Local Rotary Club presidents Susan Rinne and Mike Baker. Photo by Martin Boling


As Bloomington and Monroe County mark their bicentennial year, Bloomington Rotary Club is marking a significant anniversary of its own—100 years as a local service organization. To celebrate, it will hold a Centennial Gala May 10, where it hopes to raise $100,000 for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Bloomington, enabling the nonprofit organization to build an outdoor recreation area for its Crestmont Unit.

The first Rotary Club was founded in Chicago in 1905 as a way for members to exchange ideas and organize community service activities. The first local club, Bloomington Rotary, was chartered in April 1918 with 50 members. Today, Bloomington has three clubs—Bloomington, Bloomington North, and Sunrise—with a total membership of 180. Each group meets weekly for lunch or breakfast and each meeting features a presentation about an issue or a local organization. 

Susan Rinne, president of Bloomington Sunrise Rotary, says, “Rotary joins the passion of giving back to the community with being able to meet and network with people in the community.” Rinne, who retired last year as CEO of LIFEDesigns, joined Rotary in 1999. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to really get to know the community,” she says. 

Mike Baker, president of Bloomington Rotary, says members are not like-minded except in their commitment to community service. “We have a completely diverse group of people—all religions, the full spectrum of political affiliation—and rarely does it ever manifest itself in anything other than cooperation,” Baker says. “It would be a perfect model for our country right now.” Rotary’s motto is “Service Above Self.”

The May 10 gala at the Bloomington/Monroe County Convention Center is being organized by Bloomington’s three clubs and will feature a speech from current Rotary International President Ian Riseley.  

To learn more about the event and the Bloomington Rotary Club, visit bloomingtonrotary.org. For more information about the Bloomington North and Bloomington Sunrise clubs, visit their pages on Facebook.