Washington Township Rotary Club commemorates 50 years of service

The club will celebrate the milestone with a celebratory gala in the fall

With a long tradition of serving the local community and beyond, the Washington Township Rotary Club is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, bringing together past, present, old and new members to commemorate the ever-evolving organization that values the motto “service above self.”

According to Rotary President Randee Davidson, the club originated as a men’s club, only beginning to accept women members approximately 30 years ago. As one of a handful of women president’s in the organization’s history, the first being Maria Carpenter in 2008 to 2009, Davidson said the club’s evolution is credited to the forward-moving progression in society and culture.

“She broke the glass ceiling here in Washington Township,” Davidson said. “It’s evolved with time, and as time has gone on and culture has changed, it’s come along with the whole scenario.”

The Rotary Club is comprised of approximately 65 men and women who call Washington Township home. With the goal of making a difference locally, nationally and internationally, members collectively fundraise to accomplish service projects for those in need. For example, the Rotary Club continuously raises funds to ShelterBox, an international company based in England that provides recovery boxes — including tents, water purifications systems, blankets, flashlights, batteries and more — for families who have lost everything in emergency situations, such as hurricane damage in Puerto Rico. Additionally, Rotary supports eradicating polio worldwide by raising money for research and vaccinations, while also sponsoring local programs such as the COW Project and upcoming Super Bowl Hoagie Sale on Feb. 4.

The club has also partnered with the Washington Township High School Marching Band to assist in program projects, local Boy and Girl Scout troops, youth baseball and football programs, as well as the Washington Township Police Department K-9 unit, to name a few. The Washington Township High School Interact Club is also fully-sponsored by Rotary.

One of the Rotary Club’s largest ongoing projects is operating the local food pantry, Mother’s Cupboard, which serves more than 500 people each month. Located in the Municipal Building, the pantry is open to residents every Thursday from 9 a.m. to noon, as well as from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of every month.

“It’s really about building partnerships,” Davidson said. “Alone, you can’t do much, but as a unit we can do so much more, and we have that diversity in Rotary.”

Randy Carbone remembers moving to Washington Township 15 years ago. At the grocery store, groups of people could be found outside catching up on their week, and when he went to the local Wawa, folks would greet one another by first name. Carbone felt a sense of community — one he wanted to be a part of, and one he found in joining the Washington Township Rotary Club. Now serving as the Rotary’s youth services director, Carbone pays tribute to the dedication and commitment members of the club have proven through the 50 years of its existence.

“Rotarians walk through the door with an idea and they say, ‘we need to help, I think this is something we should do,” Carbone said. “Here, you become friends, learn to trust each other and you know another Rotarian is going to do the best they can for you to make sure you’re happy.”

In addition to the annual Wine, Beer and Spirits Tasting, scheduled for March 9 at Wedgwood Country Club and the Paul Davidson Memorial Rotary Golf Outing in September, this year the club will also be hosting a 50th anniversary gala celebration in the fall.

According to Davidson, the club will be inviting clubs from across the region, as well as Rotary dignitaries and honorary members who have been a part of the organization for many years.

Those interested in joining the Rotary Club are welcome to attend the regular luncheons held every Thursday at noon at the Wedgwood Country Club — often featuring a special guest speaker from the community, such as authors, business owners and stakeholders of the community. A satellite Rotary Club also meets on the first and third Wednesday of the month at P.J. Whelihans at 5:30 p.m., for members who are unable to attend the weekly afternoon meetings.

To learn more about the Washington Township Rotary Club, visit www.wtrotary.org, or contact any of the club executives and directors listed on the webpage.