Dracut Rotary Joins Scout Crew 308 in Support of “End 68 Hours od Hunger”

Pictured (L-R) are: Donna Canales, Shannon Soucy, Emelou Soucy (in carriage), Rotarian Pete Clark, Crew President Jayden Canales, Aiden Soucy, Rotary President Diane Clark, Pete Mancuso, and Chris Mancuso.

Scout Crew 308 recently took on a project to collect food and raise awareness for the “End 68 Hours of Hunger” program in Dracut and Dracut Rotary Club lent its aid to the cause. The club presented a check, in support of their drive, to members of Scout Crew 308.

“End 68 Hours of Hunger” is a public non-profit effort to confront the approximately 68 hours of hunger that some school children experience between the free lunch they receive in school Friday and the free breakfast they receive in school the following Monday. This program puts nourishing food in the hands of school children to carry them through the weekend. Each bag of food costs $10 each week and provides two breakfasts, two lunches, and three dinners for a child, with some left over to share. 

“End 68 Hours of Hunger” has been a longtime cause of Dracut Rotary Club, and they salute Scout Crew 308 on the success of their recent drive, according to Club president, Diane Clark. She noted that the Club was happy to lend its support .

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Club Remembers Past President Paul Gaudette

It was with great sadness that the Dracut Rotary Club learned of the passing of member and past president Paul Gaudette on December 15. 2020. “Paul was someone we could count on when we needed to get something done,” said club secretary Chuck Moran. Paul has been residing most recently, with his wife Chris, at their retirement home in Mashpee.

Paul was the former Dracut Building Inspector and Assistant Lowell Building Commissioner, but began his career in the printing industry. As a Rotarian, he was an example of “service above self,” encouraging club members to reach out to those in need here and abroad. It was Paul who first brought the idea of each member donating an entire Thanksgiving dinner, “soup to pumpkin pie,” to those in need in our community, a tradition that has become a staple of our club’s annual giving for more than 20 years. 

Committed to the club’s Crutches 4 Africa effort, Paul could be found loading donated mobility devices into shipping containers headed for those in need across the world. “When we needed help, I’d call Paul,” said the club’s C4A chairman Chuck Moran.

Our thoughts go out to Paul’s wife Chris, and his family. He was an example to us all.

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Dracut Light-Up & Decorating Holiday Adventure Drive-by

The Dracut Rotary Club is presenting the 1st Annual “Dracut Light-Up & Decorating Holiday Adventure Drive-by” event. Decorate your home or yard and join in on the fun.

After your house is decorated, send us an email no later than December 17th with your name, address and email address to dracut.rotary@gmail.com

We’ll list your address (but not your name) on our event page and invite neighbors to pile the kids into the car between December 18th and 20th and check out the beautiful holiday displays, and then vote on their favorites.

We’ll award PRIZES to the favorites!!!

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DG Visits Club via Zoom

District Governor Diana Nestorova visits DRC via Zoom.

Members gave District Governor Diana Nestorova a warm welcome as she visited DRC via Zoom at their weekly meeting on Tuesday, August 25th. Diana came with well wishes and words of encouragement as she addressed the challenges of Rotary in the midst of the worldwide pandemic.

DG Diana brought the message of RI President, Holger Knaack, Rotary Opens Opportunities, encouraging members to find ways to grow Rotary during this time of global crisis. She called on DRC to make it part of the club’s vision in 2020-2021 to bring new, young members into our club. Diana said that this time of crisis is the perfect time to open the door of DRC to those who are looking for a way to serve others.

“This is the time for change,” said Diana. She called on DRC to be open to new new meeting time and formats. She encouraged us to consider Rotaract as a way to bring younger members into Rotary for a membership that celebrates diversity. “As Paul Harris said, -Rotary has to be revolutionary from time to time-, and now is the time to be revolutionary,” Diana said.

Diana said young people are looking for service above self. “Young people are bright, energetic, and get things done! ” she said, calling on us to open the doors of Rotary for young members.

The RI theme for 2020-2021.

She pledged her help in making Rotary accessible to all who wish to be leaders for the future. Diana encouraged DRC to be proactive and look to this time of crisis as a time of opportunity.

 

 

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DRC Takes Up Scholarship Challenge

“Hello. My name is Beth Noël. I am the Director of Marketing at MCC and I believe hard working, low-income, part-time students should have access to college scholarships.” 

Beth was the guest speaker at our July 14th Zoom meeting. She came seeking DRC’s support for the scholarship program she has founded at Middlesex Community College, the Part-Time Success Scholarship. A member of the Mill Cities Leadership Institute, Beth was inspired to find a way to “shrink the achievement gap for minority and low income students by creating a scholarship for part-time community college students” who find affording a college education very difficult.

According to Beth, 65% of MCC’s students are part-time students. There are few, if any, scholarships available to them. They are working, often caring for family members and trying to complete a college education. “With limited financial assistance options and having to balance family and work commitments with class time, it is not surprising that part-time students can feel like a college education is out of reach.” This scholarship program is intended to assist students enrolled in 3 or fewer classes in a semester. 

DRC realizes that these part-time students will make up at least one third of the future workforce in the Commonwealth. We have taken up the challenge of assisting deserving students by committing our support to the Part-Time Success Scholarship program. For more information or to donate, contact the MCC Foundation, Part-Time Scholarship Success Scholarship.

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DRC Celebrates Independence Day

Frank Antifonario, Farook Taufiq, Lee Ouellette, Georgiana Kotsironis, Chuck Moran, Rachel Antifonario and Jordan Gauthier

The annual Independence Day celebration might have been canceled in Dracut in 2020 due to the pandemic, but that didn’t stop Dracut Rotary from holding a special celebration. The annual concert and fireworks is a particular favorite of Dracut’s senior citizens. DRC stepped up to fill in with a special event, featuring a grab-n-go lunch and a family friendly program on Dracut Access TV.  Lunches were available for pickup at the Council on Aging Center parking lot from 10 am to 12 noon.

“We gave money to a number of worthwhile causes, but we wanted to do something special for the Seniors in Dracut,” said out-going Club president, Frank Antifonario.  “We reached out to Bethany Loveless at the Dracut Council of Aging.  She told us about a July 4th Celebration she was planning.  It included a grab-n-go meal for all who wanted one and entertainment to be shown on Dracut Cable,” added President Frank.  

“This was perfect!” said Frank.  “Rotarian Georgiana and her husband Christos Kotsironis of Primo Pizza Restaurant, Dracut, prepared the box lunches, and Sugar Coated Bakery in Dracut supplied the dessert. Warren Shaw supplied his refrigerated truck to keep it all fresh. They are all participants in our Dining Around Dracut event,” added Frank.

On June 30, the Club furnished boxed lunches for about  150 seniors. The “guests” just drove by the center to collect a tasty lunch and returned home and tuned into DATV Channel 8 to enjoy the antics of comedian and juggler Jason Tardy. 

Frank Antifonario, Past President

 

Warren Shaw and Frank

Georgiana and Chris Kotsironis, Primo’s

 

 

 

 

 

 

Special thanks go out to Bethany Loveless, Executive Director of the Dracut Council on Aging; Gary Meuse, Executive Director of DATV; Georgianna Kotsironis of Primo Pizza; Jennifer Dumais of Sugar Coated Bakery; and Warren Shaw of Shaw Farm for the use of the refrigerated truck.     “This was our Independence Day gift to the community,” said President Frank.        

Rachel Antifonario greets seniors

Pete Clark hands out lunches to seniors

Rotarian Lee Ouellette and Debra Lasorsa, Council on Aging serve up lunches.

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Independence Celebration Planned for Town

Happy Birthday America! Dracut Rotary Club wants to celebrate despite the restrictions imposed as a result of COVID-19. DRC will be hosting an Independence Celebration this year, with the help of Dracut Senior Center and Dracut Access TV. The event will feature complimentary grab-n-go sandwich lunches for seniors, and a special showing of Juggling by Jason Tardy on DATV to entertain all in the community, all compliments of Dracut Rotary Club.

This event is scheduled for Tuesday, June 30. Lunches will be available for pick-up in the Senior Center parking lot from 10:00 am until 12:00 noon. Registration for lunches is required, and seniors can select between Italian, turkey or tuna sandwiches from Primo Pizza of Dracut. Dessert is included from Sugar Coated Bakery, also in Dracut. To register for lunch, call the Dracut Senior Center at 978-957-2611 before Friday, June 26th at 2:00 pm. 

Then all are invited to tune into DATV Channel 8 at 12:30 pm for Jason Tardy and his extraordinary, high-energy juggling and comedy that will delight audiences of all ages. “What an amazing act! said one viewer from Maine about Jason’s non-stop show.This is entertainment for the entire family. 

Special thanks go out to Bethany Loveless, Executive Director of the Dracut Council on Aging; Gary Meuse, Executive Director of DATV; Georgianna Kotsironis of Primo Pizza; Jennifer Dumais of Sugar Coated Bakery; and Warren Shaw of Shaw Farm for the use of the refrigerated truck.

“This is our Independence Day gift to the community,” said President Frank Antifonario.

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“Open for Business” at Dracut Rotary

While staying safe and healthy, Dracut Rotary is continuing to move forward with projects for the community. A weekly ZOOM meeting is keeping members connected and sharing ideas on how to serve others. The club is addressing club business, preparing for the installation of a new slate of officers, and looking forward to projects that will be beneficial to those in need.

The Club sadly acknowledged the death of charter member, Al Daigle, Sr. Al was a devoted Rotarian who proudly boasted about “perfect attendance” for 50 years. Fellow members were all moved by his passing. Their meetings are not the same without his wise input.  

A slate of officers has been presented for 2020-2021. It will be voted on at the next “virtual meeting.” The office of President Elect is still open and nominations will be gladly accepted. 

The cancellation of RYLA 2020 was upsetting for the Club and the seven sophomores who were planning on attending RYLA at Fitchburg State this June. DRC is looking to June of 2021 with the hope that District 7910 will again be able to hold RYLA.  They will keep this year’s selected students posted with options for re-application.

Members discussed several ongoing causes for groups that the Club supports, including The Bridge Club Addiction Center and Catie’s Closet. Also in discussion is how DRC can aid those who need food assistance. Donations were made to the Dracut Food Pantry, the Merrimack Valley Food Bank, St. Vincent de Paul and End 68 Hours of Hunger. 

Additionally, the Club is considering ways to support the restaurants who participate in Dining Around Dracut and our seniors and veterans. We are reaching out to the Dracut Council on Aging and the Dracut Veterans’ Agent to see who might benefit from a gift card from one of these local restaurants. 

DRC is also partnering with the Arbors of Dracut on a group activity project that should brighten the spirits of their senior residents during this difficult time. The Arbors is holding a competition to see “what would you do for a Klondike bar?” The residents will act out what they would do and the staff will video their responses. Family and friends will be able to see the video on their website. It should be a fun event for all, and DRC is supplying the Klondike bars.

The Club is also looking into what other projects they might be able to sponsor, or assist in, for the senior residents at D’Youville Senior Care, and other senior care facilities that are facing such heightened trauma during this frightening time. The discussion is on-going.

Dracut Rotary is “Open for Business” during COVID-19. They are keeping members connected, even members who are not in Dracut at the present time. DRC will continue to consider the needs of their greater Lowell neighbors and do what they can for those in need in the community and the world. 

 

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Club Pays Tribute to Al Daigle, Sr.

Charter Member Al Daigle Sr. installs Frank Antironario as 50th Anniversary President

It was with great sadness that the Dracut Rotary Club learned of the passing of charter member Al Daigle, Sr. on March 30, 2020. “He was an active, ever present member of the Club and he will be greatly missed,” said Club president, Frank Antifonario.

Al was a member of the Club when the charter was granted by Rotary International on January 17, 1970. He was part of a small group of local businessmen who wanted to bring Rotary’s “service above self” concept to the community of Dracut. He lived his life giving his time and energy to the people of greater Lowell. He was proud of his French heritage and was always anxious to share his ideas and beliefs with others. He lived according to the principles of Rotary’s 4 Way Test; is it the truth, is it fair to all concerned, will it build goodwill and better friendships, and is it beneficial to all concerned.

Al could count among his accomplishments perfect attendance at Rotary meetings for nearly 50 years. Recovering from a serious illness in the winter of 2019, he returned to meetings and went on to attend Dracut Rotary Club’s 50th Anniversary event last November. Visitors to Dining Around Dracut were greeted by Al as they entered the event at Lenzi’s on March 2nd, 2020.

Al Daigle prepares to greet patrons at 2020 Dining Around Dracut.

Due to COVID-19, the Club was physically unable to pay tribute to his legacy at the time of his death. The members made a donation, in his memory, to continue the worldwide work of Rotary International.

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RYLA 2020 Canceled

On April 23, 2020, the RYLA Committee at District 7910 was notified by Fitchburg State University that all June 2020 events were being canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “This was certainly a blow to us. RYLA has been an important aspect of Club Service for Dracut Rotary for the past quarter century,” said RYLA Chair, LouAnn Jendro. “It was with a heavy heart that I notified this year’s attendees of this news,” she added.

District RYLA Chair Christine Pinney announced the next in-person RYLA event is scheduled for June 25-27, 2021. “We have put together a Q&A sheet with anticipated questions and answers, and with the ability to add additional questions and answers as they are brought to our attention,” said Christine. “What we know for certain is that much of our future is uncertain. As such, we will continue with our hearty RYLA spirit figuring out problems, and with our Rotary way of life helping wherever we can,” she added.

All students registered to attend in 2020 will be kept informed about future RYLA and Rotary service opportunities. RYLA District 7910 is considering hosting a virtual RYLA event later this year. For more information, about this and the future of RYLA, click here. “The next in-person RYLA event will be the best ever – whenever it is,” said Christine.

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