Auction, food truck plans, dealing with pandemic


Next up is newly updated Holiday Auction
At more than 70 members strong, the Rotary Club of Ludington is adapting to the challenges COVID-19 has brought to 2020.

Service projects remain the priority and are as prevalent as ever even while revenue has dropped drastically.

Club members mentor struggling high school students, help the library offer book delivery to local schools, provide dictionaries to area third-graders, plant, weed and pull petunias, pick up trash along the highway, and support international service projects including polio vaccinations and more. 

Through good times and bad, members seek to embody the motto “service above self,” said Club President James Jensen. 

That motto sits well with Smith & Eddy Insurance, which recently provided the club $2,000 to support the club’s community service projects during the pandemic.

The funding is needed.


Food truck plans

COVID-19 has meant the cancellation of large events, which in turn meant no opportunity to sell elephant ears at the traditional Gus Macker 3-on-3 Charity Basketball Tournament and summer arts and craft fairs. Last year, elephant ear sales brought in more than $15,000 in revenue. 

The club has since purchased a new food truck, which will allow sales at a variety of venues in 2021, meaning the club won’t rely so heavily on big events. 


Holiday Auction

As December draws near, members are planning to adapt again, this time with an online auction.

“The Holiday Auction has become our signature event each year,” said Club President James Jensen. 

The event will continue its traditional date, the first Wednesday in December, Dec. 2 this year. Typically, the event would draw a sold-out crowd to Lincoln Hills Golf Club, but 2020 is anything but a typical year. 

Rather than hosting a large indoor gathering, the club will seek bids online for the goods and services local businesses, organizations and individuals provide. Club members are seeking auction item donations now. 

“We’re excited to transform the auction into an online experience this year. We want folks to know that the auction is still here,” said Dale Horowski, auction committee chair. “We’ll open the bidding in the days prior, and conclude on the evening of Dec. 2. The public will be able to preview items and participate in bidding at We are hoping to add a livestream element to the experience as well. More information to come as when we get it ready to go.”


Leadership in tough times

Jensen took on the position of president from Carlos Alvarado as the club’s new fiscal year began in July. Both leaders have had to handle changes due to the new coronavirus. Alvarado had to cancel in-person meetings and get the club started with virtual meetings. Jensen has continued the virtual meetings, and as the summer progressed, with the help members, including board member Chad Inabinet, added the opportunity to attend in-person at Rotary Park and online. The club meets every Thursday at noon with a new speaker/presentation each week. All are welcome. See the Rotary Club of Ludington website or Facebook page for more information and watch the Daily News for updates.


Serving the community

Jensen first became a Rotarian in 1987 through the Hart club when he worked in Oceana County. “After a few years I left Rotary due to my business travel schedule,” he said. “I came back into Rotary when I joined the Ludington club in 2000.”

He has remained an active member due to the club’s focus on service.

“I have been encouraged by the evolution of Rotary while continuing to focus on ‘service above self,’” he said. “The most important parts of that evolution are the demographic changes. When I joined in 1987, we were viewed as a group of ‘old men,’ Now (even though I personally have reached that designation myself) we have both male and female members representing many different age groups. That is a great change.”

Jensen, a lifelong Mason County resident whose ancestors came to the area in 1850, said this area is “truly my home.”

“Most importantly for me is that Rotary offers me an effective mechanism to serve our community,” he said. 

Jensen said he has always been eager to take on a challenge, and this year has provided plenty of challenges.


Dealing with the pandemic

“My goal is to maintain all the programs we have supported in the past while seeking both alternate methods of meeting and fundraising,” he said.

Jensen and Alvarado have been friends for almost 30 years.

“I recruited him as a Rotarian and I was his sponsor when he joined the Ludington Club,” Jensen said of his predecessor. “I appreciate his leadership and have been grateful for his advice.” 

Alvarado encouraged club members to shop locally, especially during the pandemic, and shared a spreadsheet to show which businesses and organizations have supported the Rotary Club’s annual auction. Club members gave thank-you notes as they were shopping and sent receipts to Alvarado to tally up the club’s impact. 

"When we were meeting in person, we had developed for every month what we call a ‘Flash Service Project,’” Alvarado said. “We would pick a charity/organization and have the Rotarians collect items that may benefit the chosen charity. This way we helped among several organizations, the Ludington/Scottville Care Boxes, the Lakeshore Food Club, Ludington Woods, Lakeshore Food 4 Kids, COVE, and more.”

When the pandemic began and the club could not meet in person, the club tried to devise ways to continue helping the community. 

“We realized that our small business, which are the same that year after year have helped us with our Holiday Auction by donating items to be auctioned off, were suffering,” Alvarado said. 

The Flash Service Project concept morphed into a Rotary Business Appreciation Month. “The idea was that every Rotarian, who at the time, beginning of May, was starting to shop and patronizing local business, should make the point to pick businesses that in the past had helped with the Holiday Auction,” Alvarado said. “The project was a success and continued through mid-July. During that time, May through July, the members of the Rotary Club of Ludington poured into the local business close to $12,500.00.”