Club History

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Club History by Al Lotrecchiano and Ed Sumber

More than seven decades have passed since Austin Lescarboura, representing the Peekskill Rotary Club, made countless trips to Mahopac and Carmel to explain to a few community leaders, the goals and opportunities offered by a Rotary Club.

On April 6th, 1932, Rotarians gathered at the Dean House to celebrate the charter of the Lake Mahopac/Carmel Rotary Club. Over the years, the meetings of this new Club alternated between sites in Mahopac and Carmel as the Club tried to meet half the year in one town and half in the other. The Lake Mahopac/Carmel Rotary grew, prospered and left many marks of accomplishments in both communities and with Rotary International. Finally in 1967, as the membership exceeded 60 Rotarians, it was decided that the time had come for two separate clubs.

On Wednesday, June 14, 1967, the Carmel Rotary Club celebrated its charter at Lombardi's Restaurant in Mahopac. Sam Hickman, a charter member of the Lake Mahopac/Carmel Rotary and past District Governor, was elected the Club's first president. The Carmel Rotary wasted no time in getting into the service mode with 29 of its 30 charter members having been members of the Lake Mahopac/Carmel Club, and this experience "jump started" the new Club. A community calendar was the major fund raiser that year and the Club hosted the Australian Rotary Group Study Exchange Team. The "Carmelite", the new Club bulletin, got its name from its first editor, Len Golditch.

In 1968, through the efforts of Rotarian Joe Nicholson, the Putnam County Board of Supervisors designated the County Farm as the Putnam County Park. A joint effort by the Carmel and Lake Mahopac Clubs resulted in the clearing of land, building of picnic tables and benches, and planting of trees. Materials were donated by Club members Steve Cornell, Walt Pilner and Fred Dill. The Putnam Hospital Center Fair was growing more popular each year and in 1969 the Carmel Rotary Club agreed to organize a "Variety Show" at the fair. This was a huge undertaking chaired by Bob Thomas. The entire Club participated and the show was a great success.

In 1970, efforts were made to establish a Teen Center at Memorial Hall. With funds from Guideposts, the Carmel Rotary assisted with alterations and painting. The same year, as part of the Rotary Youth Exchange Program, the Club sent two Carmel High School Students to South America.

1971 marked the birth of our first baby. Under joint sponsorship by the Carmel, Lake Mahopac and Peekskill Clubs, the Putnam Valley Rotary Club was chartered with our own Dan Fucella, the "daddy." We were matched with the Philmont Rotary Club as part of a "get to know you better" program. Carmel hosted Philmont at a picnic at Doc Vink's house and Philmont invited Carmel to an affair in return.

In 1972, President Larry Piazza initiated the Explorer Program - matching students from Carmel High School with local businessmen and professionals that were involved in an area of the student's interest. The Club also sent 13 handicapped youngsters from Carmel and Kent to Camp Goodwill in upstate New York.

1973 was highlighted by an international dinner at Memorial Hall. Members brought traditional dishes of their heritage and foreign exchange students from Carmel High School were the speakers.

1974 brought one of the Club's most energetic projects. Spearheaded by Bob Thomas, the Club built a horse ring at the County Park. The first annual horse show was held in 1975, sponsored by the Carmel Rotary and Putnam County 4H. The Club also won honors at the District Conference Golf Tournament in 1975 - Ambie Lavigne taking low gross and Bob Kristeller taking high gross! During 1976 the Club continued with community service projects, assisted at the horse show and hospital fair, and produced the community calendar again. Dick Cornish had members cutting grass along the shore of Lake Gleneida.

In 1977, a testimonial dinner honoring Sam Hickman's 80th birthday was held at the Putnam Golf Club. Also celebrated that night were his 60 years as a businessman in Carmel and his 40 years of service to Rotary. Being a charter member of the Lake Mahopac/Carmel Rotary Club, and District Governor 1952-1953 earned Sam his nickname "Mr Rotary." Club membership increased to 53 with high levels of enthusiasm and commitment.

Lee Keck introduced the basketball "Shootout" in 1979 which resulted in a profit of $5,700. The Club continued to sponsor a hole-in-one contest at the hospital fair. With the passing of the Club's poet laureate, Peg Godridge, a scholarship was founded in his memory, to be awarded to a deserving Carmel High School graduate.

During 1980 the Carmel Rotary raised $13,200 to provide uniforms for the Carmel High School Marching Band. Watching the students lead the homecoming parade was a thrill. They were a grand sight indeed!

In 1981, the Club hosted a "Family Reunion." Lake Mahopac, Pawling, Brewster, Putnam Valley, and Fishkill Rotary Clubs joined Carmel for an evening of fun, fellowship and good food at Sciortino's Restaurant. Ed Sumber was honored as Putnam County Rotarian of the Year and Norman Vincent Peale was guest speaker.

In 1982, the "Shootout" had expanded to include six clubs, Lake Mahopac, Pawling, Brewster, Putnam Valley, Patterson, and of course Carmel. The result was the raising of over $35,000 to support community organizations. Andy Senno arranged for members to receive CPR training through a program by the Putnam County Red Cross at Guideposts.

1983 marked the first year of bell ringing for the Salvation Army. Al Deaderick, a great organizer, chaired the project.

The "Shootout" was still going strong in 1984, and was augmented by a "Super Shootout" which involved the winners of the local Shootouts competing. Carmel came out victorious! Art Hayes introduced an "Entertainment Book" fund raiser which was very successful. Unfortunately, 1984 also marked the passing of Doc Vink. Doc Vink loved Rotary, he loved music, he loved bowling and he loved his community and all the people in it. To honor his memory a scholarship fund was established and, with an outpouring of donations, quickly reached $3,500. As an original "Country Doctor", Doc was proud of delivering more than 2,000 babies as he watched the community grow through the years.

With the 4H Fair growing each year, there was a need for a second horse ring. Carmel Rotary assisted in putting up the fence. Ivan Cohen was instrumental in promoting Paul Harris Fellowship participation by the Club, and the result was 9 Paul Harris Fellows. Bob Thoubboron chaired the Club's Hopetown Project in which the Club members repaired, painted, and added gutters to the facility. This project brought out the best of many Club members.

After many years of debate, Rotary International amended its charter to allow women to join Rotary. In 1987, Carmel Rotary wasted no time in proposing three women - Bonnie Chapman, Cathy Chisholm and Marjorie Nichols-Keith.

In 1988, the Club provided the shrubs and manpower to enhance the two new signs in front of Putnam Hospital under the guidance of Dave Schade from Shade and Sun Nursery. 1989 marked the Club's most successful Shootout ever, raising over $13,000 for community projects. Lynn Burr chaired the effort. Milt Einhorn, Sam Golden and Jay Mulligan organized an "Adopt-a-Dorm" program at Green Chimneys that involved members visiting each Friday to "rap" with the kids. On January 18, 1989, our second "baby", the Phillipstown Rotary Club, received its charter. Tony Maccarini was the guiding force during the organizational period.

In 1990 Marjorie Keith became the first woman president of the Carmel Rotary Club. Under her leadership the Club participated in the building of the Imagination Station Playground at the Kent Elementary School. Each year since 1990, the Club has helped to fund the Carmel High School Dad's Club Post-Prom Party to provide a drug and alcohol free alternative to parents in lieu of home parties.

1991 marked another first. Steve Cornell became president of the Carmel Rotary Club - 50 years after being president of the Lake Mahopac/Carmel Rotary Club. This fete earned him recognition in the Rotarian Magazine. The Club participated in a clothing drive to assist families in Appalachia. Steve's enthusiasm was amazing even as he approached his eightieth birthday.

In 1992, the Club joined the "Adopt a Road" program sponsored by the Town of Carmel Highway Department. Steve Cornell saw to it that Belden Road was the best looking road in the County. Steve also chaired the construction of a water tank to be used by the American Cancer Society for their "Duck Derby."

1993 brought the need for more assistance to the Hospital Fair and the 4H Fair. The Club accepted the responsibility for manning the grills and serving food all day Saturday at the 4H Fair. At the Hospital Fair, the Club began running "Small World", an amusement area for little children. In 1993, the Club also spent one Fall Saturday planting trees and shrubs at the area's senior citizens apartments on Seminary Hill Road, which really added a touch of beauty to the complex.

Fred Dill who began in 1938 an extraordinary Rotary career that would span more than sixty years, saw the need for dialysis treatment at Putnam Hospital Center and contributed funds to establish such a facility. Community groups joined the effort and soon the Celia Dill Renal Dialysis Center was in operation. Carmel Rotary aided the project with a donation of $5000. Youth programs have always been a high priority for the Club which sponsors an Interact Club at Carmel High School, participates in the Rotary Youth Exchange Program and the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards Conference (RYLA). In 1994 nine Carmel students attended RYLA accompanied by several Carmel Rotary chaperones.

In 1995, a new fund raiser was introduced, a "Fish and Chips Dinner" at George's Place. Laura Cohen was inducted as a new member - giving the Club its first husband/wife team. Steve Cornell received the first "Lifetime Service Award." Year in and year out Steve had been a catalyst, involved in every project the Club undertook. His energy, enthusiasm and wit were an inspiration to the entire Club.

Fred Dill followed on Steve's heels with a "Lifetime Service Award" in 1996. One of Fred's special traits was his enjoyment in seeing people and organizations become successful in their endeavors. He often played an integral part in these successes.

In 1997, the Club sponsored the registration of donors at the community Bone Marrow Drive. It also began cooperating with the Mahopac Club in supervising the "Alternative Sentencing Program." This program allows an adolescent who has been in trouble with the law to participate in a community service program under the supervision of Rotarians, rather than being incarcerated. In 1999, the Carmel Club inaugurated this web site. Don Wortzman was and continues to be the Club's first Webmaster.

In the year 2000, a new fund raiser, an auction was introduced, thanks to the husband and wife team, Ivan and Laura Cohen (then president). This was a natural for our Club since Ivan and Laura did auctions for charitable groups all over this area, and Ivan is a professional auctioneer.

September 11, 2001 will be remembered along with the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor as days of infamy. The Club participated in several activities in support of the recovery. These included volunteering as food servers at Nino's Restaurant, which provided free food for the ground zero workers involved in the cleanup. We also collected and delivered clothing needed by the workers. This participation was spearheaded by Amy Covais. As Carmel Rotarian Fred Dill reached 90, nearing the end of his extraordinary life, he purchased 45 acres along Route 6 and donated them to the County to form a 147 acre Wildlife Sanctuary and Educational Center.

In the year 2002, Amy Covais was honored as Rotarian of the Year for District 7210 for, among other things, rallying the entire District in the 911 volunteering effort. A vocational awards program was initiated for non Rotary members of the community who had made significant contributions to the community.

In 2004, a new fund raiser was introduced, the Road Rally. It included a stretch of the same route taken by our local Revolutionary War hero, Sybil Ludington, when she sounded the call to arms to the patriots of Putnam County, as the British troops burned Danbury. It also passed the location of the largest Buddha in the western hemisphere, the panoramic views of beautiful Boscobel, and the scenic riverfronts of Cold Spring and Garrison Landing. Andy Senno was honored with the Club's Lifetime Achievement Award.

In 2005 Amy Covais' Presidency continued the Club's many community activities and initiated the Carmel Rotary Foundation, Inc. a 501(c)(3) public charity to augment the Club's fundraising. Carmel Charter Member Al Lotrecchiano was honored by Rotary International with its Distinguished Service Above Self Award. Al is one of less than 2,000 Rotarians from amongst the millions who have joined Rotary, to receive this prestigious award which acknowledges exemplary humanitarian service with an emphasis on personal volunteer efforts. The year finished with a spectacular Installation Dinner on the Hudson River when Denise Brown was installed as the new Club President.

2006 continued with a period of renewed energy; over $18,000 raised for numerous community causes; renewed membership growth (back up to 41 members), 100% attendance from more than five members and a festive wine and cheese fundraiser co-hosted with the Mahopac Club at the incredible and much used Mahopac Library.

As the 2007 Rotary year began, John Dolgetta was installed at the 40th Anniversary Installation dinner, Peggy Garland was honored as Rotarian of the Year and Ed Sumber received a Lifetime Achievement Award. The installation dinner acknowledged another year of outstanding service and was attended by more than seventy-five Rotarians, their spouses and guests.