Changing of the guard

July 2, 2007

IMG_3428_640.jpgNorthfield_Rotary_presidents.jpg2006-07 Northfield Rotary President Jim Blaha’s term ended yesterday. I’m now president for 2007-08. (Pictured on the right in the photo on the left, Dave Brown, 2005-06 president. Click all photos to enlarge.)

Jim’s well-known as a champion of social justice and economic development in our town, and that’s just his day job as the director of the Northfield Community Action Center. As Rotary president, Jim really pushed the club to explore avenues for building a stronger community where people work together and help each other. Wednesday’s big Community Works! Celebration at Spring Creek Park was a nice culmination to about five years of Rotary involvement in community-based projects, from Marilyn’s Place to Everybody’s Playground to the Amerman Pavilion to the WINGS Oasis to the Northfield Area Foundation “Ruth Nutting Garden” and water fountain at the park, etc. Even the bridge built by a local scout is an example of the same kind of hands-on initiative, though it was done independently. A great snowball effect!

IMG_2900_800.jpgWhile these projects involved many organizations and individuals, it’s no coincidence that Jim Blaha has been on the Rotary board for about five years and is just now finishing his year as club president. Other IMG_3755.JPGefforts, like the Connected Kids mentoring program and the Early Childhood Literacy program have also received lots of support from organizations with which Jim is involved during the past several years, including the inspiring luncheon hosted by former Governor Al Quie in Northfield in March, where he asked communities like ours to renew their commitment to building a strong foundation for our children at a young age, to open doors for them for continued academic and personal success as they grow up.

IMG_0086_cropped.jpgIMG_4954.JPGNothing gets done by any one person, but having active, committed and motivated people like Jim in the community is a huge benefit for everyone. While Jim passed off the gavel yesterday, and will now have a bit more free time for his hobbies of baking, brewing and bee-keeping, he’ll still be in town working hard at the NCAC, along with many colleagues and partner organizations, to make Northfield a better place for all of its residents, to keep what is good about Northfield alive and strong, while bringing in new people and projects and partnerships for the years to come.

IMG_6127.JPGThe Northfield Rotary Club thanks Jim for all of his hard work. We’re lucky he’s just moving from the front of the room back into the ranks of the club for every Thursday’s luncheon, so we’ll still benefit from all of his energy and idealism on a daily, weekly and continual basis.