WEST ORANGE, NJ –The West Orange Rotary Club recently awarded a total of $19,250 to organizations based in and outside of the West Orange Community at the annual Community Service Luncheon held at Mayfair Farms.

Funds raised through Rotary events like the annual “Taste of the World”—which accounts for approximately 70-to-90 percent of funds raised each year—were distributed to 15 local organizations and five organizations that work with the club on its international initiatives.

According to the Rotary Club of West Orange, monetary awards were given to the following organizations in recognition of their service to the community in hopes that the funds will help each of them further their efforts in making the community better:

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Downtown West Orange Alliance (DWOA) — The West Orange Rotary supports the DWOA’s historical marker initiative, which recognizes individuals and places of interest related to West Orange’s history along main street. One such sign is located outside of Main Street Hardware, which was the site of West Orange’s old police station.

West Orange Police Athletic League (PAL) — For more than 50 years, the West Orange PAL has provided cheerleading, football, baseball and kickball programs for boys and girls ages 5-14 within the community. Since the cost of sports programs have increased in recent years, the awarded funds will be used to lower those costs in addition to the costs of registration, according to the PAL.

Saint Barnabas Medical Center Foundation (SMBC/RWJBarnabas Health) — The West Orange Rotary’s award will support the construction of the new west wing SBMC, which is being built to help enhance patient recovery, facilitate staff interaction and attract new doctors.

West Orange African Heritage Organization (WOAHO) — The WOAHO holds annual food drives for the local food pantry, provides tutoring for five elementary schools from November to May and provides scholarships to graduating West Orange High School (WOHS) seniors.

The West Orange Arts Council (WOAC) — The WOAC cultivates the arts in the community through education and outreach to enliven the lives of all West Orange residents. For approximately 25 years, the arts council has held programs to engage residents and to showcase the work of local artists at the art center (located at 551 Valley Road).

Core of Rainbow Sisters (CORESSWC) — The CORESSWC or CORE provides support to West Orange students who plan on attending college or technical school as well as to victims of domestic abuse. CORE also focuses on providing financial literacy education to teach children from elementary school through high school how to be financially independent. This is the second year that CORE has received an award from the West Orange Rotary.

Mayor’s Program for Individuals with Disabilities – Since 1989, this program has provided opportunities to members of the West Orange community who have disabilities. Some of these experiences include summer camp, monthly parties and trips specially designed to enhance the lives of those with special needs.

Nikhil Badlani Foundation – The Nikhil Badlani Foundation promotes traffic safety and helps children to pursue their dreams in music and academics with the help of scholarships. Receiving this award from the Rotary will help the foundation to continue to provide these resources to WOHS students.

Camp Merry Heart – Camp Merry Heart, which depends on the West Orange Rotary for its survival, is a camp based in Hackettstown that provides experiences for special needs children. The club hosts and sponsors the arts and crafts pavilion at Camp Merry Heart called “Joe and Emil’s Place.”  According to Bob Zirkle, director of business operations, the Rotary Club donation will go toward camp improvements, camp scholarships and long-term planning.

Main Street Counseling Center – The center, which provides mental health services to vulnerable seniors both on site and at their residences, works with people dealing with loss, anxiety, depression, misuse of medication and more. Last week alone, the center provided 558 counseling sessions, with 101 of those being for seniors dealing with the loss of their children to drug overdoses or reintroducing them to their grandchildren.

West Orange Public Library (WOPL) — The WOPL, which provides free programs and books to children and adults, said the Rotary’s donation will help the library continue to provide a supportive environment for lifelong learning, literacy and the enjoyment of reading.

Rainbows Grief & Loss Support Program (Rainbows) — Rainbows is a support group for elementary students in West Orange Public Schools who have suffered significant loss in their lives either through divorce or other types of transitions. Washington Elementary guidance counselor Renee Simone Wells and St. Cloud Elementary guidance counselor Tara Donatiello accepted the award, stating that the aim of Rainbows is to “implant in children a belief in their own goodness and value of their family.”

West Orange Scholarship Fund (WOSF) — Since 1923, the WOSF has been providing academic scholarships, which are presented during the annual Senior Awards Night held at WOHS.  Every year, the West Orange Rotary donates funds to be given to students based on WOSF-specified criteria. This year, 90 graduating seniors received a total of more than $95,000 that the WOSF raised with the help of more than 50 volunteers—many of whom are parents of former students who have been thriving after their graduation from WOHS.

New Jersey Zoological Society (Turtle Back Zoo) – The West Orange Rotary announced its continued financial support of the South American Animals Exhibit at the Turtle Back Zoo. As he accepted this year’s award, zoo docent Pat Moran said the funds will also be used to support the programs “that educate students to learn not only about the animals at the zoo, but about the world that they live in.”

Friends of Edison – The Friends of Edison preserves and promotes the heritage of Thomas Edison with activities, projects and programs associated with The Thomas Edison National Park sites on Main Street and the Glenmont home in Llewelyn Park, which highlight Thomas Edison’s achievements.

The West Orange Rotary is one of 31,600 clubs worldwide that function to promote peace and to make the world a better place. Shashi Jain, a Rotarian from the Rotary Club of Chandigarh Midtown in India, displayed the like-minded efforts of these clubs when he swapped banners with West Orange Rotary President Cynthia Hadley-Bailey, as is tradition when a foreign Rotarian comes to visit.

In addition to supporting local organizations, the West Orange Rotary Club also supports international initiatives as part of Rotary International.

Some of these include:

ShelterBox, which provides a large footlocker filled with items that can sustain a family for up to 30 days in the event of a disaster such as flooding;

PolioPlus, which has vaccinated more than 2.5 million children with the intention to eradicate polio across the world;

The India Hospital Laundry Program, a new program that will provide upgrades to the laundry facility at a local hospital to ensure a healthier environment in the hospital;

Rotaplast, which changes the lives of children by providing free surgery to reconstruct cleft palate; and

Gift of Life, which locates children all over the world who are suffering from heart defects and arranges for them to have surgeries to correct those problems at hospitals partnered with Rotary.

Pictured above in the group photo are:

Front (L-R) Althia Tweiten (WOAHO), Patrician Horan (Turtleback Zoo), Doris Moses (WOAHO), Arthur Gordon (Friends of Edison), Rotary President Cynthia Hadley-Bailey, Rotarian Shashi Jain

Middle (L-R) Deana Cynar (RWJ Barnabas), Cheryl Merklinger (WO PAL), Joe Fagan (DWOA), Joyce Harley, Community Service Chairman Ed Eginger, Steve Margiotis (Main Street Counseling), Kimberley Rowland (CORESSWC), Tara Donatiello and Renee Simone Wells (Rainbows), Rotarian Mike Karu, Bob Zirkle (Camp Merry Heart) and Back Ken Mandel - WO Arts Council

For more information on the West Orange Rotary Club or to become a member, visit http://www.westorangerotary.org/.