The Sturbridge Rotary Club has been awarding scholarships each year to local students for the past 47 years. The first scholarship was for $500 and the amount awarded has steadily increased over the years. This year Sturbridge Rotary awarded scholarships of $1,000 each to six students from Tantasqua Regional High School. Cumulatively, Rotary is proud to have awarded over $214,000 in local scholarships.
This year’s recipients of Sturbridge Rotary Scholarships are Jennifer Collins, Olivia George, Jordan Lapierre, Erin Shae McCarthy, Brian Daniel Riel and Leia Krans. Leia Krans also received the $500 “Wendall Wright Memorial Award”. Wendall was an educator and long-time supporter of Rotary.
Additionally, a one-time $3,000 “Phil Carlson Memorial Award” was received by Arianna Renee Taft. Phil was a 50-year member of Rotary and served as Scholarship Chairman for many years.
These students will receive their funding upon completion of their first semester. Congratulations to all the recipients!
The Sturbridge Times Magazine recently issued their final ‘hard copy’ edition. The Magazine will now be sent electronically. The cover of the final hard copy edition was their very first edition dated July 2007. Featured on the cover was the dedication of the Rotary Centennial Park – 13 years ago! It doesn’t seem possible. Sturbridge Rotary still maintains this Park located at the corner of Rt. 20 and Cedar Street. Flowering trees, flower plants changing with the seasons and benches to sit and relax. Sturbridge Rotary continues to be an integral part of the community where we live, work and play.
The CFC committee held its monthly meeting at the garden last night after the regular work shift. We had lots to discuss on our agenda and did so while maintaining our social distancing.
The highlight of the meeting came when Sturbridge Rotary Past-District Governor Klaus Hachfeld, also a member of the CFC committee, surprised CFC President Joe Coan with a Rotary Paul Harris Fellow Recognition. This recognition is a way of honoring an individual who has gone above and beyond in doing something for the betterment of man and/or the community. In Joe’s case, the recognition was for Joe’s idea and pursuit of creating a community garden to help feed local hungry individuals. The garden is in its third year, donates everything it grows to the Saint John Paul II Food Pantry that distributes it to the local food insecure individuals in our communities. The garden is supported by the community and run totally by volunteers. The Sturbridge Rotary Club donated $1,000 to the Rotary Foundation in Joe’s name in order to honor him with a Paul Harris Fellow. Join us in congratulating Joe for this prestigious recognition.
Our friends at the Joshua Hyde Public Library in Sturbridge contacted us to see if we’d like to participate in their mini-golf fundraiser by building a hole or two. The golf holes are displayed within the aisles of the library and for only $5, anyone can play all the holes. While this sounded like a fun thing to do, we immediately thought of our partnership with Tantasqua Regional High School. After consulting with Computer Aided Design (CAD) instructor, Jillian Carty, she and her students were enthusiastic to take on this challenge. The entire class participated by coming up with their own ideas within the parameters given to us by the library and then voted on the top two CAD designs. Their results were outstanding!
The leader of BSA Troop 163 in Sturbridge spoke with us recently about her troop. Chrissy Chamberland leads this troop of girls serving female youth ages 11-17. Established in 2019 and chartered by the American Legion Post 109 in Sturbridge, Chrissy listed the troop’s impressive achievements during their first year.
The troop’s aims are Character Development, Citizenship, Fitness, and Leadership and currently have 12 scouts participating. Nationally, there are 29,776 girls in Scouts BSA with 3,198 troops for girls. Some troops have both boys and girls.
Troop member Kalea Gormley reviewed the troop’s numerous activities and camping night opportunities. Concluding the presentation, Chrissy spoke candidly about the challenges she faced when she first started the troop, however, girls in BSA are more widely recognized and accepted now. It was obvious to the Rotarians at the meeting that Troop 163 under Chrissy’s leadership will continue to grow and accomplish great things.
We are saddened to share the news of Phil Carlson’s unexpected passing. Phil joined Rotary in 1970. When he moved to Sturbridge to serve as manager of the local J.C. Penney store, Phil transferred his membership to the Sturbridge Club. Phil quickly became a well-respected Rotarian and served in many capacities during his nearly 50 years as a member of Rotary. He served as president from 1986-1987 and served on numerous Rotary committees, most recently on the Scholarship Committee. He was awarded a Paul Harris Fellow recognition for his efforts, loyalty, and participation. Phil enjoyed the contact of Rotarians and was always quick to volunteer for fundraising events and for hosting one or more members of the Group Study Exchange Program. He and his wife, Astri, attended many District Conferences as well as Rotary International Conferences in Australia, France, Scotland and Argentina. Phil epitomized the Rotary motto of “Service Above Self”. He will be held in high esteem and greatly missed not only by his Rotary family, but by his many, many friends.
Since September 1st, Rotary has been busy selling $10 tickets to win a basket full of lottery tickets worth $1,000. This fundraiser is held each year to raise funds for the Sturbridge Rotary Scholarship Program whereby we award six scholarships of $1,000 each to local seniors pursuing a college education. Any remaining funds are used for other charities our Club supports locally. We have the most fun when we sell tickets at the Craft Fair at Tantasqua Regional High School, as you can see in the pictures below. All tickets are SOLD now and the drawing for the winner will take place in early December. If you win, think of all the fun you’ll have scratching all those tickets and all the money you might win!
One of the main focus areas of Sturbridge Rotary is helping to reduce hunger in our local communities. This is the 12th year Rotary has supported donating funds to provide Thanksgiving baskets to those in need. The Tri-Community Church Collaborative serves up to 300 families each year with Thanksgiving dinners. They formed when the Food Share Program had to give up providing turkey dinners due to lack of funds and volunteers. The Tri-Community Church Collaborative first formed with eight churches but currently has only three churches helping in their effort. Catherine Chernisky is shown with a big check for $500 presented by Rotary Club secretary, Bob White. By looking at the photo, it appears Rotary chose the tallest member to present the biggest check to a short woman. As you can tell, they had a lot of fun and laughter trying to get the photo set up. When all is said and done Catherine, just remember, you don’t have to be tall to measure up! Rotary commends you for your work to help the food insecure.
Besides supporting the Thanksgiving turkey program, Sturbridge Rotary also donates funds for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners to the “Lisa’s Kids Program” at Burgess Elementary School in Sturbridge.
Rotary also formed the Rotary Community Corps with the Southbridge Rotary Club and created the all-volunteer program, the Community Food Collaborative (CFC). The goal of the CFC garden was to grow fresh, organic vegetables and donate the entire crop to the Saint John Paul II Food Pantry. In the 2018 growing season, they donated 1,524 pounds. The CFC doubled the size of the garden and in the 2019 growing season, donated 3,107 pounds with all of the work performed by local volunteers.
The St. John Paul II Food Pantry in Southbridge recently received a check for $5,000 from a distant stranger. At a recent Sturbridge Rotary Club meeting, Bill Pioppi and Co-Director Roberta Watson were presented with a check. The story unfolds during Rotary’s Annual Golf Classic at the Cohasse Country Club. A participant during the Classic learned about the great work that Sturbridge Rotary does to help the Food Pantry. The golf participant asked to learn more and to meet with folks at the Pantry. Once he learned more about the Pantry, he raised his donation to $5,000. He had two stipulations with his gift; one being that his name will remain anonymous, and two, the gift must support his passion to help the elderly in need. The Pantry will purchase gift cards with his donation to be used solely for the elderly who qualify. Sturbridge Rotary was happy to help facilitate the donation which started out with a casual conversation while playing golf.
It was a beautiful day with nearly a full slate of players for the annual Rotary Charity Golf Classic at Cohasse Country Club on Monday, August 26. With a sponsored lunch on the course, lots of prizes, an active bar for adult beverages, a great featured guest of Boston Celtics and Hall of Fame Legend, Tom “Satch” Sanders and a fabulous prime rib dinner, what more could one ask for. Winners of the Golf Classic for the third year in a row are Bob Dean, John Kingston, Joe Legendre, Jordan Dean.
We are grateful to all who played and to our many, many sponsors (see list) who supported this Golf Classic. The profit from this event will benefit many adults, students, those with food insecurity, and support for many programs of local organizations. Rotary…helping our communities while practicing the ideal of “Service Above Self”.
Tonight we had the pleasure of hosting Emma O’Coin whom we sponsored to attend the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards Conference (RYLA) in June. Another student we sponsored, Rebecca Mahon, was unable to attend this evening with Emma. Emma was one of over 200 students from 50 Clubs in Rotary District 7910 to attend the 3-day conference at Fitchburg State University. Geared primarily on leadership training, the sophomore students learned conflict management, problem solving, important communication skills with lots of breakout sessions and presentations. Emma shared her experiences on everything she learned,the challenges of the programs, the friends she made and expressed interest in being a program facilitator next year.
For the third year in a row Sturbridge Rotary together with the Sturbridge Lions and the Parks and Recreation Committee cosponsored a free concert on the Sturbridge Common. Returning was Dan Gabel and The Abletones, an 18-piece band that plays the swinging sounds of the 1940s. The Moon Maids made their first appearance this year singing a number of songs from the 40s and reminiscent of other female vocal groups of that era. We even witnessed a local couple dancing in the street to the swing music. A large crowd gathered on this perfect evening and most were keeping time to the music!
Sturbridge Rotary sponsored two Tantasqua students to attend the recent Rotary Youth Leadership Awards Conference (RYLA) held at Fitchburg State University. Over 200 sophomore students from 50 Clubs in Rotary District 7910 attend the 3-day conference that includes presentations, activities and workshops on Leadership, Ethics, Communication Skills, Problem Solving, Conflict Management, Community & Global Citizenship. These students engage in small and large groups sessions ending with a celebration and presentations on what they’ve learned from attending.
Students sponsored this year are Rebecca Mahon and Emma O’Coin. These students will attend a future Rotary meeting to share their experiences with Club members. Ainsley Maus from Tantasqua was sponsored by the Brookfield Rotary Club. Since 1993, Sturbridge Rotary has contributed $11,110 to sponsor local students attending RYLA.
Sturbridge Rotary has been awarding scholarships each year to students since 1974 with a cumulative total of $207,210. Recipients this year from Tantasqua Regional High School are Madison Porter, Thomas Goodwin, Andrew Houle, Ryan Kievra, Tyler Pourmand, Caitlyn Mills.
An additional award was presented from the Wendell Wright Scholarship Fund to Chloe Powell. This award is presented in memory of Wendell whose wife is a Sturbridge Rotarian.
All recipients were invited recently to attend a Rotary meeting at which they each shared information about themselves, their goals and inspirations.
The 6th Annual Dinner Dance Fundraiser to benefit the St. John Paul II Food Pantry and held recently. Attendees enjoyed appetizers, a great meal, raffles, and dancing. As part of the festivities, a check for $3,000 was presented to the Rev. Kenneth Cardinale for the Pantry. The Pantry serves over 400 families each month so this donation will be put to good use to feed families in need. To date, the Sturbridge Rotary Club has raised $18,000 from the Dinner Dances for this worthy cause. Shown presenting the check is Club President Austin Jenkins and Rev. Cardinale.
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!