Waseca County Pioneer 111 W. Elm Ave.

Waseca, MN (507) 837-6767


Regional Exchange leader Katie Smith with Waseca Exchange Club president Mikhail Rosistlavovich and vice president Amy Schmidt. Thanks to significant growth and accomplishments, the Waseca Exchange Club and Rostislavovich were acknowledged with two major awards. 

Waseca Exchange Club wins regional awards

Since 1982, Waseca has had an Exchange Club affiliated with the national organization whose declared mission is “Inspiring our communities to be better places to live.”
The local club had been on a bit of a downward slope in the past few years, however. July of last year, it had only five members, and signs seemed to indicate it would not last much longer.
Enter Mikhail Rostislavovich.
Rostislavovich, 69, has lived in Waseca since 2022, after he and his brother acquired and renovated a 1916 brick house on North State Street. Retired from a career which reached national-level politics, Rostislavovich has worked for presidents. He tells that, as he considered retiring, he made a personal commitment “to give back.”
“I decided I was going to spend as many hours volunteering as I had spent working during my career,” Rostislavovich describes. “Doing so is my way of saying thank you for the life I have been able to live.”
Based on his interests and skills, he began joining area organizations, among them the Waseca Masons Tuscan Lodge No. 77, The Waseca Arts Council Board of Directors, Rotary, Waseca County Historical Society Board of Directors, and the Waseca Exchange Club Board of Directors.
He says the Exchange mission aligned with his own philosophy. He also felt a connection with each of the four “pillars” the organization has declared: supporting youth, community service, Americanism and the prevention of child abuse.
For all those reasons, he brought his leadership skills to the fading Waseca club and proceeded to make a gigantic difference. Since he joined last August, the club has gone from 5 to 18 members. It has performed numerous community service and support projects, including choosing high school youth as “students of the month,” making them eligible for local and national scholarships. The organization took part in the “Take a Bite Out of Hunger” campaign in April.  It named Waseca police chief Penny Vought as its law enforcement officer of the year and arranged a ceremony to present her with the award on May 16. A dedication ceremony was held May 28 to dedicate a “Freedom Shrine” at the county courthouse; displaying many of the nation’s founding documents, the shrine’s purpose is to strengthen and renew people’s understanding of our country’s fundamental principles.
All of these accomplishments garnered the local club two major District 10 awards: Rostislavovich was named “Exchangite of the Year” while the Waseca organization picked up “Outstanding Club of the Year.” There were 8 applications in the first category, 9 in the second. Winners were selected based on a scoring grid completed by leaders from all across the district.
According to regional leader Katie Smith, “Lakes and Prairies District 10” includes all clubs in Minnesota and Iowa along with some in Nebraska, a total of 17. The wins were announced during the district convention, held in Rochester from May 16 to 19. Plaques were presented to Rostislavovich and to recently installed Waseca vice president Amy Schmidt during the convention. A traveling banner will be in the club’s possession to display at meetings for the next year.
Smith commented that, having won the district awards, both Rostislavovich and the Waseca club are under consideration at the national level. That convention will be July 10 to 13 in San Antonio, Texas.
Of his decision to devote so much time to the Waseca Exchange Club, Rostislavovich said he feels a close affinity to all four of the organization’s “pillars,” perhaps especially to the prevention of child abuse. For much of his childhood, Rostislavovich was in the custody of caretakers who  mistreated him cruelly. “That has to end in our lifetime,” he said. “It is a cause that deserves a great deal of attention.”
Regional leader Smith credited the club’s district title to the growth in membership and the variety of programs implemented under the guidance of Rostislavovich. She particularly complimented the club’s Facebook page, managed by Schmidt, saying national leaders have taken note of its timeliness and practical format.


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