It's early Tuesday morning in Fairfax County and most people are beginning their commutes to the city. But, in the back of Brion’s Grille in Fairfax, past the empty chairs and the dark bar, in a back room of the restaurant, Jim Overbye stands in front of a row of banners and rings a bell. The Burke Rotarians stop their conversations and look up from their breakfasts. The weekly meeting of the Burke Rotary is coming to order.
Overbye is the president of the Burke Rotary, and he quickly gets the club’s business underway, ceding the floor to the animated sergeant-at-arms, Duwain Ketch. Ketch gets the meeting going asking for “Scooter Dollars” from those who have to leave early. Then anyone who is happy today adds a dollar to the club’s pot. All the while Ketch jokes about his recent cross-country trip: “I’ll give five dollars, for each of the five weeks I was away on my trip.” Other members give their dollars for being happy that’s he’s back to resume his sergeant-at-arms duties.
The Burke Rotary is a chapter of Rotary International, one of the largest service organizations in the world, according to its Web site, and meets every Tuesday morning at Brion’s Grille across Braddock Road from George Mason University. The club is not all about breakfast and jokes, however; it sponsors a Burke Boy Scout troop, has hosted high school speech competitions and gives out three $1,500 scholarships for Northern Virginia Community College students every year. Overbye feels the club fosters, “a sense of being able to connect to the community and to do community service.”
The club is now 24 members strong, having recently inducted Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Gerry Connolly (D-At-large), as an honorary member at last week’s meeting. Travis White, District Governor Elect and member of Burke Rotary since 1992, is hoping for the club to attract even more new members.
"You can do so much more with 30 or 40 members than you can with 20,” White said. White will take his position as district governor this June and will oversee the 52 clubs in the area.
"Each club is independent,” White said. “They each have their own personalities, and interests."
A FEW NEW recruits have invigorated Burke’s chapter in the past few years. “We have some younger members who’ve added energy to the club,” said White. “The enthusiasm of these young members is infecting the club.”
Overbye and the Burke Rotary are eager to invite new members. “Just come to the meetings,” said Overbye.
Rotary International celebrates its 102nd birthday this week, and having grown to over 32,000 clubs and 1.2 million members, it shows no signs of slowing. Ultimately, said White, Rotary, "is about being part of an international team serving others above self."