Rotary Club of Cambridge serves the community for 89 years

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Special to Dorchester Banner/Hubert Wright
Past President Susan Todd installs the new Rotary Club of Cambridge officers and board; Amy Craig, secretary; Trevor Carouge, vice president; Allen Nelson, treasurer; Judy Prahl, president; Jeff Hubbard, board member; Board members not pictured Phil Reed, Ed Connelly and Dave Cannon.

In April 1927, Rotary International formally chartered the Rotary Club of Cambridge sponsored by the Easton Club. For 89 years, the Cambridge Club has been providing services to Cambridge and Dorchester County.

This year is no different, under the leadership of President Judy Prahl. Starting with the Club’s installation of new officers at a Horn Point picnic function, the Club’s members made the decision to continue doing many of the projects they have done in previous years. The Club has, also, added some new hands on activities to their community projects.

Dorchester County 3rd graders received the gift of literacy, when they were presented their own dictionary. A project the Club began in 2004, members have delivered more than 6,000 dictionaries to students some who say they continue to use the books even as they attend high school.

Literacy is also the theme of the speaker gift the Club presents each week. When someone speaks to the membership, a donation is made to the United Way’s Imagination Library in the speaker’s name. The program gives books to students to help promote literacy and reading.

The Club added a new hands-on project this year. Joining forces with the Chesapeake Housing Mission, they built a ramp for a Cambridge resident and her brother, who is wheelchair-bound. Because of the ramp, the man is able to leave his house with little to no struggle. The first hands-on building project the Club has done, members are looking forward to the next one, which is scheduled this spring.

Rotarians have also been involved in the Iron Man and Eagleman Triathalons. From helping with registration to parking and any number of other projects, the members give of their time to help the athletes have a good experience.

Food seems to be the theme for many of the Cambridge Club’s programs. In the fall, they sponsored their 19th annual “Jim Garrett Memorial Pancake Breakfast.” Members meet early on a Saturday morning to prepare a full pancake breakfast. Since the very beginning, the community has come for a great meal but, also to support Rotary and the many programs the Club does to make people’s lives better. Proceeds from the breakfast have helped countless community projects. Another special part of the breakfast is having members of the Cambridge-South Dorchester High School Interact Club come to help serve the guests. Interact is the high school-age component of Rotary. Members of the Interact Club have helped the Rotary Club for several years with this and other projects.

For more years than many members would like to remember, the Rotary Club of Cambridge meets at the Delmarva Community Service building, on Rt. 16, the week before Thanksgiving to serve a full Thanksgiving meal to hundreds of Dorchester County senior citizens. Members line up behind 2 rows of tables, plate the food then deliver it to the tables of the waiting seniors. After all guests have gotten their meal, received a dessert and a drink, the Rotarians are able to sit and enjoy the turkey dinner.

One month later, Rotarians are, again, lined up putting food on plates for Dorchester County senior citizens at the annual Rotary Sailwinds Christmas Luncheon. A project the Club has supported with manpower for several years. In 2014 the Rotary Club of Cambridge took over the financial support when the luncheon was near cancellation due to lack of funds. The Club opened their pocketbooks and provided the money needed with the help of a few donors.

Hundreds of senior citizens arrive at Sailwinds Park, some by bus, to enjoy the Christmas meal prepared by the Sailwinds staff and served by Rotarians and members of the Cambridge-South Dorchester High School Interact Club. This year 25 members of the Interact Club and their advisor, Linda Mullen, arrived in elf costumes ready to work. Some serving food while others made sure the guests had drinks and dessert. When all have been served, the workers are able to enjoy a meal and companionship while being entertained with a variety of entertainers.

Not everything the Rotary Club of Cambridge does centers around food. For several years, on the last Saturday before Christmas, members take shifts ringing the Salvation Army Red Kettle Bell at the doors in front of the Cambridge Walmart. And for several years, 2015 no exception, the Rotary Club of Cambridge has raised more money in a single day than any other organization.

Christmas for the Rotary Club of Cambridge is also a time to socialize with each other. Besides enjoying a nice dinner and singing some Christmas Carols, the Club presents their Annual Lifetime Achievement Award. This year’s recipient was Doug Bennett. A long-time member of the Club, Doug has served in positions from President to Board of Directors. He has served Rotary on a District level.

The Club welcomed, as special guest, Ben Cornwell, president of the Cambridge-South Dorchester High School Interact Club and Linda Mullen, advisor to the C-SDHS Interact Club.

The Club’s relationship with the Dorchester County Schools doesn’t stop with the 3rd graders and the C-SDHS Interact Club. For a number of years, under Rotarian Paul Stagg’s leadership, the Club presents a male and a female 8th grader from each of the three middle schools with the Nathan/Rotary Student of the Year Award. A special award because each of the Student of the Month recipients vote for the 8th graders they feel best represents the school. The Award is presented to the winners at the end of the year program.

On a high school level, the Rotary Club recognizes a senior from each of the two high schools, twice a year with the Student of the Semester Award. The recipients are selected by the administration of the school. At the end of the year, a male and female senior are presented with the illustrious “Service Above Self Award.” Also chosen by the administration and guidance department of the school, the award goes to students who exemplify the Motto all Rotary Clubs and members try to live by. Scholarships are presented to students who are graduating and continuing their education at a college or trade school.

A special recent project the Club is involved in is their Annual Oyster Roast to benefit the World War I Memorial Fountain at Long Wharf in Cambridge and the property around the Fountain. The Oyster Roast was originally started, in 2012, to raise funds to repair the Fountain which had been in disrepair for several years. The first Roast, spearheaded by Jeff Hubbard, was so successful and met with such great community support, the Club decided to make it an annual event. The Club felt, by making this an annual event and with the support of the City of Cambridge and the Community, other work around the Fountain and Long Wharf could be done.

The Club has taken on a new project this year to help support and recognize our Veterans. President Judy Prahl brought the idea of participating in “Flags For Heroes.” The goal of the Club is to sell 200 American Flags in memory or honor of a veteran. Over Memorial Day Week, the flags will be put in the ground by the Dorchester County Visitors Center, at the Fred Malkus Bridge. Proceeds from the sales of the flags will help fund scholarships for returning veterans.

Throughout the year, the Club makes donations to local groups through their “Happy Dollar Program.” They continue to look for and find ways of helping the Dorchester County community; as well as helping with projects around the world such as Polio Eradication. A key project of Rotary International since 1985, the Rotary Club of Cambridge and its members make annual donations to help eradicate Polio from the world. As Rotary says in a video produced talking about the work Rotary has done along with the World Health Organization and the William Gates Foundation, to fight Polio, we are in the “Final Inch.” Down to only one country worldwide. Polio will become only the 2nd disease to be eradicated.

So, when you ask a Rotarian, what is Rotary or what do Rotarians do? They help infants to seniors, they help with literacy and disease eradication. They help promote education through scholarships and recognize students who are living as Rotarians live. They raise money to help the less fortunate through organizations like the Salvation Army and the Cold Weather Shelter. They try to help make people’s lives just a little easier by doing hands-on programs. Rotarians live by the Rotary Motto “Service Above Self” by following the “Rotary Four-Way Test of the Things We Think, Say and Do”

1. Is It The Truth?
2. Is It Fair To All Concerned?
3. Will It Build Good Will And Better Friendships?
4. Will It Be Beneficial To All Concerned?
For any information about Rotary or it’s projects, please feel free to contact Phil Reed at 443-521-0100 or any Rotary member.

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