Welcome to the Rotary Club of Westfield, NJ

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Club News
At a regular meeting of the Rotary Club of Westfield on Tuesday, February 20, 2024, Rotarian Mark Wright explained how the RYE program works. The RYE program creates worlds of possibilities, leadership skills, lifelong memories, and new friendships for both students and the families they live with during their time away. Designed for high school students aged 15 to 18.5 at the time of departure, over 9,000 students around the globe participate in the program each year and the RYE program offers a fun, yet safe way to travel and immerse yourself in another country and culture.
Don’t miss the Rotary Club of Westfield’s 57th annual Breakfast with the Bands, Saturday, March 2.  “We’re looking forward to another great year of hearing great music, coming together as a community, and of course, pancakes,” said event chair Lauren Barr. “Because of the support of the Westfield community, our club has been able to give more than $3 million dollars to 1,800 Westfield students since 1967.”
 
The breakfast will take place from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Westfield High School, featuring performances by top bands from Westfield High School, Edison Intermediate School and Roosevelt Intermediate School.
 
Tickets are $10 and available from Rotarians or at the door. All proceeds benefit Rotary’s scholarship program. Enjoy great music, great food, while supporting great causes!
 
This year’s event is sponsored by: Shruti Shukla, D.D.S.; Children’s Specialized Hospital, Phelan, Frantz, Olig, Wegbreit;. Fanwood Animal Hospital; Spencer Savings Bank; Mary Ellen O’Boyle and Maxwell’s Furniture Restoration.

On Tuesday, Feb 6th, 2024, the Rotary Club of Westfield hosted Past District Governor Dr. D. Michael Hart who told the story of how Rotary started.

Paul Harris as a young lawyer, started the first Rotary club in Chicago in 1905 with three other business colleagues. Since they rotated the meeting place between their offices, they decided to call themselves the Rotary Club.

At that time, the United States did not have federal protections for consumers. The free market operated as “Caveat Emptor”, which is Latin for “Let the Buyer Beware”. If you bought a bad product, you could not return it or get a refund. It was hard to decide which business people you could trust. Paul Harris decided that the club would consist of one ethical, trustworthy person from each profession: one lawyer, one butcher, one coal vendor, etc. The club would have an ethical code. He focused on the owner or head manager of each business. It became very prestigious to be invited to join the Rotary Club. This was a group of highly ethical business people you could trust.

The autobiography of how Paul Harris started Rotary is detailed in his book “My Road to Rotary” published in 1945.

After more than 125 years of service to the community, The Woman’s Club of Westfield is passing on their legacy to the Rotary Club of Westfield to continue their longstanding scholarship program.

The Woman’s Club of Westfield started in 1895 with 40 women members. Miss Emma Bridges was the first president. In 1896, the Club joined the New Jersey State Federation of Woman’s Clubs and the General Federation of Woman’s Clubs. They purchased a building in Westfield on Euclid Avenue for their meetings in the 1950’s, but sold it in the 1990’s as membership began to decline.

On Tuesday, November 14, the Westfield Rotary Club heard a speaker about the terror of Polio. We all saw how fast another virus- COVID - spread around the world in just a few months. Polio was the most feared infectious disease in the 20th century. The Polio Virus infects the nerves going to muscles of young children, and paralyses them.

Entire hospital wards were filled with children in “Iron Lungs” to help them breathe. The song “Just a Spoonful of Sugar” in Mary Poppins was written about the polio vaccine being administered in sugar cubes the 1950’s. The board game “Candy Land” was created for children who were stuck in Polio wards for years.

On Tuesday, November 7, 2023 Marla Itzkin, the Associate Director for Communications and Development of the Westfield Area Y, spoke to the Rotary Club of Westfield about the history of the Y in Westfield over the past 100 years.

 

The Rotary Club of Westfield was 3 years old when the Y Board decided to build the structure on Clark Street. The Rotary Club helped raise the funds to build the Y, and met there for probably about 80 years. The Rotary Club has a close relationship to the Y, and provides community grants to them every year.

On Saturday, Oct 14, 2023 the representatives of six Rotary clubs delivered needed supplies to the homeless veterans living at Lyons VA Administration, building 53, in Lyons, NJ. This Rotary program was started by Westfield Rotarian Burim Regjaj, and has been running for 4 years. The program is designed to help homeless military veterans, and five other Rotary clubs have joined the effort.

Rotary International President Gordon McInally has made addressing mental health a priority for Rotary Clubs this year. Past District Governor Dr. Michael Hart feels that as a society we have an obligation to take care of our veterans whose health has been damaged by their service. These men and women put their lives at risk to protect our freedom. More than that, they put their health at risk, and now may be damaged mentally with PTSD.

On Tuesday, Oct 10, 2023, Past Rotary District Governor Dr. D. Michael Hart spoke to the Rotary Club of Caldwell about joining a program the Westfield Rotary Club has been running for 5 years. The program is designed to help homeless military veterans. It was started by Westfield Rotarian Burim Regjaj.
 
18 American military veterans commit suicide every day. That’s 6,570 suicides per year. More than four times as many than we lost in all the wars since September 11th, 2001.  In that time period, the US has lost 7,057 soldiers in wars; but 30,177 to soldier suicides.

On Saturday, October 7, 2023, the Rotary Club of Westfield collected 69 bicycles and 4 sewing machines to send to the developing world. Saturdays collection will be divided between Togo in West Africa, or Belize, in central America.

This program was started by an American working with the Peace Corps in Ecuador. He noticed that a carpenter with a bicycle was a lot more productive than another carpenter who had to walk and carry his tools everywhere. This gave him the idea to start shipping used bikes to the third world. A bicycle will enable a person to get to work easier or produce more, if they run a small business. Children may be able to ride longer distances in order to attend school. When a person gets a sewing machine, they could start their own small business, and be able to support a family.

State Senator Jon Bramnick spoke to the Rotary Club of Westfield on August 15, 2023. The senator discussed many local issues including the need for balance and compromise in politics. Dubbed New Jersey's funniest Lawyer, Mr. Bramnick has an upcoming show at NJPAC this fall. He is pictured here with Club President Barbara Frantz. The Rotary Club of Westfield meets the first three Tuesdays of each month at noon at Limani Seafood Restaurant in Westfield, Guests are welcome.
 
Friday evening, June 9, the Rotary Club of Westfield Foundation awarded $94,450 in scholarships to 16 students. Since 1967 the Rotary has awarded over $3.4 million dollars in scholarships to approximately 1800 students.
 
Carl Peer, Esq is the chair of the Rotary Club Foundation Scholarship Committee, He complimented the outstanding caliber of the student applicants. Carl reviewed the three requirements to receive a Rotary scholarship: a strong Academic background to demonstrate future success in college; Financial need; and Service to the community.
On Tuesday, June 6, 2023, at a regular Rotary meeting, two high school exchange students spoke to the club members. The student from Brazil is completing her year here, and the other student is planning a year trip to Argentina this coming school year, starting in August.
 
Rotary Club Exchange Committee Chair Mark Wright commented that about 8,000 high school students will be spending a year in another country through this Rotary International Youth Exchange Program. Rotary is located in 166 countries throughout the world. Mark commented that this is a life - changing program for teenagers. The student needs to be very brave to go to a strange land for a year on their own. Mark’s father was in the Rotary when he was growing up, and Mark spent a year in Germany with the program, which had a profoundly positive effect on his life.
The Rotary Club of Westfield honored the recipients of the Philhower and Steengrafe Fellowships at their regular meeting luncheon on Tuesday, May 16, 2023. Each award includes a stipend of $500.
 
Wilson Elementary School 1st grade teacher Marie Morris is the 2023 recipient of the Philhower Fellowship in recognition of outstanding teaching at the elementary school level.  At the same time, Franklin Elementary School head custodian Jesse Rodriguez received the Steengrafe Award, introduced this year by the Rotary Club to recognize non-certificated staff for their dedication and commitment.
Gerry Cooney, former Heavyweight Professional Boxer was the Speaker at Westfield Rotary’s Lunch on May 9. Mr. Cooney, a Fanwood resident, talked to the club about his professional boxing career, his triumphant battle with addiction and his recently released autobiography "Gentleman Gerry, A Contender in the Ring, A Champion in Recovery". Pictured are Rotary Club of Westfield President Tony LaPorta (left) and and “Gentleman“ Gerry Cooney. The Rotary Club of Westfield meets the first three Tuesdays at Limani Seafood Restaurant.

At the regular Rotary meeting on Tuesday, noon, April 11, 2023, the members of the Rotary Club of Westfield heard about how a young man is making a difference to help people.

John El-Maraghy was a student at Rutgers and noticed that during covid, the men’s shelter in New Brunswick shut down the showers. He and his wife decided to do something about that to help the homeless men in New Brunswick. They started a 501c3 to provide a mobile van which offered the homeless men the ability to take showers. It also includes a barbershop. They started in New Brunswick once a week, but have expanded to include Newark once a month, and hope to expand to Hoboken and Orange. After the shower, they offer a care package including socks, T shirts and toiletries.

On Tuesday, April 4, 2023 at a regular Rotary Club meeting, Breakfast with the Bands event chair Barbara Frantz bestowed the Golden Pancake Award to Rotarian Warren Rorden.

This award is given every year to the individual who exhibits dedication above and beyond normal expectations for the annual Rotary fundraiser called Breakfast with the Bands, formerly called Rotary Pancake Day.

The proceeds of this fundraiser go to college scholarships and community grants. Musical groups form Westfield High School, Roosevelt Middle School and Edison Middle School performed. Last year the Rotary Club of Westfield awarded $117,400 in college scholarships and $26,000 in Community Grants. The Club has been running this event every year since 1967. Approximately 400 people attended the event this year.

The Rotary Club would like to especially thank the sponsors of the event: Mary Ellen O’Boyle - Prominent Properties Sotheby’s; Children’s Specialized Hospital; Fanwood Animal Hospital; Phelan, Frantz, Ohlig & Wegbreit, Esq; Dr Shruti Shukla, DDS at Great Smiles General Dentistry; Westfield Area YMCA; Raymond Kostyack, Wells Fargo Advisors; Steven Lowe; Maxwell’s Furniture Restoration; Northfield Bank; Spencer Savings Bank; Star Painting; Warren and Ginny Rorden; Westfield Financial Planning; and David & Shuang Wroe.

On Tuesday, April 4, 2023, at a regular meeting, the Rotary Club of Westfield inducted two new members: Vincent Luongo and Michael Kaufman.

Rotary is an organization of successful local business people who want to “give back” to the community. The Rotary Club of Westfield has projects to address local hunger issues, help homeless veterans, collect used bicycles for the third world, raise funds for Ukrainian refugees in eastern Europe, accept exchange students from Brazil and Australia, provide scholarships to Westfield college students and community grants to other local organizations.

On Tuesday, March 21, 2023, Dr. Raymond González spoke to the Westfield Rotary Club about the Westfield Public School District, his experience in education, the roles of the Board of Education and district administration, and the upcoming public vote on the school district operating budget for the 2023-2024 school year.

On Tuesday, March 14th, 2023, at a regular Rotary Club of Westfield meeting, Westfield Fire Chief Michael Duelks and Battalion Chief Brian Piccola spoke to the members about fire safety and the various roles the fire department plays in town.

Police Chief Christopher Battiloro spoke to the Rotary Club of Westfield on Tuesday, February 14, 2023, about issues in Westfield. The number one crime issue in Westfield is car thefts. His advice is to lock your cars, take your keys inside and lock your house.

According to the chief, thieves will typically enter Westfield in a stolen car with four or five occupants, including minors. They go up and down the streets, checking door handles for unlocked vehicles. They do not break into cars, and do not “hot wire” them. When they find luxury cars open with the key fob inside, the thief does not need to find the fob - they just push the start button, start the car, and drive off. There have also been incidents where thieves used an unlocked vehicle with no fob inside, to open garage doors gaining access to the home for theft of the keys and vehicles. Due to the combination of a large concentration of luxury vehicles and easy access to highways, Westfield is the perfect place to steal cars according to the chief. He said that Newark is the center of the car thief rings, where the cars are brought and loaded onto ships to be sent overseas for sale.

Chief Battiloro says that he has taken measures to reduce car theft. First is public awareness- he asks residents to lock their cars and houses. Next, the town has mounted 15 license plate readers around town, which are able to scan the license plates and report stolen cars coming into town to the police department. Since they started this process, the car thefts have dropped by 50%.

On Tuesday, November 15, former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman spoke to the Rotary Club of Westfield, NJ regarding her work with the US Democracy Center and her foundation of the Forward Party, a centrist movement advocating for a ranked choice voting system, non-partisan primaries and independent redistricting commissions in the United States.
 

Marilyn Ryan was presented with the prestigious Jean Harris Award at a recent meeting of the Rotary Club of Westfield. This award is given to a non- Rotarian who does exceptional service to the community. It is a District wide award. The Rotary District 7475 comprises of 77 clubs through 9 counties in northern New Jersey.

District Awards Chair David Breidinger, from the Rotary Club of Trenton, presented this award on June 7, 2022.

Past President and Rotary Club Foundation Chair Liz Ensslin nominated Marilyn because she has worked closely with her for many years through the Rotary’s food program to feed the hungry. Her remarks are as follows:

“Marilyn has dedicated her entire life to those in need. After earning a bachelor’s degree in education from Seton Hall University in South Orange, Marilyn embarked on a 20-year career as a teacher in the parochial school systems in both Elizabeth and Linden. She returned to school and became a licensed practical nurse, working in the Rahway Hospital Pediatrics Unit for the next 12 years.  In 1985, she assumed the position of Pastoral Associate at Parish Community of Saint Helen in Westfield. In this role Marilyn coordinates many Outreach Programs and Eucharistic Ministry.  Marilyn is the coordinator of the Helping Hands and Hearts Program, which is designed to provide temporary financial or material assistance to those in need in our community.  Marilyn serves on the advisory board of Sister Pat’s Camp for Kids with Cancer in New York and is an Emeritus Member of the Board of St. Joseph’s Social Center in Elizabeth.  What is most important to know about Marilyn is that she is truly one of the most selfless people we know. The poor, the hungry and those in need always come first.  She is the driver of our Soup Kitchens, Food Pantry, Service Auction and many other ministries.

When it comes to her work, Marilyn leads by example.  She empowers others to lead their ministries for the poor and disadvantaged, but she also never hesitates to roll up her sleeves, pack Thanksgiving Baskets or deliver gifts to the poor. Marilyn knows first-hand that to “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”  Her legacy is not only the work she does herself but the work she supports and empowers others to do. While we think of Marilyn delivering to those in need, we also deeply value the support she provides to members of our community who are suffering from illness, grief or a family crisis. She has truly touched the hearts of many and taught us how to serve others and be an advocate for others less fortunate than ourselves.”

Many guests attended the meeting and gave Marilyn accolades for her dedicated service to the community and surrounding avenues.

The Rotary Club of Westfield meets the first three Tuesdays of the month at noon at Limani Restaurant on North Ave. Guests are always Welcome.  For information check the Rotary Club website at www.westfieldrotary.org or contact secretary Michael Hart by email drmhart@yahoo.com

Photo: left to right: District Awards Chair David Breidinger, Jean Harris Award recipient Marilyn Ryan, Rotary Club Foundation Chair Liz Ensslin.

Westfield Rotarians loaded a cargo van with over 3,000 books collected by McKinley and Jefferson Schools Early Clubs and Roosevelt Intermediate's Interact Club.  The books were driven to Hartford, CT to go on a shipping container leaving for Obike, Nigeria.  The books collected are for the new schools being built by Fr. Kingsley's (center in 1st photo) charity DMIWOO (Divine Mercy International Widows and Orphans Organization).
https://dmiwoo.org
 
 
It was an honor for our club to have District Governor Shelby Rhodes come to help us with Breakfast with the Bands this past weekend. You can see her cutting fruit!
On Tuesday, January 11, 2022, at the regular weekly Rotary meeting, the Rotary Club of Westfield, NJ inducted two new members: Stephan Specht and Mark Wright. Rotary is a business networking and service club for successful business people who wish to “give back” to their communities. The Westfield Club has 47 members, and there are 1.3 million Rotarians in 33,000 Rotary clubs in 166 countries worldwide.
 
Stephan Specht is a Rotarian transfer from Germany and moved to Westfield last summer with his family.  Mark Wright was born and raised in Vermont and is the son of a Rotarian dentist and a high school math teacher.  
 
Welcome to you both!
 
Photo: Left to Right:  New member Mark Wright; Past District Governor Dr. D. Michael Hart; Bianca Wright; new member Stephan Specht; President elect Barbara Frantz; President Blake Width.
 
Westfield Rotarians mourn the loss of fellow Rotarian, Nancy Jackson. Nancy joined the club in 1998 and earned 4 Paul Harris recognitions. She is Past President and served for many years as club secretary as well as on the scholarship committee.  Nancy was one of the first women to join Rotary and loved all things Rotary.  She will be remembered for her dedication to the club and for being a role model for new members.
 
Rotary Club Awards 2021 Scholarships
 
WESTFIELD -- The Rotary Club of Westfield is proud to announce 20 scholarship awards to Westfield residents totaling $117,400. The awards were given at the Westfield High School awards night on May 26.
 
"It is always wonderful to award scholarships to hardworking and deserving Westfield students. This year's applicant group was incredibly impressive," Rotary Scholarship Committee Chair Carl Peer said. "As part of Rotary's commitment to education, these scholarships have funded over $3 million dollars of higher learning since 1967."
 
The scholarships, which are funded by various means, are administered by The Rotary Club of Westfield and awarded based on academic excellence, financial need, and the student's commitment to community service.
 
Harry Sturcke Scholars are: Rebekkah Dayon who will attend Montclair State University ($7,000); Martha Byrne who will attend Notre Dame ($7,000); Timothy O'Brien who will attend Washington College ($4,000) and Emily Bergerman who will attend Boston University ($4,000). The scholarship funding is overseen by the Westfield Rotary Club Foundation.
 
The Robert and Winifred Read Health Science Scholarship in memory of Linda Read was awarded to Aidan Bertsch ($1,000) who will attend University of Wisconsin; Joy Mulzoff who will attend James Madison University ($8,000) and Gianna Grace Magniamele who will attend Franklin and Marshall College ($1,000). The scholarship funding is overseen by the Westfield Foundation.
 
The Chester A. Gerdes Scholar award was given to Eva Terry who will attend the University of Virginia ($5,000). The scholarship funding is overseen by the Westfield Foundation.
 
Sebastian Wroe who will attend Stevens Institute of Technology and Dilany Santamaria, who will attend Brigham Young University-Provo were each awarded the four year $15,000 scholarship in memory of Charles and Florence Wallace. A $5,000 scholarship in memory of the Wallaces was also award to Katherine Wistner who will attend the University of Pittsburg. The scholarship funding is overseen by the Westfield Foundation.
 
Andrew Pink, who will attend Ohio University and Ralph Cerrero, who will attend Penn State were each awarded the $6,000 Georgianna Pollack Scholar. The scholarship funding is overseen by the Westfield Rotary Club Foundation.
 
A $3,400 scholarship in memory of Phil Richardson was awarded to Liam Robb, who will attend Mitchell College. The scholarship funding is overseen by the Westfield Rotary Club Foundation.
The 2021 Rotary Scholars are: Michaela Hobson (Roger Williams University $6,000), Elizabeth Bielen (Lehigh University $5,000), Dilany Santamaria (Brigham Young University-Provo $3,000) and Maxwell Zander Scialabba (College of Arts and Sciences Cornell University $1,000). The scholarship funding is overseen by the Westfield Rotary Club Foundation.
 
Additionally, two Robert and Winifred Read Health and Law Scholarships were awarded to Xenia Kobori (University of Toronto $10,000) and Caroline Bielen (University of Pittsburgh $5,000) who reside in the Town of Westfield and who are interested in pursuing a law degree. The scholarship funding is overseen by the Westfield Foundation.
 
The Rotary Club of Westfield is a service organization of business men and women. Website www.westfieldrotary.com  It is part of an International Organization of 1.2 million people in 200 countries around the world. www.rotary.org Local projects include hunger insecurity, helping homeless veterans, planting trees, supporting youth service clubs in the schools, and scholarships. Guests are always welcome to attend meetings. For information contact Club Secretary Dr. D. Michael Hart at drmhart@yahoo.com
The Rotary Club of Westfield, in cooperation with the Rotary Club of Morristown and General Needs veterans service organization, has been visiting and supporting veterans housed at the Hope for Veterans® Transitional Housing housing program on the campus of Lyons VA hospital. These veterans are in the process of recovering from homelessness.  The Hope for Veterans program, operated by Community Hope, provides transitional housing as well as services such as mental health therapy, access to employment and educational resources and placement in permanent housing for these men and women.
 
But they also need to know that our community has not forgotten their service to our country. The Rotary effort helps to communicate this in a tangible way. Each week, Rotary volunteers are delivering a special luncheon for 80 veterans each week as a way to brighten their day and tell them that we remember. The meals are prepared by local restaurants.
 
To support this effort and other programs to feed the less fortunate in our community, please CLICK  HERE and donate to the Westfield Rotary Club Foundation. Donations are especially welcome now because every dollar donated fighting hunger, up to $10,000 will be matched by a special gift from one Rotary member.
 
As One veteran said "OMG, someone didn't forget us with all this virus and stuff!"
 
We must not and will not forget our veterans. 
 
 
Dressed for the Occasion!
 
Rotarian  collecting meals at 5 Star Catering and Deli.
 
 
 
Disadvantaged families are continually in crisis. When schools closed due to COVID, the school lunches many students depended on were not available, and they weren't receiving the “second lunch Tuesday” sandwiches Westfield schools have provided for many years. So Westfield Rotarians stepped up to help fill this critical need by distributing food to families directly and through St Joseph’s Social Service Center/The Elizabeth Coalition. Some of the food that was collected is shown in the photo below.
 
While schools have thankfully reopened, we continue to support other programs to feed the less fortunate in our community.  Please CLICK  HERE and donate to the Westfield Rotary Club Foundation. 
 
 
 
 
Rotary International News
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Members of a Korean Rotary Club help at a dog shelter

More than US$2 million collected for Turkey, Syria after earthquake

Rotary members continue to provide relief a year later to those affected

Club Meetings

We meet in person at Limani Seafood Grill on North Ave, at Noon the first three Tuesdays of the month. Guests are always welcome.
 
 
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