Rotary to support Key remodeling

March 3, 2019

Photo Caption:

From Left: Scott Richardson, Rotary president; Barry Carlson, Rotary president-elect; Cortney Fischer, Zoe Condon and Sky Mace, Northfield Union of Youth; Emily Fulton-Foley, executive director of Northfield Union of Youth; Richard Schulte, Rotary member; Chuck Follen, member of Union of Youth Board; and Jean Wakely, Rotary past president.


Northfield Rotary Club announced this week it will become a project partner with Northfield Union of Youth to help remodel The Key at 109 West Sixth Street, a touch-point for a variety of youth services.

The Union of Youth is planning a major reconfiguration of the floor plan this year at a cost of $150,000. Rotary is committed to providing a $20,000 donation and in-kind services, including sweat equity.

Emily Fulton-Foley, executive director of Northfield Union of Youth, said Rotary’s commitment represents a significant boost to the project.

“To Northfield Union of Youth, the support of Rotary is pivotal,” Fulton-Foley said. “They have provided support to crucial community actions and organizations for years. To have their influence and support is not only validation of the importance of our youth center, but it helps grow our mission of giving youth voice and power. If each Rotarian spoke to a friend, neighbor, or acquaintance about the work we are doing, our youth could be uplifted in ways that would impact their entire lives.”

The project is needed, Fulton-Foley says, because of increased usage — more than 22,000 youth visits over the past 24 months — and the need for safety upgrades and open programming space that allows for better staff supervision. The Union of Youth has been working around a warren of rooms left over from a 1950s design. The Rotary donation will be used specifically to upgrade the kitchen area. Rotary has been providing a meal once a month at The Key for the last 15 months.

For the past two years, Rotary has been working on a major international service project to bring clean water to several villages in Guatemala. With that project well underway, the club decided its next major project should address a local need.

“The Key project aligns perfectly with our identified areas of passion,” said Scott Richardson, president of Rotary, “We have the capacity to make a significant difference in the success of this project, and it provides many opportunities for member engagement.”

Rotary has partnered with The Union of Youth before in its effort to secure the building at 109 Sixth Street West. In the recent past, it has also supported the skate park at Old Memorial Park and the musical playground at Way Park.

Northfield Rotary Club is a service organization known for its work on youth exchange, polio eradication, climate change and promoting service above self. It meets every Thursday noon at Northfield United Methodist Church. Guests are welcome.

Climate Change Statement

November 12, 2018

Northfield Rotary Club recognizes that climate change is real, it is us and it is urgent. We are committed to initiating a grassroots response to climate change to accelerate the action required to meet this monumental challenge. Our Rotary Climate Action Team recently adopted the Climate Change Statement below and invites other Rotary clubs around the world to do the same.

Climate Statement Northfield Rotary Club

Thanksgiving Turkey Trot is Community’s Unofficial Homecoming

October 24, 2017

The Northfield Rotary Turkey Trot has become Northfield’s unofficial homecoming event for the 1000-plus runners and walkers who participate each year.

Now in its 17th year, the 5K run/walk is a Thanksgiving tradition for many Northfield households, a “must-do” for those who want to connect with old friends and neighbors and be reminded that Northfield is always home.

Rob Bierman, chair of Rotary’s Turkey Trot Committee, said this event has become one of the community’s signature events.

“The Turkey Trot gives Northfielders an opportunity to touch base with one another and reflect on their shared experience here in Northfield,” said Bierman. “You’ll see lots of hugs and hear a lot of catching up before and during the run/walk. There is always a lot of positive energy here.”

He said it also gives people an opportunity to express their gratitude by running or walking for a good cause.  Funds raised at the Turkey Trot will support Rotary’s ongoing work with its youth exchange program and polio eradication. Northfield is known as a “rock star” in Rotary youth exchange circles. Northfield regularly sends 10 to 15 students abroad each year and this year is hosting five foreign students.

On the polio front, Rotary International and its partners have made remarkable progress toward a polio-free world. Over the last 30 years, polio cases around the globe have been reduced by 99 percent. Only three countries remain polio endemic — Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria — so the campaign continues.

The Turkey Trot will begin at the Carleton College Weitz Center (north entrance) at 9 a.m. Same-day registration opens at 8 a.m. The cost is $15 per participant if you register by Thursday, Nov. 9, or $20 if you register after that. Runners and walkers are encouraged to bring their dogs to the event. Canines will be recognized with a bandana complements of Countryside Animal Hospital and Kennels, one of the Turkey Trot’s major sponsors.

For those who will not be in town the day of the event, there is a “free-range” option. You can show your solidarity with Rotary and its goals by staging your own 5K with family and friends on Thanksgiving Day and upload a photo or video of your experience. Registration for the “free-range” run is also November 9.

The Turkey Trot is also dedicated to collecting food for the Northfield Food Shelf. Runners and walkers are invited to bring a food donation to the Turkey Trot Thanksgiving morning.

For registration or more information, go to: If you have other questions, please call Rob Bierman at 612-226-9237.

Turkey Trot Registration is Open

October 12, 2017

Click here to read more about this year’s Turkey Trot and to register.

Click here to register directly.

Chris Weber is Rotary’s literacy champion

April 25, 2017

Northfield Rotary is well known for its support of Polio Plus, an international campaign to eradicate polio. Closer to home, people associate it with youth exchange and bike trails.

But thanks to volunteers like Chris Weber, literacy is another area where Rotary is making a difference.

Chris has been chairing Rotary’s Literacy Committee for five years. During his tenure, Rotary has partnered with the local Early Childhood Initiative Coalition (ECIC) and other community organizations to make gently used books more accessible to families across the community. It has also contributed monetarily to the recent Northfield Public Library expansion and the new bookmobile, coming soon to neighborhoods near you. In 2016, Northfield Rotary received a district literacy award for its work here at home as well as its support of international literacy work, such as Books for Africa.

Chris comes by his literacy passion both from personal experience and from his Rotary connections. He and his wife, Deanne, read to their kids from infancy on, and saw the difference it made in their children’s social and academic development. Then, at a Rotary International convention he was seated next to the point person for Rotary’s literacy efforts. After listening to him for an hour, Chris was all in.

Rotary joined with ECIC, Healthy Community Initiative and Early Childhood Family Education to create a system for collecting gently used books and then distributing them at key community locations. It has also contributed to Northfield Promise’s reading team. Chris invites anyone with used children’s books to drop them off inside the north door to Northfield Community Resource Center.

Michelle Lasswell, president of Northfield Rotary Club, said literacy is one of Rotary International’s six areas of focus.

“Basic education and literacy are essential for reducing poverty, improving health, encouraging community and economic development, and promoting peace,” she said. “This is the main reason why Rotary International is dedicated to promoting literacy.”

Chris’s leadership has been a difference-maker, she said.

“Chris took the initiative to act on his passion, and since it began he has helped make this a sustainable program that puts books into the hands of children who might not otherwise have access to these books,” she said. “He has expanded it to include Spanish speaking books. His leadership and commitment have truly helped this program grow and has made a difference for children here in Northfield.”

Chris points out that Rotary’s literacy efforts are possible because of the active support from his committee and other Rotary volunteers.

“We couldn’t do any of this without the help of other Rotarians, especially those on our committee,” he said.

Chris and the Rotary Literacy Committee would like to make adult literacy the next area of focus. Rice County’s adult literacy rate is lower than the state average, he said. Closing that gap would enable more adults to fully participate in community life and to better navigate the business of daily living.

— 30 —

Caption: Chris Weber, chair of Northfield Rotary’s Literacy Committee.