Jennifer McGrew Thomason, Club President, 2023-2024

New Member FAQ

New Member FAQ

Membership in the El Centro Rotary Club is a privilege extended to men and women of good character who are engaged in the business and professional life of our community. Some of the most frequently asked questions about membership are as follows:

Do I Have To Attend The Meetings?

The short answer is yes. Attendance is mandatory if you wish to maintain your "good standing." It is acceptable to miss a meeting if you make-up at another club. Rotary International states that members must attend at least 60% of their own club's meetings to be considerded "in good standing." Fellowship and participation are key to Rotary's continued success.

What Are The Pennants For In The Front Of The Room?

It's a tradition in Rotary when visiting a club outside of your own district to bring a flag to exchange with that club. Especially when traveling internationally. These small flags (pennants) are unique to each club and include imagery specific to the community they represent. The flags attached to the large blue banners in front of the meeting hall represent clubs whose members have visited our club or whose club our own members have visited. This exchange illustrates the connections we have as Rotarians worldwide. Rotary is a community in and of itself. If you intend to travel abroad and are going to visit another club along the way, ask our Sargeant at Arms for an El Centro Club flag to take and exchange. When you return, you will be asked to give a brief presentation of your experience and then present that club's flag to the Club President.

What's The Policy On Cell Phones?

The guideline for cell phones and other mobile devices is to be courteous and professional. The club recommends putting your phone in silent/vibrate mode or turning it off completely before the meeting begins. If you need to take or make a call, do so outside. Quietly depart the room without distracting the group and don't begin speaking until you have left the building altogether. If your phone rings or chimes after the meeting is called to order, you may be subject to a penalty at the Club President's discretion. Fees typically range from $10 for first-time offenders and upwards of $25 for repeats. This is independent of your pledge. Guests of Rotarians must also follow this rule or their host will be subject to the penalty fee on their behalf.

Can I Bring A Guest To Meetings?

Rotarians are always encouraged to recruit new members. If you bring a guest, you are responsible for the cost of their lunch and are required to introduce them to the club when called upon to do so. On occassion, you may also bring a colleague, friend, or family member who is not being considered for membership but whom you would like for the club to meet. It is not uncommon for a Rotarian to bring a spouse to see where they spend their lunch one day a week and meet the people they partner with to serve the community. Family and friendship are important to Rotary.

What If I Have To Leave Early?

It may be necessary, on occassion, for you to leave a meeting before 1:30pm due to another obligation. Rather than not attending and having to make up elsewhere, consider coming for lunch and the meeting and then leave before the program begins at 1:00pm. The proper procedure for leaving early is to let the Club President know, then introduce yourself to the guest speaker (program) and apologize that you will be unable to stay for their presentation. Do this during lunch before the meeting is called to order. When the president finishes their portion of the meeting, quietly get up and depart. And don't forget to put your badge away as you leave. But beware, the Club President may assess fines for those leaving early as it is highly discouraged.

Do I Have To Volunteer For Work?

The Rotary Club of El Centro considers itself a working club. Therefore, you are highly encouraged to participate in activies such as the highway cleanup (twice per year), Rotarians at Work day, and the Curt Swain Barbeque fundraiser. Many other opportunites to volunteer will arise throughout the year including regional and district level events. It is considered an honor to participate whenever you are available and where your talents may be put to good use.

How Do I Pay For My Fines?

Fines can be paid for the day they are assessed through the club treasurer. You may also fill out an IOU form provided by the sargeant at arms and be billed directly. Or, you can pay at a future meeting. Checks should be made out to the El Centro Rotary Club or the El Centro Rotary Club Foundation (making it a tax deductible 501c3 contribution). The choice is yours.

Why Do Members Get Fined At Meetings?

Member recognition (aka. fining) is performed at the discretion of the current president. Fines are assessed based on your annual pledge (minimum of $200 for the year). The purpose of being fined is to provide an opportunity to recognize you for your accomplishments and share what's going on in your life. This segment of meetings offers entertainment to the club as well. And, it's a fun and interactive way to collect your pledge.

What Does It Cost To Be A Member?

The annual commitment for membership is approximately $1,200. You can expect to pay around $14 each week for meals (required whether you attend or not), $195 per year for membership dues (to Rotary International), a minimum $200 pledge to the club (carried out through fining), and $100 per year for a sustaining Paul Harris Fellowship. Beyond the basic commitment, members are responsible for selling (or buying) 20 annual barbeque fundraiser tickets ($200). Members are also encouraged to commit more funds toward their club pledge, the Rotary Foundation and their Paul Harris giving. Occassionally there are other incidental out of pocket costs - which are minimal and at the discretion of the Club President.

What Is A Member In Good Standing?

Members in good standing are those who have paid their annual membership dues, met the basic attendance requirements, served on one or more committees, honored their commitments, and made good on their pledge (ie. paid their fines).

What Happens At Weekly Meetings?

Weekly meetings are comprised of lunch and fellowship, pledge/prayer/song, guest and visitor introductions, announcements, special presentations, member recognition, and a program. Lunch officially begins at 12:10pm, although you can arrive earlier to secure a seat. At 12:30pm the meeting is called to order, and at 1:00pm the program begins. Meetings end at 1:30pm with the ring of the bell.

What's This Paul Harris Thing All About?

Please visit our "Paul Harris Fellowship" page in the "About Us" section for more information. HINT: It's the sixth button down on the left side of this page.