Charles A. Berkey is credited with the founding of this great organization. At his suggestion, the name “Exchange” was selected because the group wanted to exchange ideas and information with like-minded individuals about how to better serve their communities.
The first local Exchange Club was formed in Detroit, Michigan, in 1911. The second was the Exchange Club of Toledo, Ohio, formed in 1913. Subsequently, two others were organized in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Cleveland, Ohio. These four clubs were the first to be chartered by The National Exchange Club after it was organized as a nonprofit, educational organization in 1917.
Exchange Clubs sponsor activities under the organization’s Programs of Service – Americanism, Youth Programs and Community Service – as well as its National Project, the prevention of child abuse. Each year, communities benefit from the promotion of pride in our great country, college scholarships, youth mentoring, service to the underprivileged, and other services tailored to serve the needs of its citizens.
In addition to these programs, The National Exchange Club has been at the forefront of significant developments in American history, including the early days of aviation progress. The spirit of patriotism, along with a desire to heighten awareness of our rich religious heritage, placed Exchange in a position of leadership with other organizations that led to the addition of the words “Under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954.
EXCHANGE'S NATIONAL PROJECT
The National Exchange Club’s National Project, the prevention of child abuse, was adopted in 1979 with the encouragement of National President Dr. Edward North, Jr., a physician from Jackson, Mississippi, who observed increased incidences of abuse through his medical practice.
WOMEN IN EXCHANGE
On July 4, 1985, at Exchange’s 67th Annual Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the organization’s national constitution was amended, thus opening membership to women.
At the Convention, National President Fred Harron presented to the delegates the recommendation of the National Board of Directors that Exchange’s bylaws be changed to permit women members.
“The law relating to the admission of women into Exchange in Minnesota and at least 36 other states is quite clear,” Harron said to the convention attendees. “Our friends, the Jaycees confirmed that when they spent in excess of a million dollars in legal fees in their unsuccessful attempt to challenge the question all the way to the United States Supreme Court. So we have three choices: either admit women into Exchange; spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight a losing battle in the courts; or else close up shop and get out of town in those states which insist we let the ladies in.”
“Faced with these choices and the fact that the role of women in our society has changed so dramatically since our constitution was first written, your Board of Directors decided there was only one proper choice to be made,” he continued. The delegates agreed and their affirmative vote ended a 10-year long debate and opened a new chapter in the history of Exchange.
Since that historic decision, thousands of women have joined the ranks of America’s Premier Service Club, helping Exchange make even greater progress in its community service and expansion efforts. Two of them reached the highest office, National President: Pamela Sudlow, 2003-2004; and Margaret Miller, 2010-2011.
Every day, in cities and towns across America, Exchange Club members are dynamically transforming the Exchange ideal of “Unity for Service” into direct and positive action, enhancing the lives of their fellow citizens from coast to coast. From a handful of members in Detroit, Michigan, at the turn of the century, Exchange has developed into a progressive national service organization comprised of tens of thousands of dedicated men and women.
From a handful of members in Detroit, Michigan, at the turn of the 20th century, Exchange has developed into a progressive national service organization comprised of tens of thousands of dedicated men and women serving their local communities and advancing the motto of “Unity for Service.”
Exchange is “America’s Service Club”. From the organization’s earliest days, Exchange Clubs have been unselfishly serving their communities and improving the quality of life. The diverse array of Exchange-sponsored programs and projects has made a considerable impact on America, enhancing the lives of countless men, women and children across the nation.
Exchange’s National Headquarters is located in Toledo, Ohio, where the staff’s primary objective is to help Exchange Clubs realize their full potential of community service.