FREMONT — For more than 80 years, the Fremont Exchange Club has been a staple in the community.
Whether handing out the Book of Golden Deeds award annually, hosting the popular Fremont’s Got Talent at Birchard Park or carrying out various civic projects, the Fremont Exchange Club has played its part in bettering Fremont and its surrounding areas.
Since COVID-19 hit, however, membership and member involvement has plummeted.
Cindy Cullen, the Exchange Club’s district president for Ohio and West Virginia, wants to revamp and revitalize the Fremont club.
Cullen said Monday the Fremont club’s sitting board voted to rescind its charter.
She said the Exchange Club district felt it could restructure and revitalize the Fremont chapter and is working to do so.
‘As long as there’s a need…Fremont needs Exchange’
“Fremont needs Exchange. As long as there’s a need in the community, Fremont needs Exchange,” Cullen said.
Cullen said there’s 23 active Exchange clubs in her district, with all of those currently in Ohio.
She said there were 32 Fremont Exchange Club members still listed as active, but Cullen acknowledged the majority of that membership were not very active.
There were three Exchange Club members who painted rooms Sunday at Fremont’s Community Fortress homeless shelter.
Denny Otte, a Fremont City Council member and a longtime Exchange Club member, was one of those members.
Otte said the Fremont club’s charter was never dropped.
“The national (organization) wants to see if we can get the club going again,” Otte said.
Otte said the Fremont chapter used to have 40-50 active members.
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, membership dropped.
Goal is to get back together, plan projects
Fremont Exchange Club would like to get back to holding meetings and planning more civic projects.
Cullen said there are 23 clubs in the district, with 551 members.
She said Fremont officially is still one of the 23 clubs, although the district took over Fremont’s charter.
COVID-19 has put a real dent in membership numbers.
In Fremont, most of the Exchange Club members are 60 and older, not especially technology-savvy and were in high-risk groups for COVID, Cullen said.
Cullen said she’d like to see the Fremont club have a minimum of 15 active members and meet at least twice a month.
The Fremont Exchange Club would like to work with the Fremont Rotary Club, Kiwanis, Knights of Columbus and other groups on service projects, Cullen said.
“We’re not in competition with the other service organizations. We should be working hand-in-hand,” Cullen said.