Rotary Club of Salem celebrates a century of serving others
Salem Rotarians were joined by the current and past governors of Rotary District 6650. There are 82 members of the Rotary Club of Salem, and the District consists of 46 Rotary Clubs with more than 1,600 Rotarians from around the area.
Following an inspiring welcome by Club President Ryan Boyce, an invocation by Rev. Ross Jackson, and a toast by Past District Governor George Hays, the group enjoyed a dinner and fellowship.
Past President Dr. Peter Apicella, chair of the Centennial Committee, reviewed the 100-year history of the Club which was formed in 1921, at a challenging time for the City of Salem, just after the end of World War I, the Spanish Flu pandemic, a Polio outbreak, and prohibition.
The Rotary Club of Salem was officially welcomed into the International Association of Rotary Clubs at a dinner held by the Rotary Club of Youngstown on April 27, 1921. With a focus on “Service Above Self,” the Rotary Moto, the club began a century of making a difference in the Salem Community and around world.
Apicella noted that the Rotary Club of Salem began its charity focus helping crippled children from polio and was a charter member of the organization which became Easter Seals; created a Camp for Boy Scouts northwest of town; helped to found the Rotary Clubs of Columbiana (1923) and Sebring (1925); began the well-known Rotary Foreign Exchange program in Salem; is well-recognized internationally for its generosity through donations which have support projects in Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, Vietnam, India, Philippines, and right in this area with the Military Family Veterans Center in Louisville, and GiGi’s Playhouse for Down Syndrome Children in Canton. The group has also been significant supporters of Rotary’s PolioPlus initiative to eradicate polio.
Community support over the century included the Salem Hospital, Salem Community Foundation, Salem Memorial Building, and Salem Public Library; Rotary US Flag project placing flags in the lawns of the community members; the Annual Pancake Day; and support for United Way, Mobile Meals, Banquet in Salem, Community Pantry, and Brightside Projects.
Youth support included the Salem High School Interact Club and Columbiana County Career and Technical Center Rotaract Club; Salem Rotary-Kent State University High School Career Day; Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA); and support for many youth activities in the community including scouting and youth sports.
Appicella updated the group on the progress of the group’s Community Centennial Project, “The Salem Rotary Family Sports Center,” which is being constructed in Memorial Park behind the Salem Community Center. This family-friendly park will feature a soccer practice field, grass and sand volleyball courts, two batting cages, two golf practice cages, a cross-fit area, a children’s playground, and a central gazebo. The group has raised over $150,000 and welcomes donations to complete the children’s playground portion.
Apicella summarized the group’s Centennial International Project to provide textbooks to the fifth and sixth graders of 13 elementary schools in Honduras. The children in this poor area have not had school since the COVID outbreak and do not have computers to be educated from home as we do in the United States. The students are expected back in classes in February 2020 and will benefit from the new textbooks for years to come.
Brittany Zamarelli Maniscalco held a trivia contest for the group noting that Salem was the first Club in the District to induct women with Elayne Rousseau Kothera its first female member and that the Annual Rotary Pancake Day has been held for the past 61 years.
Past District Governor Geoff Goll presented the club with a special gift, a Rotary Bell handcrafted by the Marinelli Brothers in Italy who have been making bells since 1339. The bell will be used to ring-in the Club meetings on Tuesdays at noon as a reminder of the group’s past as they look toward the next century of service.
The current District Governor Steve Wilder presented the Club with banners to honor the Centennial and thanked the club for its international and local generosity.
A drawing was held for the winners of the Golden Ticket Raffle to raise funds for the children’s park by Past President Gina Apicella Dermotta. A total of $10,000 was awarded in prizes and $12,000 was raised for the children’s park.
The band, “Finding Sparky,” closed out the event which left many great memories for all in attendance as the Rotary Club of Salem celebrated 100-years of making a difference in the community and the world. Community members interested in joining Rotary should contact a member or visit the Community Center on Tuesdays at noon.