Linda Messinger has five special people in her heart – her grandchildren. After Molly, Clay, Jack, Lexie, and Lacey, there is room in her heart for lots of other things, such as Rotary Club, Friends of Johnny Mercer, Savannah Women’s Club and her church (Richmond Hill United Methodist). But her five grandchildren are always welcome to her attention. Despite Messinger’s illness of several years, those grandchildren know they have a place in grandmother’s heart – they are first.
Messinger got started in Rotary some years ago when she was asked to speak to different club meetings. Then she was asked to join a friend at a meeting several years ago. That was what got her foot in the door in the Richmond Hill Rotary Club. Rotary Club is usually a club of business people, and Messinger is owner (with her husband) of Perkins Restaurant at the 204 – I 95 exchange near Richmond Hill.
A feature of Rotary that Messinger likes is the fact that it is a non-profit group. She had been involved in many non-profit groups and always had loved it. She was a great leader and fundraiser, especially fond of grant-writing and board development.
As active as her life is, it would be hard to believe that Messinger has been battling a serious illness. Cancer has claimed a lot of her energy, but she still lives an active life. The main difference that cancer has made in her life is that she has had to prioritize. That’s where those five grandchildren come in. Messinger is a grandmother. Although she devotes time to Rotary, among other groups, her family is at the top of her list.
Messinger chairs Rotary meetings on Thursdays (weekly) at 12:30 p.m. at the Holiday Inn in Richmond Hill. Currently, there are 47 members. One of the programs of the club is the Georgia Rotary Student Program, which helps students from Richmond Hill with scholarships. The club also donates time, money, and energy to Richmond Hill schools. The club is helping Jonathan Lowert of Denmark, who is a scholarship student.
Rotary Club of Richmond Hill works within the community by providing scholarships for Richmond Hill High School graduates and by donating time, energy, and money to local schools. On the international level, the Club participates in the Georgia Rotary Student program, which is unlike any other program in the entire Rotary World.
The GRPP began after WWII to help build international understanding. Students from around the world would come to America to live/study and learn what our way of life was like. The friendships which were formed would last a lifetime. These bonds would form ambassadors for peace.
Rotary Club of Richmond Hill sponsors one student per year to attend Armstrong Atlantic State University for one full academic year. This year the student is from Denmark. His name is Jonathan Lowert
Jonathan Lowert will be leaving America this summer after a year as a Rotary student at Armstrong Atlantic State University. He is a student from Denmark and pursues electronic engineering there. For the full academic year that he’s studied at AASU, he will receive about a half-year's worth of credits in Denmark.
Lowert praises Americans for their generosity and friendliness. He has felt most welcome by all people, but especially by the host families. Three families have helped him. They are: Ray and Connie Pittman, Bill and Charmaine West, Clete and Debbie Bergen.
Lowert finds a lot of churches in the South – lots more than in Denmark. For himself, he is a Lutheran, but he doesn’t attend regularly.
One group he has stayed with while at AASU is the International Student Organization. This group is made up of foreign students. He often talks with them, as he has likenesses and differences.
Lowert thinks that students wanting to study abroad should be open-minded, as there are different beliefs among students. For example, Lowert thinks that American gun laws allow too many guns among the population. Guns shouldn’t be accessible to everyone and anyone.
Lowert appreciates his chance to live and study in Georgia. His new friendships will go back to Denmark in his heart. His friendships will help bring "peace through undnerstanding."
Hendrix covers community news. She can be reached at 756-4787.