5 Questions: Former Carlisle dentist becomes first Black president of Rotary Club of Carlisle | Carlisle

Dr. Roderick Frazier may no longer be serving the community as a dentist for low-income or uninsured residents, but he’s still finding ways to be of service in Carlisle.

Frazier retired in 2020 after nearly 20 years at Sadler Health Center, which was a position he took after more than 20 years as a dentist in the U.S. Army. In his retirement, however, he’s still finding ways to leave his mark.

The Rotary Club of Carlisle recently voted in Frazier as its president, making him the first Black president of the service organization. Frazier took some time to speak about his service and what it means to have this new position.

Q: How long have you been a member of the Rotary Club of Carlisle and why did you first join the organization?

A: I joined Rotary in the spring of 2001. To be honest, I knew nothing about Rotary other than its name and that it was a service organization. My family and I moved to Carlisle from Germany in the winter of 1996. Carlisle Barracks was my terminal duty station with the Army, and I worked at the dental clinic on post. In all my tours with the Army, we had never owned a house. So, I decided to buy a house. Carol Cunningham was my realtor. It turns out that her husband was a Rotarian, although I didn’t meet him until several years later. In 2001, her husband, Alden, approached me and said he thought that I might make a good Rotarian and to consider joining his club. He was president of the club at the time. I knew that I was going to retire from the Army soon, and I wanted to start making connections and to learn more about the community. So, I joined.

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Q: What work or experience has stood out to you so far in your tenure with club?

A: Every year something stands out to me. I have been impressed with all the members’ commitment to serve. Whether its physical or financial, young and old members will set aside time to help support our community. Every year, we have a major fundraiser aimed at helping a local nonprofit organization. We have helped with Project SHARE, Safe Harbour, served food at Salvation Army and rang the bell at Xmas. We have also read to young children, as well as provide age-appropriate books to kids. Our club consists of members who are leaders and/or are in the position where they can assess the needs of our community: to include nonprofit leaders, lawyers, clergy, medical and dental professionals, school board members, educators, business leaders, prior military and retirees who just want to help.

I should mention that Rotary is an international organization. Being so, we have also raised funds for international projects. We have funded a dental clinic in Kenya, as well as helped provide funds for clean water sources there. We are currently working on a project to provide scholarships to help feed, clothe and educate at-risk children in Yola, Nigeria. Of course, we continue to help in Rotary’ s campaign to eradicate polio from the world.

Q: What does it mean for you to be the first Black president of the Rotary Club of Carlisle?

A: First, I am humbled and honored that the club members felt they could place their trust in me to lead them through this next year. As for being the first African American president, I represent just one of the races who have endured unimaginable hardships during our history. But you know what? Service to others knows no religion, no sexual identity and no color. I just want to do the best job possible for the organization and make a positive impact on our community and our endeavors across the world.

Q: What plans do you have for the club over the next year on your watch?

A: One of Rotary’s initiatives this year is to improve diversity and inclusion among its members. This is something I have thought about for several years. I want to increase our membership not just in numbers, but also reflecting a broader spectrum of our society.

In addition, after the pandemic, I just want the club to get back to normal and have every member feel safe to return to our meetings.

Lastly, we still have fundraising planned. We have a golf fundraiser in the fall. We have our annual Xmas Auction in December. This year’s recipient is United Way’s “Success by Six” program. Every month we collect monies designated for various nonprofits. We have a large involvement with our Rotary Veteran Initiative Program, providing grants for veterans who need additional help to enroll or complete undergraduate degrees. We will continue to provide awards to high school seniors within three local school districts with our Student of the Month Program. Our Rotary District has an incoming/outgoing Exchange Student Program with multiple countries abroad. We work on improving business networking within and among clubs in our district through our Rotary Means Business Program. We will continue to work with our Rotary partners in Africa to help with improving and providing sustainable water sources, improving vision, improving oral health, as well as helping ensure the safety and well-being of at-risk kids. The list goes on and on.

Q: Why do you think it’s important to have these service clubs in the community?

A: Service clubs in general consist of members that reflect the community. Since most members live within the community, they recognize local issues, as well as the needs that may arise at any given time. We make great community advocates because we, our neighbors or friends are affected by the same issues as everyone else. We can network with our fellow organizations in other cities, states or even countries and find out what worked for them or how we can apply their successes within our own communities. Also, service clubs tend to have some older members who are altruistic and will help any way they can for worthy causes.

As a final thought to anyone who reads this article. Regardless of your ethnicity, sex, religious preference or physical ability, if you are the type of person who believes in helping others before your own self gain, then Rotary may be the organization for you.

​Email Naomi Creason at ncreason@cumberlink.com or follow her on Twitter @SentinelCreason.


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