Celebrating the Rotary of Naperville

Service above self; it’s what the Rotary of Naperville’s rich history in town is rooted in.

“It’s not about giving until it hurts, its about being the best you can be and using the talents that you’ve been given to make the world a better place for other people,” said Wendy Hayum Gross, President of the Rotary of Naperville.

Since it’s founding on March 31, 1941 the organization has been using the talents of each individual member to raise money for charities locally and around the world.

“We’re involved in support of Hesed House, DuPage PADS, our Naperville Rotary Club has its own charitable arm, as well as Naperville Rotary Charities. We help support other organizations in the community as well as our own projects,” said past president and current member, Paul Lehman.

One of the Rotary of Naperville’s most recognizable projects has been Soups On, a way to connect the community through a warm meal.

“We wanted to do something that would help food pantry’s and that population was at most need and our brain child, Bob Garlow, came up with the idea of Soups On! And it provided funding for Loaves and Fishes and other charities and it was another way to help during that financial downturn,” said Hayum-Gross.

The event has raised more than $900,000 in the last nine years.

In 1987 the Rotary of Naperville was one of the first clubs to allow women, with Rita Harvard and Peg Price being the first two to join.

Harvard would later serve as the first female president in 1994-1995.

“It’s interesting to me that so many of the philanthropic organizations were limited to men, and its nice to know that they now almost all allow women, but that Rotary is taking steps out there in their executive leadership are women and for the first time we will have two women presidents back to back, so that is a first for us” said Hayum-Gross.

While the members of the club reflect on the past 75 years of service in the community; it’s the future and the “firsts” that go with it that excite members about the next 75.

“It’s such a sense of past, present and looking to the future. So I think of what we’ve done in 75 years, what we can celebrate, what this momentous day means today and what are the next 75 years going to look like,” Said Hayum-Gross.

Naperville News 17’s Natalie Vitale Reports.

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