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Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Millbrook Rotary Club on Jan. 28, from left: Vickie Doyle, Council member, Amenia Town Board and senior donations specialist at Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies; Catherine Forbes senior director of advancement at Cary Institute;   Mona Staaf-Gunther; Cindie Kish; Nan Greenwood; and David Greenwood. Photo by Judith O’Hara Balfe

Millbrook Rotary celebrates its 50th anniversary

MILLBROOK —  Saturday, Jan. 28, was a festive occasion for the Millbrook Rotary Club, as it celebrated its 50th anniversary at the Links at Union Vale in LaGrangeville.  The program started out with a cocktail hour followed by dinner, and a program directed by mistress of ceremonies Sarah O’Connell. David Brinkerhoff was called upon to reflect on the 50 years of service of the Millbrook Rotary Club, and he gave a short history of the club.

Originally the Dutchess Rotary Club, the Millbrook Rotary Club had to be started by another club and have well-attended meetings for one year before it could actually become a club. It was started by the Rotary Club of Hyde Park, and members met at the Cottonwood Inn. The bell, still rung at the meetings, is inscribed with “Central Dutchess Rotary Club.”

From that beginning, ideas flourished; there were Charter Night parties, summer night parties, a taco hut for selling sandwiches at Community Day, craft sales and yard sales. Eventually, the idea of creating a business directory was started, and today it is one of the major Rotary projects of the year. The club then helped three other clubs get started in Pleasant Valley, East Fishkill and LaGrange. Meetings are held on Wednesdays at the Millbrook Cafe.

Brian Bunch shared some reminiscences, and then Cindie Kish was called upon to announce the presentation of awards, one of which went to George Whalen III, president and CEO of the Bank of Millbrook; it was noted that the bank always buys the inside front cover of the Rotary Business Directory and that, since the early 1970s, there has always been a member of the bank in the Rotary membership.

Thanasi Theodoropoulos, owner of the Millbrook Diner, was the second award recipient. He and the diner helped facilitate the giving away of thousands of meals during the pandemic. The diner also participates in other works during the year, such as the Christmas meals given out at Lyall Memorial Church on Christmas Day.

The third award was given to Michael Flanagan, owner of Reardon Briggs, which helps with the school supply giveaways each year at the beginning of the school year, precipitated by the Rotary Club.

The keynote speaker was CaraMia Bacchiochi, founder and executive director of Hope on a Mission (HOAM), a street outreach ministry that strives “to restore hope and dignity, with love & grace, to homeless, addicted women (and men) in the streets of Poughkeepsie” and elsewhere. Bacchiochi was presented with a check for HOAM.

The finale was the gathering of all the past presidents around the anniversary cake, which was then cut and handed out to guests.

The 50th anniversary was said to be a great success, but the Rotary Club, as per its motto of “Service Above Self,” is already planning what it will do as it enters into its 51st year.

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