McCrabb: Frequent world traveler has found ‘it’s a honor to be part of Rotary’

Hamilton woman recently visited a club in Northern, Ireland, delivered Hamilton Rotary banner.

HAMILTON — For a woman with extensive travel history, Karen Underwood Kramer has seen countless churches, cathedrals and castles.

After a while, they all start to look the same.

What she takes away from her visits — more than the places — are the people behind them.

Underwood Kramer, a member of the Hamilton Rotary Club, traveled last month with eight friends to Ballymena, Northern Ireland. As in customary during her travels, she made a point to visit the local Rotary club that happened to be celebrating its 80th anniversary.

She presented the president of the club a banner from the Hamilton Rotary that was founded in 1919, and during Thursday’s meeting at the Fitton Center, presented a banner from Ballymena, Northern Ireland to Kim Schmidt, president of the Hamilton club.

Besides the Ballymena Rotary Club celebrating a milestone anniversary, it made actor Liam Neeson, a Ballymena native, an honorary Rotarian. He shared his thanks via video from New York and his sisters were there to accept his award, she said.

A story with photos appeared a few days later in the local newspaper, Underwood Kramer said.

Whenever she makes plans for a large group of what she calls her “travel buddies,” they almost always want to attend a Rotary club meeting with the locals. The group has attended meetings in New Zealand, Switzerland, Scotland, England, Australia, Bahamas and around the United States.

She said her father, Richard Underwood, 94, a Hamilton Rotarian since 1971 and owner of Richard’s Pizza, has also visited other Rotary clubs throughout the world and is “a strong influence” as to why visiting other clubs is important to her.

Meeting the local Rotarians is the best way to “learn interesting things about the area we are visiting,” she said.

It’s also the most direct route to understand the people.

“As I sit at tables in other countries and talk to other Rotary members, it’s a comforting feeling to know that we, as the human population, are basically all the same,” she said.

She told Hamilton Rotarians that members of other clubs are “so friendly and welcoming” and “it’s an honor to be part of Rotary.”

No matter where you live. Or what language you speak.

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