at their annual event. Gala 2000 provided funds to the Children’s Center and Deep Well.

2001    2nd annual Gift of Life Golf Tournament held at Moss Creek netted over $10,000. It was chaired by Mike Jukofsky.

Super Saturday clean-up of Zion Cemetery. Worked at Habitat House in Bluffton. The fundraiser for the year was a Super Saturday prize raffle giving away cruises, Super Bowl, and Final Four Ticket Packages. The tailgate party was held at HH Beach and Teririis on January 6th• Chairpersons were Roni Albritton and Hank Noble. Sales of nearly 1200 tickets netted $24,000 for Rotary Charities. Super Saturday projects for the year included Zion Cemetery and The Children’s Center clean-up. 3rd Annual Gift of Life Golf Tournament held at the Crescent was chaired by Carl Schroeder. Heritage Classic project (Will Call, Bus Greeters, Fore Caddies), all 3 projects are continuing today. Joined other 4 area Clubs in applying for a $10,000 District Community Assistance Grant. Each Club pledged $4,000 resulting in $30,000 being donated to Habitat for Humanity’s Brendan Woods Community Center at their housing project in Bluffton. After thorough study, designated Deep Well as our Club’s beneficiary of current and future fundraising. Specifically, the goal was to provide new office/storage space. By the end of this year, over $1,000,000 in cash and in-kind contributions were spent on Gift of Life patients. Raised $2,000 at a regular Club meeting in minutes for victims of 9-11. Club member Don Havlish’s son was a victim of the attack on the World Trade Center.

2002    Selected “A Permanent Home for Deep Well” as our Club’s most ambitious project to date. 35th Anniversary Celebration held at The Marriott. Fundraising for Deep Well begins. Dedication for naming the Bob Selton Recreation Center. Haunted House at the ist Fall Festival at Honey Horn. Fish Island (Sea Pines) family picnics. Our Make a Difference Day community service project was recognized in the USA Today weekend magazine.

2003    Hosted District Conference.

2004    Make a Difference Day Community Service projects.

Hosted District Conference. First Road Rally social event.

2005    Began ‘Business Fair’ a collection of member displays for business promotion.

2006    Completed $1,000,000 pledge for Deep Well’s permanent home.

2007    Selected Alzheimer’s Respite and Resource (later renamed Memory Matters) as a Club project to help provide a permanent home for the organization, with a pledge of $250,000. Raised $14,475 this first year. The project was chaired by Rotarian Dennis Nelson. Spring Fashion Show to benefit the Deep Well Endowment Fund and AR&R. 40th Anniversary Program with all Past-Presidents invited.

2008    Contributed $5000 for a clean water project in Peru. 2008 Held Zone Conference on Hilton Head. Continued pathway project at Honey Horn, building and rejuvenating shell walkways.

2009    Completed Memory Matters fundraising. 2009            Created Club Endowment Fund.

2010    Memory Matters Office completed and opened. Beach Walk for Polio in conjunction with 4 other local C_lubs raised over $23,000. Became 100% EREY Club (Every Rotarian Every Year, a contributor to Rotary International Foundation). New website is up and running under the guidance of Rotarian member Bill Grand. Establishment of the Rotary Club of Hilton Head Island Charitable Programs Fund at the Community Foundation. Started the BEAT program chaired by Rotarian Ken Raichle. This program provides school supplies as an incentive for good behavior in our Elementary School. The project continues today.

2011    Green Mountain Coffee sales. Co-founded, with Bluffton Rotary, the Rotaract Club at USCB.

2012        Began Safety Town, inspired by Denis Bonnett and chaired by

Rotarian Glenn Stanford. This project has continued each year since its inception. The first year of ROCS (Rotarians Offering Community Service), whereby all Club members work at a Community Service project ending with a picnic at Honey Horn. The inaugural event was chaired by Andrea Siebold and the project continues today. Raised funds by providing volunteers at Firecracker Run and Hilton Head Marathon. Provided reading learning materials to The Children’s Center as a result of a matching grant from our District 7770. Adopted a Habitat for Humanity home as a major project. Teamed with the Rotary Club of Pretoria (South Africa) to support Teen Suicide Prevention Programs in that country, chaired by Rotarian Brian Julius. This project continued in subsequent years.

2013    First induction of·Hilton Head Island Hall of Fame selected Charles Fraser, Charles Simmons, Sr., Charlotte Heinrichs, and Frederick Hack, Sr. Families were recognized at a Hall of Fame concert held at the Westin. The project was chaired by Rotarian Hank Noble.

Construction of the Hall of Fame display was completed with the welcome sign and four pedestals featuring the inaugural inductees. The First ‘Night at the Races’ held at Callahan’s Sports Bar and Grill was a fundraiser and social event. This event continued in 2014 and 2015. Established the Norm Reeves Scholarship to be given annually to an aspiring contractor or engineering student. Began EarlyAct, a service Club in the public elementary school supported by the High School Interact Club. The project was chaired by member Paul Walter. Later years saw the project expansion into Hilton Head Prep. Rotary in Motion began as our annual fundraiser, over $64,000 raised this first year.

Six Shelter Boxes were sent to The Philippines. The club began construction of our fully funded (over $60,000) Habitat for Humanity home at The Glen, a new Habitat Community on Hilton Head Island.

2014    Happy Feet program begun, chaired by Rotarian Rose Jackson, provided shoes to pv_er 100 children at Belk’s. This was funded by a matching grant from the District. This program continued in 2015, 2016. 2nd Annual Hall of Fame inducted former Rotarian and the Island’s first mayor, Ben Racusin. He was honored at a dinner dance held at The Westin.

2015    3rd Annu I Hall of Fame inductees were Dr. Peter LaMotte and Dr. Jack McConnell who were both honored at a luncheon held at The Sonesta. Held a grand 100th Birthday celebration for our own Rotarian Norm Reaves who has over 68 years of 100% attendance. ROCS (Rotarians Offering Community Service) projects were completed at 12 venues.

2016    4th Annual Hall of Fame inductees Emory Campbell and Caroline “Beany” Newhall were recognized at a luncheon held at The Sonesta. Initiated several projects to aid Island victims of Hurricane Matthew: Rotarians Ron Farsetti, Bob Laughlin and Karen Cully chaired construction repairs and infant aid projects.

Years 2017-2022, still to come.