Springfield Exchange Club, developmental disabilities launch new service group

Springfield Tigers Exchange Club seeks members, will focus on service and prevention of bullying, child abuse.

The Springfield Exchange Club, serving the community for 102 years, has joined with Developmental Disabilities of Clark County (DDCC) to launch a new club that is looking for new members.

The Tigers Exchange Club is open to anyone, and Bonnie Bazill-Davis of DDCC said organizers hope to attract community members who are interested in being involved. They want to be a diverse but unified club.

The new group selected its name because many of the members are Special Olympics competitors active with the Tiger team, so they named their club the Tigers Exchange Club.

When they started work to define their own club goals and purpose, they soon focused on areas of personal concern.

“They zeroed in on the prevention of child abuse, which many of them have experienced to a greater degree than the population as a whole,” said Springfield Exchange Club President-Elect Don “Skip” Sewell. “They also identified anti-bullying efforts.”

Bazill-Davis said many of the members had experienced some kind of trauma themselves and that made prevention high on the list of things they wished to accomplish.

DDCC is one of many local groups that collects bottle tops to donate to the Springfield Exchange Club. That project led to the development of the new club.

Last year when Warner met with Bazill-Davis to collect the bottle cap donation, Bazill-Davis was curious to learn about the Exchange Club. She told Warner she had a group at DDCC that were looking for a way to perform community service. The idea of forming a whole new club enabling DDCC members to identify their own goals and projects to “give back” to the community resulted in the new Tigers Exchange Club.

“We’ve started with a group of real go-getters,” Bazill-Davis says. “After working on the Exchange Club bottle cap collection, the idea just blossomed.”

“The National Exchange Club, the Ohio-West Virginia Regional Exchange Club group and local Springfield club all supported the idea,” Larry Sewell, who is a former President of Springfield Exchange Club and now a member of the new Tigers organization too. “The local club purchased some of the supplies necessary for the Tiger club, things like a banner, gavel and bell used to officially begin and end meetings,”

The group’s first project was a celebration of Americanism, a national goal of Exchange Club members. The new 17-member group made cards to express appreciation to returning Veteran Members of the Honor Flight.

The second major project undertaken took place in April, when the group worked with Wittenberg University to decorate the campus with pinwheels and ribbons to call attention to National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

Larry Sewell said the Tigers Club is inspiring and exciting to be around because they bring so much enthusiasm to their projects.

“It’s easy to get jaded,” he said. “It’s a good reminder there are many more good people trying to help and excited to give back.”

That enthusiasm was readily apparent at a recent organizational meeting. The newly elected president rang the bell to open the meeting, which was followed by a presentation from the Springfield Exchange Club of a personalized gavel to be used by the Tiger organization president at all future meetings. The group was also presented with a banner proclaiming the official name of the newly chartered Tigers Exchange Club. Members then took steps to appoint a board of directors.

Part of the meeting was also devoted to recapping one of the most recent efforts of the group. On June 8 Tigers Club members helped the local non-profit SOUP hand out plant starts to those who are food insecure. Jeff Travis, a new board member of the group, shared his gratitude for the experience.

“Seeing people from a different part of the community and being able to help them let me know we are all in the same boat,” he said. “We can all share this world … they struggle just as we struggle. We were helping people in need.”

The Tigers Exchange members have plans to introduce a program to honor a fireman of the year and are working on fundraising ideas to cover the cost of plaques to be presented to honorees.

“There are no age restrictions and no limit on who can join,” Larry Sewell said. “We need all sorts of perspectives. That brings richness to the club and a variety of ideas that expand the projects and ways we can help the community.”

Ideally, he said at least 25 members are needed to enable the Tigers Exchange Club of Springfield to share in the goal of giving back to the community.

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