Rotary is a worldwide organization of more than 1.2 million business, professional, and community leaders. Members of Rotary clubs, known as Rotarians, provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and help build goodwill and peace in the world.

There are 33,000 Rotary clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical areas. Clubs are nonpolitical, nonreligious, and open to all cultures, races, and creeds. As signified by the motto Service Above Self, Rotary’s main objective is service — in the community, in the workplace, and throughout the world.

The Monroe-Woodbury Rotary Club is part of Rotary District 7210, which includes most of the Hudson Valley. We were chartered in 1970 and work hard to foster community programs which are beneficial to all. Some of the things we are involved with are the “Operation Clean Sweep” an environmental awareness and public cleanup, Bell Ringing for the Salvation Army, assisting local food pantries and soup kitchens, backpack program, Interact and more.

Written by Charter Member Jack Fine (circa 1995)

In 1968 I purchased F.H. Stage Road for a plumbing supply. The closest Rotary club was in Goshen. I attended several meetings and let it be known I wasn’t comfortable without a local Rotary Club and wished to organize one. I received the discouraging word that “Monroe is not an organization type of town” — no can do. Stubborn and determined, I proved them wrong. My daughter Michelle and I worked hard and diligently and created a nucleus from which 30+ individuals became charter members and new Rotarians in the Monroe Woodbury Rotary club. I found great enthusiasm and people virtually tore down my door to join. Most helpful and instrumental in our organization were 2 past district governors: Bill Nichols and Sam Gillner, 2 of the finest Rotarians in our district, both are since deceased. The Ramapo club and my home club of North Rockland were our sponsors.

Our first assembly was at Tony’s on Rt. 17-M. Our first organizational meeting was at the Goosepond Inn where Harry Adler the owner, became a charter member. Reverend Dean Lavender was elected President and did a great job on our maiden Rotary voyage. At the end of his term we had more than 40 members. Each succeeding President outdistanced his predecessors in leadership and Rotary Activities. Our Charter night was held at the Meadowbrook Lodge and congressman Gilman was in attendance. As a matter of fact he was a frequent visitor at our affairs. Within 2 years our membership had surpassed 60.

We were sort of Rotary nomads in our infancy as we moved from one meeting place to another. From the Goosepond Inn we went to the Gasho and then back to the Goosepond again, then up the mountain to the continental Hotel (since burned down) — then back to the Goosepond, to the Golden Inn, back to the Goosepond and then finally anchored at the Pilgrim Inn.

Rotary affairs were memorable and enjoyable. We had ladies nights 3 or 4 times a year. Also we had parties at Moe spivack’s bungalow colony. One act I recall was Mr. Eagle, whom while blindfolded, was able to guess your age, how much money you had in your pocket, the names of your loved ones, etc. It was quite unbelievable. I can see some older Rotarians still shaking their heads in dismay. Another time we had a hypnotist. Addie Barone was put under his spell which resulted in a hilarious evening. This was great fun and a successful fund raiser. We held a dinner theater at the Goosepond Inn and the show was the “fantasticks.” we found out that Daniel Boone’s real name was George Lombino, He took us for broke at a turkey shoot, his bulls eyes gave him a year’s supply of turkeys. Despite George, we still made $23.00… not bad for 80 man hours of work. One summer weekend we had a joint installation dinner with Goshen Rotary Club at Arden House, It was fabulous, eating, drinking, singing, dancing, swimming, tennis, croquet and great fellowship. I will never forget Lombino and Sullivan (he of the Chevys) awoke me and my family at 2 AM – They wanted to borrow swim trunks — I forgave them. And what about the surprise guest we had at a Ladies night — a live gorilla, Mr. Jiggs of TV fame was a barrel of fun with tricks and antics.

In describing our annual thanksgiving dinner, I feel I must quote Shakespeare in that we are twice lessed — “It blesseth him who giveth and him who receiveth” The citizens of the Goshen Home anxiously look forward to this annual event. They say it is the highlight of their existence. It is so gratifying to see all those faces smiling with pleasure and satisfaction. They always look so happy when they have a winning number and get a little money. Can any words describe our gratification at be able to provide this?

How about Jeff Rosenfeld’s year when we had our installation dinner at west Point? A good many of us stayed overnight at the Thayer and partook of an unbelievable brunch the next morning. Jeff’s program was a roast of all past presidents. It was professionally done in a hilarious manner.

Twice our club went into the till and not only purchased but installed playground equipment in crane park. Let us not forget our adopted child, Museum village, as good parents we dress it up each year with a new paint job, replace broken glass, mow lawns, make repairs where needed.

One of the finest and most gratifying of our gifts was the “jaws of life” we presented to Mombasha Fire Dept. we were so proud of this presentation we took it to Kutschers for a district conference and our firemen enacted the scene of a crashed auto and used the jaws of life to extricate trapped passengers. We were the talk of the conference. To date, this tool, our gift, has saved countless lives in our community.

I also recall another conference at Kutschers where former Mayor Koch was a guest speaker. His ideas did not sit well with many Rotarians who criticized him, Rotary was no longer his favorite organization.

For the last few years our younger, active Rotarians initiated a Rose sale, which has been a fabulous money maker, although a handful of members sell the bulk of the flowers, all pitch in. Because of this income we are able to keep increasing our scholarships and keep adding to our charitable gifts.

Rotary all over the world is comprised of leaders in every industry and profession. I can honestly say that our Rotarians are the cream of the crop, each and every one a born leader.

Our club can be proud of Merton Merring — a charter member, and Past Supt. of MW Schools. I met him at a Rotary International convention in Kansas City and was pleased to learn that he had served two terms as District Governor of the Elmira NY district.

The highlight of my association with Rotary was the decision to admit women to the club. I recall having my daughter, Michelle, a staunch feminist as a guest speaker pleading the cause of women’s right to join rotary. If I recall correctly, my daughter and I stood alone. Even after Rotary International OK’d the admission of women, I had quite a struggle to get our club to get our club to accept the fact. However, as you can see from the performance of Past Presidents Sammy and Evelyn and current President Kathy, this might be one of the smartest moves Rotary International and our club in particular has made.

The Rotary Four Way Test:

  1. Is it the TRUTH?
  2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?
  4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

Monroe-Woodbury Rotary Club is a non-profit organization
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