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Rotary Club of OB Celebrates 68 Years of Service

Looks Back at Accomplishments and Oyster Festival Foundation Giving

The Rotary Club of Oyster Bay held its 68th annual installation dinner at the Swan Club on Wednesday, June 30. Master of Ceremonies Chris Gallagher called the assembly of 50 to order and led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by saying of grace from Rotarian Debra Goyena. In his opening comments, outgoing president Jim Werner commented “I have enjoyed serving my term as the president, and thankful to the board for their support. I am incredibly proud of the accomplishments that we have achieved over the last 12 months, and look forward to continuing the success under Jim Fuccio’s leadership.”

The Rotary Club’s main source of fundraising is the Oyster Festival, where the Rotary makes money from selling raffle tickets, carnival tickets, oysters, and corporate sponsorships. The proceeds the Club receives are directed toward the Oyster Bay Charitable Fund. The Charitable Fund is not used toward the Club’s operating expenses, but is used to help those in need through four committees: Community Service, Vocational Service, Club Service, and International Service. Looking back over the last year, Jim Werner reviewed the accomplishments of the Club:

• Provided funds to send eight children to summer camp at the Theodore Roosevelt Sanctuary and Audubon Center. These children were identified by the Youth and Family Counseling Agency whose families do not have the resources to send their children to camp.

• Refurbished seven of the Rotary benches in town, with the help from Eagle Scout candidate John Lampisi.

• Established a web site with over 2000 hits in the last year, averaging 100 new visitors per month,

• Supported the Doubleday Babcock Senior Center by having a lunch meeting there once a month, hosting a spaghetti dinner for their members, and sponsoring the Day at the Races.

• Chaperoned the “Better Oyster Bay” community program for teenagers, and paid for the insurance.

• Hosted a lunch for National Honor Society Students from St. Dom’s and OBHS, recognizing the student’s academic accomplishments.

• Sponsored the OB Cooperative Preschool Wellness Walk.

• Provided the Oyster Bay Community Band with a $1000 challenge gift to support their summer concert series.

• Participated in a Dictionary project, donating dictionaries to the third-grade students of Vernon School, St. Dominic’s Elementary School, and the Mill Neck School for the Deaf.

• Supported international service projects by and through Peter Casparian’s travels to Guatemala with WINGS, an educational group that is dedicated to provide health education for women in underserved areas of that country.

• Rotary answered the Youth and Family Counseling Agency’s transportation request to provide bus service to children for their summer camp scholarship program.

• Organized a backpack program, to provide selected school aged children with backpacks full of school supplies.

• Staffed the apple cider booth for the Mill Neck School for the Deaf annual Apple Festival, selling over 800 gallons of cider.

• Awarded $4,000 in academic and service scholarships to graduating seniors from OBHS and St. Dom’s. Congratulations to OBHS seniors Julia Tortora (Al Shapiro Scholarship), Maria Moreno (Interact: Service Above Self Scholarship) Kelsey Gallagher (Oyster Bay Rotary Scholarship), and to Danielle Fabian of St. Dominic’s (Oyster Bay Rotary Scholarship).

• Provided matching funds for the Shelter Box project, as requested by the third-grade class at the East Woods School. The overwhelming success that the third-grade class had allowed for them to send two Shelter Boxes to Haiti to provide relief for the earthquake victims. Shelter Box is a program that provides a tent, vitamins, water filtration, toiletries, and cookware for 10 people for six months.

• The vocational committee provided transportation, tuition, and chaperones for 25 students from OBHS and St. Dom’s to compete in the Young Professionals Business and Leadership Competition at Farmingdale State University.

• Organized over 110 hours of bell ringing for the Salvation Army’s kettle at Stop and Shop. This is one of the highest grossing kettles in Nassau County. Thanks to Rotarian Tom Tetro for organizing the effort.

• During the holiday season, Rotary supported contributions to CSAC, the Community Social Action Council’s Holiday Sharing program and giving trees, North Shore Community Church, Christ Church, St Dominic’s, Community United Methodist Church, North Shore Assembly of God, Hood African Methodist Church, Mt. Olive Baptist Church, North Shore Community Church.

Many of these programs are recurring program, but Rotary has also been developing new programs that will thrive over the next year:

• Rotary Rides! is a program that will supplement the needs of seniors from our community that were affected by the discontinued Able Rides program through the MTA. Rotary will provide funding to start the program to offer 150 hours of bus service that will provide seniors with transportation to get the medical attention they need. This program will be supported by Harbor House, the Doubleday Babcock Senior Center, and Hendrickson Bus.

• Rotary has started a historical records project, to organize and archive 68 years of Club records. Rotary has supported the Historical Society’s “Angela P. Koenig Research and Collections Center” currently under construction. The Historical Society will provide space for the Rotary to store the records, and work alongside a student from C.W. Post’s master’s program in library sciences to help Rotary archive their records.

• Interact Club is the high school version of Rotary. OBHS has an active Interact Club, and in the Fall, St. Dominic’s will start a new Interact Club to be named in honor of Rotarian Tom Reardon.

Welcome to New Members

Jim Werner reminded the Rotarians and guests that “The strengths of the Club are the time, talent, and resources that our membership unselfishly yields to the community, and to each other. The strength of our club lies in the fun of fellowship and friendship that exists during our meetings. The strength of our club is the quality of our programs, the consistency of our membership, and the ability to attract new members such as Nathaniel Pierce (headmaster, East Woods School), Bridget Bettencourt (branch manager, Capital One Bank), Barbara Rakusin (director, Youth and Family Counseling Agency) and Kristin Reardon (co-chair, Oyster Festival).”

Rotarian Donna Lee inducted new member Kristin Reardon at the installation dinner. “Today it gives me great pleasure to welcome Kristin Reardon to Oyster Bay Rotary Family. I know you were introduced to Rotary by your father in-law Tom Reardon, who left us all too suddenly this past October. I wish he was here today doing the honors – that being said I will do my best to make him proud. With this pin I welcome you to the world of Rotary and remind you that you are now part of the Global Family of Rotary – Rotary International. When you wear this pin people will recognize you all over the world as an ambassador of peace and tolerance, one who works hard to bring understanding. Remember, the key to having a meaningful experience in Rotary is getting involved….as Rotarians always note “she profits most who serves best”.

Remembering Two Rotarians

The success of the Oyster Festival would not be where it would be today, nor would our Rotary Club or the Town of Oyster Bay be where it would be today without Tom Reardon. A Rotarian for 26 years, Tom held every leadership post the club had to offer.

George Cutting had dual citizenship in Rotary, spending his summers with the Rotary Club of Homer, Alaska, and his winters with the Rotary Club of Oyster Bay. When George would return to Oyster Bay, he would bring Alaskan oysters to a lunch meeting, and the club would have a taste contest between Alaskan Oysters and Oyster Bay’s Oysters. George worked with Tom Reardon in hosting a “Battle of the Oysters” as a fund raiser for the Youth and Family Counseling Agency, which helped raise over $20,000 for the agency. To bring an event like that together would take anyone months of work, but George and Tom had unique talents and connections that allowed them to bring this together with the greatest of ease.

Honoring Two Rotarians

The Paul Harris Fellow is the highest award that Rotary has to offer, and the Oyster Bay Rotary Club had the distinct honor of recognizing two members as Paul Harris Fellows. (Paul Harris was the founder of Rotary International in 1905.) In the award presentation, President Jim Werner commented that “Paul Rosen and Dr. Surinder Wadyal are being recognized with a unanimous vote from your peers, in favor of this distinction. By being recognized as a Paul Harris Fellow, the Rotary Club of Oyster Bay has made a $1,000 donation in each of your names to The Rotary Foundation, which supports a wide range of humanitarian grants and educational programs that enable Rotarians to bring hope and promote international understanding throughout the world.”

Paul Rosen joined Rotary in 2005. Paul’s organizational skills, management techniques, and leadership qualities are without doubt reasons why the Oyster Festival continues to be successful as it is today. It takes a special dedication and passion to coordinate all the efforts that is involved with an event that brings 200,000 people into a town of 7,000. The end result of Paul’s tireless effort is that every year, hundreds of thousands of dollars are being brought into our community for the direct benefit of 27 non-profits. People have fun at the Oyster Festival, and come back year after year to sample new foods, see new exhibits, and experience the best that Oyster Bay has to offer.

Dr. Surinder S. Wadyal joined Oyster Bay Rotary in 1984, and recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Oyster Bay Animal Hospital. His commitment to the community and his profession is evident through his past service as a board member of the Boys & Girls Club, the Theodore Roosevelt Association, and the Oyster Bay Rotary Club, where he served as president in 1989. Surinder is a member and past president of the Long Island Veterinary Medicine Association, and in 2004, Dr. Wadyal was recognized as the Veterinarian of the Year.

He assisted at Ground Zero after the tragic events of September 11th, 2001, caring for the search and rescue team dogs. He volunteered his skills and worked in 12-hour shifts for weeks giving medical treatment to the rescue dogs. After Hurricane Katrina, Surinder helped relocate homeless pets displaced to the New York area. For his efforts, he has been awarded the New York State Senate Liberty Award by State Senator Carl Marcellino.

A resident of East Norwich for the past 27 years, Surinder and his wife Jatinder enjoyed watching their children Raj and Komal grow up and schooled throughout the Oyster Bay-East Norwich School District. A graduate from American University, Raj is a medical doctor completing his fellowship in Louisiana, and their daughter Komal has recently completed her Master’s degree in public health from Drexel University.

District Governor Robbie Donno

Rotary District 7250 Governor Robbie Donno attended the Rotary installation to swear in the new board members. Robbie Donno joined Manhasset Rotary in 1971, at age 25, and served as the Club’s president at age 29. During Robbie’s presidency, there was a plea for help from the Rotary Club of Kampala, Uganda on behalf of a 5-year old girl that was suffering from a congenital heart defect. The Manhasset Club, under Robbie’s presidency, championed an effort to bring the young girl to St Francis Hospital, where she received life saving surgery. That was the beginning of the Gift of Life Program. Since then, over 10,000 children have benefited from the Gift of Life program, in which Robbie was elected as Chairman in 2003. The Gift of Life program is now active in 63 countries.

District Governor Donno installed the following slate of officers:

President: Jim Fuccio

Vice President: Thomas Tetro

President Elect: Christopher Gallagher

Secretary: Donna Lee

Treasurer: Bridget Bettencourt

Club Service: Judy Wasilchuk

Community Service: Isaac Kremer

International Service: Peter Casparian

Vocational Service: Nathaniel Pierce

Oyster Festival: Paul Rosen and Kristin Reardon

For more information on Rotary membership, guests are welcome to attend a lunch meeting, usually held on Wednesdays at 12:15 at the Homestead. Check for a complete schedule. For more information, e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call Jim Werner 567-8290.