Reflecting, Adapting, and Finding Opportunities to Serve
By David Crespo, President 
Posted January 7, 2021
Since March of last year our community has been facing the harsh realities of the global pandemic. This difficult situation has touched all of our lives, and there has been tremendous loss and upheaval. The Manchester Rotary Club sends heartfelt condolences to everyone who has lost a loved one due to Covid-19. We look forward to better times for you and for all.
The shut downs and social restrictions brought to us by the pandemic have resulted in lots of ups and downs for Rotary clubs as we struggled to adjust to the new realities. For the members of the Manchester Rotary Club, 2020 was a time to reflect on the meaning of our motto “Service Above Self.” Our discussions centered around how our club could adapt so that we could continue to meet our mission in a spirit of collaboration. The question on our minds was always: “How best can we support our community at a time when our local schools, public agencies, nonprofit organizations, and families are facing unprecedented challenges?”
By mastering (somewhat!) the art of video conferencing and of holding “hybrid” (combination in-person/online meetings), the Club has continued to keep the lines of communications open both internally and with our partners and friends in the community. Club members were kept informed of how the citizens of Manchester and vicinity are being helped—and where there are needs for more assistance—through presentations by guest speakers at our Monday lunch meetings. The roster included representatives of health care, social service, and educational nonprofits, as well as leaders from the law enforcement and business communities.
In 2020 Club members engaged in several “hands-on” service projects that had a direct impact on people. This volunteerism included distributing free cloth face masks to the public through the Mask Up NH effort sponsored by the Common Man Family of restaurants. In addition, the Club donated disposable masks to local organizations through the Rotary District 7870’s Million Mask Challenge Tour, and gave away additional cloth masks sewn by volunteers. 
Club members fielded a team for the Virtual Walk Against Hunger 5K to benefit Families in Transition/New Horizons and helped serve meals to the organization’s clients. The Club provided in-kind donations of food, supplies, and games to Webster House, a residential facility for youth. Our volunteers also helped with a food distribution program for children organized by the City of Manchester and Southern New Hampshire University; with the YWCA Summer Lunch Program for Kids; with Amoskeag Health’s Turkey Toss which provided food for needy families; and with the Fueling our Families initiative organized by the Granite United Way.
With the assistance of Holy Trinity Cathedral PNCC the Club organized a Diaper Drive to benefit the Our Place Program of Catholic Charities New Hampshire. Another big Club effort was providing labor for a building improvement project at Camp Allen in Bedford, NH, which serves children and adults with developmental and physical challenges.
The Club also granted funds to local nonprofits, including the Breakthrough Manchester program for high school students and the SEE Science Center. Through the District 7870 Covid-19 Relief Grant Program, the Club awarded funds to Amoskeag Health, YWCA New Hampshire, and the Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester. The Club also supported Families in Transitio/New Horizons, Neighborworks Southern New Hampshire, and the New Hampshire Union Leader Santa Fund which benefits the Salvation Army. The Club awarded scholarship money to a former member of the Rotary Interact Club at the Manchester School of Technology. It also supported the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, a public/private partnership of Rotary International.
In the spirit of celebrating our veterans, we partnered with the Queen City Rotary Club and Hooksett Club to thank our veteran members for their service to our country in the Union Leaders’ special Veterans Day edition.
In 2021 the Manchester Rotary Club will continue to stay connected in the community, will continue to find meaningful ways to engage in service projects, and will continue to award grants. We are hopeful that we will be able to bring back our community fundraising event, Cruising Downtown, which had to be cancelled last year. It is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, September 4. This will be the 20th anniversary of this beloved event which regularly attracts 30,000 people to downtown Manchester to view classic, antique, hot rod, and specialty cars, trucks, and motorcycles. We will monitor the public health safety situation closely, and will make a decision on this as soon as possible. For more information: