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Hillsborough Club Continues Community Traditions

The annual Memorial Day picnic and other projects are traditions kept by the Rotary Club of Hillsborough.

Members of the Rotary Club of Hillsborough meet weekly at Pheasant's Landing. Above, members at the April 27, 2011, meeting met with Rotary International guests from the nation of Lebanon. Credit: Rotary Club of Hillsborough
Members of the Rotary Club of Hillsborough meet weekly at Pheasant's Landing. Above, members at the April 27, 2011, meeting met with Rotary International guests from the nation of Lebanon. Credit: Rotary Club of Hillsborough
Sometime around 1960, Harry Smith's brother—and business partner—Elliott introduced him to the members of the Rotary Club of Belle Mead.

He said he joined because, as far as he knew, it was what young businessmen did.

But he quickly became immersed in fulfilling the Rotary International motto, "Service above self," and found himself actively involved in various community service projects undertaken by the club. Soon, he was heading up the Rotary Club's newest efforts: Hillsborough's Bicentennial celebration in 1971 and the Memorial Day community picnic.

"We started that way back when," he said.

Smith is still a member of the club, although it's now the Rotary Club of Hillsborough, and through the decades, as new members joined and others dropped out, the club's activities have continued.

Many residents today best know the club through the annual Rotary Club Fair, a massive undertaking that nets the club thousands of dollars used for local residents in need, providing dictionaries to students, funding scholarships for high school graduates and helping support Rotary district, national and international charitable projects.

The members meet each week at Pheasant's Landing, and while one used to have a sponsor—like Smith's brother—to open the doors, that's not the case these days. Rotary Club of Hillsborough Secretary John Shockley said the club welcomes new members—especially this month, as Rotary International hosts Awareness Month hoping to inform more people about it's many activities.

Hillsborough residents may not know the club has been a major benefactor since the early days of the Community Picnic, when longtime member Fred Quick said the club decided to get its own tent for the event.

"We rented a 60-by-120 foot tent and had the picnic at Docherty Park," he said. Then, club members purchased their own tent—and rented it to others to use, adding the rental fees collected to the club's contributions to local charities.

"We kept doing that until the year a big storm hit during the Fireman's Fair and just destroyed it," Quick said. "We did raise quite a bit of money for our club's support for projects in town."

Both Smith and Quick said they joined because of the business connections—but the club's community projects and focus on helping others has kept them involved through the years.

"Obviously, the camaraderie is part of it, it keeps us going through the rough times," Quick said. But "the meaning of it is to give back."

"You're supposed to think about helping others," Smith said. "People should do service for their community and for their country."
     
The Rotary Club of Hillsborough counts dozens of local business owners and managers in its membership today—it's grown from those roots in 1955 as the Rotary Club of Belle Mead, with Dix Skillman as inaugural president.

If you'd like to know more about the club, visit the website or Facebook page—or stop by Pheasant's Landing at 6:15 p.m. on Wednesday evenings and meet the members. 


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