Written by Dagmar Fors Karppi, email@example.com Friday, 28 June 2013 00:00
Judith Wasilchuk and Beverly Zembko completed Rotary Internationals’ first and only co-presidential term at the club’s 71st installation on June 19 at the Swan Club. The incoming president, Donald Lyons is the manager of Valley National Bank. Lyons and the new board of directors were given the oath of office by District Governor Mario Moran. The event is newsworthy on two accounts: the co-presidents and that Rotary International has decreed a reorganization of the district, to include Suffolk County clubs because their enrollment has dropped to less than 1,000 members. Suffolk had been part of District 7250 until it decided to become a separate entity, some time ago.
Zembko explained, “We are merging with Suffolk on July 1, 2013. We will have a new District Governor, Gwenn Ramage, who is from Westhampton Beach. We will become District 7255.”President Wasilchuk said she and President Zembko had a long history in their busy careers in Oyster Bay.
Zembko explained, “Judy is one of the founders of the Oyster Bay (Co-op) Preschool, which is a non-profit preschool. It cannot be bought or sold. We no longer require the parents of our preschoolers to help out in the classroom. That is why the Co-op is in parentheses. I started work there in 1986 as a consultant teacher. My goal was to redesign and update the curriculum, which is what I continue to do today as the director. I also teach the pre-k class, which I love to do.”
When Wasilchuk, now a Laffey Fine Homes Real Estate associate left, Zembko took over the position of director. They were both longtime members of the Oyster Bay-East Norwich board of education and were Girls Scout leaders. The two worked together very well and so it was a natural way for the busy women to share leadership in the service club. The presidential responsibility was based on fun, fellowship and friendship that worked, “because we like each other,” said Wasilchuk. Her husband Steve Wasilchuk wasn’t present: he was out sailing with Rotary past president Jacob Bernstein but Walter Zembko was able to attend.
Wasilchuk gave a rundown of Rotary’s activities during the year starting with giving dictionaries to all third graders attending East Woods School, St. Dominic and Roosevelt Elementary schools. They yearly give school supplies to needy children in the area assisted by Buckingham’s Village store, which eliminates members having to shop for the items. They contribute to the Oyster Bay Community Band Concerts that are free, and she recommended them to all. [Past President Jacob Bernstein played the saxophone with the band for many years, said Eve Bernstein.]
Wasilchuk reported that the Oyster Bay group is known as the “Best Bell Ringers” in the Salvation Army red kettle drive held during the holidays. She said as a result of Hurricane Sandy they increased their donations to local houses of worship and to CSAC.
Oyster Festival Opportunities
Wasilchuk said they were fortunate to be able to finance their projects through funds from the Oyster Festival they sponsor for the community annually. Those programs include a luncheon for members of the Oyster Bay and St. Dominic High School Honor Societies. “It’s nice to see the kids and to hear where they are going to college. Last year Bev and I were sitting with four boys and I spoke about Feasting On Asphalt, a book I was reading and one of the boys said, ‘I know that chef.’ I was delighted to see the depth of their education.”
Additionally Rotary gives scholarships [$1,500 each] to a qualifying graduating senior at Mill Neck Manor, St. Dominic and OBHS. “Beverly will be going to the Mill Neck Manor graduation this year. There will be five graduates in the class,” she added.
This year Rotary sponsored a young exchange student from Belgium, Niko Vikelis. He is traveling out west to San Diego, California after graduation. Then he is going back to Belgium to go to college. He has enjoyed it here so much that he said he would like to return to Oyster Bay in the future to live. He loves the United States.
The Rotary Rides project has ended, she announced, but the new executive director of the Life Enrichment Center of Oyster Bay, Silvana Gullo said she will try to find a way to replace the program of supplying rides to medical appointments for seniors. The annual Spaghetti Dinners for Seniors has been replaced by giving free tickets to the OBHS Sunday musical performance, which this year was Anything Goes, as well as $3 for treats. They will continue the program next year as a result of its success.
Paul Harris Fellow
OBHS School Superintendent Dr. Phyllis Harrington recently announced that she is leaving the district and accepting the offer to lead the Oceanside School District and therefore will be working with another Rotary club. She was awarded the prestigious Paul Harris Fellowship, the highest honor in Rotary. The same award is being given to East Woods School Headmaster Nathaniel Peirce as he retires from that post. The presentation to Peirce will take place at a luncheon meeting of Rotary since he too was out sailing that evening.
Dr. Harrington joined the school district on Sept. 31, 1998 when Judy and Bev were both on the board. She was then the OBHS assistant superintendent and was the liaison between Rotary and the school and began the Interact Club, the Rotary beginner group. She was Rotary President in 2004-2005 and impressed the group with her dynamic energy and organization. Harrington said her 15 years in Oyster Bay went by “so quickly.” She is going from having Baymen to having Sailors [as sports teams] and said, “I hate the water.” She was invited to her first Rotary meeting by then Superintendent George Chesterton.
“I walked in and met Harry Pinkerton, Tom Reardon, Andy Tini, George Meyers and Jack Bernstein and they were all screaming at each other. George but I went back a second time.” She said, “These are kind, understanding people who understand the motto Service Before Self.”
Earlier, Washilchuk credited her for initiating the Rotary 100th anniversary project, the statue of Theodore Roosevelt that now stands at the triangle entrance to the hamlet on South Street and Lexington Avenue and Berry Hill Road. She countered the comment saying it was all to the credit of Andy Tini, a most tenacious person. “By hook or crook he was going to do it his way.” She said every time she passes the statue, “I say a little thank you to Andy for such a beautiful statue in the right and perfect location and Andy gets all the credit.” Of her moving on she explained, “This is a wonderful opportunity for me. It took a special opportunity in the Oceanside schools to take me away.”
Rotary District 7250 Governor Mario Moran of the West Hempstead Rotary Club inducted the new officers and directors. He said Rotary International is the number one membership service organization in the world. He has traveled to 21 countries and been welcomed by Rotary groups in all of them, including some that are women’s clubs. Born in Mexico his family moved to El Paso, Texas with his goal of becoming a lawyer, but which his brother achieved. He became an engineer and credits the Catholic Church and his mentor priest for making him a success. The father of five girls retired from engineering and opened his own business of selling food to restaurants which accounts for his extensive travel schedule which includes his next jaunts to Sidney, Australia and Lisbon, Portugal.
District Governor Moran inducted: Paul Rosen (Oyster Festival co-chair), Michael Smith (Vocational Service Chair), Peter Casparian (International Service), Walter Imperatore (Community Service), Donald Zoeller (Club Service), James Werner (Treasurer), Donald Lyons (President), Mario Moran (District Governor). Kristin Reardon, co-chair of the Oyster Festival, was not at the dinner but will be inducted at a later date. She and Paul Rosen work together organizing the festival.
Newly inducted president Donald Lyons said when he began his job as branch manager of Valley National Bank (the former State Bank of Long Island) he was told he had to join Rotary. He was mentored by Rich Cieciuch on the Four-Way Test and at his first meeting was handed the club checkbook and told he was the treasurer. He said, “I appreciate being able to serve the community I live in.” His said his wife Veronica Hurley Lyons, is a lifelong Oyster Bay resident, although, “We crossed the bridge and live in Bayville.” He shared, “I love Oyster Bay and being a part of it.”
One of his first volunteer jobs was working with local Boy Scouts refurbishing the benches installed by Rotary in the hamlet. He enjoyed helping make it a better place and thought it might be time to do them again. He concluded: “Membership is the thing. I encourage each one of you to actively seek another member and Rotary can double its membership; see you next Wednesday.”
One of the goals of Rotary International has been to wipeout Polio, hopefully in the next three years. There have been problems with reaching some foreign populations which Rotarian Donna Lee explained involves the word “sterile” on the pharmaceutical materials used in giving the vaccinations. There is an unfounded fear in some countries that it will result in “sterilization” of people in an unfortunate language misinterpretation Rotary hopes to overcome.
Unfortunately Hurricane Sandy is having an effect on the 30th Oyster Festival on Oct. 19 and 20. With the Western Waterfront Pier having suffered some damage as a result of Sandy, they are working to find a solution of where to moor the visiting tall ships that will be coming for the October event. Paul Rosen, Oyster Festival co-chair said they are working out the problem and are considering several ideas. Bringing people by launch to the tall ships would be an insurance nightmare so that seems to not be a solution but with the NY State dock available they hope to find a happy compromise.
Most Rotarians include volunteering at the annual Oyster Festival a part of their commitment to public service since it funds the Oyster Bay Charitable Fund that then is used for Rotarian projects that serve the community.
Rotary meets at 12:15 p.m. every Wednesday in the back room of Jack Halyard’s. Zembko said, “Judy and I have begun a discussion about the number of times we meet per month. Under Don’s leadership, we believe that discussion will continue.
“If someone is interested in joining, a Rotarian is usually contacted to sponsor that person, whom then attends three meetings before being asked to join the club.”