Several Rotarians helped again this year with the distribution of food, turkey vouchers, toys and gift cards for which Rotary donated funds. All of these items were added to other gifts donated by school families and community members. Rotary worked with Lisa Meunier, school nurse at Burgess, who identified 40 Burgess families (impacting 150 individuals) going through difficult times this Christmas. The St. John Paul II Food Pantry delivered the 40 boxes of food to Burgess and the rest of the items donated were added to the boxes. Rotarians and Burgess staff members helped deliver the boxes to the cars of the recipients. While we have given this donation previously, this was our second year with hands-on delivery of the food, cards and gifts. Our efforts gave us a much closer look at the impact of our humanitarian work as Rotarians and it’s very rewarding.
Heather Weston, Director of the Sturbridge Senior Center spoke with us about Sturbridge becoming a dementia-friendly community. Her discussion included a comparison of the normal aging process versus Alzheimer’s Disease. She also explained the 10 early signs and symptoms of dementia. Heather’s plan was presented at a community Town Meeting and has been followed by training sessions with various Sturbridge Departments, restaurants, banks and churches. Further, the Senior Center holds a Memory Cafe every month which is sponsored by different organizations, corporations or individuals in the community. The Cafe offers Arts & Crafts, music, ice cream social, singing, dancing and other interactive events. The Cafe is proving to be a huge success.
It is with great pride that we recognize two more individuals as Paul Harris Fellows (PHF). Otto Prohaska, PhD has been a member of Sturbridge Rotary since 2012 and served as president in the 2016-17 Rotary year. Otto was recognized with his second PHF pin. At Otto’s side is his wife, Julie, who received her first PHF recognition. With the addition of Otto and Julie, Sturbridge Rotary has a total of 70 individuals who have received the PHF recognition with 21 of them having received it more than once. Congratulations to Otto and Julie!
It’s always a great pleasure to have PDG Jim Fusco visit the Club. Following the interactive discussion on membership, Jim reviewed the success of the Community Food Collaborative (CFC) as a joint project with the Southbridge Club through the Rotary Community Corps (RCC). The CFC garden is a great first project for the RCC and the success of the garden in its first year is very impressive and a great project for the Club to build upon.