Brockport Rotary celebrates 50 years of community service with library exhibit

By on October 14, 2019

Brockport Rotary’s 50th Year celebration is being showcased during a two-month long exhibit (October through November) in Seymour Library’s Local History Room. The exhibit includes six cabinets of Rotary-related memorabilia including old newspaper articles, club directories, newsletters, and even a slide show. A special reception is planned for Thursday, November 7, at 6 p.m. featuring Rotary District 7120 Governor Dave Hannan (Newark Rotary Club) and others. Additional programming details will be available soon.

Some club history 

The club was chartered in June of 1969 under the sponsorship of the Hilton Rotary Club. On September 11, 1969, at Deerfield Country Club, twenty members were inducted into the new Rotary Club of Brockport. Frank Donahue was elected Charter President. The next year, vice president Richard Benoit served as the District 7120 conference keynote speaker in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The longest serving club member is active Rotarian Gene Wood who joined the club in 1970. Steve Drexler serves as current club president.

James E. Wilkison (1989-90) served as the Brockport Rotary’s first and only district governor (to date). That year, the club hosted the District Conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Cynthia Gibbons was elected the Club’s first female president in 1993. On July 13, 1995, the Brockport Club celebrated its 25th anniversary of service and received the Community Service Award from the local Chamber of Commerce.

The club’s bulletin (newsletter) has been published nearly continuously from 1969 thru 2018. In 1978, Potpourri received the District’s best bulletin award. Starting in 2003, the Brockport Rotary News (edited by Dr. Pat Baker) received a third place award; its successor, The Bridge, also edited by Baker, has received two second place awards and multiple first place awards in its division including a first in 2018. 

Speaking of service  

Notable Club projects over the years include: installing a miniature railroad, dock and boathouse at the original Camp Haccamo (a summer camping program for special needs children and young adults); providing equipment and funds for the former Lakeside Hospital; roadside pickups; Erie Canal cleanup; and construction of a clothing center at the Episcopal Church. As a founding member of BISCO, the club helped build two community playgrounds, a skateboard park, plus landscaping for the former Brockport Senior Center building. For years, the club sponsored a Career Shadowing Day for high school students and still provides a yearly scholarship at the Brockport CSD graduation. It also supports an award at the College at Brockport in the name of deceased Rotarian Paul Hoy. In 2002, it created a Community Citizen of the Year award, renamed for deceased president Rudy Smith. In 2016, it hosted its 30th and final Senior Breakfast (re-named for Lois and Ken Gurnett) held at Brockport McDonald’s. Extensive bell ringing for the Salvation Army continues as does sponsorship of Boy Scout Troop 111 and more recently, Homesteads for Hope. Its long-time contributions to the local food shelf are approaching $20,000.

Fundraisers

Past major fundraisers include a Roaring ‘20s Dance, firemen’s carnival, and Snowmobile Races (until the snow didn’t show). The club’s belief in emphasizing the fun in fundraisers means food and music were usually involved. In 1973, an annual Oktoberfest was born and for 15 years was the club’s largest and most successful fundraiser. Several barbeque and music festivals concluded in 2013. The Ziti Dinner fundraiser ended its 25-year run in 2016. Food was also prominent in Rotary’s 30-year participation in District 7120’s association with the LPGA where Brockport Rotary honchoed the food concession at Locust Hill’s Hole #9 for years. The club’s involvement with BISCO is in its 26th year. Brockport Rotary Club has participated in all 25 of BISCO’s Brockport Arts Festivals (including helping to run affordable food concessions). In fact, BISCO began as a joint effort of Brockport service clubs (Rotary, Lions, Kiwanis), and the Fire Department. Arts Festival and Duck Derby proceeds have been used to help fund construction of Brockport community playgrounds and fulfill many other community needs in addition to helping publicize the village. 

Rotaract    

Rotaract is Rotary International’s young adult organization (college through age 29) and represents the future of Rotary. The Brockport Rotary’s first Rotaract Club began at The College at Brockport in the fall of 2013 and continues its fine work with many community projects and assisting at Rotary special events. It is hoped that Rotaract members will eventually transition into a local Rotary club. 

The next 50 years 

Brockport Rotary looks forward to obtaining new members interested in community service. Community here means membership in a worldwide community of future-oriented clubs and individuals dedicated to solving problems. Those problems, large or small, range from local help for special needs children and adults to worldwide causes related to clean water, literacy and disease-ending endeavors like polio eradication. Brockport Rotary continues to seek new projects and fundraising ideas.

Stop by the Seymour Library exhibit to learn more about the Brockport Rotary Club and it’s 50-year history of service. Exhibit viewers may find something that attracts them to community service in general and to Rotary, in particular. More information can also be found at Brockport-Rotary.org.

Provided information and photos   

Former presidents Pam and Fred Kimmel and Art Appleby ride the Haccamo Express with former District 7120 governor Bill Gormont of Greece Rotary as engineer. The miniature train originally purchased, rehabbed, and installed at the old Camp Haccamo is now located at Rochester Rotary’s Camp Sunshine in Rush.

Former presidents Pam and Fred Kimmel and Art Appleby ride the Haccamo Express with former District 7120 governor Bill Gormont of Greece Rotary as engineer. The miniature train originally purchased, rehabbed, and installed at the old Camp Haccamo is now located at Rochester Rotary’s Camp Sunshine in Rush.

Some of the items on display as part of the Brockport Rotary exhibit at the Seymour Library.

Some of the items on display as part of the Brockport Rotary exhibit at the Seymour Library.