Local businessman to embark on Rotary district governorship

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By Correne Martin

Prairie du Chien businessman Joe Ruskey will become the new Rotary District 6250 Governor July 1, guiding and serving as a resource for 62 Rotary Clubs in Wisconsin and Minnesota. He was selected for the position three years ago, trained over the past two years and will officially take on the duties next month until June 30, 2018.

Ruskey anticipates putting on 30,000 miles in the coming year, visiting all 62 clubs in the first six months, and then tending to any club needs and providing further direction in the second six months of his term. He’s enlivened by this opportunity to meet people, network and, above all, make a difference while helping others do the same in their communities.

“I’ll be attending meetings, finding out what I can do to help them accomplish their goals, giving pointers on how to increase members and carrying the Rotary message of making a difference,” Ruskey explained. “The more I can help them, the more they can help their communities.”

Rotary International is one of the oldest, most respected service organizations in the world. It was founded by Attorney Paul Harris in 1905, in Chicago, so professionals with diverse backgrounds could exchange ideas, form meaningful, lifelong friendships and give back to their communities. Rotary’s name came from the group’s early practice of rotating meetings among the offices of its members.

Rotary currently has 1.2 million members and 35,000 clubs in over 200 countries around the globe.

The Prairie du Chien Rotary Club started in 1986. It meets every Friday at noon at Huckleberry’s Restaurant.

When Ruskey and his family moved to Prairie du Chien in 2003, he was invited to attend a club meeting.

“I knew nothing except that it involved a bunch of business people in the area and that the club sponsored flowers along Marquette Road,” he remembered.

As time passed, Ruskey became more involved at the local level. He came to quickly appreciate that Rotary International is an organization that thrives in supporting and helping its members create positive change in their communities. He was glad to learn it’s accepting of all members as well. It doesn’t matter what political party you support, what religion you are or what your sexual orientation is, he noted.

“None of that matters. It’s all about making a difference,” he said.

Ruskey became the Prairie du Chien club president in July 2007. In 2009, he was asked to be an assistant governor over five clubs in the district. Then, in 2012, he became the foundation chair. Through these roles, he was additionally exposed to what belonging to Rotary International means, attending training sessions and conferences and networking among his fellow Rotarians.

Ruskey was chosen as District 6250’s next governor three years ago. As part of his training the past few years, he attended the district governors’ conference in January in San Diego, where all 580 men and women in his same position from around the world came together for yearly training.

In advance of his first day as district governor, a welcome party in his honor is set for Sunday, June 25, from 1 to 5 p.m., on the Villa Louis lawn in Prairie du Chien.

“A lot of times, there are big, fancy, plated dinners. But one of the biggest missions of this service organization is to make a difference. Rather than people spending $75 to $100 per plate, I’d like them to spend it on something that’ll make a difference,” Ruskey stated. He also noted that, as a younger club member, he’d like the party to be family-friendly and for attendees to bring their kids and spend some time together as families.

During his term, Ruskey will fully commit himself to this new role, while also trying to carry out work for his business, Dependable Solutions, remotely. His software solutions company, based in downtown Prairie du Chien, just hit 16 employees and added two new divisions. He also intends to attend Prairie du Chien Rotary Club meetings as often as possible throughout the year.

“This summer, I’ll probably bring (my wife) Tina and my son, Joseph, with me as much as possible,” Ruskey added, pointing out that the opportunity will offer plenty of networking and enlightenment for them as well.

After June 30, 2018, Ruskey will become a past district governor and stay on the district board for another year. After that, he’s uncertain where his acts of volunteerism will take him, whether it involves moving up the chain of command in Rotary International or simply focusing his efforts on local projects that impact the community.

“Tina and I do hope to be Rotary-retired someday and do projects internationally,” he smiled.

Anyone interested in joining the Prairie du Chien Rotary Club should email pdcrotary@gmail.com or attend a Friday meeting. In the future, the club is considering starting a satellite club, which would provide a new option for younger citizens who feel they don’t have as much time to devote.

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