The Rotary Club of Canandaigua marks a milestone
CANANDAIGUA — Since its inception, the Rotary Club of Canandaigua and its more than 1,000 past and present members have helped communities near and far, and over 100 current and past presidents have led the way.
On Thursday night, 22 clubs representing six different districts gathered at Canandaigua Country Club for the one number that really mattered — 100.
The service organization celebrated its 100th anniversary, and how much the club has grown since a group of businessmen, inspired by Frank A. DeGraff, organized the club.
Twenty-four members attended charter night in spring 1919, with the club growing to 64 members by the 25th anniversary in 1944 and 136 by the 75th anniversary in 1994.
Currently, the club — with Karen Sprentall serving as president — numbers 113 members and 30 honorary members.
But, as Historian Preston Pierce noted in remarks for the occasion, club members today are experiencing many of the same challenges as charter club members did when they tackled Canandaigua Rotary’s first service project — establishing a loan fund for needy students.
By knowing the past and preparing for the future, club members today know they “stand on the shoulders of giants,” Pierce said.
“We are who we are as a community because of the standard set by the charter members,” Pierce said.
Guest speaker Jennifer Jones, who is a past Rotary International director from Canada, spoke of how membership in Rotary results in changes in members, for the better.
Jones told the story of her parents, both Rotarians, and how her father, who had suffered a stroke, told Jones that he always thought he would take care of her mother in their later years. Through Rotary, he realized that she would be able to take care of him, he told Jones.
“That is the gift of what we bring,” Jones said. “We bring leaders in and make better leaders. That’s our paycheck.”
As part of the 100th anniversary, Canandaigua Rotary pledged to complete and/or support 100 projects during 2019. Consider the goal met, locally, nationally and internationally.
For example, as part of the anniversary celebration, Canandaigua Rotary presented a donation in Jones’ name to ONYA, the Ontario/Yates fund for women and girls.
Over the years, the Canandaigua club has raised money for projects as far-flung as Project Hope, a world-traveling hospital ship, and as close to home as TV service for Thompson Hospital, the development of Kershaw Park and Outhouse Park, and Adopt-a-Highway, to name a few.
These projects were helped by friends and businesses in Canandaigua, but also — as Bob Palumbo, who served as emcee for the night, reminded — family.
Both his father and father-in-law were Rotarians.
“That’s what got me going in this,” Palumbo said.