The New Paltz Rotary Club met on June 13th at the Toad Holly restaurant to install the newly elected officers for the 2013-14 Rotary year.  Rotarian John Peterman served as Master of Ceremonies for the well-attended installation dinner.   Our own “Mr. Rotary,” Joe Moriello led the club in the installation ceremonies.  Outgoing President Jeff Smith reminisced over the past year, surprised as to how fast it had gone, and the many successful events and activities that had occurred.  He was especially pleased by the successes of the Touch-a-Truck and the Win-a-Bundle, and thanked all for their support and guidance over the year.




The new roster of the officers are a combination of enthusiasm and experience.  New president, Matt Eyler, president-elect, Toni Hokanson, and new directors, Edna Harrison and Joe Fitzpatrick are all fairly new to the club and bring an air of excitement and enthusiasm to our club.  Newly elected Vice President, Patrick Fillette, Secretary, Irene Berner, Treasurer, Rocco Pucino, and newly elected Directors, Joe Moriello and Mike Fairweather are experienced member will help the new members by providing experience and guidance.  It appears to be a well balanced Executive Board.




Incoming president, Matt Eyler, spoke to the group about some of the activities he wanted to do over the year, and invited the Club members to join him in a year of “service.”  A synopsis of his speech is provided below:




As we all know, the fundamental purpose of our Rotary club is to engage in “service above self”, to the benefit of our community and the larger world.  But we must also remember that each of us are busy human beings, and we all need to feel needed, connected, and engaged. 




We must all believe that what we are doing is worthwhile and that our efforts are appreciated and that we are making a difference.  I believe that my primary role of leader of the club is to promote this sense of belonging and I will be doing everything I can this year to insure that every member gets “meaning” out of the valuable time and effort they so generously volunteer to our Club.




This is a Club with an impressive history, a Club with a strong foundation, and a Club with exceptionally talented members.  As President of the Club, I want to work with each of you, leveraging our strengths, and working to help this Club reach its full potential.  That is, delivering service to our community and bringing meaningfulness of all of our lives.




One of the issues that I have observed, and which is both a strength and a weakness is the communication within the club.  Today, in this oft, too disconnected world, we as Rotary members meet face-to-face each and every week.  We come to the meeting, turn off the outside world, we eat together, we share happy stories, and we build relationships.  But too often this weekly meeting becomes habitual and routine, and we unthinkingly shut some members out.   I believe we can do a better job of making all of our members feel valued and needed, contributing critically to our mission of service.  If we want to make all members feel welcome and if we want to improve attendance, we have to let all of our club members know that we care.  As I begin my presidency this year, I would like to start a new Club policy:  any member who is not in attendance for two weeks running should receive a “reach out” from another Rotarian.




I would also like to see ten new club members by the end of this Rotary year.  That means each and every Club member should bring at least one guest over the course of the year.  As an incentive I will provide a bottle of champagne to the Club member who brings in the most guests by next June.  And remember, when someone brings a guest, we should all bend over backwards to make that guest feel welcome and special.




I believe we need to improve awareness of our Rotary Club within our Community.  We need to make a more concerted effort to use the community newspaper, the New Paltz Times.  And we can get more exposure through our various events, such as the Scholarship Scramble, the Win –a- Bundle, and our Touch-a-Truck event.




Finally what about service?  We are pretty good at raising funds, and we’re even better at writing checks.  But are we doing enough real “hands-on” service?  I know that hands-on projects make members feel more engaged – seeing the good that they are doing and participating in something concrete and real. 




But how can we expand our service without overwhelming the already too busy membership and burning ourselves out?  I think the answer is through a series of what I want to call “bite sized” service projects, small projects in which only a few members must be active at any one time, and not always the same members.




However, I do have one service project in mind that is much more than “bite-sized”.  I believe it is time for us to sponsor an Interact Club at New Paltz High School. It will bring youthful energy and ideas to our work.




So, what are my goals for this coming year, they are actually few and easy. 


One:          Engage our members and make them feel connected and needed


Two:          Bring in new members and make them feel connected and needed


Three:       Get more community exposure out of our signature Rotary events


Four:         Add few bite-sized service projects to increase our impact on the community

Five:          Lay the groundwork for an Interact Club, which I would like to see launched in the fall of 2015.