By Fred Woods

Last week, at a special dinner meeting and program the Opelika Exchange Club celebrated its 74th birthday. and the same number of years of service to Opelika and surrounding community. The guest speaker was the national Exchange Club president, Elizabeth Grantham, of Charleston, SC. Other special guests were Rita S. Stewart, Alabama District President, from Prattville and Tracy Edwards of Montgomery, district vice-president.
Jim Sadler and Wayne Swindall, local club president and club member, respectively, handled introductions and recognition of special guests.
Grantham’s theme was “Exchange Strong.” She challenged club members to grow in numbers, to create and embrace diversity and to share their passion for service with other area civic clubs. She complimented the Opelika club for its record of service in all four Exchange Club programs of service despite its relatively small size.
Exchange’s programs of service include (1) Americanism, (2) youth work, (3) community service and (4) prevention of child abuse. The local club’s activities include participating with the national “One Nation Under God” program and supporting and working with local child advocacy groups. The major community service activity has been for 71 years, and continues to be, sponsorship of the Lee County Fair. The Exchange Club also prepares breakfast for participants in the annual Keep Opelika Beautiful clean-up.
Their main charitable service activity is in the prevention of child abuse and their support of three state counseling centers, in Birmingham, Mobile and Dothan.
Exchange Clubs are the only “American” civic clubs. There is no international organization as for other civic clubs.  The first Exchange Club began in 1911, in Detroit, making Exchange Clubs, nationally, 106 years old, with the goal of promoting networking among businessmen, hence the name, “Exchange.”