|The Fort Smith Noon Exchange Club boasts a rich history of service to our nation and our community.|
Above: Incoming president Paul Rivaldo (left) accepts the gavel from past president Tommy Fowler.
Below: The 2009/2010 Noon Exchange Board and Officers.
More about Fort Smith Noon Exchange Club...
Unlike some civic clubs, ours has no quota system to provide for limited representation of various occupations. Members wishing to invite acquaintances to join the club should obtain a membership application from the secretary, and return it when completed. Any club member who has a bona fide objection to granting membership to any applicant must submit that objection in writing to the board of directors.
A key to the success of the Noon Exchange Club is excellent programs, for which we are noted. Members who hear of good program ideas are encouraged to pass them on to the president-elect, who appoints quarterly program chairs, who in turn ask members to arrange programs for an assigned month. Club tradition and policy discourage political programs that might generate controversy. Candidates for public office are generally not invited to speak during campaigns. Charitable groups may present programs, but no solicitation of funds is permitted at the meetings
Any member may bring guests to a noon meeting. If the guest is a prospective member, the club covers the cost of the meal; otherwise the hosting member pays for the guest.
Quarterly dues are $100.00. This covers the cost of Friday noon meals and National and District Exchange Club dues. We meet approximately 41 times per year, bypassing holiday and special club event weekends, so a member who attends all meetings is in effect paying only for meals, and dues are free.
The administrative year begins July 1, and new officers assume their duties at that time. A board of directors, who meet each month to set policies and plan activities, provides leadership for the club. It is composed of a president, president-elect, vice-president, secretary, treasurer, seven members at-large and the immediate past president. One new board member is elected each year. He or she rotates upward in seniority over a period of ten years, serving as president in that 10th year. The secretary and treasurer serve on a continuing basis with approval of the club.
At noon meetings, when a member rises to speak, whether to introduce a guest or for any other purpose, the member always begins by stating his or her name. Anyone who forgets to do so is sure to be loudly interrupted with calls of "Who are you?" Another tradition is a monthly drawing for a birthday cake, usually at the last meeting of the month, where any member having a birthday during the month is eligible to enter by standing before the group and providing name and (usually) birth date. A staple of noon meetings for many years has been the "Noon News" and "Exchange Club Philosopher" reports delivered by former mayor and veteran broadcaster Jack Freeze. Our club is noted for informality and the good times we have at our meetings.
Each week, the Exchange Club newsletter is sent to each member, by e-mail if possible. It includes a summary of the week's activities, information on upcoming events and interesting facts about the club. The secretary serves as the newsletter's editor. Members also receive the bi-monthly "Exchange Today" magazine from National, and a periodic District newsletter.
Since 1942, the club annually has named an outstanding area person to receive the Book of Golden Deeds award. The surprise presentation is made at a banquet in January to an individual who has quietly served the community in an exemplary way. Members and spouses are invited to this event, which requires the purchase of tickets in advance.
Every year since 1947, club members have contributed funds to pay for the summer camp program of Girls Inc. of Fort Smith. Most of the girls who attend could not afford to do so without the club's help. An effort is made to get each member to participate, and cooperation is excellent. In 2007, the Noon Exchange Club raised $11,000 to help send the girls to their summer camp at Dwight Mission, Oklahoma.
Each year, the club sponsors an evening Steak Fry and an evening Fish Fry for members, spouses and prospective members. Much of the funding for these events is gathered from weekly "50-50" raffle drawings at Friday meetings, where a lucky member receives half of the jackpot, and the other half goes to the club.
Named in honor of a long-time club secretary/treasurer with over 70 years membership, the Pat Gillespie Invitational (PGI) Golf Tournament is held each summer. It provides handsome trophies to winners, both by scratch scores and through the wildly convoluted Callaway scoring system, which perhaps only Pat Gillespie himself actually understands!