By Stuart Foster, Community Advocate Contributing Writer

WESTBOROUGH – The Westborough Rotary Club is seeking donations to help fund a new seasonal display of festive winter lighting, which will go up in the downtown area on Nov. 28.

The Rotary Club has installed winter lights with the help of the Westborough Department of Public Works (DPW) for the last fifty years. This year, though, it has decided to hire professional decorating company Christmas Décor to help revamp and rework the lighting tradition.

“A happy smile, hopefully, will be put on especially the children’s faces,” Rotary Club Lighting Committee Chair Jim O’Connor recently told the Community Advocate. “People will be proud of downtown Westborough, and it couldn’t come at a better time when we’re still struggling with COVID and other issues.”

“Hopefully it will be a cheerful note going into the holiday season,” he continued.


O’Conner outlined much of the Rotary Club’s current plan back in March in a presentation to the Select Board. A few months later, in June, the Rotary Club announced a competition to design a new logo for the Winter Lights display. Now, the Rotary Club is beginning its fundraising push to support this new effort.

“We are counting on the good graces and the good nature of the citizenry in Westborough and I think they’ll come through full-square,” O’Connor said.

The new installation will include decorations on 24 of Westborough’s lamp posts with simulated garland, small white twinkle lights and a red bow by the light at the top of the post.

In early 2021, when Dismas Farms announced that they were no longer able to support the Westborough Farmers' Market, Heather Abraham of the Westborough Rotary Club (WRC) thought "Someone is going to take care of this; this is not going to just go away." Fast forward to the next Rotary Board Meeting and there it was on the agenda: Helping the Farmers' Market. Like Heather, the 7,000 other Facebook followers of the Westborough Farmers' Market were saddened to hear there would not be the annual town event this year. If you haven't had the chance to stop by the market, Westborough TV covered opening day in 2019 and you can just feel summer in the air. It's a classic New England scene, and one of the great charms of living in Westborough.  
Courtesy of Community Advocate, Mary Catherine Karcich
Generosity and kindness can go a long way, literally. 
While the Rotary Club of Westborough is dedicated to serving its community, they are also committedtomaking adif­ference abroad. 

As part of their international work, the club has been giving backtothecitizensofGuatema­la thanks to collaborations with GEMINI (Global Emergency Medicine Initiative) and the help of Jorge Yarzebski, a Rotar­ian member and native of the country. Over the years, they've sent personnel from UMASS to provide medical services like surgeries to those in need. But it doesn't stop there. 
In 2019, Rotarians went to install stoves made out of cinder blocks for better ventilation. Guatemalans cook on an open flame on the floor of their homes - simi­lar to a campfire - causing respiratory issues and creating a hazard to children. Now,thanksto these new stoves, people are not getting sick like they used to. 
Despite the stark differences in what one of these stoves would look like next to something we might buy at our local Home Depot, residents were grateful. "A hands-on approach proj­ect affords a new perspective of what we value and what is important in life," said Rotarian David Kaiser. As the old adage goes, 'One man's trash is another man's treasure' 

The Westborough Rotary Club’s Environment Committee has organized a drive for collecting and recycling bags and plastics from household waste. Although bags plastics are ubiquitously in use, the economics of recycling them has been generally unattractive for businesses. These plastics eventually make their way in our fresh-water lakes and oceans destroying habitats and damaging the environment. The objective of this drive is to increase awareness of this serious issue and invite community members in the region to become actively involved in addressing it locally.

With strong community support, we've already collected over 1100 pounds of film plastic which will not find its way into our environment.  Please click "Read More" for new dates and drop off locations.

When Milford hospital physician Katie Northrup approached her friend Kelley Petralia of Westborough Connects asking to help obtain face shields for their staff to combat PPE shortages due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kelley contacted Elliott Rittenberg, President of the Rotary Club of Westborough. Westborough Rotary and Westborough Connects had worked together on a Rotary funded grant over the past year, and Kelley knew she could count on the club for help. Thus, began a Rotary project to source materials and build 100 face shields for donation to Milford Hospital. Elliott reached out to Victor Tom, Past President of the Bedford Rotary Club and current District Grants Subcommittee Chair for help with funding, and Victor suggested to solicit the assistance of other Rotary Clubs.

This initial request grew into a much larger effort, and a total of 1,415 face shield shields were distributed to multiple hospitals, EMS services, and other front-line health care providers. The project was supported by funding from Rotary District 7910, the Westborough Civic Club, and generous individual contributions, along with volunteer efforts from Rotarians, the Westborough Civic Club, and local residents. Zoom online sessions were used to provide training, and materials were delivered without contact in kits to volunteers’ homes for distributed production while maintaining social distancing. Through the combined efforts of the Westborough and Bedford Rotary Clubs, and assistance from the Rotary Clubs of Concord and Billerica along with local residents, 400 face shields have been delivered to Milford Hospital, 100 shields to Emerson Hospital, 200 to UMass Memorial Hospital in Worcester, and other amounts to the Bedford VA Hospital, St. Joseph's Hospital, along with smaller clinics, fire, police and EMT services in local communities.

Here's a quote from one of the recipient organizations that demonstrates this project's impact: "Each day since this pandemic has started our staff has shown up to work ready to put their safety on the line to help others. Donations such as these go a long way in ensuring they can continue to do that and return home safe to their families. Your support has helped build morale and fulfill our mission" 

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