Madison Rotary invited all its past presidents in attendance at the 100th anniversary gala on Thursday, May 18 to stand and be recognized along witith its future club presidents.  Madison Rotary was founded 100 years ago this week, on May 24, 2023.  From left are future presidents Lois Bhatt and Jim Foster, past presidents Carol Martorana, Rev. Michel Belt, Jeannie Tsukamoto, Ray Freaney, Joe Smith, Jim Allison, Nancy Adamczyk, Barry Kroll, Joe Nastus, Jeffrey Kraft and current president Doug Willis. Photo by Alex Parker-Magyar

Reprinted from the Madison Eagle - As more than 100 people gathered to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Madison Rotary on Thursday evening, May 18, there was no mistaking what the organization stands for.  The word “service,” as in Rotary’s motto of “Service Above Self,” was on the lips of many attendees as they celebrated the centennial with hors d’oeuvres, dinner and dancing at the Park Avenue Club in Florham Park.  Click Read More for additional details

All had a story to tell about a unique way in which Madison Rotary had made a difference in the lives of others, and how the club in turn has been a vehicle for its members to realize the importance of that impact.

“The reason I belong is because it does good things in the community and in the world,” said Madison resident Barry Kroll, a past president and a Rotarian for 33 years. “It’s changed me. It’s made me a better person, because I’ve been involved in something bigger than myself.”

Madison Rotary President Doug Willis illustrated the scope of the club’s reach in his remarks to the gala attendees.

The group’s “End Hunger” campaign, he noted, has provided more than one million meals for area residents in need in just a few years, bringing together thousands of volunteers for meal-packing events. Meanwhile, Madison Rotary’s reach is currently being felt in Kenya, where Maasai girls are able to attend high school and improve their station in life thanks to the fundraising efforts of Interact Club members at Madison High School, the youth wing of Madison Rotary.

Countless local organizations also know the impact of Madison Rotary through its grant program supporting more than 30 organizations annually, while young people benefit from thousands of dollars in college scholarships every year or see the world through Madison Rotary’s long-running student exchange program.

“Almost regardless of what your interests are, there is something that Rotary is doing that can tie into those interests,” said Jim Foster, who will take over as club president in July. “You can support efforts that are going on overseas, or it can be very granular and local where you’re literally picking up food from donors or at the community garden and giving it to the local food pantry.”

Foster said the club is currently working to connect the nonprofit service of Preschool Advantage, which covers preschool tuition costs for families who can’t afford it, with members of Madison’s Spanish-speaking immigrant population who may be unaware of the program.

100 Years, 100 Trees

The organization will honor its century of service to Madison with a project whose impact will be felt across generations.

Foster, leading a brief presentation at the gala, explained the club will plant some 100 trees across Madison over the next few years in honor of the centennial.

The plan, which Foster said was the brainchild of Madison Mayor Robert Conley, a longtime Rotarian and past president, will bolster the local canopy while replacing ash trees destroyed by the emerald ash borer beetle in recent years.