CANTON — At its 40th anniversary celebration, Haywood Rotary changed its annual fundraiser format in a dramatic way.

The gathering was a catered event at Reflections on the Pond in Canton, and fewer, but higher value, auction packages were available for bidding.

Instead of a recognizing a Rotarian and a community resident, the club paid tribute to two of its founding members who are still active in Rotarian work.

Both Tom Posey and Pat Stewart were given special awards as a special thank you for their vast contributions to the club, the community and Rotary.

In past years, there has been a lengthy drawdown, with every 10th loser getting a consolation prize. This year, there was a drawing with a single $5,000 winner, Brian Stewart, who just happened to be the son of one of the club’s founders.

“We were looking to make a change for our 40th anniversary,” said Sheila Gahagan, the club’s incoming president. “People really enjoyed venue and the caterers did a great job. We thought overall the change was good.”

The format will be discussed at a future meeting, but Gahagan said the new format will likely become the norm.

Gahagan said there are more changes in store for the coming year, where financial literacy for both adults and high school students will be the major theme.

The club has been in contact with Asheville-based On Track Financial Education and Counseling, which offers classes around the region.

“As a club, we felt strongly we wanted to participate in financial literacy to give people a chance to help themselves, but we didn’t have expertise in teaching,” she said.

Negotiations for providing the classes are under way, but it looks like a series of four will begin this September. Those who participate in the class will be learning to budget and encouraged to start a savings account. For every dollar a participant puts into the account, Haywood Rotary Club will match with $4 up to a maximum of $840, Gahagan said.

Since the club serves primarily the Clyde and Canton area, residents in those communities will have the first option to enroll, but if the classes aren’t filled, the program will be opened up countywide.

“What often happens is when people don’t have savings and something comes up, they end up using high-interest credit cards or going somewhere they are charged astronomical rates,” Gahagan said. “We’re trying to encourage saving instead.”

The club has ongoing projects such as reading in elementary schools during Dr. Seuss’ birthday, participating in the Christmas basket project that’s a countywide Rotary project and doing work in schools with the McGruff anti-crime program.

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