The Putnam Valley Rotary club has many unique features, of which few other Clubs can boast. It was sponsored by two Districts – 7210 and 7230, and by two Rotary clubs – Lake Mahopac/Carmel and Peekskill. Also, it was organized in record time. The first meeting was held on August 25, 1070. Present at the meeting were Ken Carlson, John LaFata, Doug Weeks and John Kuck. They met with district governor Wendy Heilman, Extensions chairman PDG Bill Nichols, special Representative PDG Bob Kristeller and Dan Fuccella.
Letters were sent, and prospective members gathered on August 31, 1970 at 7;30 PM at the Interlake Restaurant in Putnam Valley. Various aspects of the Rotary were discussed, and eleven people signed on as prospective members. On September 8, 1970, a second meeting was held at which Marcel Corbat, Director of RI told about Rotary International activities. Finally on September 14, 1970 the required twenty men signed up as prospective members. It was at this meeting that the Putnam Valley Rotary Club was officially formed pending acceptance of Rotary International. That acceptance came through, and on December 5, 1970 the Putnam Valley Rotary Club was chartered.
The newly elected Officers (President, Kenneth Carlson; Vice President, John Kuck; Secretary, Richard Tarantino; Treasurer, John Griffin, Jr.; and Sergeant-at-arms, Joseph Cassese) got the club off to a flying start. The 1971 members saw the birth of two exciting project-a baseball field and an Explorer's Post. Work teams began clearing land at Hilltop (off sunset Hill Road) for what was to become the Rotary Ballfield. The land for the field was donated by Mr. & Mrs. Leonard Kaplan and Rotarians did the labor. By the end of the year, Operating Engineers Local 137 had joined in on the project. Over $8,200.00 was spent to complete the field. IBM donated $1,250.00 for fencing and Lloyd Blythe donated the blacktop. It took four years of hard work to complete the project. In 1975 the field was informally inaugurated with a softball game between the Rotary and the Putnam Valley Firemen. The Firemen won 36-26.
The Explorer Post met every Wednesday at Cimmaron Ranch.
1970-1971 was a year of firsts: 1st Ladies night, 1st golf outing, 1st Christmas/Chanukah party, 1st family picnic, 1st Valentine dinner Dance. Rotary even had its own Putnam Valley song written by Charles Mack. A copy of the song is in the Journal.
By 1972-1973 the Putnam Valley Rotary was ready to go into International Service. They donated money to the Emergency Relief Fund; books were shipped to Books in Taiwan; and a donation was sent to the victims of an earthquake on Managua, Nicaragua. Here at home donations were made to the then Peekskill Community Hospital, the Putnam Community Hospital and the Putnam Valley Volunteer Fire Department.
On May 6, 1975 the Rotary and the Putnam Valley Volunteer Fire Department joined forces to co-sponsor a Community Blood Bank. This is now an annual event.
Also during 1975-1976 Putnam Valley Rotary saw one successful event after another – Feed a Child, Golf Outing, Turkey Shoot. Members donated money for the Putnam Valley Eighth Grader trip to Washington D.C. and the Guatemala Earthquake Relief Fund. That year the Rotary Club presented the Town with a new flag designed by Herman Getter. Later that year, Rotary presented the Town with a mural which was also painted by Herman Getter. The mural can be seen in the Court room at town Hall. The year really ended on a high note when the Putnam Valley rotary won the coveted Governor's Trophy which was presented to the club by past President of Rotary International, Bill Carter of England.
In its seventh year the Rotarians were again busy with fund raisers. The biggest fund raiser was a Dinner dance Theatre party at the Mahopac Farm Playhouse. This enabled Rotary not only to help in Putnam Valley, but they donated to Hopetown, the Putnam County Mental Health Facility and the Putnam County Health Association. In 1978 the Members had a successful visit with a Rotary exchange student from the Philippines. This was not the first such visit for the Rotary. They had entertained a study group from Sweden and New Zealand. The Putnam Valley Volunteer Ambulance Corps. Received a "Build-a-Board Stretcher" compliments of the Rotary Club. Money was donated to the Putnam Valley Library, and a plaque was purchased "In Honor of Rotary's Deceased Members." On August 18, 1978 Rotary donated a bus to the Town of Putnam Valley to be used by the Parks and Recreation Commission. Members helped paint the interior of the new Library. They hosted the first Putnam County "Quad meeting" which was a huge success. Then Jack Goldblatt donated a large sum of money to the Putnam Valley Rotary. The Rotarians in turn donated the money to the Library and the Volunteer Ambulance Corps.
To begin the tenth year, Putnam Valley Rotary received the "Miele Award" for Club attendance. Past District Governor Wendy Heilman visited the club to introduce Rotary International's 3H Program (Health, Hunger and Humanities). During the following year the Club would become the World's number two contributor to the project. The Rotary Club was awarded a 3H Banner and a plaque. That year the club hosted student travelers Ann Mills and Greg Habeb who has visited Japan, and a Rotary exchange student Pruthui Deshponde from India. Thanks to a successful Basketball shoot-out the Club was able to donate to the Putnam County Association for Retarded Children and the Putnam Valley Ambulance Corps. Proceeds from the Christmas/Chanukah party went to benefit Hopetown and the 3H Program At years end the Club co-sponsored a concert to benefit the United Way. What a fitting way to end the first decade.
The 1980's kept the Putnam Valley Rotarians hopping to keep up with their service projects. They conducted a Walk-A-Thon to support the $2,000,000 Rotary effort (Polio Plus) to eradicate polio throughout the world by the year 2000; sponsored dinner dances to help fund both the 50th Anniversary of the Putnam Valley Central School and the Sesquicentennial celebration of the Town of Putnam Valley – and yes, the Club did march! Putnam Valley Rotary members established a Career Day at the Junior High in 1981. This continued for several years, as did clean-ups of the Cemeteries at both Tompkins and Adams Corners. During the '80's the Club sent Joelie Barrett, a Putnam Valley student to France and hosted Walkiria Fernandez, a student from Brazil. Rotarians have sponsored two Putnam Valley students annually to attend the Rotary International Youth Leadership Council.
"Welcome to Putnam Valley" signs popped up on all roads leading into Putnam Valley. The club replaces the signs as needed. A booklet, "Are You Lost?" explaining how to read the New York State highway reference markers was published as a public service by the Putnam Valley Rotary.
At the 1989 Annual Blood Drive at the Firehouse, Rotary paid for each donator to receive a free cholesterol test. The tests were $5.00 each, and seventy-seven people volunteered blood. The PVVFD was presented with a town flag at the Annual Rotary Dinner Dance in 1989. A wine and cheese party was held at the School House Museum and the proceeds were donated to the Historical Society. The former Peekskill Community Hospital celebrated its 100th Anniversary in 1989 and the Putnam Valley Rotary held a huge Block Party. The proceeds were donated to the Hospital.
While doing service projects for Putnam Valley, Putnam County and Rotary International causes, the Putnam Valley Rotary did not forget the good old U.S.A. They contributed money for virtually every National disaster relief program. Some of the recipients were: Earthquake in California; Hurricane Hugo with donations to both San Juan, Puerto Rico and Charleston, S.C.; flood relief for Cherokee, Iowa; and Hurricane relief for Florida. Bell ringing earned money for the Salvation Army (this also is an annual event). There were gifts given to Toys for Tots, Christmas Food Baskets for needy Putnam Valley families, and the Annual Roadside clean-up.
Two truly historic events came to pass during the decade of the 1980's. In 1988 Linda Wright was the first woman to become a member of the Putnam Valley Rotary Club. Also, in 1989 the first DARE Program in the State of New York was started in Putnam Valley through the combined efforts of Rotarians and the Putnam Valley Police Department. The Allstate Foundation pitched in with a check for $5,000 to help carry the financial burden of the DARE Program in the name of the Rotary Club. This is an ongoing project in which the Club takes great pride.
Onward into the "90's. In 1990 and 1991 the Club worked at the Food Court at the Putnam County 4-H Fair. Rotarians raised money for the Putnam Valley Historical Society's development of a new Video program. That year also saw Rotarians volunteering their time at the Recycling Center. A Christmas tree appeared at Town Hall. Rotary donated to help defray the lighting expenses. Internationally they donated money for wells in Nigeria. 1991 saw the Rotary Club holding a Tree Planting Ceremony at Town Hall to celebrate Arbor Day. They donated an infant training mannequin and an adult training mannequin to the Volunteer Ambulance Corp. They marched in the Home Coming Parade to honor the eleven folks from Putnam Valley who served in Operation Desert Storm. Donations were made for Tornado relief for Wichita Kansas and hurricane relief for Bangladesh.
Halloween Bags were purchased with the Rotary logo for distribution at the Elementary School. Town Historian requested funds for a project, "The Economic History of Putnam Valley". Rotarians continued to donate to the annual causes in Town; and in the U.S.A, Florida was in need of hurricane relief. With expenses going up every year, the Rotarians needed another major fund raiser. Thus, the Circus came to Town.
Another first for the Putnam Valley Rotary came in 1993 when Linda Murphy became the first Woman President of the Club. The annual Dinner Dance was held to benefit the Fire Department. Circus proceeds went to purchase stage lighting at the Elementary School. On a County level Rotarians provided transportation for children ages 0 to 2 years for Polio Immunization.
In 1994 service to the community continued. Besides service to the DARE Program, PTA, Library, and Blood Drive – the list goes on. Rotarians donated to the Veteran's Memorial at Town Hall, the Tourette's Syndrome Association, and Shots for Tots ( not to be confused with Polio Plus). Donations were also made to the Putnam Valley Humane Society and the Hudson Valley Hospital Center. Flood victims in Atlanta, Georgia needed help. Putnam Valley came through. And in 1994 the Club was awarded a Presidential Citation by Rotary International.
1995 started out with Rotary International's "Rotary World Window Week." Putnam Valley Rotary's window display was at the Hollowbrook Travel Agency. It was also the start of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Putnam Valley Rotary Club. Now Town clean-ups were out and Adopt-A-Highway was in. Rotarians picked Mill Street from the Town line to Adams Corners. DARE signs sprung up at town entrances, and the Friends of the Library benefitted from the Dinner Dance. This was the year the Club sponsored four students to the Rotary Youth Conference.
Over the past twenty-five years it has not been "all work and no play." There were tailgate parties at West Point, family picnic, Valentine parties and Holiday parties. There was the opportunity to travel. Last year the Rotary International Conference was in France. This year it will be in Canada with side trips planned to Alaska.
The Putnam Valley Rotary will never rest on its laurels. In 1996, past club president and charter member Joseph Seiler was voted in as Governor Elect for District 7210. This is not only a tribute to Joe's integrity and service, it is indeed an honor and yet another first for the Putnam Valley Rotary Club.
A raffle of Giants football season tickets was initiated to support college-level scholarships. This broadened our support of the schools as we already were sending students to a leadership training program; and supporting the DARE program at the school. Statistics soon revealed that the program was not as effective as had been thought and was replaced by SPECTRA, a drug education program developed in NYC. We also held a golf tournament in 1998 in partnership with Philipstown Rotary. And that June, Joe Seiler was inducted as District Governor. He made his official visit to his home club on Nov. 12.
Golf tournaments, carnivals and dinner dances continued to be the primary fund-raisers. As our new high school matured, so did our relationship with it. In 2001, an Interact Club, a Rotary sponsored service club, was formed and soon became very active. We sponsored a track meet with Interact playing key roles – the proceeds used for scholarships for student-athletes.
Food collections and distribution to needy families has been an annual activity of both the club and Interact since their inceptions. A Food Pantry was created in 2004 and opened on Nov. 13. Rotarian John (Jay) Quaile was instrumental in guiding it through the legal maze and helping it become a vital service in the community. Our club joined Grace United Methodist Church, the Reform Temple and St. Luke's Lutheran Church in becoming the initial sponsors and providing volunteers to distribute food. It has grown from serving 25-30 families per week to nearly 150 families per week. The leaders, Jay Quaile and Gary Carney, were recognized by the Library with the Virginia Connolly Award for Outstanding Community Service.
Rotary was founded in 1905. The club chose for its Centennial Project the restoration of Rundle's Mill located on Mill Street. Spearheaded by Carmelo Santos, we landscaped the property, replaced siding and windows in the building and painted it. The dedication luncheon was attended by Robert and Vivian Mansler, the granddaughter of the last miller to operate the mill, Manny Sanjuas, who was instrumental in painting the building and restoring the waterwheel, several Rotarians and town and county officials. A plaque on the building commemorates that event.
The club expanded its relationship with the schools by giving more scholarships to graduates, awarding a dictionary to each 2nd grader, a thesaurus to each 5th grader and alphabet cards to each incoming kindergartner. We added a new fund-raising activity which has become quite popular with Rotary Clubs – Duck Races. We ran our Battle of the Ducks with the newly formed Cortlandt Manor Rotary Club and the help of our own Interact Club. It was highly successful and will enable the club to continue serving the community.