Our History

Our Story


National Exchange Club Founded

The National Exchange Club had mid-west origins in downtown Detroit. A small group of men from the business and professional communities met regularly in a restaurant to eat a good lunch and enjoy the pleasure of each other’s company. They exchanged stories and ideas and advised each other on business matters. As time went on, it was organized as a local club, using the name “Exchange.” Community service became the focus of the club’s activity.

Word of the organization spread and three other clubs were soon established in Michigan and Ohio. In response to this growing interest, representatives of the four clubs met in Toledo in 1917 and formally incorporated as a national organization. Using inspiration from Psalm 133, “Behold how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity…”, the motto “Unity for Service” was adopted and the basic tenets of organization and purpose were established.


Exchange Club of Muncie Founded

The Exchange Club of Muncie recently celebrated its 100th anniversary. It has served Muncie since 1921 through its “four pillars” of Americanism, youth activities, community service, and, most recently, child abuse prevention. Weekly meetings provide fellowship and educational programs for its members.

A strong interest in civic affairs and programs of community service were (and continue to be) the Muncie club’s defining characteristics. The quality and variety of weekly meeting programs have always been a hallmark. Early speakers included U.S. senators and congressmen, Indiana governors, explorer Admiral Richard E. Byrd, and business leaders such as A.C. Roebuck, a founder of Sears Roebuck.


Muncie YWCA

The Muncie YWCA’s Camp Sing-a-Long was an important part of the Club’s history. The Club learned of the YWCA’s developing camping program and in 1923, purchased land on Round Pond north of Columbia City, and gave it to the Muncie YWCA for a camp. Throughout the camp’s 70-year history, The Exchange Club of Muncie was directly involved in providing labor and generous financial support for the building and maintenance of camp facilities. In later years, the club enlisted the support of the Ball Brothers Foundation through a matching gift program.

Other philanthropies of the Muncie club through the years have included sponsorship of a Boy Scout troop at the Muncie Children’s Home, support of numerous programs in the Muncie community schools, a scholarship program for the Indiana Hearing and Speech Foundation, and support of the YMCA Safety Patrol Boys at Camp Crosley. Financial support has been provided to the United Fund, the Salvation Army Christmas Fund, the Muncie Mission, the Junior Achievement program, Muncie Boys and Girls Club, Cardinal Greenway, a Better Way, and The Cornerstone Center for the Arts, and others.  The current Flags of Honor program is a major fund-raising effort for the Club’s philanthropies.


Franklin D. Roosevelt Requested Assistance

In 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt personally requested the assistance of the National Exchange Club in the urgent task of national recovery from the Great Depression. With local clubs preparing the way, National Exchange officers traveled nation-wide to promote the federal National Recovery Program, and to bring a positive message of encouragement.

Also, the National Exchange Club strongly supported the development of American commercial aviation in its early days. Local clubs promoted the establishment of permanent and emergency landing fields and advocated airmail and passenger service. The Muncie club championed the development of The Muncie airport as a means of placing our city in the front-line ranks of progress. They held a commemoration ceremony there when the first airmail-run left Muncie. Many of the Muncie club’s weekly programs were aviation-oriented. WW I flying ace Col. Harvey Weir Cook, for whom the Indianapolis Airport is named, was a speaker.


Child Abuse Prevention Focus

In 1979, the National Exchange Club adopted what is now its major focus: child abuse prevention. This societal affliction has been addressed by Exchange in many ways, including the creation of a nationwide network of Exchange Centers for the Prevention of Child Abuse.

Several areas of community service, both nationally and locally, were created in the early years of the organization and remain today:

  • Involvement in varied youth projects, including recognition of academic achievement, opportunities for underprivileged and orphaned children, and the establishment of high school Exchange clubs.
  • Crime prevention, including neighborhood watch programs, child identification and fingerprinting, and junior police programs.
    • Dedication to patriotism, including the Freedom Shrine Project, Project giveakidaflagtowave, and more recently for the Muncie Club, the Flags of Honor program.


Women Welcomed

With membership initially restricted to men, numerous social events known as Ladies Night programs were regularly held, often entertainments and dinner dances. Picnics and other outings were frequent events. An important milestone occurred in 1985, when the National Exchange Club amended its Constitution to welcome women into membership. Since that time, women have held important leadership positions at the local, district, regional, and national levels, including those of state and national presidents.


Looking to the Future

The Exchange Club of Muncie has a proud history of educational programs and fellowship for its members, and service to the community. Its distinguished record of community service is the result of loyal, hard-working, and dedicated members who have provided leadership and have embraced the goals of Exchange. Its tradition of Unity for Service will continue as the next chapters of its history are written.

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