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History of the Old Saybrook Rotary Club

The first Rotary Club was organized in Chicago, IL on February 23, 1905 by Paul C. Harris. A small group of business men in Chicago met regularly at a different place each time, thus the name “Rotary.” Since 1905 the ideas of Paul C. Harris and his friends have become ideals for men and women of Rotary around the world. Today there are over 32,000 Rotary Clubs in 190 countries; membership over 1.2 million. The motto, “Service Above Self.”

The Rotary Club of Old Saybrook was organized on November 1, 1926. Weekly meetings were at the Pease House on Bridge Street at Saybrook Point. The Charter was presented by the Rotary District Governor, District 7980 on May 18, 1927 and “The Rotary Club of Old Saybrook” was on its way to serve the communities of Old Saybrook, Westbrook, Lyme & Old Lyme. In 1977 the Club set up the first four year, academic scholarship of $1,000. Today the Rotary Club of Old Saybrook presents annually in excess of $24,000 in scholarships. OS Rotary recognizes the achievements of Old Saybrook High School, Old Lyme High School and Westbrook High School students with its Student of the Month program. For nine months of the school year, a student is chosen by each of the 3 schools to represent a discipline of study. The students, families, teachers, and principals attend our breakfast meeting where the students are presented with a certificate of recognition and a small stipend. On a historical note, our first Old Saybrook High School “Student of the Month” award was given on October 7, 1991 to Brendan Walsh. In 1997 an “Interact” club was organized in the Old Saybrook High school. Interact is a Rotary program designed for young people 14 - 18 years of age. The program provides an avenue to serve the local community and be part of Rotary world wide. Today the Old Saybrook High School Interact club is extremely active. The Westbrook High School Interact club organized in 2012 is extremely active as well.

1987 saw the establishment of “The Rotary Club of Old Saybrook Foundation”. The foundation has grown over the years and has provided funds to support a wide variety of programs, DARE, RYLA, (Rotary Youth Leadership Awards), our local Scholarship program, International World Affairs Seminars, Warm The Children, Community Outreach Program, Meals on Wheels, Student of the Month, and The Dictionary Project to all the towns we serve. During the past five years programs sponsored by The Rotary Club of Old Saybrook Foundation have distributed more than $365,000 to benefit residents in the communities served, Old Saybrook, Old Lyme, Lyme, and Westbrook, The Scholarship Program providing students with college tuition, Warm the Children program furnishing winter clothing for 1300 children in 7 local towns, Community Outreach, all made possible by a generous bequest from a former Rotarian. In 2002 The Rotary Club of Old Saybrook became the first Rotary Club in Connecticut to distribute dictionaries to elementary school children. Since its inception, The Rotary Club of Old Saybrook dictionary project has given over 4500 dictionaries to elementary school children in Old Saybrook, Westbrook, Lyme and Old Lyme.

To learn more about The Rotary Club of Old Saybrook and The Rotary Club of Old Saybrook Foundation visit our web site, www.osrotary.org. New members are always welcome. Please contact Gerri Lewis, President 2013-2014, at gerri_lewis@yahoo.com.

Bill McLaughlin

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