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Local Rotary celebrates 50 years of service and fellowship

Local Rotary celebrates 50 years of service and fellowship
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The Ayer-Devens-Harvard-Shirley Rotary Club celebrated its 50th anniversary at a special club meeting at the Bull Run Restaurant in Shirley last week. It was an evening of good food, fond reminiscences and, to reprise a term club members use a lot themselves, good fellowship.

Serving as the color guard were Boy Scout Troop 2 members Sean Howe, Donald Howe, Alex Sager and Zack Washington, all of Ayer. Neatly attired in their uniforms, the Scouts were accompanied by Troop Leader Bob Hammond, who has been involved in Scouting for more than 50 years.

Past Chamber of Commerce president and current MassDevelopment vice president Bonnie Biocchi sang the national anthem at Friday’s event. Rotarians traditionally open their weekly meetings with singing.

The invocation was given by the Rev. Philip Goff. Formerly of Ayer, Goff was one of the founding fathers of local food pantry Loaves & Fishes, which is one of the many worthy charities supported by the club.

In keeping with the evening’s commemorative theme, the program listed those causes the club supported a half-century ago. Some are history now, such as the USO Building Fund, the Ayer Community Memorial Hospital and Nashoba Community Hospital.

Others are service-oriented standbys such as Toys for Tots, the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association. The list includes causes from next door to across the globe. All Rotary Clubs are urged to make donations to the Rotary International Foundation, which takes on global challenges.

Charitable recipients in Ayer have included the Fire Department Ambulance Fund, the library and the high school.

In Harvard, Millie’s Path, the Elm Trust, the Schools Trust, the Parent-Teacher Association and Girl Scout Camp Green Eyrie have all received donations from the Rotarians.

In Shirley, the list includes St. Anthony’s Church Building Fund and the Benjamin Hill Pool Fund.

The list also incorporates members’ pet projects and ideals, such as The Children of Juitepec, Mexico, and the Romanian Children’s Relief Fund.

In addition, the club has a history of presenting scholarships and special awards in members’ names or in their memory such as the Mario J. Barba Fidelity Awards. The Liz Nichols Foundation was named for the daughter of the late Norman Tucker, of Shirley, a longtime Rotarian and past Rotary District 7910 governor fondly remembered by members throughout New England.

The Liz Nichols Foundation raised funds for a film called “When Breast Cancer Comes Back” that Nichols, who waged her own long and valiant battle with recurring breast cancer, helped create based on her experience. It was distributed to women’s health care facilities and organizations before Nichols, who lived in Harvard, was finally claimed by the disease.

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