By J.D. O'Gara, Local Town Pages - Over 100 seniors from Franklin attended a delicious pasta supper at Central Park Terrace on the beautiful summer night of June 15th. The event was the 26th Annual Pasta Supper provided by the Franklin Rotary Club. Rotarian John R. Padula, a lifelong resident of Franklin, one of 13 children and a Rotarian since 1961, began the tradition, which draws a crowd each year.
“The young kids can take care of themselves, and the middle people, but the seniors, they need help, and it’s good to entertain them and feed them,” says Padula. “It’s a free meal and entertainment every year.”
Entertainment was provided by Tony Dale, with Diane Padula O’Neill. The Rotarians were aided by young people from both the Bellingham National Honor Society as well as the Rotaract, a Junior Rotary Club in Franklin founded in November of 2016 that is made up of Dean College students aged 17-22 and advised by Carlos Aguillera.
The Franklin Rotary Club is one of the oldest Rotary Clubs in the country, in existence since 1929, according to Dr. Bill Koplin, member. The original Rotary Club formed in Chicago in 1905 as a way for professionals to network and give back to the community. The organization now boasts 1.2 million members in 35,000 clubs in nearly every country in the world. According to the international website, www.rotary.org, the six areas of focus for the Rotary Club is promoting peace, fighting disease, providing clean water, sanitation and hygiene, saving mothers and children, supporting education and growing local economies.
“Our goal is to spread world peace through understanding and education,” says Franklin Rotarian Dan Gentile. He notes that the international group has spent over $1 billion in efforts to end polio throughout the world, beginning in 1979 with vaccinations for 6 million children in the Philippines. Those efforts have almost come to fruition, with polio endemic in only three countries.
Locally, the group supports students through scholarships, the Franklin Food Pantry and other local causes. In fact, the group has provided memorial benches for the Franklin Town Common, street signs named for fallen soldier and support for the Franklin Senior Center. The motto of the organization is “Service above Self.”
The annual pasta supper is another way the Rotary Club gives back to residents.
“We put notices out to seniors in the area, and they come,” says Gentile. When asked why he participates each year in the effort, Gentile adds, “A little old lady came up to me one year and said, ‘I had such a wonderful time. Thank you! I get my hair done once a year for this.’ That’s the reason I keep doing it.” The Rotary Club, he says, is “a way to give back to the community and give back to the world.”
The Franklin Rotary Club meets on Thursday evenings, at 6 p.m., at the 3 Restaurant, 461 West Central Street (Rte. 140), Franklin. Interested prospective members are welcome.