FITCHBURG — Rotarians from the Twin Cities and well beyond are gearing up for the annual Day of Service in May, the opportunity to do good in the communities they are dedicated to serving.
The Rotary Club of Fitchburg hosted over two dozen club members, fellow Rotarians from neighboring clubs including Brookline, Leominster, and the Montachusett Area, and other interested parties last week at the historic Fay Club to discuss plans for the upcoming Day of Service on May 20, a far-reaching Rotary effort.
“It is going to be an amazing day,” said Rotary Club of Fitchburg President Alexander Vera as he welcomed everyone to the meeting, adding that the goal is to one day turn it into a Rotary Day of Service “around the world.”
Fitchburg Rotarian Tracy Gagnon gave a brief overview of the Day of Service background and impact and mentioned the 450 Rotary clubs from several New England states and New Jersey as well as Bermuda that will be participating, 12,000 members that “will give back to their communities.”
She talked about what Rotarians will be doing that day, including collecting and distributing food and diapers, painting signs, spending the day at nursing homes, planting “kindness and giving gardens,” building beds “for children who don’t have a bed,” and so much more.
“Rotary … occupies a huge place in our hearts … [and] comes in so many shapes and sizes,” Gagnon said. “People come for service and stay for fellowship.”
Fellow Fitchburg Rotarian Heidi Bogner outlined what their club will be doing on May 20 at Phillips Playground, a neighborhood spot at the corner of Westminster Hill Road and Phillips Street that features a play structure and basketball court. Besides clean up of the playground and surrounding area “to make it pretty and presentable” by removing litter and such, they will be replacing the sandbox and collecting nonperishable food and diapers for the Fitchburg Salvation Army pantry.
Bogner, who has been instrumental in facilitating and arranging the logistics of the project, shared that they will be doing the sandbox “excavation ahead of time” with help from the Fitchburg Department of Public Works and organizing a building day in between that and the Day of Service, urging the Rotarians to sign up to volunteer and help.
The Fitchburg Salvation Army canteen will be on site May 20 with food and refreshments and Keep Fitchburg Beautiful will also be helping out.
“We want to help make it beautiful for the kids to play,” said Keep Fitchburg Beautiful President Sam Squailia, who is also a Rotary Club of Fitchburg member and Fitchburg City Councilor. “Someday there will be no more litter and we can just plant flowers.”
She added that they will bring supplies such as trash bags and grabbers as well as able bodied volunteers happy to help.
“We are very thankful to have Keep Fitchburg Beautiful part of this project,” Vera said.
Fitchburg Access Television crew member Robyn Comeau attended the meeting and grabbed footage for a PSA she’s putting together that the club will be able to use to promote the Day of Service, both locally and to a broader audience through a network that public access channels across the country can pull from.
Leominster Rotary Club President Johnny Ahern talked about their Day of Service project, which entails clean up and “redoing all the landscape” around the United Congregational Church downtown Leominster.
“It’s nice to see a lot of different clubs coming together for this project,” said Ahern, who was recently named the Rotary District 7910 District Governor Nominee Designate to take over as District Governor 2025-2026.
The meeting wrapped up with Vera presenting Fitchburg Rotarian and former city mayor Mary Whitney with a $500 check for the club’s Blanket District Grant Project, which involved club members making blankets for foster children.