Rotarians Assist the Salvation Army Canteen
The Trenton Rotary with help from Robbinsville Hamilton Members had a very good night last week on The Canteen. We served 202 meals of Meat Loaf, Mashed Potatoes, Mixed Vegetables, Salad and near the end Ham Sandwiches at 7 stops. We gave out 57 Family Meal Bags, each containing Hand Sanitizer, 2 pairs of Socks and 4 Family Meals of Rice and Beans, these meals were assembled by “Be Kind” at their meal packing event last Saturday July 17, 2021. We also gave out 134 Masks and 3 toys.
Masks and Hand Sanitizers were donated by Dave Navazio and Kevin Quilty of Gentell.
On the Canteen with Lt. Al last night were John Murphy, Chris Secrist, Bill Coleman, Founding member of “Be Kind” and Assistant District Governor of Rotary District 7475, Joe Bellina, President Robbinsville-Hamilton Rotary Club and Charlie Parkerson. Treats were baked by Lori Bernas and Debbie Obst of The Hightstown Elks.
Inaugural Event of the Mercer County Military Action Council
Representing the Robbinsville Hamilton Rotary Club, president Joe Bellina recently attended the inaugural event of the Mercer County Military Action Council along with Regina Arcuri, chairwoman of the organization, and Gary Gellman of Gellman Images.
Meeting Highlights 7/23/21
This morning’s meeting of The Rotary Club featured guest speaker David Postolski, a partner at Gearhart Law and registered Patent and Intellectual Property attorney with over seventeen years of experience assisting inventors, creators, artists, start-ups, entrepreneurs, and early-stage companies with their U.S and International intellectual property strategies.
David informed how our U.S. Constitution gave “…Authors and Inventors exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries…,” leading to our Copyright and Patent laws, and how the Commerce Clause helped create Trademark laws. He emphasized that while ideas are a critical first step, they are not protectable.
He also showed us how the U.S. has gone from a “first to invent” country to a “first inventor to file” for a patent system governing who is granted protection rights. This change in 2011 was intended to level the field for small players versus large companies which can afford to quickly file for patents whether they’re ever used or not.
Trenton Rotarian Receives Award
It was a fun fellowship night for District Rotarians! DG Shelby Rhodes, DGE John Shockley, past DG Ray Freaney, and AG Bill Coleman were all on hand to present the award! Thank you to Bill Coleman for organizing a wonderful event!
Trenton Thunder Baseball Contributes to our Foundation
Thank you to the Trenton Thunder Baseball for honoring our foundation with the proceeds from tonight’s 7/20 Grand Slam We Care Foundation Super 50/50. The $252 winner was Blue Ticket #284872. If it’s you, visit the Trenton Thunder (www.milb.com/trenton) to claim your winning prize.
Meeting Highlights 7/16/21
Our regular Friday morning meeting was a Club Assembly, a chance for fellowship among Rotarians, conducting club business and enjoying breakfast prepared by the staff at Brother’s Pizza.
Before that, we heard an emotional appeal from Seymour Josephson about the urgent need to increase awareness about ride share safety. After his daughter Samantha “Sami” was murdered and a suspect charged with posing as her Uber ride, Seymour and his family founded Whatsmyname, a 501(c)(3) advocacy organization, to publicize safety steps and information about how to verify a ride share service, and to influence the passage of relevant legislation. To learn more about the group and how to support them, including at a 5K Run/1 Mile Walk fundraiser on September 25, visit www.whatsmyname.org.
Club VP Chris Reetz announced that Rotarians will be painting the West Town Center Lake Gazebo (aka “Rotary Gazebo”) on three dates in August, using paint donated by Kucker Haney Paint Co. (www.kuckerhaneypaint.com).
Rotarians Judy Goldstein and Sharon Lucidi announced they will be collecting women’s sweatpants and shirts, tee shirts, underwear and other clothing for distribution to local hospitals where abuse victims might need something to wear home after giving up clothing items for criminal evidence.
Our first food drive for Send Hunger Packing will take place Saturday, August 14 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Foley’s Family Market on Whitehorse Mercerville Rd. Shoppers will be given a list of key food items that the Mercer St. Friends Food Bank distributes to local school children.
Club Member Nev Greenough is heading up an initiative to collect used PCs and laptops for TDI to rebuild and donate to students, families, individuals and non-profits in the Trenton.
Finally, the club will collect school backpacks and supplies for donation to students at Wilson Elementary School in Hamilton Township in late August.
Meeting Highlights 7/9/21
Our guest speaker this morning was Ann Vickers, Retail Manager of AAA’s Northeast Region, joined by Sherry Meng, a Senior Travel Agent at AAA.
Ann and Sherry gave us a summary of services offered by AAA (www.AAA.com), including at AAA Hamilton on Route 33, and talked about the current state of the travel industry. Ann reported that recent surveys of the public show “an increased optimism for travel.” She emphasized the importance of early planning for trips.
Ann recommends travel insurance with more coverage (eg. for a health emergency) than vendor insurance that only covers a trip cancelation. Travelers should make themselves aware of COVID testing, vaccination, masking and other possible requirements during their trip. Rental cars are in high demand so Ann recommended people look at alternate car services. Sherry encouraged looking at AAA’s refundable rates on travel packages, and noted the return of River Cruising, including on rivers in the USA.
Ann Vickers may be reached at 609-890-2220 x4185741 and Sherry Xiangbo Meng at 609-890-2220 x4185701. AAA is currently recruiting travel agents to replace a number who retired last year. Pictured from left are Sherry Meng, Ann Vickers and Club President Joe Bellina.
We were pleased to welcome a guest, Angelo Onofri, who is being sponsored for club membership by President Joe.
Mercer County Prosecutor Speaks to Club
We were honored to welcome Angelo J. Onofri, the Mercer County prosecutor, as our guest speaker this morning. As the county’s chief law enforcement officer, he leads the 200-member prosecutor’s office.
Mr. Onofri recounted the difficulties his staff faced working remotely during the height of the pandemic, including handling 14 cases per day vs. 30 during normal times, and how the resumption of live trials was delayed from November 2020 to this past month. He said the pandemic also resulted in an increase in child predator crimes being prosecuted. Despite the challenges, Mr. Onofri said his office has maintained a high rate of solving homicide cases.
He reported that regardless of state regulations passed for the distribution of pot, his office will step up school outreach programs to educate students about what he views to be a gateway drug.
Mr. Onofri told us that the infamous George Floyd case set back years of community relations developed by police departments, and the subsequent publicity has resulted in many resignations and retirements of superior officers. Many departments are now hiring police officers. Also, the state attorney general is urging the adoption of ICAT (Integrated Communications and Tactics), a training program that provides first responding police officers with the tools, skills, and options they need to successfully and safely defuse a range of critical incidents.
He also reported that, sadly, overdoses have spiked recently, many caused by fentanyl-laced drugs, including pot.
Prosecutor Onofri also took time to salute Immediate Past President Tom Damm for his excellent Rotary year, Joe Bellina for stepping up to be our Club President, Bill Coleman for his assignment as an Assistant Rotary District Governor, and for the club helping sponsor the recent NAMI Walk to foster mental health awareness.
(Pictured, from left, are Mr. Onofri and Club President Joe Bellina
2021 Banner Exchange Dinner
Some of our Club members and spouses enjoyed an evening out on Wednesday at the RotaryDistrict7475 2021 Banner Exchange Dinner in Florham Park, NJ. Lots of fun, fellowship and celebration was had. Interested in learning more about Rotary and the impact you can help us make globally? Visit us at www.rhrotary.org or www.njrotary.org for more information. (Thank you Peggy Krawiec Damm for the awesome pictures!)
Rotary Club members joined officers from the Robbinsville Police Department today at an event to demonstrate bike safety, have a meet and greet with RPD K-9s and collect bikes for the BGC Bike Exchange. Thanks to Lee Paroly for hosting us at Friendly’s restaurant. Volunteers from the Bike Exchange picked up 56 bikes and scooters.
Installation of Officers and Award Ceremony
Our Rotary Club’s Installation of Officers and Awards Ceremony was held this morning on the patio at Brother’s Pizza, followed by lunch. President Tom Damm recounted the many successes of the club during an otherwise challenging year. After the presentation of Outstanding Attendance Awards, Tom presented his Presidential Citation, Distinguished Service and Service Above Self Awards to club members, and a Paul Harris Fellow Recognition, named for Rotary’s founder, to Cindy Rosen.
Asst. District Governor Dave Navazio presented Immediate Past President Bill Coleman and current President Tom with service recognition plaques from District 7475, and the club gave Tom a President’s Plaque in appreciation of the great job he did as club president. Dave then discharged our 2020-2021 officers and directors and swore in new officials for Rotary Year 2021-2022, including incoming President Joe Bellina.
After President Tom passed the meeting gavel to him, new President Joe talked about continuing and building on the community service history of the Rotary Club.
Meeting Highlights 6/25/21
We were most pleased to have Jodi Marra from Robbinsville Meals on Wheels as our guest speaker today. Jodi has been the Executive Director – an unpaid, volunteer position – since March, 2020 and was a driver for 8 years prior.
Jodi said she found the Meals on Wheels program fit well into her lifestyle and allowed her the flexibility to raise three sons, the youngest of whom spent many Monday mornings delivering meals with her. She shared the stories of several clients, for whom the regular contact with the group’s volunteers is as important as the hot meals. Club President Tom Damm presented Jodi and Meals on Wheels Treasurer Matt Mannino with a $1,000 donation from our foundation. To contact Jodi for information about their service, call (609) 954-3172, or email to JodiMarra@optonline.net.
President Tom also presented a $1,000 foundation donation to Recovery Advocates of America to continue their vital work of gaining treatment for people afflicted by drug and alcohol addiction. Stacey Ross, their Outreach Coordinator, told us her personal recovery story and about how the group works with police departments and medical facilities. Pictured, are Recovery Specialist Marc North, Stacey, President Tom and Mike Ziccardi, Executive Director of Recovery Advocates of America, Inc. For information about their work, visit www.recoveryadvocates.org.
Our Friends and Followers are reminded that tomorrow, Saturday, June 26, from 1:30-3:30 p.m., we’ll be holding a Bike Collection Drive for the BGC Bike Exchange at Friendly’s restaurant at Foxmoor Shopping Center in Robbinsville.
Meeting Highlights 6/18/21
Today’s meeting of The Rotary Club featured a legacy award, Rotarians from Florida visiting us on Zoom, and more. First, we were pleased to award the 2021 George Prutky Vocational Service Award to Nottingham Insurance and hear from business partners Jack Blair and Greg Blair about their dedication to community service. The award’s namesake, the late George Prutky, a club founder, exemplified the values of Rotary in both his business and personal life. Nottingham Insurance was recognized for their strong history of giving back to the community, including support of the Rotary Club, Mobile Meals of Hamilton Township, Project Freedom, Hamilton Area YMCA, Miracle League of Mercer County and many other area charities. Rotarian Kalpana Patel chaired the award committee.
Arnie Eastburn and James Williams from the Rotary Club of Punta Gorda gave us a presentation about their ongoing efforts in Mozambique to build drinking water wells. Arnie, also President and CEO of Water For Life (www.W4Lmoz.com
), a non-profit NGO, talked about how “clean water changes lives” and how the 180 wells they’ve drilled have replaced contaminated run off and river water sources. Punta Gorda Rotary Club is applying for a Rotary Global Grant to continue their work and our board of directors has approved funds for us to be a contributing sponsor.
In other business, Bill Coleman talked about our Bike Drive on Saturday, June 26 (1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at Friendly’s restaurant in Robbinsville) and a new potential project to launch a Facebook fundraiser to help with Rotary International’s COVID-19 relief efforts in India, especially easing a critical oxygen shortage.
Meeting Highlights 6/11/21
Our Friday morning hybrid meeting of the Rotary Club featured guest speaker Ron Jacob, MD from Be The Match, manager of the largest and most diverse marrow registry in the world, offering hope for thousands of people each year with life-threatening blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma.
Dr. Jacob, accompanied by his colleague Gabrielle Morales, showed us their mission – “We Save Lives Through Cellular Therapy” – and spoke about the donor registry process, including age and health qualifications, how marrow and peripheral blood stem cell donations are done, the importance of ancestry in finding matches, and the difficulty for diverse populations to find donors. He also recounted cases of people saved by donors and, sadly, some who could not be saved for lack of a donor.
For more information, visit www.bethematch.org.
In the photos here there is contact information, social media links, and instructions about how to register.
Today Rotarians from our club met Dexter Hendricks, Turner Construction Company’s V.P. of Community and Citizenship at the Hamilton Township Library to give him 125 books for a Children’s Literacy Village, part of a larger Juneteenth celebration at Trenton’s Mill Hill Park on June 19. Turner employees will include the books in bags of educational items given to children at the event.
The books were purchased by the club in 2019 for the annual Egg Hunt and Rotary Book Fair at the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK), but the spring 2020 event was canceled. Rather than continue to store the books for a possible new event at TASK, and because many of the same children will benefit, we obtained TASK’s permission to donate them to the Juneteenth event. Pictured, from left, are Joe Bellina, Club President-Elect, Dexter Hendricks, and Tom Damm, Club President.
Meeting Highlights 6/4/21
Our guest speaker this morning was Richard H. Kraemer, a 28-year decorated veteran of the fire service of Hamilton Township and currently Fire Chief for the Hamilton Fire Division. Chief Kraemer began his fire service career 1993 with the White Horse Fire Company as a volunteer and was later hired by Fire District 6, progressing through the ranks of the district to serve as Fire Chief of Districts 4, 6, and 8. He served as a Fire Commissioner and also on numerous committees, including the Hamilton Public Safety Committee, The Committee on Fire Consolidation and the Consolidation Response Committee.
Rich, as he is known, holds numerous applicable firefighter and instructor certificates, and he is part of the Mercer County Rapid Response Partnership Active Shooter and IMAT Team and Hamilton Special Operations Command (SOC).
In his remarks, the Chief recounted the history of fire district consolidation beginning in the early 1990s, including study committee work and local legislation passed. He also detailed the challenges of managing one large organization made up of nine previously separate, autonomous districts.
Blue Jeans Go Green
Thank you for the incredible response to the Blue Jeans Go Green campaign sponsored by the Rotary Club of Robbinsville Hamilton. We collected 242 pairs of denim jeans that will be delivered to Cotton, Inc. to be recycled into building insulation or, for those with low cotton content, donated to charitable groups. Either way, they won’t end up as textile waste in a landfill. Nice job, everyone! And a special shout out to the Rotary Interact Club and the Green Team at Robbinsville High School. Combined, they accounted for more than 100 pairs of jeans in our drive that started on Earth Day.
Meeting Highlights 5/28/21
Our first “hybrid” meeting of the Rotary Club this year was attended by a large number of members in-person at Brother’s Pizza’s patio and on Zoom. We were pleased to present a 2021 Police Community Service Award to Detective Stacy Pollard from the Hamilton Police Division. Stacy, a lifelong Hamilton resident, until recently moving to Robbinsville, and standout student athlete at Steinert High School, became a police officer in 2002, served as a Juvenile Detective specially trained in child forensic interviewing techniques and was a division hostage incident negotiator. In his nomination of Det. Pollard, Chief of Police James M. Stevens, lauded her communication skills in serving the Community Policing Unit. Today, Chief Stevens thanked the Rotary Club for honoring Det. Pollard and said such an award is “a morale booster for all of us.”
In other club business, President Tom Damm reported that our Blue Jeans Go Green campaign resulted in 242 pairs of denim jeans collected for delivery to Cotton, Inc. which will recycle them into building insulation rather than having them end up as waste in a landfill.
IPP Bill Coleman shared a list of the Dollars For Scholars Raffle winners through May.
Club Donates to NAMI Mercer
Donation of $1,000 from the Rotary Club of Robbinsville Hamilton to NAMI Mercer to support the organization’s critical work in the Capital Region.
NAMI Walk 2021
Powerful and poignant messages yesterday at Rotary’s Stomp Out Stigma ceremony and awareness walk in Robbinsville. Thank you to Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo Onofri, NAMI Mercer and all of the law enforcement and advocacy speakers and walkers who joined the Rotary Club of Robbinsville Hamilton and Rotary District 7475 to lend their voices in promoting compassion, understanding and respect for those battling mental illness and substance use disorders. A big thanks to Rotarian Jodi Stephens of the Robbinsville Township Administration, who organized this special event that gave all who attended new insights into the struggle.
Check out the videos at https://www.facebook.com/RobbinsvilleHamiltonRotary
Member’s Volunteerism Yields Grant
Thank you to @AllstateFDN and Allstate volunteer Wayne Mernone for helping communities thrive by volunteering with us. We appreciate the efforts that helped us to receive a $500 @AllstateFDN Helping Hands Grant for our Rotary Club of Robbinsville Hamilton Foundation Inc. to continue its good work.
Meeting Highlights 5/21/21
Our guest speaker today was a long-time friend of the club, Eileen Eversheim from Mobile Meals of Hamilton Township, Inc., who has been the executive director there since 2004. The non-profit, organized in 1975, delivers hot, nutritious meals to Hamilton residents whose physical, mental or social conditions require a home-delivered meal service. Her community service also includes being an active member of the Hamilton Rotary Club and she was the 2020 recipient of our Vern Applegate Community Service Award. Eileen informed us that after a number of volunteers stopped delivering meals during the pandemic lock-down last year, new drivers, including several of our Rotarians, stepped up so that Mobile Meals did not lose one day of service to its clients. Club President Tom Damm presented a $1,000 donation to her organization from our foundation. For information about their service, how to volunteer or donate to them, visit www.mobilemealshamilton.org/
We also hosted our final two 2020-21 Students of the Month, Deklin Smith from Steinert High School and Taj Adams, representing Hamilton West High School. During this school year, we have had the pleasure of meeting twenty-six of the finest young people our area has to offer the world for a brighter future.
Megan’s Place Spring Cleanup
This morning a group of us from the Rotary Club of Robbinsville Hamilton went out to a special place to do a spring clean up and plant some flowers. Our Club responded to the brutal rape and murder of seven year old Megan Kanka by raising money, buying the home where this tragedy happened, demolishing it, and erecting this beautiful park we call Megan’s Place.
Meeting Highlights 5/14/21
The Rotary Club meeting guest speaker this morning was Herb K. Ames, President and Chairperson of the Capital Region Minority Chamber of Commerce. Herb’s extensive business background includes banking, broadcasting and communications, building materials, public sector economic development, and consulting. His Devin Group, Inc., a business development firm, specializes in the turnaround management of companies.
Herb started his remarks with a salute to numerous close friends among our members. He recalled the evolution of the Chamber over the years and informed that “The mission of the Capital Region Minority Chamber of Commerce is to provide support to minority business enterprises in Central New Jersey. Minority businesses include (but are not limited to) those belonging to minority ethnic groups, businesses owned primarily by women, LGBT individuals, veterans, and persons with disabilities.” Herb said that the best part of his job is that he can open up opportunities for companies to “get a leg up into state and local government and other business.”
In other club business, President Tom announced that our board approved matching funds for a Rotary district grant application to support Send Hunger Packing, and that the club is looking to participate in a Rotary Global Grant project to build drinking water wells in Mozambique. Rotarian Jodi Stephens announced that Robbinsville Township will be making modifications and improvements to the “Rotary Gazebo” on Lake Drive in Town Center, with an expectation that volunteers from our club will help paint the structure. Scholarship Committee Chair Tom Lanigan announced that seven scholarships totaling $7,500 will be awarded to area high school seniors this spring.
1 Million Diapers Collected!
Two of our Rotarians visited the HomeFront Family Campus this morning after an invitation to help celebrate results of their Diaper Challenge. Considering that the original goal was 250,000 diapers and wipes, later increased to 500,000, those in attendance were pleasantly surprised at the final tally of over 1 million collected, including our club’s contribution. HomeFront founder Connie Mercer and New Jersey First Lady Tammy Murphy spoke about the importance of events like the Diaper Challenge.
Meeting Highlights – 5/7/21
It was a busy Friday morning meeting of the Rotary Club today. We viewed the video of 2021 Police Community Service Awards presentations to Robbinsville Police Sgt. James Moore and Public Health Officer Jill Swanson. RPD Chief Chris Nitti detailed how Sgt. Moore takes time to find out how to help people and then get them the resources they need. Sgt. Moore talked about the “awesome responsibility of serving the community.” Chief Nitti praised Jill Swanson for managing public health in multiple communities, municipal departments, school districts and restaurants during the difficult year of the pandemic. Jill said she could not have done it without the work of her staff. Watch the video at www.rhrotary.org/rhrc-video-productions
Andrea Samber, a representative of Cotton, Inc., a non-profit cotton industry association, spoke about the need to recycle cotton denim clothing, including that collected during our current “Blue Jeans Go Green” campaign. She informed about the numbers: the average American owns 6 pairs of jeans and 10 pieces of denim; about 16 million tons of textile waste is discarded each year; and approximately 1,677 pieces of denim will direct roughly one ton of waste from a landfill. Cotton, Inc. diverts denim from landfills and converts it insulation products.
Jodi Stephens urged members and the Rotary Club’s supporters to sign up for the Stigma Free Rotary/NAMI Walk on Saturday, May 22, at the Gazebo at Town Center Lake from 10 a.m. to Noon. This from the NAMI website: “NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by mental illness. NAMIWalks promotes awareness of mental health, raises funds for NAMI’s free, top-rated programs, and builds community by letting people know they are not alone.” For a link to sign up and/or donate, visit www.rhrotary.org.
Finally, Rotarian and Club Director Keith Platt announced he is leaving the club and moving to Florida where his wife Elena Platt will be starting a new position to advance her career. Rather than seek admittance to the Florida Bar to continue his work as an attorney, Keith has signed on to teach elementary school in the Miami-Dade region as a member of Teach For America. That organization works with traditionally under-served communities. We wish Elena and Keith the best of success!
Interact Club Goes Green, Collects Jeans
Our Rotary Interact Club at Robbinsville High School collected 85 pairs of jeans in a week!! Amazing work by these high school students involved in Interact! What is Interact you ask? Interact encourages students to take action, build international understanding, and make new friends around the world. Interact clubs bring together young people ages 12-18 to develop leadership skills while discovering the power of Service Above Self.
Meeting Highlights 4/30/21
A tradition with our club is to invite township school superintendents to speak to us about issues affecting their districts. In this past year of COVID, there certainly have been challenges for students, school administrators and teachers. So, it was our pleasure this morning to welcome and get to know Superintendent Brian J. Betze who began his tenure with Robbinsville Schools on July 1, 2020.
Supt. Betze spoke about the transition to more in-person learning and activities like clubs and sports, and about the desire to “make it as normal as possible” for the welfare of the school children. He praised the district staff for being “absolutely terrific in wanting to come back” to work with students.
He outlined steps to help students who may have fallen behind, including assessments at year’s end, a summer enrichment academy with both in-person and online classes, and support staff additions. Also outlined were planned expenditures of pandemic relief monies, including building HVAC system upgrades. Talking about expected population growth, he said the district is “good on space for now,” but that Sharon School is nearing capacity.
Supt. Betze noted that U.S. News recently ranked Robbinsville High School 80th in the state of New Jersey, up from 96th in the previous ranking, and out of 866 state high schools.
4/23/21 Meeting Highlights
We also hosted our April Students of the Month who told us about their many achievements in school, community service work and plans after graduation. Pictured are Safia Nawaz from Robbinsville High School, and Amanda Angermiller from Steinert High School. Also speaking but not pictured was Stephanie Lopez, Hamilton West High School.
Earth Week Cleanup
Rotarians showed some Earth Week love today to the Robbinsville Clean Team, a group of civic-minded volunteers who meet each month to pick up litter around the township.
Chris Reetz, Peggy Krawiec Damm and club president Tom Damm patrolled the Pond Road Middle School area for trash, having to go across the street and into the woods for most of the haul. Nice job students and staff in keeping your grounds clean.
Dress for Success Donation
After today’s Rotary meeting, club Secretary Scott Biondi presented donation checks and sponsor forms to Melissa Tenzer, CEO of Dress For Success Central New Jersey, and Wayne Mernone, President of the Board of Directors of The Father Center of New Jersey. Wayne is also a proud Rotarian. We will be a Rock Sponsor for the Dress For Success Women’s Empowerment Breakfast on May 12, and a Storyteller Sponsor for The Father Center’s Platinum Dads event on June 19. Both events are fundraisers for these two great organizations which help those from challenging circumstances achieve success. For more information on the fundraisers and how to support the organizations, visit www.facebook.com/DressforSucessCentralNJ/ and www.thefathercenter.org.
Meeting Highlights 4/16/21
Our weekly Rotary Club meeting today featured a Classification Talk by one of our newest members, Derik Whittaker. Originally from Kansas City, KS, Derik spent a number of years in New Jersey and Colorado before moving back here several years ago. His background includes performing as a professional wrestler – aka Derik Starr – who was often featured in The Trentonian paper for his battles with The Trenton Strangler. He has worked in the hotel industry for 17 years and manages the Hampton Inn & Suites in Robbinsville and a second Hilton hotel in the area. He and his fiancée live in Hamilton. Upon joining the club, Derik quickly became active in our projects and we look forward to his future with Rotary.
In other club business, President Tom Damm reported on actions by our board, including approving donations to Hugh Kennan, a Robbinsville Boy Scout, for his Eagle Scout Project at the Fernbrook Farms Environmental Center, to Mobile Meals of Hamilton and Robbinsville Meals on Wheels, and for event sponsorships for The Father Center of New Jersey and Dress for Success.
With the drive to collect diapers for HomeFront ending, our attention has turned to collecting used denim wear items. They will be recycled by Cotton, Inc. Their Blue Jeans Go Green™ program collects denim to divert it from landfills and recycles it into UltraTouch™ Denim Insulation used across the country.
Dr. Scott Rocco, Superintendent of Schools for Hamilton Township
We were most pleased to welcome back Dr. Scott Rocco, Superintendent of Schools for Hamilton Township School District (HTSD), as our guest speaker this morning. Dr. Rocco gave us an update about physical improvements to school buildings and plans to devote more resources to maintenance. He said HTSD is now a “one-to-one district,” meaning there are laptop PCs available for every student. To improve access to online learning, he said HTSD secured a grant from T-Mobile to create 500 internet hotspots.
Federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act will be used to purchase PPE and cleaning supplies, update HVAC systems, and offer programs for learning acceleration, to overcome learning loss and address social and mental health issues caused by the pandemic.
Future plans, including more advanced placement courses and enhanced technology courses, increasing graduation rates, and helping students formulate plans for after graduation, are part of the district’s Hamilton Opens Pathways to Excellence (HOPE) program. Dr. Rocco also showed us a new HTSD logo, part of a district rebranding project. Visit www.htsdnj.org
for more information about the school district.
Meeting Highlights 3/26/21
The Rotary Club meeting this morning featured guest speaker Barrett T. Young, Chief Executive Officer of the Rescue Mission of Trenton, a non-profit organization open 24 hours-a-day, seven days-a-week, 365 days-a-year – feeding those who are hungry, housing the homeless and providing opportunities for those in need.
Barrett told us that a staff of 100 at The Mission operate a “one-stop-shop for the homeless, addicted and mentally ill.” He said two achievements in the past year he’s most proud of are that basic operations never stopped – even during the COVID “lock-down” – and that their clients were among the first in the country to receive the J&J vaccine after it was approved.
For the past several years our club has donated “Winter Survival Kits” to The Mission, with last year’s donations helping stock a much needed “Warming Center” at their Carroll Street location.
For more information about how to support The Mission’s Shelter, Behavioral Health Center, Vocational Development and Supportive Housing programs and Thrift Store, visit https://rescuemissionoftrenton.org/
Salvation Army Red Kettle Award
Today a few of us went down to Salvation Army to deliver food and blankets. While there, we were presented with a Red Kettle Award for the work our Club did to support Salvation Army.
Vern Applegate Community Service Award 2021
Award of the 2021 Vern Applegate Community Service Award, named for a late great member, highlighted our Rotary Club meeting this morning. Award recipient Brian Blakely was recognized for his “…tireless efforts to address food insecurity, offer hope to the homeless, and provide for those in need in Mercer County.” Clara’s Heart LLC, a non-profit founded by Brian and his mother Clara Sampson – herself a longtime community activist – received a $500 donation from our club’s foundation. For a video of the award presentation and remarks by Brian Blakely, visit https://rhrotary.org/rhrc-video-productions/
Pictured in the group photo below, from left in front, are Clara Sampson, the Hon. Nina D. Melker, Commissioner & Vice-Chair, Mercer County Board of Commissioners, Rotarian JoAnne Bruno who nominated Brian, and Rotary Club award committee chair Kalpana Patel; from left in back are Brian Blakely, Rotary Club President Tom Damm, Rotarian Nev Greenough and Rotarian Scott Biondi. (Photos courtesy of Peggy Damm).
We were also pleased that Robbinsville High School Interact Club members Jillian Lehmann, Mackensie Firth, Hannah Tyler, Alyssa Brunetto and Sarina Khan attended the meeting with faculty advisor Rebeka Territo to give us an update about their community service projects. Rotary sanctioned Interact clubs bring together young people to develop leadership skills while discovering the power of “Service Above Self.”
In other club business, President Tom Damm announced a $500 donation to Be Kind to help sponsor a meal packaging event on April 22. There are a little over two weeks until the deadline of April 15 to submit scholarship applications; visit www.rhrotary.org/scholarships
for information and the online application. Tickets are still available for our 12-drawing weekly Dollars for Scholars Raffle which starts April 6; email email@example.com for tickets. Save the date: Friday, April 30 is our Virtual Art Auction and Cinco de Mayo themed gift basket Silent Auction; visit www.rhrotary.org/art
auction for information.
Meeting Highlights 3/19/21
The Rotary Club meeting guest speaker this morning was Paul McCormack, founder of Melissa’s Brigade. Paul, together with his children and group of committed friends, run Melissa’s Brigade, the Mercer County, NJ Chapter of Lisa’s Army, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides comfort to people battling cancer. The Brigade is named in honor of his wife, Melissa Beth Carp McCormack, who lost her battle with ovarian cancer in early November 2019 at the age of 50.
They give patients a Comfort Care Package of carefully selected items, including an inspirational card, personal care items, an Apple iPad or BEATs Headphones, iTunes gift card, journals, pens and other things to make the patient’s treatment as comfortable as possible. Recipients are nominated by doctors and nurses at The Cancer Center of RWJ University Hospital-Hamilton, the primary site Melissa’s Brigade supports.
To assist the group by contributing Package contents, helping fundraise and donating funds, visit www.lisasarmy.org
and click on the Melissa’s Brigade button under the Partners menu.
We were pleased to host our March Students of the Month. Pictured are Alex Friedrich from Steinert High School and Ryan Smith from Robbinsville High School. Mariana Salama, representing Nottingham High School, also spoke to the club.
In other business, President Tom announced that we are stepping up to meet the “Diaper Challenge” from HomeFront to help them set a Guinness World Record by collecting 250,000 diapers and baby wipes for families in need. Visit our website www.rhrotary.org
for drop-off sites and other information.
Also, he announced that Brian Blakely will be honored at next week’s meeting of the Rotary Club as recipient of the 2021 Vern Applegate Community Service Award.
Meeting Highlights 3/12/21
Our meeting of the Rotary Club today was a “Club Assembly,” with focus on fellowship, club business items and planning for upcoming events. We also inducted two new members, Derik Whittaker and Bill Boyles. Derik, pictured at front in a family photo, is the General Manager of Hampton Inn & Suites in Robbinsville. Bill gave us his “Classification Talk,” telling us about his former career in non-profit children’s services, his current position as a mortgage banker with the PenFed Credit Union, and his past service with the Rotary Club of Mt. Holly. Welcome to the club, Derik and Bill!
Tom Damm reported that our board approved donating $1,000 to Rotary’s “Polio Plus” campaign to finally eradicate polio in the world, and that the new Diversity and Equity Committee is developing ideas to increase the participation of women as club members and officers. Chris Reetz used a live, online demonstration to show us new features and menu options on the club’s website, www.rhrotary.org.
Please visit our Events page to indicate your interest in supporting our April 30 Virtual Art Auction and Cinco de Mayo themed Gift Basket Auction, and share it with your Friends. Friends of Rotary, an opportunity for sponsors to gain a year’s worth of publicity for a modest donation to our charitable foundation, is accepting pledges through the end of March. Rotary Scholarship applications are being accepted through April 15.
Meeting Highlights 3/5/21
Our guest speaker this morning was Elizabeth Meyers, Editor of TAPinto Hamilton/Robbinsville, and a great friend of our club who helps us spread the word about our many events and accomplishments. She is also the publisher/editor of TAPinto Bordentown, and president of Meyers Messaging, LLC, her own PR firm. Elizabeth and publisher Steve Lenox were recently honored as Featured Franchisees for March for their work with TAPinto.
Elizabeth told us about the TAPinto state-wide network, how the Hamilton/Robbinsville version started, and the publishing challenges faced during the pandemic. A number of our Rotarians said how much they like regularly receiving local news via email or with an available smartphone app. For information about TAPinto, to contact Elizabeth and to subscribe to their news service, visit https://www.tapinto.net/towns/hamilton-slash-robbinsville/
In other club business, President Tom noted the following:
- Our big fundraiser, a Virtual Art Auction and Cinco de Mayo themed gift basket auction, on Friday, April 30
- The opportunity to join a growing list of “Friends of Rotary” continues with $250, $500 and $1,000 levels of sponsorships available
- Tickets will continue to be offered for our Dollars for Scholars raffle until the first drawing on April 6
- March 12 is the deadline to submit nominations for the club’s Vern Applegate Community Service Award
- Scholarship applications are being accepted until April 15
Meeting Highlights 2/26/21
Our guest speaker this morning at the Rotary Club meeting was Uday Pilani, Assistant Governor of Rotary District 3150 and member of the Rotary Club of Lake District Moinabad, who introduced our Rotarians to a Rotary Global Grant project being developed in India. Rotary helps fund global grants for international projects that have measurable goals, are sustainable and based on community needs.
Rotarian Uday and his fellow club members surveyed needs in the state of Telangana and he noted that Sarvapuram Village, for example, has many needs, including school facilities, transportation, water supply and healthcare. A preliminary plan would involve engaging the community, building partnerships with various organizations, and then addressing health, education and social development, and diversifying the current agricultural economy.
If a Global Grant project develops, our club’s charitable foundation would join numerous Rotary districts and clubs world-wide in sponsoring the humanitarian efforts.
In other business, Club President Tom Damm presented Rotarian Sharon Lucidi with a Paul Harris Fellow pin, her fifth such recognition for contributions to The Rotary Foundation and our club’s many achievements
Rotarians Deliver Pajamas
Rotarians took advantage of today’s sunny weather to deliver 110 pairs of pajamas to Lauren and Mackenzie Multari, co-founders of Lala and Mimi’s Pajama Project. The pajamas were collected by Rotary Club members in celebration of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr Community Day of Service.
Meeting Highlights 2/19/21
It was our great pleasure to welcome the Honorable Dan Benson as guest speaker at a meeting of the Rotary Club today. We also hosted our February Students of the Month: Evan Wille, Robbinsville High School; Evelyn Macias Pilco, Hamilton West High School; Mariam Daoud, Nottingham High School; and Heidi Martz, Steinert High School.
Assemblyman Benson (D-14 Mercer) first joined the New Jersey Assembly in 2011 and is serving his fourth term representing nine towns in Mercer and Middlesex Counties including Hamilton and Robbinsville. He currently serves as the Chair of the Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee and as a member of the Health and Budget Committees, in addition to being Deputy Conference Leader.
Asm. Benson first “pitched New Jersey” to the students, citing a large “brain drain” leading to young people leaving the state for school and not returning to work. He talked about ways the state can encourage development of affordable “work force housing;” how students returning here to work will enjoy our “highly livable area”; and job opportunities available. A law he sponsored, the “Restorative Justice in Education Pilot Program,” will offer mini-grants to schools for victim advocacy, personnel training, and to rethink student discipline. Then, he informed about ways the state is addressing hunger, including “Soup Kitchen 411” linking local restaurants with TASK and reducing food waste, addressing “food deserts” in areas of the state, and offering support to higher education students.
Meeting Highlights 2/12/21
Our meeting this morning was a “Club Assembly,” held periodically to allow members more time for fellowship, and to focus on club business. A special election and swearing-in ceremony was held to add Joe Bellina to our Board of Directors to help ensure a smooth transition when he begins his term as club president on July 1.
In a nod to President’s Weekend, we had a Club President’s Roundtable in which past presidents Greg Blair (94-’95), Edna Stout (’97-’98), Ray Nowak (‘08-‘09) and Janice Miller (’05-’06) recounted highlights from their year of service.
Finally, President Tom Damm detailed our ongoing projects:
– Pajama Drive for LaLa and Mimi’s Pajama Project through Feb. 14
– Dollars for Scholars Raffle to fund our scholarship program
– Nominations for the Vern Applegate Community Service Award
– Friends of Rotary fundraising campaign for our charitable foundation
– A “save-the-date” announcement for our Virtual Art Auction & Silent Auction on April 30
(Photo is Joe Bellina, at right, with past member “Chef” Al Pellegrino, cooking pasta for the club’s 2015 Pasta Fest fundraiser)
Meeting Highlights 2/5/21
We’ll welcomed Rotary Past District Governor Dr. Julie Ann Juliano, M.D., who will told us about the near-eradication of one worldwide disease – polio – and the efforts to control another one – COVID.
Dr. Juliano, a member of the Rotary Club of Branchburg, has been a long-time champion of the District’s Polio Plus campaign.
Meeting Highlights 1/29/21
A large group of Rotary Club members and guests gathered on Zoom this morning for our weekly meeting.
Our guest speaker, Jennifer Amato, an award-winning reporter, editor, and veteran journalist, is the content coordinator for Our Robbinsville and Hamilton Square Neighbors magazines. Jen’s byline has appeared across numerous media platforms in the Central New Jersey market. She has experience in print, digital, and broadcast journalism and has held various roles including reporter, managing editor, and department director. Jen told us how the two magazines focus on positive news about local families and businesses. She is a great friend of the Rotary Club, frequently including news about our projects and events in the publications. To give Jen a lead on Hamilton Square and Robbinsville families to feature in her magazines, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We also heard from Steve Goldberg, a Governor’s Aide to Rotary District 7475 Governor Ann Walko, and District Membership Chair. He informed us about ways to build club membership and public awareness about Rotary. Steve is a member and Past President (2017-18) of the Rotary Club of Fanwood-Scotch Plains, and a Paul Harris Fellow. If you have interest in joining our Rotary Club, send an email to email@example.com.
Meeting Highlights 1/22/21
Our guest speaker this morning was Christina S. Harcar, Administrative Supervisor of Social Services with the Mercer County Board of Social Services, whose early service with the Board was working as a social worker, and later as an assistant admin supervisor. Chris has influenced the County’s Adult Assistance Program, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and its Rapid Rehousing model. She told us about special programs developed during the pandemic to address homelessness, and she detailed how her county agency interacts with NGOs like HomeFront and the Rescue Mission of Trenton.
We were pleased to also welcome our January Students of the Month who told us about their many achievements in high school, community service work they do, and future plans after graduation. Pictured are Isabel Cox, Robbinsville High School; Alyssa Clayton, Hamilton West High School; Hazel Cox, Nottingham High School; and Noelle Whitaker, Steinert High School. Also pictured is Wally Sawka, our Rotarian who introduced the students and suggested they visit www.rhrotary.org/scholarships
for information about our 2021 Scholarship Program and to submit an application.
President Tom Damm noted our collection of pajamas until February 14 for LaLa & Mimi’s Pajama Project, and our Dollars for Scholars Raffle to fund the annual scholarships. For more information, visit www.rhrotary.org.
Over the past week members of Be Kind and Rotary Club of Robbinsville Hamilton organized three trips to Sandro’s Coat Rack to deliver almost 200 coats , two dozen hats , 30 scarves , 22 pair of gloves , and two snowpants !! Thank you to all involved in donating to our drives and to the enthusiastic children who helped us hang these much needed winter survival items. #bekind #joyofgiving #kindness #ServiceAboveSelf #blessed
Club Assembly 1/15/21
Lala & Mimi’s Pajama Project and More!
At the Rotary Club meeting this morning, we were pleased to welcome back Lauren Multari and Mackensie Multari from LaLa & MiMi’s Pajama Project, a 501(c)3 charity that donates pajamas to needy children. The two prep-school students from Hamilton started the project while attending elementary school and recently marked the donation of their 10,000th pair of pajamas. They told us about upcoming projects and plans to partner with apparel companies. Club President Tom Damm announced a new project for us to collect donations for the Pajama Project. For information on how to help this great local charity, visit https://www.facebook.com/LMpjproject
Carol Feldman from Shine and Inspire was on hand to (virtually) accept a $500.00 donation from our charitable foundation.
Rotarian Wayne Mernone gave a Classification Talk about his personal background and how COVID-19 has affected his business as an Allstate Personal Financial Representative.
Shine and Inspire!
Our guest speaker this morning was Carol Feldman, founder and Executive Director of Shine and Inspire, a local nonprofit assisting people in need while inspiring them to pay it forward.
The group’s mission is “Brightening Lives in Mercer County.” Carol is also a licensed therapist and addiction specialist with offices in Hamilton and Pennington.
Carol told us how applicants who receive assistance do pay it forward to help others, including the recent case of a woman who received beds for her children and then started a support group on Zoom for people in difficult circumstances similar to hers.
The non-profit usually hosts two large parties each year to distribute toys, coats, blankets and other items to area children but could not do so last year, so a recent initiative is establishing “Shine & Inspire Closets” at area schools to stock things like personal hygiene and home cleaning products.
To volunteer with or donate to Shine and Inspire, contact them on Facebook
, on their website www.shineandinspire.org, with email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call Carol Feldman at (609)-841-9083.
Rotarians Ring the Bell
On Friday 12/18 and Saturday 12/19 Rotarians Rang the Bell for The Salvation Army Trenton Citadel Corps.
Rotarians – Holiday Elves 2020
It’s been a busy week so far for Rotary Club of Robbinsville Hamilton’s elves!! We started off over the weekend with Allan Rosen delivering toys
, clothes, and comforters to NJ Rise and Cindy Schwab Rosen delivering toys
to Womanspace, Inc.
Yesterday Joe Cavone and Cindy Schwab Rosen delivered dozens of coats
, and gloves
to Sandro’s Coat Rack and then met up with Kalpana Patel, her husband, and Scott Biondi to deliver more than 6,000 items as part of our Winter
Survival Kits to Barrett Young at The Rescue Mission of Trenton.
Thank you to our generous community for donating much needed items to help others in need.
12/11/20 Meeting Highlights
We were most pleased to welcome back as our guest speaker sports broadcaster Tom McCarthy. He is the play-by-play announcer for Philadelphia Phillies television broadcasts and also calls National Football League games and select NBA and College Basketball games. Earlier in his career he served as the play-by-play announcer for Trenton Thunder Baseball for six seasons.
Tom spoke about how COVID-19 has changed broadcasting, including having to call games from remote locations far from the fields of play. He was optimistic about the future of the Phillies, especially if the team hires Dave Dombrowski as president of baseball operations, as has been widely reported.
Our December Students of the Month told us about their many achievements, community service work and future plans. Pictured, in order below, are Muskan Patel, Nottingham High School; Rachel Denniston, Hamilton West High School; Jack Riccobono, Robbinsville High School; and Hope Mauro, Steinert High School. Rotarian Greg Blair reminded students to look for scholarship opportunities on our website www.rhrotary.org/scholarships
starting in January.
Christine Secrist from the Trenton Rotary Club informed us about their virtual Comedy Night fundraiser on Zoom on Thursday, December 17 at 7 pm (there is a preview at 6:30 pm). Visit www.trentonrotary.org
for information and a ticket link.
For many years our club has participated in “Strike Out Hunger” events at Phillies games to benefit Rotary’s effort to finally eradicate polio from the world. Marvin Axler from Strike Out Hunger attended the meeting and reported that they hope to have a game on August 13 next year. Over 36 years, 2 million children have been inoculated against polio due to the efforts of Strike Out Hunger and Rotary.
The first of what will be several deliveries of toys for families served by Womanspace and RISE thanks to the generosity of the community and our Rotary Club of Robbinsville Hamilton members. These organizations do such important work and we are proud to support them.
Cindy Schwab Rosen (left in photo) is the chair of our toy drive. Club Secretary Scott Biondi and his wife
Linda Biondi dropped off toys from our collection to RISE today. See our flyer on www.rhrotary.org
for information on how you can support this holiday effort.
Meeting Highlights 12/4/20
The Rotary Club meeting this morning featured a visit by Sandro Cunningham and member Classification Talks. As a six-year-old several years ago, Sandro founded Sandro’s Coat Rack across Escher St. from the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK). The youngster from Hamilton formed the non-profit to donate winter coats to those in need after seeing a TV report about people going cold in the winter. He thanked us for the recent donation of 210 coats from collections by the club and the Be Kind group. Rotarian Cindy Rosen informed that approximately 200 more coats will be hung on the coat rack in the coming days by club members and Be Kind.
Niveda Horaginamani spoke about her inspiration to join Rotary coming from her parents while growing up in India, her work as an SAP Validation Engineer at Merck Pharmaceuticals, and about “how great Rotary is and how the Rotarians are respected around the globe.” She, husband Rajash and 7th grader son Rishi live in Chesterfield.
Kalpana Patel recounted her background, also growing up in India, earning multiple degrees in physics, working odd jobs to get a start upon arrival in the U.S., teaching physics at Raritan Valley C.C., having a 30-year corporate career, and finally retiring to establish Excellence Management Consulting, LLC, offering Executive Coaching, Leadership Team Training and Operations Management consulting services. Kalpana and her husband Raj live in West Windsor.
Both members expressed their strong commitment to giving back and to Rotary’s mantra of “Service Above Self.”
Santa Comes to Robbinsville
What a wonderful community collaborative effort this was for Rotary to be a part of. Thank you to our friends at the Salvation Army Trenton Citadel for bringing their new Canteen truck out full of Hot Cocoa for everyone to enjoy. Thank you Robbinsville Fire Department, Robbinsville Twp PBA #344, HamiltonRadio.net, Word Center Printing, Mercer Neighbors Publications, Lazy Susan Tree Farms, Robbinsville Department of Public Works and especially Lee Paroly and Friendly’s Foxmoor.
Donation to National Guard State Family Readiness Council
As a follow up to our Friday meeting, Len Mayersohn, Chairman of the National Guard State Family Readiness Council, was presented with a $500 donation from our charitable foundation at our Flags for Heroes display site. As set forth in their mission statement, “The National Guard State Family Readiness Council assesses the needs of the New Jersey National Guard families, recommends solutions to meet those needs, and seeks implementation of solutions on a state level.” Economic hardships often occur when National Guard members are deployed overseas because they may earn a fraction of their normal job pay, or have their small business affected by time away. That’s when the Council steps in with grants to assist Guard troops and their families. To learn more about them and how to support their work, visit nationalguardsfrc.org. Pictured, from left, are Club Past Presidents Ken Diener and Bill Coleman, Club President Tom Damm and Len Mayersohn.
Club Assembles Thanksgiving Food Bags
Rotary Club volunteers and friends helped TEAM85 Fitness and Wellness put together 245 bags of Thanksgiving food items at their facility on Route 130 this morning. Team85 has been receiving food donations for several weeks with the goal of delivering meals to 1,300 area families. Team85 is supplying the bags and turkeys. Our club’s charitable foundation donated $500 for a portion of the food supplies, and club members will also assist with delivery of the meals. Kevin Johnson, Team85’s Owner and CEO, is pictured third from the right in the group photo below. Also pictured are Rotarian Kalpana Patel, Event Chair, and Rotary Club Treasurer Sharon Lucidi (with the Team 85 sign).
Salvation Army Donations
Yesterday Rotary Club of Robbinsville Hamilton Rotarians and friends, went down to The Salvation Army Trenton Citadel Corps to deliver 350 pair of socks from our Socktober event, 135 blankets from Project Linus – Mercer County, NJ Chapter, 200 masks from Mercer Mask Project, and some leftover Halloween candy !! The guys also helped load the canteen that was ready to roll out and deliver much needed food and our donations to the area residents. #ServiceAboveSelf #rotary #rhrotary
Flags for Heroes Dedication Event 11/7/20
What an amazing presentation at our Flag Field this morning! Thank you to all our sponsors for your generosity! With your help we were able to present Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital with $2500 for their Holistic Cancer Center. Thank you to all the hospital officials who came out to accept this donation, Councilman Dan Schuberth and his wife Natalie Rallis Schuberth, and all our Rotary Club of Robbinsville Hamilton officers who made speeches! It was a wonderful event on a beautiful November day!
Club Helps Sandro’s Coat Rack and TASK
This morning after our Rotary Club of Robbinsville Hamilton meeting a few of us went down to Sandro’s Coat Rack and Trenton Area Soup Kitchen to hang coats and deliver items for the needy. In connection with Be Kind, our Rotary Club donated 110 coats
, 98 hats
, 10 scarves
, 12 pair of gloves
, 16 neck warmers, 3 snow pants, 250 masks from Mercer Mask Project, and five shopping bags full of candy
Pictured (l to r) TASK Staff Member Justin Williams, Rotarian Thomas Lanigan, Rotarian Cindy Schwab Rosen, a TASK client, TASK Manager of Food Services & Facilities Paul J, and Rotarian Bill Coleman. Not pictured is our Rotary Club Secretary and photographer, Scott Biondi! Thanks to everyone for their generosity and making this possible! #ServiceAboveSelf #rhrotary #bekind
Meeting Highlights 11/6/2020
A large number of members attended our weekly meeting this morning and enjoyed hearing from guest speaker Reginald “Reggie” Coleman, Executive Vice President of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Mercer County (BGC), where he manages both Club facilities and its operations. President Tom Damm noted that Reggie has long been a friend of our Rotary Club.
Reggie joined the Boys & Girls Club in 1998 as the Youth Development Director, and in his time at the club he has seen the organization grow from a $350,000 annual budget serving 300 youths a year to a $4 million budget serving close to 3,000 youths per year. He reviewed the many adjustments BGC has had to make during the pandemic, how funds from the BGC Bike Exchange (the recent recipient of a large donation from our club) are used for after-school and other programs, informed us about their Career Access Program (CAP) for teens, and reported that a recent virtual run fundraiser was a huge success. For more information about BGC, how to donate to them, and for volunteer opportunities, visit https://www.bgcmercer.org/
In other business, Rotarian Chris Merlino reported that during “Socktober” a total of 1,395 pairs of socks were donated, and President Tom outlined upcoming projects: helping Team 85 pack and deliver Thanksgiving meals to about 1,300 families in the area, collecting items for Winter Survival Kits for the Rescue Mission and others, collecting toys for Womanspace and Rise, and helping the Salvation Army with one of their annual Red Kettle collections.
We were pleased to welcome Christine Secrist, Past President of the Trenton Rotary Club, as a guest.
we shattered another event record when we collected 127 bikes, a dozen scooters and various bike parts in three hours outside of Friendly’s Foxmoor. It was by far the largest collection of bikes the Boys and Girls Club Bike Exchange has received in the last several years and by far the most our club has ever collected in a bike drive. The Bike Exchange said the bikes will sell for a total of $8,000 to $9,000 – money that will go to the Boys and Girls Club for youth programs. Thanks to the Rotarians who were available to assist in the drive.
Meeting Highlights – 10/16/20
It was our pleasure to welcome back Micah Rasmussen, director of the Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics at Rider University, as our speaker this morning. Micah shared some of the online tools he uses each day to track the upcoming election, including early voting, voter affiliation trends, polling comparisons with the 2016 and earlier elections, key U.S. Senate races, and NJ congressional district races. He also discussed mail-in/absentee vote counting, and the three public questions on the N.J. ballot, including a constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana.
The Rebovich Institute hosts a number of events for which Micah books leading figures from New Jersey and national politics as speakers. The next online program on November 10 at noon will feature New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli (a Rider grad and Hamiltonian) who will talk about her role in leading the state’s coronavirus response. For more information, visit www.rider.edu/rebovich.
Today’s meeting was also our first with Students of the Month for this school year! Each month from October through May, students from the four Hamilton and Robbinsville public high schools tell us about their achievements, community service, and future plans after graduation. Pictured (photos 3-6 in order) are Isabella “Bella” Kaufman, Steinert High School; Sarah Pierce, Nottingham High School; Elaine Wolochuk, Robbinsville High School; and Rotarian Greg Blair who coordinates the student visits.
We were also honored by a visit from our District Governor Ann Walko!
We have a lot of great activities coming up so please check out or website www.rhrotary.org or our Facebook page www.facebook.com/rhrotary or email us at President@RHRotary.org for more info!
Send Hunger Packing Food Drive at Foley’s
Thank you to Joe Foley for hosting our Send Hunger Packing food drive today at Foley’s Family Market. Generous shoppers donated a large amount of food that was picked by the Mercer Street Friends Food Bank. With three of our food drives canceled at the major brand supermarkets, the two at Foley’s enabled us to help ease food insecurity in the area.
Meeting Highlights – 10/2/20
We were most pleased to welcome the Hon. Paula Sollami Covello, Mercer County Clerk, as our guest speaker this morning. In her remarks, Clerk Covello reviewed new procedures affecting how Mercer County votes, including limits on who may use voting machines at polling places, and how ballots being sent to each registered voter may be mailed, put in drop boxes in each town, or dropped off at the polls. She also described the vote-counting process and measures in place to ensure accuracy and security. Further, she informed us that the Clerk’s Office is open for business and that appointments are required for most services.
The Clerk is active in civics and in her community, having served on the Lawrence Township Planning Board and in leadership positions with the New Jersey State Bar Association, the Mercer County Heart Walk Executive Committee, and the Womanspace Honorary Committee. Most recently, she was sworn in as president of the Constitutional Officers Association of New Jersey (COANJ).
Pat Hart, Executive Director of Womanspace, was a meeting guest.
In other business, we held a new member induction ceremony for Kimberly Swartz, a Hamilton resident. Welcome, Kim! That’s six new members this Rotary year, and brings our growing club roster to 50 Rotarians! President Tom gave updates for: a Food Drive at Foley’s Family Market tomorrow, a Miracle League fundraiser tomorrow at Killarney’s Publick House, collection of socks for the Rescue Mission during the month of “Socktober,” a Bike Drive on October 24, and our newest fundraiser, Flags for Heroes https://rhrotary.org/flags%20for%20heroes/
Megan’s Place Fall Cleanup
Rotary Club of Robbinsville Hamilton and Be Kind were out this morning doing a fall cleanup at Megan’s Place in Hamilton. The Rotary Club raised funds, purchased the house where Megan Kanka was murdered and replaced it with a public park that was dedicated to Megan on Sept 20, 1995. #rhrotary #rotary #serviceaboveself #bekind #megansplace #megankanka
Meeting Highlights 9/25/20 – The Mercer Regional Chamber of Commerce
Our guest speaker today was Christine Curnan, VP of Membership and Development from the Princeton Mercer Regional Chamber. In that position, she has successfully grown their membership from 500 to over 1,400 member companies, with over 8,000 company contacts. She is also responsible for starting key business initiatives, including the Real Estate Business Alliance Program, Trenton Economic Development Program, and the Diversity & Inclusion Program.
Christine told us that the purpose of the Chamber is “to help businesses in the region stay viable,” and described how the group has transitioned to online events; how they are a valuable source of information for their members, particularly small businesses; the networking opportunities; and how their membership costs are kept low for firms like sole proprietorships. She was particularly proud that their Princeton Mercer Regional Foundation partnered with Princeton University to raise a large of money for grants to small businesses, and of the Chamber’s efforts to highlight the work of area non-profits.
Finally, she said that Mercer County has fared somewhat better than other areas of New Jersey during the economic effects of the pandemic, and that a number of businesses have done well supplying goods and services specific to a recovery from the health crisis. For information, visit https://princetonmercerchamber.org/ or send an email to Christine@princetonmercer.org.
In other club business, President Tom Damm outlined a number of upcoming club events: “Socktober,” a month-long collection of socks for the Rescue Mission; a Food Drive Sat. Oct. 3 at Foley’s Family Market; a Bike Drive on Sat. Oct. 24 at Friendly’s restaurant in Robbinsville; and “Flags for Heroes,” a Nov. 1 – 14 display of American flags with the opportunity for individuals and companies to honor heroes of their own. Visit www.rhrotary.org for more information.
9/11/20 Hamilton Mayor Martin Addresses the Club
A large number of members and two guests – both prospective members – gathered online today for the regular Friday morning Rotary Club meeting. We were especially pleased to also welcome the Hon. Jeff Martin, Hamilton Township Mayor, as our guest speaker.
In his remarks, Mayor Martin outlined several priorities for his administration: First, helping small, “mainstream businesses” which are “the backbone of the community” with grants to recover from the earlier shutdown, and by supporting Shop Hamilton and other business groups that promote buying locally. Second, continuing to address the ongoing health crisis. He reported the good news that new cases of COVID-19 in the township have dropped dramatically since the spring peak. Third, he’s looking forward to working with a new “non-profits advisory commission,” a group charged with developing partnerships between non-profits and between them and government.
The Mayor also talked about new commercial building projects; how the township plans to install more election ballot drop-boxes; how he and the mayors of neighboring towns have regular, cooperative discussions about issues affecting the area; and township compliance with mandated affordable housing rules.
9/11/20 Club Assembly, New Member Induction
Our Rotary “Club Assembly” meeting this morning featured the induction of another new member (making 49!) and the “Classification Talks” by two of our newest members. Kalpana Patel, a management consultant and president of her own consulting firm, Excellence Management Consulting, LLC, resides in Princeton Junction with her husband, Dr. Rajendra K. Patel. Their daughter is a practicing cardiologist in the area.
Sonya Lopez Bright grew up in Vineland, NJ and works as a trial attorney for USAA Insurance, where she defends members who have been sued in Central NJ. She, her husband Doug and their 6-year old twins reside in Hamilton. She also has two step children in their twenties. She has participated in fundraisers for TASK, HomeFront and the Rescue Mission of Trenton, and looks forward to community service through our Rotary Club.
Anjali Chatterjee grew up in India, is a former math teacher, and after becoming certified as a Human Services Practitioner, works as a social worker with the Mercer County Board of Social Services. She works part-time at Mathnasium in Robbinsville. She and her husband Subrato and their two daughters reside in Robbinsville. Anjali looks forward to volunteering and participating in community events.
In other business, President Tom Damm announced a $1,500 donation from our foundation to the Miracle League of Mercer County to celebrate the league’s fifteenth anniversary and to support “Birthday Bash,” an 8-hour virtual fundraiser, co-hosted by Killarney’s Publick House, taking place from noon to 8 p.m. on Saturday, October 3. Also, the club will have a “Flags for Heroes” event, the outdoor, public display of at least 100 American flags in early November. Individual and corporate sponsors will receive “medallions” – keepsakes attached to the flag poles during the event to identify their heroes. Watch this space for more information.
Meeting Highlights 9/4/2020
A large number of Rotarians and guests attended our “hybrid” club meeting this morning, gathered at the YMCA’s Sawmill Road facility and on Zoom. President Tom Damm presented a check from our foundation in the amount of $3,000 to Rachel Holland, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Hamilton Area YMCA. The donation was a result of our recent “Mercer’s Got Magic” fundraiser.
Rotarian Dan Sczweck, the Y’s Director of Staff Development, and Executive Director of the Miracle League of Mercer County, recalled league history and detailed how its fifteenth anniversary will be celebrated this fall. “Birthday Bash,” an 8-hour virtual fundraiser, co-hosted by Killarney’s Publick House, will take place from noon to 8 p.m. on Saturday, October 3.
For more information, and an article by Hamilton Pulse, visit https://hamiltonpulse.com/miracle-league-of-mercer-county-…/. Information about the Miracle League is available at www.miracleleaguemercer.org, and about the YMCA and its programs at www.hamiltonymca.org.
Meeting Highlights 8/28/2020
We were pleased to welcome Bernie Flynn, CEO of Mercer Street Friends, a non-profit addressing issues of poverty throughout Mercer County, as our guest speaker today. Our club has a long history as a community service partner of the organization, especially with its food bank. Bernie retired from New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Group following a 25-year career, including 10 years as Chief Executive Officer. He contributes his time to Mercer St. Friends as a full time, unpaid employee, something President Tom Damm noted as a great example of the Rotary motto “Service Above Self.” He told us about continued efforts to address food insecurity in Mercer County, with an emphasis on the needs of children. After schools closed in March, affecting the distribution of individual food packs under the Send Hunger Packing program, the agency switched to “family packs” to serve more people over a longer period of time. Bernie also noted the club’s contribution of meals this year under the Rotary District 7475 End Hunger 3.6 project and by Rotarian Umang Naik’s family. Earlier in the meeting, President Tom “presented” a $500 donation check from our foundation to Pat Hart, executive director of Womanspace.
Project Linus – People Helping People
Some of the residents at Granville Place helping out Project Linus – Mercer County, NJ Chapter! Thank you to Rotary Club of Robbinsville Hamilton member Wayne Mernone for setting this up to support our National Day of Service and Remembrance event! #blankets #projectlinus #Rotary #ServiceAboveSelf
Club Donates 140 School Supply Backpacks
The Rotary Club of Robbinsville Hamilton’s annual School Backpack & Supplies project was completed this morning with a delivery to Wilson Elementary School in Hamilton Twp. We exceeded our goal of 80 by donating 141 backpacks plus thousands of school supplies. This entire donation was made possible by the generosity of club members, groups such as Hamilton Revolution Pop Warner Cheer, and other local supporters. Pictured, from left, are Club President Tom Damm, Rotarian George Ott, Club Secretary Scott Biondi, School Principal May Fermin-Cannon, Past Club President Joe Bellina, and School Custodian John Badalamenti. Not pictured due to a meeting conflict is Rotarian Teresa Caro who chaired the project. Thank you all for your amazing generosity! If you would like more information on how you can get involved with the club please email President@RHRotary.org #Rotary #ServiceAboveSelf
Meeting Highlights 8/21/20 – Our First “Hybrid” meeting
Our Rotary Club held a “hybrid” meeting this morning, with members in person – while observing safety protocols – at the Miracle League field on Sawmill Rd. and many others on Zoom. Guest Speaker Annie Fox, Director of Resource Development at Habitat of Humanity of Burlington and Greater Trenton-Mercer, gave us an update about the non-profit’s work. After a hiatus starting in March, Habitat is now completing projects to build and repair homes for low-income families. They have re-opened the Burlington & Mercer Co. ReStore in Independence Mall, 2465 S Broad St. in Hamilton to accept donations of building supplies and other materials. To learn more about Habitat for Humanity, how to volunteer and donate, and information about an October 19 Golf Outing fundraiser, visit https://www.hfhbmc.org/. One of Club President Tom Damm’s goals for this Rotary year is to have our club participate in an upcoming Habitat project.
Hamilton Revolution Pop Warner Cheerleaders Support Backpack Project
Thank you to Hamilton Revolution Pop Warner Cheer! These young ladies set up a drive to support our Annual School Supplies Drive for The Wilson School! Rotary extends to all ages! Check out your local school Interact or Rotaract Clubs or this link for more information: https://www.rotary.org/en/our-programs/youth-programs
Looking to get involved locally with our “adult program”? Send an email to President@RHRotary.org for more information!
Rotary Sends Hunger Packing
Rotary Club President Tom Damm was joined by Rotarians Sharon Lucidi, Judy Goldstein, Linda Gearren, Jodi O’Donnell-Ames, JoAnne Bruno, Joe Bellina, Keith Platt, Paul Neu, Simeon Rochonchou, Ken Diener, Tom Lanigan, Joe Giambelluca and Scott Biondi for a Send Hunger Packing food drive at Foley’s Family Market today. Thanks to the generosity of area shoppers, we filled ten shopping carts with food and received several hundred dollars in cash donations. Special thanks are due to proprietor Joe Foley, Erica Stefanelli and the store staff for stocking up on key food items for us, and to Jamal Cox from Mercer St. Friends for his pickup and delivery to the food bank. (photos by Peggy Krawiec Damm)
8/14/20 District Governor Visit, New Member Inductions
A large number of Rotarians from our club and the Rotary Clubs of Florham Park and Morris Plains attended a meeting this morning hosted by Rotary District 7475 Governor Ann Walko. Rotary tradition calls for DGs to visit each club in their districts at least once during the year, so DG Ann’s Zoom meeting was for her three “sunrise” clubs – those usually conducting breakfast meetings each week. She talked about goals set forth by Rotary International and detailed plans being developed at the district level. A highlight for us was DG Ann officiating the induction ceremony for four new members of the Rotary Club of Robbinsville Hamilton:
Sonya Lopez Bright
We look forward to each of our new members helping us continue to serve the community.
Meeting Highlights 8/7/20
Our guest speaker this morning was Dr. Seth D. Rosenbaum, MD, MMM-SVP, Chief Medical Officer at RWJUH Hamilton. He is also a Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, at Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. Dr. Rosenbaum spoke about COVID-19 cases and fatalities in the local area and how New Jersey has “made significant progress” in fighting the virus. He said the transmission rate which dictates re-opening options for the state has plateaued. He told us about how RWJUH Hamilton Hospital has participated in treatment trials, what is being used now to treat patients, and what they are doing to plan for a possible resurgence of the virus. Finally, he said that the hospital is “open for business” and available to people who may have postponed medical tests or procedures, and he detailed safety precautions being taken, including employee training, screening of arrivals at their facilities, and use of PPE and rapid-result COVID testing. A video of Dr. Rosenbaum’s presentation is available on our website at https://rhrotary.org/rhrc-video-productions/
Robbinsville Hamilton Rotarians and “Be Kind” Pack 5000 Meals
Last night we packaged 5,000 meals for the food insecure in our area. Following social distancing guidelines with masks, gloves, aprons, and hairnets we worked in our family pods to fill and pack meals for those in need. The event was a joint venture between Be Kind and Rotary Club of Robbinsville Hamilton in honor of Naik Rakesh’s 50th birthday! Rakesh is a member and past president of the Rotary Club of Gandevi, India. #ServiceAboveSelf #rotary #bekind
Meeting Highlights 7/31/20
Awesome way to start the day! Rotary Club of Robbinsville Hamilton had an amazing meeting this morning with Pat Hart from Womanspace, Inc. as our guest speaker. Contact Membershipchair@rhrotary.org if you want to find out more about what we do in the community! We had a lot of prospective members joining us today as well! #rotary #ServiceAboveSelf
Meeting Highlights 7/24/2020
Our Friday AM meeting featured guest speaker Mike Ziccardi, Executive Director of Recovery Advocates of America (RAA), a non-profit fighting opiate addiction and alcoholism. Mike spoke about the non-profit’s funding challenges caused by cuts in federal and state grants and the cancellation of their spring fundraiser. But, he also emphasized that RAA continues to staff interventions and work with local police departments with the CARE program to help save those in need. Club President Tom Damm announced that a $1,000 grant from our foundation is being sent to RAA. To learn more about RAA and to send them a donation, visit https://recoveryadvocates.org/. (Mike is shown below at RAA’s 7th Annual Jersey’s Run/Walk for Recovery fundraiser in 2019, which we helped sponsor; and at today’s Zoom meeting).
In other business, event Chair Joe Cavone reported that ticket and sponsorship sales are going well for our July 29 virtual magic show fundraiser, “Mercer’s Got Magic;” however we need additional support from the public to make a significant donation to the Hamilton Area YMCA. Tickets are available at www.mercersgotmagic.com. Also, the club is collecting backpacks and school supplies to be donated to Wilson Elem. School in Hamilton. For information about what is needed and how to donate, send an email to email@example.com.
Meeting Highlights 7/17/2020
A large number of our members convened on Zoom this morning for our regular Friday meeting. We were most pleased to welcome the Hon. Dave Fried, Mayor of Robbinsville Twp., as our guest speaker. Mayor Fried talked about the township response to the COVID-19 health crisis; how its police officers receive special de-escalation training aimed at improving outcomes during interactions with the public; and its C.A.R.E. (Community Addiction Recovery Effort) Program.
We were also pleased to welcome Christine Secrist from the Trenton Rotary Club, Jim Samuel, VP of Mid-Day Toastmaster Club #4139 in Robbinsville, and several prospective members.
Club President Tom Damm highlighted Rotary Club projects, including Mercer’s Got Magic (www.mercersgotmagic.com), a fundraiser on July 29 to benefit the YMCA, and the collection through mid-August of school backpacks and supplies for the students at Wilson Elem. School. He also informed that Rotarian Umang Naik and his family are funding and hosting a satellite “End Hunger 3.6” project to package 5,000 meals for those at risk of food insecurity.
Officer Installation 2020
Members of the club met via Zoom conference to share in the year’s achievements, which include the highest honor from a district to a club – The Presedential Citation. Congratulations President Bill and all members of the club who made this happen!
The club was also awarded the Care and Share award for our Winter Survival Kit project. Special recognition to Danely for her leadership in this effort.
Several club awards were presented, the Officers and Directors from last year were dismissed and new officers for the 2020/21 year were installed.
To see videos of the Installation Ceremony, Click Here.