Rotary Club of Lynn President Bill Reilly hasn’t convened any in-person meetings since mid-March, but the members are still performing a high level of public service in the community – true to the organization’s motto: Service Above Self.
The club that has 35 members would be meeting regularly each Thursday at Bob Stilian’s Old Tyme Italian Cuisine, the club’s new meeting place after enjoying many years at the former Porthole Restaurant.
“Old Tyme has a nice function room and they have a great buffet,” said Reilly.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced Reilly to preside over tele-conferences on Zoom for now. The first Rotary Club meeting on Zoom drew 18 members.
From Lowell to Lynn
A retired accountant at Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, Reilly, 73, is beginning his second term as Rotary president and has been a member of the club for 3 ½ years.
A former resident of Lowell and a 1964 graduate of Lowell High School, Reilly and his wife, Diane, have lived in Lynn for 19 years. He is a 1968 graduate of Bentley University, receiving his degree in Accounting.
“My youngest son [Bryan] followed in my footsteps and he’s now a CFO of a company [Digitas],” said Reilly. “Bentley was a great school and it still is.”
Joining Lynn Rotary
It was long-time Rotary member Dr. Raymond Bastarache who encouraged Bill Reilly to join the Rotary Club.
“Ray Bastarache talked me into it,” said Reilly. “I went on a service project with Ray down in Kentucky through the church. He asked me to attend some meetings “and I was up for volunteering.”
Scholarships to Lynn seniors
One of the Club’s most outstanding programs is its annual presentation of the Maloney and Hastings Memorial Scholarships.
Bastarache, a Lynn educator for 42 years and the former St. Mary’s head of school, oversees the club’s scholarship committee. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bastarache had to extend the application deadline this year.
“We received 38 applications,” said Bastarache, at one time a highly respected sportswriter for The Salem News. “The Rotary Club scholarships are available to seniors who reside in Lynn so we get applications from the public schools, private schools, and the vocational schools. “As long as the student lives in Lynn, they’re eligible.”
This year, the Rotary Club was able to award scholarships to 10 graduating seniors, twice the number of recipients ever in the club’s history.
“We just felt that in light of what was going on with the economy and job furloughs and layoffs, the more kids and more families we could help, the better,” said Bastarache.
Also serving on the Rotary Club’s scholarship committee are Jeffrey Weeden of the Lynn Housing Authority, long-time Lynn Rotarian Joyce Elliott of Marblehead, and Dick Ruth, the former director of athletics at Lynn Classical who now works part time at Cuffe McGinn Funeral Home.
The Rotary Club also generously recognizes Lynn eighth grade students with special achievement awards at five separate luncheon meetings during the school year. The students’ proud families and teachers are invited to the presentation ceremony.
Serving at My Brother’s Table
Each first Monday of the month Reilly and other members serve dinner to guests at My Brother’s Table, a Lynn food shelter.
During the pandemic, Reilly and others have been making brown-bag lunches consisting of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, a snack, and a beverage. The lunches are then dropped off at My Brother’s Table for distribution.
“I’ve been helping to make lunches for the guests for about five years,” said Reilly.
The Rotary Club also assists in the monthly food distribution at the Salvation Army headquarters in Lynn. Captain Kevin Johnson, a member of the Rotary Club of Lynn, is a commanding officer at the Lynn Salvation Army.
The 100th Thanksgiving Football Luncheon in November
Plans are being made for the Rotary Club’s 100th Annual Football Luncheon that is scheduled for the Tuesday (Nov. 24) before Thanksgiving at the Knights of Columbus. The Lynn Lions Club assists in the planning of the event.
Football players, cheerleaders, coaches, athletic directors, and administrators from the five Lynn high schools are honored at the luncheon. Mayor Thomas McGee and Supt. of Schools Dr. Patrick Tutwiler are among the guest speakers.
“We had our 99th luncheon last year and hopefully we’re going to have our 100th this year,” said Reilly.
Guest speakers at meetings
At each weekly meeting, the Club schedules a distinguished guest speaker. Lynn Fire Chief Stephen Archer was set to be the guest speaker at an April meeting, but it was postponed due to the pandemic.
Rotary member Brian Therrien, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of Lynn, was a guest speaker at a winter meeting. Mike Donovan, director of the Lynn Inspectional Services Department, delivered an interesting address in early March, according to Reilly.
Ward 5 Councillor Dianna Chakoutis, manager of Old Tyme Italian Cuisine, was a guest speaker during the Rotary’s recent Zoom meeting.
“We’re looking forward to getting back to normal with our weekly meetings at Old Tyme,” said Reilly, noting that new members are always welcomed to join the Rotary Club of Lynn. “And our 100th football luncheon should be great time.”