On February 25, 1913 a group of community leaders held their first Rotary meeting at Crawford’s Restaurant in Paterson, New Jersey. This historic luncheon occurred less than eight years after Paul Harris, the founder of Rotary, and his small group of business friends founded Rotary in Chicago. Paul Harris’ new idea for a professional men’s service club was spreading rapidly in different parts of the country. In 1913, when the club was formed, there already existed 69 other clubs – only a few more than now make up its parent District 7490. Currently, there are more than 60,000 clubs with over 1.2 million members located in almost every country of the free world.
Shortly after our formation, our Paterson Rotary Club began its long-time assistance of the YMCA of Paterson. In 1918, there was the purchase of a quantity of double-deck sleeping cots and bedding used for a summer camp at Greenwood Lake. The support of many smaller needs of the YMCA continues today. Our most recent project with the YMCA involved the construction and dedication of a Rotary Reading Room.
The Paterson Rotary Club also contributes are regularly to the Boys and Girls Club of Paterson, and The Salvation Army, The Police Athletic League, The Paterson Community Health Center, The Paterson Education Fund, and other worthy organizations.
One of our most notable achievements in Community Service in recent years was the construction of a $700,000 state-of-the-art playground. The project was the brainchild of the 2000-2001 Presidents Femi Ayodeji (Paterson Rotary), and Angelo (Paterson AM Rotary), who saw a need for a safe place for Paterson children to play. From there a series of fundraising events and efforts were made, including a grant written to the State of NJ for Green Acres funding, which was granted and given to the City of Paterson to be used for funding of the Playground, The playground was soon named the Frank R. Lautenburg Children’s Park.
Paterson Rotary has sponsored the open-heart surgeries of 14 children from third-world countries. The Gift of Life surgeries are performed at either St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital in Paterson, Montefiore Medical Center in The Bronx, or Deborah Hospital. These hospitals and their doctors perform these surgeries for only $6,000, plus medical parts. The cost is paid for by Club’s which sponsor the surgeries. The children and their single guardians are flown to America where they live with a host family, supported by the respective club.
This year, the Paterson Rotary Club intends to save the lives of two children by sponsoring open-heart surgeries. Our Club is also sponsoring the transportation and travel of a physician from St. Joseph's Medical Center on the District 7490 sponsored Medical Mission to Honduras, where 16-20 children will be saved with heart surgeries performed on site.
The Paterson Rotary Club sponsored Syeda Uddin, a Patersonian for the acclaimed Rotary World Peace Scholar position. Syeda succeeded in being selected and it is a great honor to Paterson Rotary to have sponsored one of 70 world-peace scholars world-wide. Scholars study conflict and peace resolution and international relations at one of 7 Rotary Centers around the world during a two-year master’s level degree program. Syeda has been back to the Paterson Rotary several times to speak about her involvement in conflict resolution. Today, Syeda is an analyst with the Professional Development Program for the U.S. Government Accountability Department in Washington D.C.
In addition to the many community projects, the Paterson Rotary Club has sponsored or participated in, most of our work comes back to children. The Rotary Club has adopted Public School #14 and will work to enrich the educational and recreational lives of the students in grades kindergarten through fourth. Projects will include literacy initiatives, beautification projects, and support for teachers and parents.
From literacy projects to leadership training through RYLA, our Interact Clubs, Rotaract Club, and college scholarships and loans, the Paterson Rotary Club is a constant partner in education and quality of life of Paterson’s youth.
All in all, the Paterson Rotary Club is a strong partner in the Paterson, Greater Paterson, and World. Our commitment to our communities comes from our desire, as business and community leaders, to build goodwill and better friendships, through Service Above Self.
If you’re looking to have a ton of fun, while giving back to the community, consider joining us for lunch. Come and get to know our members! Perhaps you’ll come to realize that you want to be a Rotarian!
For membership information, contact the Paterson Rotary Club at 973-881-7300.