About_Bronx_Rotary

THE HISTORY OF BRONX ROTARY

"Old 409" Capsule History

Established in April, 1918, as the 409th. Rotary Club of the Bronx, N.Y. observed its 90th Anniversary in April, 2008. Through good times and bad, despite wars and social upheavals, the Club has set a high standard of service to the community and its members. Proud of its past and confident of its future, Bronx Rotary is poised for an even brighter future of service and community leadership.


The New York Club, the sixth to be organized, decided in 1916-17 to share the ideals and fellowship of Rotary with the business and professional leadership of the Bronx. The idea encountered some opposition, especially from the Directors of the Bronx Board of Trade, some directors of which thought it would be competitive with that organization. After extensive discussions these fears were allayed. On April 16, 1918, Bronx Rotary began its formal life with forty-three members. Albert Goldman served as the first president.


Meetings were planned for the first and third Tuesday of each month, with no meetings during the summer. This prompted a query from the recently formed International Association of Rotary Clubs as to whether we in the Bronx were suffering from “summer complaint.” The Club then decided to meet weekly.


Initial enthusiasm appeared to wane during the Club’s second year. Al Goldman’s contribution was the creation of a postcard sized bulletin which he titled TUESDAY. The key decision which restored the spirit of unity was to enforce the attendance rules of Rotary. Those who failed to attend four consecutive meetings were to be dropped from membership. By the spring of 1923 the membership had grown to sixty-five.


It was in that same 1922-23 year that Bronx Rotary became truly a service club. It began with the giving of presents at Chanukah and Christmas to children residing in homes for those without parents. The project became known as “Christmas Daddy” and continued for many years until changed social conditions led to its discontinuance. It was a bands-on project which involved every member of the Club.


Other projects quickly followed. Dr. I.H. Goldberger proposed “Let’s See” to help hundreds of Bronx schoolchildren with serious eye defects and who could not afford eyeglasses. Later was added the “Let’s Play” project to provide athletic uniforms for children in the public schools. These projects were the forerunners of a long list of others to add to the ability of agencies to serve better the needs of disadvantaged persons in the Bronx.

Membership in Bronx Rotary has always been representative of the responsible leadership community in the Bronx without regard to the demographic characteristics which are sometimes used to separate people. By the end of its second decade, membership had grown to 125. By 1963 it had grown to 190. Today the membership is 52 and once again growing as “The Bronx is bouncing back” after a period of economic decline and restructuring.


The Club has been blessed with outstanding internal leadership. The roster of Past Presidents is a roll call of distinguished business and professional leaders in the Bronx. George Wolf, Sr. was elected Secretary in 1922 and served until his passing in 1949. In 1950 George Wolf, Jr., was elected Secretary, a post he held until 1993. Others have given distinguished leadership to the District, now known as District 7230. Two Bronx Rotarians have served Rotary International as District Governors, Raymond L. Korndorfer in 1941-42 and Dr. Glen T. Nygreen in 1986-87.


Rotary luncheon programs have always enjoyed a fine reputation. This high standard is being continued. The emphasis upon the obligation of faithful attendance assures a sizable audience and this complements the high calibre of speakers.


On May 29, 1953, the Club was formally incorporated under New York State Laws as “Rotary Club of the Bronx, Inc.” In July of that year the Club voted to establish a Bronx Rotary Foundation. During the presidencies of Al Kindler (1954-55) and Gerard Bloomfield (1955-56) the Foundation began its work of service to the Bronx. Today the value of its invested funds approaches three-hundred-thousand dollars, the income from which is distributed to support service activities in the Bronx upon the approval of both the Foundation Trustees and the Club Board of Directors.


Programming emphasizes the four avenues of Rotary service; club, community, vocational, and international. Advantaged by its position in the Bronx, international service has always been accorded special attention. Support for the Rotary International Foundation has been enthusiastic and generous. The roster of Paul Harris Fellows numbers over 100 Bronx Rotarians. The Club contributed over twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000.00) to the worldwide Rotary effort to eliminate polio and other preventable childhood diseases and adds to this total annually until the goal of eradicating polio is achieved.


Regular programs on international themes have served to broaden the horizons and understanding of Bronx Rotarians. Guests from other lands appear frequently. Speakers from other cultures and governments alert us to the hopes and goals of peoples worldwide. Our awareness of our complex ethnic heritage in America is enhanced by various “days” which recognize the special ties of our members. They include Columbus Day, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, St. Patrick’s Day, and often others.


Bronx Rotary was the first club in District 7230 to induct a woman member when this became possible during the presidency of Rev. Bill Kalaidjian (1987-88). Since then, women members have provided leadership to every aspect of Club activities and added significantly to the ability of Bronx Rotary to make a meaningful contribution to the quality of life in the Bronx.


Bronx Rotary is highly focused on service both within the Bronx community and in the world. Local service projects have provided a vehicle for feeding the poor and homeless, have given scholarships to youth, equipment and supplies to needy schools in the Bronx, emergency meals to the homebound elderly and have supported summer programs for Bronx young people. Through the Gift of Life program, Bronx Rotary helps bring children with serious heart defects to this country for life-saving surgery unavailable in their homelands. Recently, with the help of a matching grant from the Rotary International Foundation, the club was able to finance a project to bring safe water and sanitary facilities for the first time to a village of over 10,000 people in India. Each year Bronx Rotary gives funds for additional needs, both here and abroad, where the support of the club can make a difference in the lives of children, youth and adults.


Proud of its history, confident of its future, determined to set new heights of service, Bronx Rotary in its ninth decade is an important factor as the Borough reaches out for revival and growth. Open to men and women who in their exemplary characters and positions of discretionary authority are recognized leaders, Bronx Rotary invites interested persons to become acquainted with us. Although membership is by invitation only, Bronx Rotary seeks to share with all persons of good will who seek to build a Bronx of opportunity and justice for all its citizens.

Revised by Dr. Glen T. Nygreen, 2005 & Nancy Wallace, 2006

More About Our Club

Service is the hallmark of the club, especially service to children and seniors. In The Bronx, the club has given scholarships to students, science equipment to schools, career counseling to teenagers, has collected used computers and printers for use in schools here and abroad and has sponsored seven children from overseas to receive the Gift of Life. It has also given help to the Bronx Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. It has helped provide meals for senior citizens through RAIN and through a lunch program for seniors at the Church of St. Brendan, and has assisted an Organ Donor Awareness Project. The Club also supports the Bronx Opera Company which provides excellent music programs for citizens of all ages.


Overseas, Bronx Rotary has donated to an AIDS project in the Dominican Republic to prevent mother-to child AIDS transmission, has provided assistance to rebuild homes for earthquake victims in Pakistan, and is currently engaged in refurbishing an elmentary school in Nigeria with a Rotary Club there with the assistance of the International Rotary Foundation. The club has also has brought a clean water and sanitation project to India, helped provide a well for clean water in Tanzania and is developing a project for another well for a town in Nigeria as a partnership project.


Rotary is an international fellowship of service, with clubs in every country except Cuba and North Korea. The Rotary Foundation has become the largest private educational foundation in the world with an unmatched record of services.


Rotary District 7230, of which the Rotary Club of The Bronx is a part, includes forty-eight clubs in The Bronx, Manhattan, Staten Island, Westchester and Bermuda.

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