EG Rotary Honors 6 At Upcoming 50th Anniversary Gala
Those named exemplify the Rotary mission of “service above self," says Rotarian Pat Lenihan.
A yearlong celebration to mark EG Rotary's 50th anniversary culminates on Saturday with a gala dinner at the Crowne Plaza in Warwick. The club will honor six community members who exemplify Rotary's mission of "service above self."
“We wanted to do something special to celebrate our 50th year,” said Pat Lenihan, chair of the event. “We felt that by honoring local ‘unsung’ heroes still exemplified the mission of the Rotary ‘Service above Self.’ There are many in the community who have truly generous spirits and have the willingness to care for the needs of others. We wanted to recognize that dedication as a reflection and example of what we should all strive to achieve.“
The 2013 East Greenwich Rotary Club 50th Anniversary award winners are Ana Opishinski, Ken Bell, Robert McCann, Robert Houghtaling, Nancy Rieser, and Tammy Flanagan.
Each winner will be awarded the Paul Harris Fellowship, one of the highest service awards given in Rotary International. Paul Harris was the founder of Rotary. In addition, the winners will receive a check for $500 for the charity of their choice.
What's extraordinary is that the Paul Harris Fellowship is almost never given to someone outside of Rotary.
"We have occasionally given out Paul Harris Awards to individuals outside of Rotary, but they have been rare and usually connected to a member," said Lenihan.
As for the gala celebration on Saturday, Lenihan said they want members of the community to feel welcome to come.
"We absolutely want to have as many of the members of our community as possible attend! We have enjoyed their support all this time, many of them are members of the various charities and local groups who have been the recipients of the proceeds of our fund-raising events and so we would love for them to celebrate this awesome organization, the East Greenwich Rotary!"
The celebration begins at 6:30 p.m. with cocktails followed by a dinner at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $60 per person or $500 for a table of 10 and can be purchased on the Rotary’s website at www.egrotary.org or by contacting Pat Lenihan at pat.lenihan@NEMoves.com or 401-323-2709.
Award Winner Profiles
Ana Opishinski – Inner City Day Camp, Washington DC
Ana has been a leader and integral part of the youth ministry which began and runs a summer camp for the neighborhood of Columbia Heights in Washington DC. Her involvement has included months of prep work for her teaching of arts and crafts and leadership skills, to the children of that community, as well as countless hours of fund raising events in order to finance the program, the travel and living arrangements for the volunteers. Ana’s contributions to her community have also let her to develop an anti-bullying project at the high school for which she achieved an award as a Woman of Distinction in RI and earned her a Gold Award for Girls Scouts. Ana is certainly well on her way to a life of service while still in her teen years.
Ken Bell – Christ Church Ministries
While well-known as a TV personality, broadcasting on a Rhode Island station for over 30 years, Ken is also widely known by others in the community needing assistance personally, emotionally and spiritually. Ken has lent his time and energy to numerous charitable projects over the years, including many not involved in his own church ministry. His generosity and commitment have amazed those receiving his attention as he has been an integral part of mission trips, prison ministry, charitable fundraising events, starting a Divorce Care ministry, a partnership with an inner-city school to develop a Homework Club and an After School Arts Program. Ken has also had oversight of the Christ Church Furniture Connection, Coat Drives, and Meals Ministry. His caring for individuals, particularly in times of their need has been far-reaching.
Robert McCann – Make a Difference Foundation
Bob took his personal contribution of a turkey at Thanksgiving to one sheltered family and developed it into an organization that now gathers funds and volunteers to provide over 2,500 turkeys to families who would otherwise not have a Thanksgiving. Just as importantly, Bob has involved 50 men, women and children in the delivery of the turkeys, teaching invaluable lessons of compassion and generosity. Each year, he has organized volunteers, solicited funds and marshaled every detail so that those families which have come to count on Bob’s foundation will not be disappointed. He has provided an amazing service and has been an outstanding example to all who have come to know of the Make a Difference Foundation.
Robert Houghtaling – Substance Abuse Director, Citizens Who Care, Youth-to-Youth
Bob Houghtaling has devoted his life over the last 30 years to reaching out to those in our community who have a need, a problem, need a caring ear, or a helping hand. His commitment to the youth of the Town goes well beyond his official workday as he has been on the frontlines of helping troubled teens regardless of the hour or the day. He has started and/or participated in nearly every youth-related organization in Town that seeks to engage kids during out-of-school hours and guides them personally or in groups through the emotion-laden relationships that today’s kids experience. His counsel has spread to parents and families through countless forums, articles and letters to the editor over the past decades sharing expertise, advice and observations in the hope that parents will feel empowered to help their own youngsters. His openness and caring have left their mark on hundreds of kids and adults alike.
Nancy Rieser – The Sharing Locker
Upon witnessing a demonstration of a non-food pantry effort in Sanford, Maine, Nancy Rieser committed to creating a similar resource in RI at her home parish, the Westminster Unitarian Church in East Greenwich. She organized a team of volunteers, took them to Maine to get a closer look, spend months researching the project and fund raising to organize the program in Rhode Island. Two years of this effort resulted in the Sharing Locker opening in 2010. The program has grown, serving over 200 families, utilizing the energy of 40 volunteers, and funded by donations of $10,000. To date, this pantry has benefited over $1,000 families in Kent and Washington counties supplying them with non-food items that are truly basic to everyday life. Nancy’s enthusiastic leadership has extended to involving volunteers of all ages, from elementary school children to seniors. Her example has demonstrated effective ways to put social justice and compassion into everyday life and living.
Tammy Flanagan – East Greenwich Animal Protection League
Tammy began as a volunteer with the League 12 years ago, and, while she remains a volunteer, she has become much more. She currently serves as both the President and as the Dog Adoption Coordinator. She is the “face” of the League as her responsibilities include PR in the community, relationship with the Town Council, Police and the public. She is the chief fund raiser, working to generate funds to cover the $20,000 that it takes to run the shelter each month. She also works with the RI Shelter Coalition to raise awareness and share information and resources. She works tirelessly to screen applicants for animal adoptions and prepare families to receive their new pets. The hours she devotes to all phases of providing critical service to the town, families, and animals in the League’s care are impossible to calculate. Her example has drawn other volunteers to help care for creatures unable to fend for themselves.