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Rotary Club of the Tarrytowns To Celebrate 100th Anniversary

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November 6, 2021

By Robert Kimmel —

With an extensive history of supporting a multitude of philanthropical activities, the Rotary Club of the Tarrytowns celebrates its 100th anniversary this November.  It was on Nov. 9, 1921, that 17 charter members gathered for a luncheon meeting at the Tarrytown YMCA, forming the local club which also embraces Irvington, Sleepy Hollow and Pocantico Hills.

A measure of the time which has passed since the club was established is the cost of that initial lunch at the Y: it was 50 cents per person.

“‘Service Above Self’ has been the motto of Rotary, and, as we look back, we see how great an impact this club has had on our community,” stated its current president, Mimi Godwin. The club presently has 35 members.

“Representatives of our villages, school district, religious leaders, medical professionals, business owners, community leaders, retirees and many others, work together, meeting weekly, to achieve this goal. Through fundraising, the club is able to offer scholarships to students, support local non-profit organizations and assist in the ever-changing needs of the community,” Godwin explained.

Rotary International describes its service activities as involving four major categories: community service, international service, vocational service and club service. The local club’s fundraising and volunteer work supports more than 30 not-for-profit organizations.  One of its major ongoing projects is providing scholarships, which are primarily provided to students based on demonstrated service to their community, a reflection of Rotary’s motto. Any high school junior who lives in Irvington, Tarrytown or Sleepy Hollow or attends a public or private school in the three villages is eligible for a scholarship.

A recent venture had the club donate $25,000 as a sponsor for the construction of a press box at the Sleepy Hollow High School athletic field.

sleepy hollow high school press box
The press box at the Sleepy Hollow High School athletic field (Rotary Club of the Tarrytowns)

Other projects have included an ongoing scholarship fund for the Tarrytown YMCA to support variety of projects, including summer camp scholarships; contributions to the Buildings Fund and soup kitchen for the Community Opportunity Center (COC), as well as sponsoring summer scholarships for the COC; and raising public awareness of the need for defibrillators in police cars, and providing fundraising support for that project.

The club has also provided funding for the construction of a Phelps Memorial Hospital bus stop and the community bulletin board on North Broadway in Tarrytown. The list goes on. Rotary members meet for lunch on Wednesdays to discuss the various endeavors the club embarks upon, as well as to hear leaders of community non-profits describe their work.  Currently, the lunches take place at J. P. Doyle’s Restaurant in Sleepy Hollow.  (The COVID pandemic has led some such meetings to convert to a virtual Zoom session rather than an in-person meal.}

Speaking as both the club’s past president and Tarrytown’s village administrator, Richard Slingerland said, “Rotary Club members have been upholding the motto of ‘Service above Self’ and have been promoting a world where people unite, take action for good, and create lasting change across the globe, in our communities and in ourselves through reflection and consideration of others.  As a as a member of Rotary, and on behalf of the Village of Tarrytown, I wish the club a happy 100th anniversary and wish them another 100 years of doing good for our communities and the world around us.”

Rotarian JoAnne Murray recalled numerous examples of assistance rendered by the club in recent years, including “raising funds to purchase a pick-up truck and load it with supplies to send to help victims of Hurricane Katrina, raising funds during the pandemic to help feed first responders, and those in the community in need.” Murray also noted the hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships provided for local students.

Longtime Members Recall Years of Rotary Service

Murray, active in many community endeavors, joined the rotary club in 1992, “after women were allowed to join,” as she stated. (Women were first inducted into Rotary in 1987.) She has served as a past president, director and is currently the treasurer. Murray and Godwin co-chair the Club’s annual Duck Derby. That event, along with other fundraisers, including pancake breakfasts, a Wine & Jazz Evening, and holiday fruit sales “bring in valuable funds to support our scholarships and community grants,” said Murray. She described the club as “without a doubt the most rewarding organization that I have been a member of, and while we are doing great things for the community, I am also having a lot of fun.”

“I was introduced to the Tarrytown Rotary Club in the early 1980s,” said Chip Wagner, who is among the long-time members of the organization.  “I was a relatively new financial advisor at Merrill Lynch at that time.” He named Don Brown, then manager of the Tarrytown branch of the Bank of New York, as the member who acquainted him with the club.  “Over the years, I have enjoyed the relationships I have developed with fellow members very much,” he stated. “The composition of the club is unique as it includes people of many fields of business. It does a great job of supporting other local not-for-profit organizations.”

Irvington Dentist Joseph Goscilo recalls joining during the 1985-1986 rotary year: “We met for lunch at Rita Hall on the campus of Marymount College. It was a bit difficult carving out nearly two hours of time at lunch with a growing dental practice, but once it became routine, I wouldn’t have missed the meetings for anything. The group was friendly and welcoming, and it’s been a pleasure and honor to be a member of this Rotary Club.”

“Rotary began its Polio Plus program just after I joined,” Goscilo recalled. “The impressive effort has nearly eradicated polio from the planet.”  For more than 35 years, Rotary International has had a goal of eliminating polio across the world with its members worldwide contributing more than a billion dollars toward that effort as well as countless volunteer hours.

Speaking about a local Rotary Club project, Goscilo commented, “Our Breitbarth Scholarship was a single $250 award when I joined. We now give away over $10,000 through several scholarships each year.” The scholarship fund was developed in memory of Dr. Frederick Breitbarth, who was a past president of the Rotary Club of the Tarrytowns and notable community leader.

Tarrytown Historian Richard Rose followed in the footsteps of his father when he joined the Rotary Club about 12 years ago. “My father was a faithful Rotarian for 35 years, so I was very familiar with its work,” Rose said. He would have joined sooner; however, he explained, “since Rotary met for lunch, I could not join because it conflicted with work.”

“’Service Above Self’ is such a good motto for everyone. Being encouraged to think of the needs of others helps to keep us in balance. I love helping others with time, expertise or money,” said Rose.

An Evening Celebration of the Club’s Centennial

The local club will celebrate its 100th year milestone with an event for members and invited guests at Beekman Ale House the evening of Nov. 15. Attendees are encouraged to bring food or donations to help feed local families and individuals in need this holiday season. For Thanksgiving, the club is donating funds to the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary (RSHM) Life Center and the Community Food Pantry of Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown.  Toys and clothing for young children are being collected for the Community Opportunity Center (COC) and the Open Door holiday campaigns

“Since the [COVID-19] pandemic, I am particularly impressed by the immense impact our Rotary Club had upon providing meals for those in need and work for local restaurants so they could remain in business,” said Rose. “I believe Rotary is vital for Tarrytown.”



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