Rotary International, our parent organization, has requested that each local Club have a Literacy Project for their community. The Rotary Club of North Conway created as its project the distribution of Webster’s Student Dictionaries to each third grade student in our district which consists of: Bartlett, Jackson, Madison, Freedom, Tamworth, and Conway. Along with the dictionary these students also received a note explaining the purpose of Rotary’s Literacy Project.
After successful years of the Dictionary program, we expanded the Literacy Project to include giving sixth grade students a World Atlas. Both the dictionary and atlas have been well received and are used at home and in the classroom. We continue to look for other ways of improving the learning experience of our youth.
As a project in honor of Rotary’s Centennial observance the Club has constructed and maintains, to this day, a park in North Conway. The park was the vision of long time Rotarian Robert Porter, who, along with Kevin Drew worked with the state department of transportation and the Town of Conway to make this community enhancement possible. A beautiful flower garden, with seating, along with the “Wayside Fountain”, circa 1894, occupies the center of the park. Mountain views further enhance the Park’s garden.
In order to recognize and support the contributions of the men and women of our armed forces who are overseas, especially those of the Mount Washington area, the club has undertaken a new project. Working with local individuals, businesses, club members and youth of the community we are gathering and preparing gift packages for our troops. In this way we hope to show them that the community appreciates their sacrifices especially while away from home.
Sportsmanship, teamwork, respect for their elders (coaches), and learning the benefits of hard work are traits we Rotarians hope to instill in our youth. These are the very same traits we seek in current and future Rotarians.
Rotary has supported the local youth baseball league for over 40 years. As the program developed from a valley league to Little League and, for the past 20 years – The Cal Ripken League, Rotary has always been there sponsoring two – three teams, providing uniforms, equipment and fees. Because of this support 300 children from ages 6-12 have developed into teams competitive at the regional and State levels. Over the past 10 years, these teams have won the majority of District Championships. Without the support of local businesses and organizations, these youths would not have had this life molding experience.
Former Rotary Club presidents Bill Jones and Kevin Drew have been President and Vice President of the MWV Cal Ripken League for the past 17 years. Their interest in youth, coupled with a desire to serve the community, have found baseball to be the ideal voluntary job for them. Along with organizing coaches, volunteers, and ball players, they have been conducting a ten-year campaign to upgrade the area ball fields. Both Bill and Kevin are certified Babe Ruth League umpires who officiate dozens of games every year including, for the past two years, at the State Championship level. The leadership they provide speaks well for the future of youth and baseball in the Mount Washington Valley.
LOCAL STUDENT SERVICE AWARDS
There are many opportunities for service and valley residents are known for their willingness to help each other. This attitude filters down to even the youngest among us. Under the theory that it is never too early to recognize good works, the Rotary Club of North Conway annually contacts all of the elementary schools in our area as well as our middle school to ask the principals to nominate one student who best exemplifies the Rotary philosophy of “Service Above Self.”
Our award is different from others in that it is not based upon academic, art or sports achievements. Instead, this award recognizes those serving others in charitable ways. It may be a child who reads to elderly shut-ins or who accepts responsibility for ensuring a litter free roadway or who cares for animals at the local shelter. Whatever the pursuit, our club encourages and recognizes such activities. Once chosen, we contact the parents of the children nominated and invite them to attend one of our meetings. With beaming parents looking on, the child is then recognized for their good works and presented with a certificate of recognition as well as a gift. The message we hope to convey is that while you may be doing such good works for selfless reasons, there are people who notice and care and we are proud of you. In doing so, we hope to help mold great men and women out of such exemplary children.