Three of the pictured charter members above are still members of the club (l to r) – Frankie Dusenka, Kurt Bauer – our second club president, Joe Virga, the first club president, and Jim McCarville, the fourth club president in a Paul Harris Award Ceremony at one of our summer socials held on a double-decker pontoon on South Lindstrom.  

Celebrating 
Twenty-Five Years of Service

(1998–2023)

​In 1997, Ted Haines who had been a Rotarian in the past and had an exotic animal farm just North of Chisago City, asked Frankie Dusenka if he was interested in helping start a local Rotary club. Frankie enlisted the help of Dr. Joe Virga and they began to recruit members to establish a Rotary club in the Chisago Lakes area. Rotary District 5960 was also interested in helping get started and Bill Rust of the White Bear Lake Rotary club and Roland Wilsey of the Roseville club
offered their assistance. Lindstrom Resident Jim McCarville had been a Rotary Club member in Brookings, SD and he was also long interested in starting one in the area and was able to bring his experience to how clubs operated to the effort. According to Frankie Dusenka, the core group of founding members included Ted Haines, Joe Virga, Kurt Bauer, and Jim McCarville. As the small group met through 1997 and into early 1998, it was apparent that the club should encompass the entire Chisago Lakes Area, even though two of the towns were large enough to have their own club. The club decided to follow the consolidated school district boundaries. With the sponsorship of the White Bear Rotary Club, the Chisago Lakes Area Rotary Club was incorporated on May 21, 1998.

Upon chartering, club members immediately began planning three major fundraisers to get us off to a financially sound start – a golf tournament, beer garden at Frankies’ Summer Bass Fishing Tournament, and a mid-winter Radar Run as part of the Chamber of Commerce Celebration of the Lakes. One of the more curious happenings in the Chisago Lakes Rotary Club occurred at the inaugural golf tournament in June 1998. Somehow, we convinced gubernatorial candidate Jesse Ventura to come and participate in our event. Former governor Ventura golfed in the nine-hole scramble event and even spoke briefly in the clubhouse during the awards celebration. We certainly started off with a bang!

Over the past 25+ years, the Chisago Lakes Rotary Club has donated over $500,000 to local and global projects and donated more than 10,000 hours of service to various community projects and activities. Here are some examples of ways we have supported our local communities:

     > Endowed acorn fund with Chisago Lakes Area Community Foundation (CLACF) to provide senior scholarships             

        at Chisago Lakes High School

     >Books donated and supported other literacy projects to local schools and library

     >Outdoor classroom at Chisago Lakes Middle School

     >Fund participation for CLHS Students to attend Camp Enterprise for Business Students

     >Emergency equipment for EMS, Police, and support of the Annual Safety Camp

     >Chamber of Commerce Events and City Projects

     >Maintain water trail including building a trail kiosk in Lindstrom

     >Support of the Swedish Immigrant Trail with an initial donation of $1,000 (one of our first donations as a club) and

        later through building pollinator gardens and trailhead development at Tern Avenue and in downtown Shafer

     >Chisago County Water Festival for all fifth graders in the County

     >Shared earnings to organizations helping with golf tournament over the years including:

          Family Pathways Volunteer support; the Red Hat Club; Baby Blanket; Northwoods Humane Society and Beyond the

          Yellow Ribbon
     >Youth Service Bureau Restorative Justice Program
     >Middle School Health Fair – MADD Car Sponsorships
     >Anonymous Santa collecting toys, food, and books
     >Serving Community meals

   
 >Collecting furniture for local needs and Bridging


Chisago Lakes Rotary has also contributed to many, many, many, many, many other local projects over the past 25 years … too numerous to list.  Click below for a history of all our local and international projects!

In May 2023, the Chisago Lakes Area Rotary Club celebrates our Silver Anniversary of service to the communities of Center City, Chisago City, Lindstrom, Shafer, Taylors Falls and the Surrounding Townships. Over the past 25 years, the Chisago Lakes Area Rotary Club has been a moving force in the Chisago Lakes area and is recognized as an organization that truly accomplishes the Rotary Motto – “Service Above Self”.


Over the last 25 years our Chisago Lakes Area Rotary Club has devoted fundraising skills and energy to passionately supporting the needs of our local community as well as our global neighbors donating more than $500,000 and over 10,000 hours
to our various service projects to aid our local community and the world through the help of Rotary International.