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Westfield Rotary Club Has Community’s Interests at Heart

Millicent K. Brody

Monday, November 11, 2013 • 12:44pm

WESTFIELD, NJ — Priding themselves on service, camaraderie, excellent programs, live music, networking and fun, the Westfield Rotary Club meets for lunch every Tuesday at noon at the Westfield YMCA, 220 Clark St., Westfield.

According to Sherry Cronin, Executive Director of Downtown Westfield Corporation and Past President of the Westfield Rotary Club, guests and prospective members are always welcome.

“Do make plans to join us at any one of our informative meetings,” said Cronin.

As members of Rotary International and a chapter of Rotary District #7510, which is composed of nearly 50 rotary clubs throughout Central Jersey, the Rotary Club of Westfield was founded in 1921. Members join together to provide service to both the local and international communities. The Rotary motto, “Service Above Self,” reflects its major goals.

“Every person in this room is here because they want to make a difference in the lives of other less fortunate people,” explained Immediate Past President Michael Miller at a recent meeting.

“I love coming to Rotary meetings,” said Maria Fuentes, a new member, who works at Northfield Bank in Westfield. “I love the passion the group has for their cause. I believe folks attending the meeting are here because they really want to make a difference in the lives of others.”

Saul Drittel, who owned Milady’s Specialty Shop with his mother-in-law Gussie and his wife Beverly, can easily recall Westfield many years ago. “We’ve made a lot of progress,” he said. “And we continue to look forward to making even more progress.”

Along with supporting our troops based at the Westfield Armory, Rotary Club actively supports a scholarship program that provides grants to assist students graduating from Westfield High School.

“We have actively supported over 1,600 students with financial support, for which we are continually proud,” said Miller.

Warren Rorden and the Westfield Rotary Club have collected over 2,000 bicycles and seven sewing machines in support of Pedals for Progress, an independent charity founded in 1991.

“The organization has shipped over 139,000 bicycles and over 2,600 sewing machines to 38 developing world nations,” added Dave Schweidenback of High Bridge. 

“In the 15 years that we are collecting bicycles, the Westfield Rotary Club has managed to garner 121 bicycles annually,” added Rorden. “Each recycled bike goes to a developing world economy, which stimulates economic growth.  We have also distributed over 5,000 flyers that publicize the annual bicycle collection, which is usually held in October.”

Dave Schweidenback, president of Pedals for Progress, has been known to simply ride around picking up bicycles that are never used.

 “With a bit of love and care, these bikes are able to be rehabilitated,” Schweidenback said. “Pedals for Progress is one of the most productive services the Rotary International Club provides. Bikes help people go to work, go to school and support themselves.”

Rotary also supports the Community Food Bank, which fights hunger and poverty in New Jersey.

“Our role is to create sustainable nutrition by empowering all sections of our society to recognize those that are hungry and less fortunate,” said Byron Miller. 

“The Community Food Bank has assisted more than 2,000 children in 2012,” added Camille Williams, a director of the Food Bank. “Our role is to seek out pockets of poverty. We are filling backpacks, which include two entrees, milk, two cereals and fresh produce, which could be an apple, pear or an orange.”

Before each weekend, Rotary assembles the backpacks to be given to children in need at their schools. To read more about this program, click here.

“It’s always a pleasure to be invited to Rotary Club and interact with so many people who continue to volunteer and do their best to help others,” said Heather Robinson, executive director of the Greater Westfield Area Chamber of Commerce, at a recent Rotary gathering.

Interested in being invited to a Rotary lunch? Contact Miller at 908-518-5404.

*Rotary’s 4-Way Test of the things we think, say or do: 1. Is it the truth? 2. Is it fair to all concerned? 3. Will it build goodwill and better friendships? 4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

**Factoid from a recent meeting: Less than three percent of the world’s water is drinkable!

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