Monday, December 11, 2023

Rotary at 100: Local & world projects + fun

By Cathy DeDe, Chronicle Managing Editor

Glens Falls Rotary Club celebrates its 100th anniversary year with a community party in downtown Glens Falls on Saturday, Oct. 1.

GF Rotary is locally famous for its Fried Dough Truck — It’s a major fund-raiser for the club. Members get right into it. Pictured: Rotarians Neil Lebowitz and Captain Leo Lloyd of the Glens Falls Salvation Army last Saturday at the Adirondack Balloon Festival. Chronicle Photo/Cathy DeDe

“Rotary is an amazing group of people, and I am inspired by them all the time,” says Jennifer Brink, current president of the Glens Falls Club.

On the occasion of its centennial, Ms. Brink told The Chronicle, “We are so appreciative of the opportunity to share with the public what we do, and hopefully this will inspire others to either join Rotary, or just to get out and volunteer for the things they care most about!”

“Rotary projects locally and around the world tackle big issues,” Ms. Brink said.

She cites “the seven major areas of focus of Rotary International and of our Club locally —

“Peace and conflict resolution, maternal and child health, the environment, water quality and sanitation, literacy and education, economic development, and disease prevention.”

Ms. Brink says, “In order to tackle huge problems, we all have to keep our energy up, and work together with a positive motivation. So Rotary tackles serious problems with a can-do, warm spirit.”

The Glens Falls club has 78 members, including five honorary members. “We welcome anyone over age 18, says Ms. Brink. “Members generally live in the local Glens Falls-Queensbury, area.

“For younger people, we run an InterAct Club at Glens Falls High School.” Short for “International Action,” it’s Rotary International’s high school program.

“The amazing coordinator and leader of this club is GFHS language teacher Shannon McKeighan,” Ms. Brink adds.
‘Not a one-trick pony’

“Rotary is no one-trick pony, says club member John Fitzgerald, who is co-organizer with Jean Lapper of the 100th year celebration. “It it is a multi-faceted organization both locally and nationally/internationally.”

The Glens Falls club raised nearly $100,000 in 2021 — “all of which was given back to the community,” Ms. Brink said — raised through its fried bread dough truck and other efforts.

“We keep abreast of the Rotary International focus areas, and keep those as our central efforts, while being sensitive to immediate needs in our local community, when needed.”

Mr. Fitzgerald adds, “We provide local and community service in the following focus areas, and in many more as the need arises in the community.”

Mr. Fitzgerald and Ms. Brink listed many including the following:

• Promoting peace. Rotary encourages conversations to foster understanding within andacross cultures, including our support for a local Ukrainian family in Glens Falls.

• Fighting disease: The Polio Plus Campaign.

• Providing clean water, sanitation, and hygiene: Large scale promotion of Clean Water projects both locally and on site in the Caribbean and Central America. The Club worked with a global grant to provide clean water home filtration systems to families in Haiti and Honduras, and partnered with Pure Water for the World to create a facility in Haiti that can produce these simple, effective home water filtration systems to keep the project self-sustaining.

• Saving mothers and children: Rotary Gift of Life providing emergency medical services to international children in need and to families in the Capital Region.

• Books and education: Rotary partners with the Ben Osborn Fund to distribute books. Among other efforts, they stock 32 free book stations from Schuylerville to Lake George and everywhere in between, for children of all ages and adults. Rotarians visit the stations once a month or more, freshen the book supply, ensure there are good things for all ages, and procure donations from many sources to keep the books coming. Club members have also repaired, painted, and maintained the book stations to keep them operational and attractive.

• Growing local economies.

• Protecting the environment: The Composting Seminars Project, Tree Sapling Programs.

• The Club sponsors the Rotary 5k Corporate Challenge, this coming year on Saturday, April 22, 2023, which gets families out and moving, and also raises thousands of dollars for local charities.

• Rotarians support the Salvation Army, ringing bells at holiday time, and stuffing and delivering food boxes for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

• During the pandemic, Past Club President David Bogue worked very hard with many other club members on a food box delivery program with the Salvation Army. They delivered hundreds of food boxes to needy people all over Warren and Washington County, and coordinated multiple drive-through food banks.

• Our ‘Warm the Children’ project, which partners with the Post-Star and JC Penney to provide custom shopping for families in need of winter clothes, just passed the milestone of having raised $1 million over the past 30 years.

• We have planted trees, pick up litter twice a year along local roadways, have donated socks to “Joy of Sox” providing homeless people with clean socks….the list goes on.

• The Club held an Air Show that raised tens of thousands of dollars for Glens Falls Hospital, while also creating a large public event that was enjoyed by all.

Internationally, Ms. Brink said, “Many of our members attend the annual conventions,” which alternate annually between the United States and around the world. The 2023 convention is in Melbourne, Australia.

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