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Rome Rotary Club ready to celebrate centennial

Nicole A. Hawley
Staff writer
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Posted 10/10/19

Rome Rotary Club will celebrate 100 years of serving the community during a special celebration on Saturday, Nov. 2. The event will be held at the Griffiss Institute on Daedelion Drive, at Griffiss …

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Rome Rotary Club ready to celebrate centennial

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Rome Rotary Club will celebrate 100 years of serving the community during a special celebration on Saturday, Nov. 2.

The event will be held at the Griffiss Institute on Daedelion Drive, at Griffiss Business and Technology Park. A reception will be held at 5 p.m., followed by a program and dinner for a gala evening.

Rome Rotary hopes to have as many past-presidents in attendance as possible. Recipients of past awards have also been invited to attend, officials said. District Governor William R. “Randy” Wilson will also be in attendance.

Cost to attend the gala is $50 per person, and checks should be written to The Rome Rotary Club 100th and mailed to P.O. Box 655, Rome, N.Y. 13442. Checks are your reservation, and guests are also welcome. Checks should be sent by Oct. 20 in order to reserve a spot. For more information, contact Chairman Sandie Latimer at 315-271-8726.

“Rotary is a service club with a focus on improving the community through programs for youth, people who need a helping hand and the elderly,” President Nancy O. Neiley said. “We engage in activities to remember our veterans and keep their memories alive, and our participation in the Rotary Foundation allows us to participate in international projects, such as the eradication of polio and” promoting “clean water.”

On Dec. 1, 1919 the Rome Rotary Club received its charter from Rotary International at a meeting in the old Rome Club on East Dominick Street. With assistance from members of the Utica Rotary Club, the Rome club was formed and met weekly at the Rome Club for many years.  

Currently the members meet weekly at Coalyard Charlie’s. This year Neiley is serving a one-year term as president from now through June 30, 2020.  

The club has sponsored several events and worked with many organizations over their 100-year history to help raise money at various projects. Several long-term projects have included the 20-year Roses for the Living project, and raising funds for heart and eye surgery in Syracuse hospitals for patients coming from other countries who need assistance. The Rome club raised funds so that a family member could stay in the Syracuse area before, during and following the surgery.

For many years the club has sponsored various youth ball teams in Rome. Currently, Rome Rotary runs the summer Canalfest event, as well as its program called Rotary Readers, in which a Rotary member or another member of the community goes to Bellamy School on a weekly basis and reads to the youngsters.

Rome Rotary sponsors the Interact Club at Rome Free Academy, and every year in the fall, the club sponsors a day trip to Rome for international students from the various colleges in the area, for lunch and dinner and to tour some of the sights and programs that Rome has to offer.  

“Rome Free Academy Interact Club is also doing a fund-raiser Oct. 24, which is World Polio Day, and any funds raised at the high school are then doubled by us (Rome Rotary), and then that is doubled by the Rotary International Club and then the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation,” Neiley explained. “Last year the high school raised $385, and then whatever we (Rome Rotary) raise, that is doubled by Rotary International and then again by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.”

As for Rotary’s polio eradication efforts, “Afghanistan and Pakistan are the only two countries” that still have cases of polio, and Rotary International says “it will take another 15 years to wipe out polio there. Even though we’re so close, we can’t give up,” she said.

Some of Rotary’s larger projects over the years have included funding the construction of the clock tower at the Rome railroad station, the bench at the small memorial park on Dominick Street in front of Berkshire Bank, the annual ceremony at Veterans Park on the corner of West Liberty and North James streets, purchasing of bike helmets for the youth in the area, and the most current project to celebrate Rome Rotary’s 100th anniversary was the purchase of a van for Copper City Community Connection. The senior center is using the van to transport its members to the center’s programs outside and around Rome, Neiley added.

“Periodically we hold shredding events, and scrap metal drives in the area also,” the president said. “For many years we have provided scholarships to students at RFA and the Rome School for the Deaf, and a Teachers Recognition Day. We hold a children’s Christmas Party which has been held at the Stanwix Veterans’ and Men’s Club for many years at which the children receive lunch, gifts and a visit from Santa. On the same evening, we also hold a party for the residents of the Rome Memorial Hospital Residential Care floor. Our members have rung the Salvation Army bells for years, and participated in the Honor America Days by carrying a huge American flag.”

Rome Rotary also hosts the Youth Exchange Program, which is how Neiley got involved with the organization at least a dozen years ago.

“My daughter was an exchange student and it was an amazing experience for her,” Neiley said. “For 2020 we have an outbound and inbound student, and typically we always have an inbound student and every other year, we have an outbound. Personally I have hosted eight exchange students from all over, and I’m still in touch with them. All three of my daughter’s host families came over for her wedding when she got married.”

Rome Rotary also gives $5,000 in scholarships — five at $1,000 each — to aspiring college students. In addition, it’s also involved in raising funds for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier of the American Revolution, organizing an Independence Day celebration each year in memory of the soldiers who fought for the nation’s independence and freedom at Fort Stanwix National Monument.

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