South Haven Rotary Names Rotarian and Citizens of the Year

Despite being forced to meet in a virtual realm like other Rotary Clubs across the globe, the South Haven Rotary Club is decidedly unhampered by the pandemic on multiple fronts.

While COVID-19 has kept many organizations from normal activities in recent months, it hasn’t deterred South Haven Rotarians from remaining active in the community.

Even as they resort to addressing one another and community needs while at home watching on a laptop, the South Haven Rotary has remained focused on answering community needs.

In fact, the club was recently honored by their District organization for membership growth and outstanding giving to the Rotary International Foundation. Club leaders say that South Haven is the only club among the 63 members in the District to have 100-percent membership participation in charitable giving.

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The club’s membership growth is attributed to a great degree to the leadership of Mark Odland who has concluded two years as president. The club recently recognized Mark as its Rotarian of the Year, while also honoring his wife, LaRae, in recognition of her support by naming her a Rotary Paul Harris Fellow. Mark has been a Rotarian since 2013.

New club president Dan Thompson says, “Mark has provided outstanding leadership for our club with a steady hand and strong goals, including securing grants for community projects, improving our public image and adding enthusiastic new members to our club.”

The club also recently presented its 2020 Citizens of the Year to Joel and Heidi Gesiakowski, owners of the Taste restaurant in downtown South Haven.

President Thompson says, “Joe and Heidi have dedicated themselves and their business to the community from the day they came to our town in 2012. They donate time, resources and food to many worthy causes.”

The Rotarians concluded their year by giving a record $51,000 to more than 40 community, regional and international organizations, and just last weekend got off to a good start on the new Rotary year by raising $11,100 during their unique virtual pancake breakfast on Sunday, August 9th.

Dan Thompson has been elected president for 2020-21 and the president-elect is Bill Roberts. Rhonda Wendzel and Bob Straits are continuing as secretary and treasurer respectively.

The photos accompanying this story on Moody on the Market are courtesy of Tom Renner of South Haven.