SPRINGFIELD, NJ - Every Tuesday, at Springfield’s Spirit Eatery & Social Drinks on Morris Ave., the Springfield Rotarians take over the back room and meet to enjoy some comradery among neighbors – but more importantly, to discuss ways they can help those around them.

The Rotary is a global network of 1.2 million people who try to make lasting change across the globe, in local communities, and in ourselves. Their international website talks about their 35,000+ clubs that work together to promote peace, fight disease, provide clean water, sanitation and hygiene, save mothers and children, support education and grow local economies.

But locally, it’s just you and me, your friends and neighbors – all with a desire to help those in need of help. The Springfield Rotary Club gives out dictionaries to grade school students, feeds lunch to our seniors, helps to feed the homeless, and contributes to various good causes. And they are always looking for new members.

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At Tuesday’s meeting, Pastor Rob Stopiello and his wife Gina were asked to attend as special guests. They came a few weeks before, explaining to the group what they do at the Springfield Abundant Church on Fadem Rd. and the Sumaritan Outreach Services (S.O.S.). They touched everyone’s heartstrings talking about how they feed the homeless on a weekly basis, or how they helped feed the town when the power went out for a while, or constantly help those down on their luck. They bring them in, house them, train them, feed them – and teach them how to move forward and to make their lives better. Today, President of the Springfield Rotary Club, Lloyd Grossman, presented the Stopiello's with a donation of $500, to help them continue their charitable work.

Another special guest was Springfield resident Lauren Eskenazi Weissberg. Lauren and her husband Marc have two children, Reid and Holden.  Holden was diagnosed with a rare disease called Dup15q Syndrome. Like Down Syndrome, there are 47 chromosomes, but chromosome #15 is duplicated.  Only 1,200 children, worldwide, are born with this genetic disease – and the medical field does not know much about it. The Weissberg family has held “Hope For Holden” annual events to raise money. Last year’s event raised about $15,000. This year, “Hope For Holden” will be held at the Chisholm Center on September 8th between 9AM and 1PM. There are family activities, and a Chinese Auction with donated baskets and gifts  – all to raise money to help fight this disease, A true example of how the community comes together to help a family in need. 

Lauren went on to tell the group how 50% of all those inflicted will have at least one life-threatening seizure in their lifetime, and that Holden regularly sees 14 specialists, goes to a special school and goes through 4 hours of therapy on a daily basis. After the success of the first fundraiser, the Dup15q Alliance reached out to Lauren to become their Manager of Social Media, where she writes articles and works on ways with the group to raise revenues. 

Lauren and Marc are special parents and Reid is a special brother. “This is not a sexy disease, no one talks about it,” Lauren explained. “Maybe my mission in life is to educate others about it.” And the Rotary Group saw this as another opportunity to help their neighbors in need (and beyond just their neighbors). There was talk about donating gift baskets to the “Hope for Holden” auction and they will discuss at future meetings if there are other things they can do to help. This is what the Rotary Club does.

Members are all Springfield residents, or work in, or have a business in Springfield. Present at Tuesday’s meeting was President Lloyd Grossman, Vice President Paula Kaiser, Hope Rosenberg,  Timothy Penna (Sergeant-at-Arms), his Dad Dave Penna, Dr. Lee Kaswiner, Mike Scalera, Seth Hammer, Dr. Gary Hecht, and Michael Hausman. Some others were unable to make this week’s meeting including past District Governor Mel Kevoe and Secretary Anna Pedreiras.

The Rotary Club motto is: Service Above Self. All projects must pass this 4-Way “litmus test:

  1. Is it the truth?
  2. Is it fair to be concerned?
  3. Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
  4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned by the things we think, say or do?

To find out more about the club or if you have interest in becoming a member, you can reach out to Hope Rosenberg at HopeRosenbergC21@gmail.com.