Rotary marked its 60th year with exemplary service to Southborough

Above: Rotary spent its 60th year in Southborough stepping up to help the community deal with the Covid crisis. (image from Facebook)

60 yrs ago - Rotary formedThis year, the Rotary Club of Southborough had big plans. In addition to supporting annual traditions, the Southborough chapter was looking forward to celebrating its 60th year. Then Covid-19 reared its ugly head.

Rotary was forced to cancel its Celebrating Service/Celebrating Southborough ceremony, the Annual Talent Show at Trottier Middle School, Earth Day Cleanup, the Food Trucks festival (with special entertainment planned), and even the Pumpkin Stroll. They were also forced to cancel some of the new projects they were working on (like supporting a special Earth Day Fair to celebrate the holiday’s 50th anniversary and a volunteer’s mission to Guatemala).

Yet, while community events had to be cut, the community’s need for support grew. Rotary members did what they always do and stepped up to help. Here are highlights of all the good they found ways to do this year (while still finding time for some fun.)

Donating thousands of facemasks

Rotary facemasks to NSBORO schoolsAs Rotary posted on Facebook members masked up this spring to continue on “with service and fellowship”. One of their projects was distributing 2,700 facemasks. Masks were provided by Rotary District 7910 for local chapters to pass on to community organizations and institutions. Southborough members distributed them as follows:

  • 1,000 to the Public Schools of Northborough and Southborough
  • 1,000 to the New England Center for Children
  • 200 (100 donated twice) to Southborough Youth & Family Services
  • 100 to each of the following organizations:
    • Facemasks donated to Boys & Girls ClubThe Southborough Housing Authority for Colonial Gardens affordable housing complex (mostly for seniors)
    • Boys & Girls Club of Worcester
    • Bethany Hill Place, an affordable housing complex in Framingham
    • Southborough Library (for patrons at curbside pickup)
    • Abby’s House women’s shelter

Project Spirit – Supporting the elections

Project SpiritSouthborough Rotary’s president Robert Bussey launched the idea of a Rotary volunteer project to support Town Clerks struggling to meet the extra demands of this fall’s election season. In Southborough, members volunteered to help out for the September primary and the big November election.

Supporting Southborough Youth & Family Services’ clients

The cards total $2200 overall. We hope this helps local families facing food insecurity this year to have a brighter moment during the holiday season. Our thanks to the Rotary District 7910 team for their support, flexibility and guidance in helping understand how we could use our 2019 district grant funds to help our community with food insecurity.

Supporting Southborough Food Pantry’s clients

Rotary members’ donations to the Food Pantry included:

Other misc. contributions 

beecology gardenThe Rotary Club of Southborough was pleased to donate Bigelow Nurseries gift certificates totaling $80 to the Native Plant Gardens Of Southborough team to help them buy native plants for the new Beecology Research Garden. These gift cards were intended to be 2020 Earth Day event door prizes. But Covid-19 concerns forced cancellation. . .

The special Beecology Research Garden is located next to the Southborough Community gardens on Breakneck Hill Rd. The plants in the Beecology garden are specific to supporting Dr. Robert Gegear’s research around declining species of pollinators.

Were YOU one of the lucky people who received free coffee at the Red Barn Coffee Roasters – Southborough Rt. 9 East, or at the Red Barn Coffee on Rt 9 West on Monday February 24th? Monday was a Surprise Free Coffee giveaway at Red Barn in Southborough, courtesy of the Rotary Club of Southborough. Why? Because we wanted to do a random act of kindness and get out the word Rotary and our club. Thanks to Red Barn for helping us with our little surprise coffee project. Hope it created a lot of smiles! Each free coffee was accompanied by our club’s info card. Want to learn more about Rotary? Best club mtgs to drop in at are 2nd or 3rd Wednesdays, 7-8 am at Red Barn on Rt 9 EASTBound.

Of course, the Red Barns have since been bought out and these days, Rotary is meeting via zoom.

However, they did manage to get together a few times in person. A socially distant party was held in a member’s backyard in July. And the group walked the Beals Preserve to enjoy Art on the Trails in August.

In the Works

As for what to look forward to next year, some of that will depend on how the pandemic plays out. But, here are two of the projects on Rotary’s to-do list:

  • investigating foldscopesFoldscopes – Last winter, the chapter started researching a project using Foldscopes (an optical microscope kit made of special folded paper and a lens). The group was planning to work with local scouts. The project that had to be temporarily tabled due to the pandemic. They hope to pick it up again when it’s safe to proceed. In the meantime, the group made connections with volunteers planning to travel to Ecuador. Two sets of kits will be supplied for use by teachers in different locations.
  • Wastewater project – Speaking of Ecuador. . . Rotary is working on a project to support diagnostics kits to test for coronavirus in wastewater of selected estuarine towns in five coastal provinces and the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador.
  • Rotary Coloring Book – A Rotary/Town themed coloring book is being developed through a project with two Southborough Girl Scouts.

Stay tuned.

Updated (12/29/20 9:27 am): In a typo, I referred to $400 being gifted in the form of 200 gift cards. (No one donated a $2 gift cards!) The correct number of gift cards was 20.

Updated (12/29/20 9:44 am): I changed the cancelled event “Light Up Southborough” to “the Pumpkin Stroll”, which was what I forgot Rotary renamed the annual event to a few years ago. (It’s one of the many events I’m looking forward to Rotary being able to resurrect when it’s safe to hold again.)

Updated (12/30/20 8:13 am): I initially forgot to include the wastewater project in the works for next year.

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Christine Narcisse
3 years ago

I am so proud of my local Southborough Rotary Club. Imagine that similar types of programs are done by the other 131 clubs across Massachusetts and by 35,000 Rotary clubs throughout the world in 200 countries. Imagine what good is done, and then imagine how much more work there is to be done. We continue to seek volunteers with imagination, energy and the desire to do good. If anyone is motivated to seek out more information, I am more than willing to help. Please feel free to email me.

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