Rotary Club of Bay City
International Night Tops Rotary Year
by Rob Clark
Started in 1993 as a modest fund raiser for the club, International Night has turned into a community event not to be missed. Today, hundreds of club members and local guests attend the event and help the club raise more than $30,000 in one night for its major projects.
In recent years, the annual event has been held at the DoubleTree Hotel & Conference Center in Downtown Bay City. The evening begins with a social hour, during which time guests are treated to live entertainment, sample top-notch wine and beer from around the world, and have a chance to bid on nearly 200 silent auction items. Each year a new theme is selected for the event. Past themes have included "The World is your Canvas", "Rotary's Wide World of Sports", "Sing For Your Supper", and "Happy 100th Birthday Rotary!" The first International Night event was held at Bay Valley Hotel & Resort in Frankenlust Township. The fund raiser was later moved to Saginaw Valley State University. In each case, the evening's events were highlighted by a silent auction, various raffles, and delicious international cuisine. The focus has always been on the food.
During the past 10 years, money raised at International Night has funded club's major projects, which are commitments to pledge up to $250,000 over 5 years for a major community project. The first major project was the Young Adult Outreach Librarian Program of the Bay County Library System. The second 5-year project was a commitment to fund two Bay City beautification projects. First on the list was a $100,000 pledge to the Bay City Downtown Development Authority to create at least two pocket parks in the downtown area. [The club was actually able to fund three such parks.] The parks include historical vignettes, glass-etched images mounted on metal kiosks, showing how the land near the park looked 100 years ago, along with some background information. The remainder of the money, $150,000, was donated to help with renovations and landscaping of the historic Pere Marquette Railroad Depot.
Much of the money raised at International Night comes from the sale of items in the silent and live auctions. Items on the auction block in the past have included tickets to Michigan or Michigan State football games, a stay at a condo on Grand Cayman Island, and various hotel stays and golf packages. A significant portion of the money raised comes from corporate and patron sponsorships of the event. Sponsorship opportunities range from $175 to $5,000 and include recognition at the event and tickets for the evening program.