Changing of the Guard, for 2021-22, at RCF

  • The Rev. David Bluford, left, accepts the gavel as 2021-22 Rotary Club of Farragut president from former president Edward Jones, now designated as past president, during the club’s Changing of the Guard ceremony in Fox Den Country Club Wednesday, June 30.

  • Bluford, far right, swears in some of the 2021-22 RCF officers during the ceremony. From left are Doug Powell, Scott Bertini, Bill Rice, Steve Krempasky, Mary Ann Imgram and Denise Defenderfer.

With Rotary’s International theme of “Serve to Change Lives,” Rotary Club of Farragut’s newly installed president, the Rev. David Bluford, said his goals are to increase membership, fundraising and service projects.

Joining Bluford at the helm is 2021-22 president-elect Megan Belcher; vice president Val Privett; secretary Mary Ann Imgram; treasurer Steve Krempasky; sergeants-at-arms Howard Fass, Scott Bertini and Bill Rice; service projects chair Scott Bertini; fundraising chairs, Scott Brockamp and Denise Bash; membership chairs, Cindy Kraus and Doug Powell; Foundation chair Bill Rice; international service chair Becky Duncan; youth services chair, Denise Defenderfer; public relations chair Tom King; and Edward Jones as past president.

“It’s an honor,” Bluford, a chaplain with Parkwest Medical Center, said about being elected as 2021-22 president. “It’s a privilege but also a responsibility to move forward.”

He said international incoming president Shekhar Mehta of Calcutta, India, has challenged all members to change lives — not only others’ lives but also their own.

“That’s what Rotary’s all about — to serve and change lives, but it’s not just lives on the outside; it’s also to change our lives,” Bluford said.

One of this year’s new service projects is to grant a wish with the Make a Wish Foundation. He added the club also hopes to hold its annual wine tasting and auction fundraiser.

Additionally, Bluford is looking at increasing membership by 10 percent.

“We have 89 members right now,” he said. “We would like to get that up to a little over 100.”

While the club lost some members during the 2020-21 year — some because they relocated, some who died — they also gained a few in the last few weeks, Bluford noted.

“Several will be joining us in the near future,” he added.

Rotarians also were challenged with empowering girls and women to succeed.

Bluford accepted the gavel from outgoing president Jones, who was praised for stepping up during the 2020-21 year of COVID-19.

“We are all thankful for his strong and thoughtful leadership in the year of COVID and Zoom,” King, a past president and public relations chairman, stated in his Sunday, July 4, newsletter.

“It was no accident we had Ed as our leader,” Bluford said of Jones. “Ed probably should be in my position now, but we had someone leave (that moved up Jones and Bluford to last year’s positions). We had the right leadership here this last year.”

“It’s been a very unprecedented year, but it has been a very successful year,” Jones said as he presented RCF’s annual report. “It has been a privilege and an honor to be your president this year.”

The club, formed April 22, 1980, as Club 3857 with 24 charter members.

RCF members donated their time and funding to such organizations as Safe Haven, East Tennessee Children’s Hospital and Heart to Heart Mexico, as well as the club’s free Flue Shot Saturday, where 33 volunteers worked 574 hours, an equivalent of $5,364, impacting 900 people, Jones said.

It adopted Ridgedale Elementary by selling 100 school coupon books; installed Little Libraries at Farragut Community Center and McFee Park; helped the district raise $1.2 million by selling doughnuts on Purple Pinkie Day, a fundraiser to help eradicate polio; helped Summit Medical Group deliver 1,000 COVID vaccine shots; raised $4,756 as bell ringers for the Salvation Army during the holidays; helped with the Angel Tree project; collected 355 toys and other gifts for patients at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital; held a stream cleanup; and helped with landscaping, cleanup and other to-do items at Westview Elementary School.

Bluford joined RCF in 2000. He recalled at that time, the hospital was “looking to get involved in the community.” He visited several different organizations before he found RCF and was sponsored in his membership by 2000 president Jim O’Brien.

Now that club meetings are fully open to all members, he is hoping the club can get back to events they held before COVID.

Bluford’s wife is Mary Bluford, whom he has been married for 18 years. They have four children and four grandchildren.