In May of 1940, Pawling’s Rotary Club was established to serve the Pawling community by raising funds to support organizations, non-profits, and projects with missions that were devoted to the betterment of the community and the lives of those who lived within it. This May, if you haven’t already done the math, Pawling’s Rotary will be celebrating its 75th anniversary. That’s 75 years of quietly doing good for our little town.
As I have gotten to know the folks of Rotary, I thought it would be a wonderful idea if this month’s column focused on them… and the many ways in which Pawling’s Rotary Club focuses on all of us.
I sat down with Richard Harshbarger, the current club President, and had a wonderful and enlightening conversation about all the things that Rotary does, particularly for Pawling’s youth, which is the renewed focus of their mission.
Partnering with Pawling’s Recreation Department, Rotary advises, mentors, and helps to financially support the Interact Club of Pawling. (They are the amazing group of 75 high school students who devote themselves to community service projects throughout the school year.) Rotary’s annual Dictionary Project provides Webster dictionaries to all of Pawling’s third graders, both in our public and private schools. Rotary sponsors Career Day in the spring, in which local businesses open their doors to high school students for observation and some hands-on experience and exposure to the world of work and career choice, followed by a luncheon for all participating students and business mentors. The Rotary Youth Leadership Award (R.Y.L.A.) has been offered annually to two high school students from Pawling. This award will now be offered to five student participants, which is the maximum allowed from any single club. R.Y.L.A. is a Rotary International program. Winners of this award participate in a week-long leadership event, focusing on team building, which takes place on the campus of Mount St. Mary’s College in Newburgh, New York. Application for this valuable and highly anticipated workshop will become available early in the new year.
New to Rotary’s long list of annual events is the highly successful Chocolate Festival, which made its debut this past November, raising funds this year for Camp Sundown, which provides recreational opportunity for children suffering from Xeroderma Pigmentosum. Of course, there is also the Annual Rotary Golf Outing, which raises funds to support much of Rotary’s annual giving, including the donations offered to many local organizations that serve and support the youth in our community. These donations are granted during Rotary’s annual Christmas luncheon. Rotary also offers annual college scholarships.
Pawling’s Rotary Club is aligned with Rotary International. There are 1.2 million Rotarians worldwide… in 200 countries… totaling 33,000 clubs…all service-focused. The Rotary Foundation, which is supported by local club and individual contributions, “does big projects”, like eradicating Polio around the world. There is a place for everyone at the Rotary table. All you need is a desire to make a difference … right here in our own community. To contact the good folks at Rotary, click on the link to their web site right here on PPR’s web site under Links of Local Interest on the side bar, or log onto pawlingrotary.org., or e-mail Dick Harshbarger at firstname.lastname@example.org.