Why I joined and why I stay in Rotary – Ray bennett
I arrived in St. Marys as a relative youngster, not yet having reached my 24th birthday, and being the new owner of the oldest of four St. Marys Menswear Businesses. The A. H. Loft Mens Clothing Shop founded in 1878 was a successful, quality, full line of finer quality men’s and boy’s clothing  serving the town and surrounding rural countryside.
As a young newcomer to the St. Marys business scene and in some awe of the shakers and movers of the St. Marys business world, including Mr. Fred Loft, my business pre-owner and a Rotary Club Charter Member. He had invited me as a new business owner to come to Rotary and speak to his club at a regular Rotary meeting. Mr Loft invited me as a guest to a couple of meetings of the 2nd oldest service club in St. Marys. (The McConnell Club, a local group of ladies had created this club at the early part of WW1 to knit mittens and scarves for the servicemen overseas and to this day act in different ways, here in St. Marys, doing social work in our community.) Still in my early years of operating my own retail business, I realized my time was required with my business.  I thanked Mr. Loft for encouraging me to join the Rotary Club of St. Marys but due to time constraints, I declined. I liked the many varied programs that Rotary does locally, Canada-wide and internationally and suggested that if and when I felt I would be able to join a service club, Rotary would be my first and only choice.
Some ten or fifteen years later, I was approached by a merchant neighbour, Mr. Ronald Sage, my next store druggist neighbour, to join the Rotary Club of St. Marys. I decided this was a better time and thankfully agreed to accept his offer.
There are several reasons why I continue to enjoy Rotary with the main reason being the International Youth Exchange which I believe may be among the best services that Rotary International sponsors that contributes to world peace and understanding.
In my early years as a club member, I remember that our meetings were held in different restaurants year by year.
In 1988, our club was instrumental in the creation of the Parkview West Seniors Living Complex. This building along with 42 suites for senior owners also has a large meeting hall for seniors recreation activities. And our club, as creators of this building, by paying a reasonable annual stipend, is one of the only clubs that I know of that can boast of a permanent meeting room with all of the facilities that a service club would require.
I am also, on a lighter note, a strong believer that the camaraderie of the club members would keep any member for some time well into the future….
Ray Bennett