The Bayonne Rotary Club recently “passed the bell” of leadership, transitioning from President Janice Hall to the new Rotary President Silvana Buccianti at the annual officer induction ceremony on June 29 at the Chandelier Restaurant on West 54th Street.
Founded in 1905, the Rotary has a primary focus of helping fellow citizens.
On the last night serving as Bayonne City Council president, Vincent Lo Re helped pass the bell at the Rotary meeting. Lo Re said the Bayonne chapter was founded in 1920 with an occupational focus – the earliest members of the club were part of industry, and the club tended to help educate students in those fields.
“We got to accomplish things we didn’t get around to during my first year.” – Janice Hall
Lo Re said over the years, the Rotary was effective because of the many important people who chose to get involved.
Janice Hall – outgoing president – said she was privileged to have worked with the “small but committed” group of people in order to accomplish a number of things during her time as president.
“Thank you for putting up with me, not for one, but for two years,” she said, expressing gratitude to the board of directors for supporting what must have seemed like “wild schemes.”
“In the second year, we got to accomplish things we didn’t get around to during my first year,” she said.
Helping the kids and the needy
During the last year, the Rotary continued its work in the schools of Bayonne with the Student of the Month Program for high school students, the distribution of 860 dictionaries, Citizenship Awards, Teacher of the Year Program, Scholarship Program, Read Aloud program, the holiday party for pre-K kids, sponsorship of three high school students to the Rotary Youth Leadership Award Conference, and sponsorship of 10 high school students to the West Point Leadership Conference.
“The students of all 12 public schools under the leadership of Rotarian (Schools Superintendent) Dr. Patricia McGeehan contributed $5,734.64 to our water wells project,” Hall said.
Of this money, Hall said, $5,000 was sent to one of the Rotary district’s members to rebuild the Constitution Center in Haiti, which was destroyed during the earthquake earlier this year. The money drilled the well and purchased a pump to provide water for kids in Haiti.
The remaining money was sent to a school in Jamaica to build another water tank for the kids, as well as for the installation of a sink so that kids could wash their hands.
Bayonne resident and Rotarian Jude Tiner donated $1,000 toward the purchase of a stove and cooking utensils for the same school.
“These kids cannot be assured of a hot lunch,” Hall said. “For many of these kids, it is the only meal they have each day.”
Rotary International awarded the Bayonne chapter the Literacy Award.
“We are the only club in our district to receive the award this year,” Hall said.
Fundraising efforts over the last year brought in over $12,000.
Kids’ clubs, political debate
The Rotary has also established two new clubs for young people in Bayonne High School and Holy Family Academy. Both groups are expected to kick off in October. They are self-governed and self-supporting, Hall said.
For the second year in a row, Tiner hosted a child for the Rotary Gift of Life Program, which allows a child to receive open heart surgery.
The Rotary sponsored the Bayonne Mayoral Debate this year, and has received permits to install five signs in various locations around the city to help increase membership.
Also to increase membership, the club also reduced its membership fees to encourage more business people to join, Hall said.
“We hope we will no longer be looked on as an elitist club,” she said, “but rather a club that does great things for our community and other communities around the world.”
Mayor Mark Smith, who was made an honorary member of the club, said it is unfortunate that the Rotary, which does so much for the kids of the community, should ever be looked upon as elite.
“This is what Bayonne’s about. What we do on a daily basis makes Bayonne a special place,” he said.
New president Silvana Buccianti said she intends to continue many of these projects and to increase membership.
The other honorary Rotarians are Jude Tiner and Maureen Caswell. Jeff Adelung was also installed as a Rotarian.
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.