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While our new tent and banner drew interested individuals to our site at the Restaurant Festival, the star of the booth was the introduction of our little foam Chili Peppers. In case you haven’t seen one yet, Anne Driscoll shows off one of the cute peppers that will be dropped from a large bag hanging over Jack’s Plaza on Gay Street at 3 p.m. on October 8th, the day of our annual, popular Chili Cook-off.
Helping publicize the cook-off and our new 50/50 chili pepper drop at the Festival were Gary Hewitt, Matt Kuehn, Suzette Webb, Anne Driscoll, Sue Casso, Jeff Cantwell, and Melissa Baxter.  
For the 11th year in a row, our West Chester club has donated school supplies to the West Chester Area School District (WCASD). Looking over the donated crayons, colored pencils, scissors, flash cards, dry erasers, composition books and many other school supplies, along with WCASD caseworkers, are Rich Murray, Rotary president, (fourth from left) and Katie Martin ((fifth from the right).
This year, a $1,500 donation on behalf of our club was contributed by three key sponsors, Arthur Hall Insurance, TrustPoint, LLC, and First Resource Bank.
A large group of West Chester Rotarians were among the 500 Rotarians in District 7450 to attend the Phillies versus Milwaukee Brewers baseball game on Tuesday. An annual event of District 7450, some Rotarians made it a family affair. The Schwabs attended with son Matt and their grandchildren, the Sammarone family was there, and Paul Woodruff brought his grandson.  Among others spotted in the crowd were Doug Meis, Melissa Baxter, Corey Cahill, and Kate  Diffendorf.
The evening started off with a District tailgate party from 4 to 6 p.m. with hot dogs, snack bags and beverages.
A small but enthusiastic group of Rotarians gathered on a recent Saturday evening at Marshall Square Park to eat dinner and enjoy rock and roll music by Slingshot. Continuing her efforts to encourage West Chester Rotary Clubs to participate in joint activities, Immediate Past President Melissa Baxter was joined by Angela Brown from the Passport Club to picnic and listen to the music. An assortment of food trucks lined up along Matlack Street, but most folks brought their own picnic dinners and beverages.
“It was hot,” reports Phyllis Dunn, "but we sat under the trees in the shade, and there was enough of a breeze to make it a pleasant evening,” she added.
Another opportunity for fellowship among Rotarians!
Melissa Baxter turned over the club presidency to Rich Murray at a memorable presidential induction, like hundreds of Rotary clubs across the country and the world. Melissa accomplished so much in her year as our leader, notably bringing together other West Chester Rotary clubs in joint events. Apparently we did not overtax her, because she has now stepped up to join Jeff Cantwell in heading up the Chili Cook-off on October 8th! Talk about going “from the frying pan into the fire!” Fortunately she and Jeff have over 100 Rotarians and many other volunteers beside them as they venture forth, including Melissa’s supportive husband, Aaron.
Continuing the excellent leadership of his predecessors, Rich commented “we have the friendliest club in the district, and I am happy to be your meeting host for the next 52 weeks!” Keeping leadership in perspective, Rich had to explain to his 5-year- old son, Logan, that he is NOT president of the United States, but only of this club at which he will use a gavel and ring a bell at each meeting.
After the induction of Rich and his board members by District 7450 Governor Renee DeCoskey of the Conshohocken Plymouth Whitemarsh Rotary Club, she announced the new RI theme Create Hope in the World. “We need to become more visible in our communities and think about how we are perceived,” she said.
Our club’s new tent and banner made their debut at the Turks Head Music Festival on a beautiful Sunday in June. The clever banner attracts visitors, and engages them in learning about Rotary, providing an additional, visible resource for displaying club brochures and information, and most importantly, publicizing our upcoming Chili Cook-off!
Jeff Cantwell, Chili Cook-off co-chair, reports that it was a perfect day for folks to get out and about in the Borough of West Chester. “Several individuals stopped by and signed up to receive our new quarterly newsletter also.” 
The festival gave Jeff a chance to visit each of the other 100 or so vendors, and pass out the new handouts urging vendors to participate in the Chili Cook-off on October 8th in the borough. Debi Friedmann, spouse of a member and a member of the Passport Rotary, continues to provide some marketing support of the cook-off, (she designed the cook-off handout!). She also roamed around the festival in a chili pepper outfit to further advertise the cook-off!
President Melissa gave a Rotary welcome in front of our RI banner to two of the three Chester County Commissioners, Marian Moskowitz and Josh Maxwell. They in turn gave inspiring comments on the state of our county and work of the commissioners.

Moskowitz said the skills she learned along the way as a businesswoman have been helpful in her job as commissioner. “These skills came in handy when I took office, and we were immediately faced with the challenges presented by COVID, and storm Ida. Despite those, we continued to work to move the county forward.”
What has become an annual Service Above Self project for our club is helping neighborhood volunteers with clean-up day at Marshall Square Park in West Chester. This year, the clean-up day was scheduled for Earth Day weekend. Mac Neilon again handled the details, and directed 13 Rotarians and a child to help with picking up sticks, spreading mulch, shoveling up leaves, and general clean-up between 8:30 a.m. and noon on Saturday. Thanks to all the volunteers, and to Randy Lindel and Mark Sammarone for recording the event with photos.
Charles Streitwieser and Melissa Baxter represented our West Chester Club at the recent District 7450 District Conference, which Melissa described as a “relaxed format – people came and went throughout.”
Charles had a chance to catch up with the keynote speaker, Drew Kessler, Past District Governor (PDG 2013-14), who is now a Rotary International Director. The 2023 Conference was themed “Imagination Action,” building on the theme of our RI International leader. About 100 Rotarians gathered at The Alloy Hotel in King of Prussia on Friday evening to kick off the annual conference. Saturday the gathering at Elmwood Park Zoo in Norristown was environmentally focused, and the Sunday gathering at Waynesborough Country Club in Paoli, featured the 4-Way Speech Contestants and guest speaker.
Rotarians help out wherever there is a need! For example, Locust Lane Brewery (LLB), a member of the Exton Region Chamber of Commerce, conducts a series of events called ”Pints With  a Purpose,” in which they pick a non-profit member of the chamber to highlight each month. The chamber’s Community Philanthropic Council’s February pick was the Chester County History Center (CCHC). All month, not only do proceeds from LLB’s monthly Community Cups project go to the non-profit, there is a happy hour at the end of the month.

The Philadelphia Eagles may have come up short on their bid to win the Super Bowl last weekend, but West Chester Rotarians were winners. Carol Hanson and new member Lona Pangia were among the four winners of the Super Bowl fundraiser conducted by Mac Neilon. Carol won $200 for her 2nd  quarter pick, Lona won $200 for her third quarter pick, Fran Curtin (on a bucket list trip to Egypt with wife Judy) won $200 for his first quarter pick, and Rob Malone's grandmother won the fourth quarter pick and the $650 prize!
Mac reports that 77 individuals participated, Rotarians, their families and friends, in this fun(draiser) for our club. The remainder of the winning funds, representing half of the betted dollars, $1,250, goes to our club's good works. Fun, fellowship and winners all around!
President Melissa Baxter and Bob Rogers tied for first place in the Rotary Barbecue Throw Down, held recently at the Boy Scout Council building in Exton. Melissa's entree was a succulent "Beat Bob Baby Back Ribs," and Bob's entrée was  "Three Little Pigs," a tasty combination of pork shoulder, pork belly and bacon. Judy Curtin, past president of the Sunrise Club was runner up with her cinnamon spiced pulled pork. Other cooks/chefs from Sunrise included Bill Leber, and Laura Schofield and husband John Pierson's "Buckle Up" pulled pork (John smoked the pork for 16 hours!).
Bob Rogers was the most colorful of the cooks with his red chef's hat and apron ("I like my butt rubbed and my pork pulled"). Providing delicious dishes to accompany the main entrees was Bill Friedmann's world famous "Blame It On the Dog BBQ Baked Beans," along with mac and cheese, cole slaw, and potato salads. Several other attendees brought cookies and brownies.
Arriving in a holiday mood, about 75 individuals, Rotarians and their spouses, gathered for a festive holiday party at the gorgeous home of Doreen and Bill Winters. Although elegant on its own, Doreen embellished the large Victorian style home with numerous decorated trees that she started putting up in October!
Through the years, Doreen and Bill have graciously hosted our club at picnics on the large, wide porch that surrounds their home. Not only is it beautiful to look out at the immaculately manicured lawn, flowers and bushes, but some partygoers would take their plates of food poolside to enjoy the weather and beauty of the rear yard.
As usual, Rotarians filled the dining table with an amazing spread of delicious holiday foods. Among the most notable was the scalloped potatoes dish from the Roots Café.
All partygoers were dressed in festive holiday garb. Skip Brion and Dan Dunn showed up in sweaters of the same design. Red crabs were featured on a holiday motif background, and known as “crabby Christmas” sweaters. They obviously have good taste in clothes - no ugly sweaters at this holiday party!
We thank Jeff Cantwell for snapping the photos of partygoers, and Phyllis Dunn for filling us in on some details of another popular Rotary fellowship event.
Hoping all had a Merry Christmas with family and friends, are looking forward to an upcoming year of service that makes a difference, improved physical and mental health, and more civil discourse.
Another longtime tradition of our Rotary club has been the ringing of the bells at the bright red pots of the Salvation Army each year. This is a major fundraiser for the SA, which does so much good in our communities year around.
Katie Martin and Mac Neilon were ringing at the Amish Market when fellow Rotarian and Captain of the area Salvation Army, Jesus Coralizza, stopped by. The Amish Market is always a favorite location because before or after one's shift, it's such fun to go inside and pick up some tasty bakery goods or find other interesting items.
Paul Woodruff and Phil McFadden were among the many Rotarians who helped out at the Shop Rite Market. A young girl, shopping with her mother, stopped to make a donation, aided by Paul and Phil.
Lastly, a couple of Rotarians missed their shift. Did they forget to set their alarm clock? Go Christmas shopping? Rake leaves? Trim their Christmas
tree?   Only Bob and Allison know. Happy Holidays!
A casual, social gathering of Rotary members on the "Tuesday Before Thanksgiving" has been a longstanding tradition of the Rotary Club of West Chester. Over two dozen club members joined in keeping the tradition alive this year.
Several years ago, two sergeant at arms (Katie Martin and Mac Neilon?) started the tradition by scheduling an informal  happy hour at a borough bar on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. In addition to socializing, they presented "awards"  to fellow members for the funniest, most outlandish reasons they could come up with.
Although awards are no longer given out, the tradition of gathering before Thanksgiving continues. As this group of Rotarians gathered at the Side Bar and Restaurant on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, they carried on the wonderful tradition of Rotarians gathering for fun and fellowship - thankful for each other's friendship! Thanks to  President Mellissa for arranging for this photo.
Members of our Rotary Club are never ones to shirk helping and participating in activities in the Borough of West Chester. And the recent Christmas parade was no exception! Jeff Cantwell was able to catch this photo of Rotarian and Bar Association director, Matt Holliday, on the Chamber of Commerce float. Jeff barely managed to get this photo because he was busy being one of the parade marshals!. Mark Sammarone was busy directing the hundreds of vehicles that were streaming into the borough hunting parking places. Mac Neilon also was very  busy doing  a variety of tasks to keep the parade running smoothly. Perhaps there were other Rotarians helping out that evening. The borough, chamber of commerce, and others know they can always depend on hard-working, often unseen Rotary volunteers and their families.
Rotarians can always be counted on to assist our community!
Several club presidents and members of the four West Chester Rotary Clubs met recently at Timothy’s for an All West Chester Member Prospect and Networking Social. One group of Rotarians who were having fun together included (from left) our own West Chester President Melissa Baxter, Debi Friedmann, president of the Passport  Club, Russ DiFuria, a past president and member of the WEGO (West  Goshen) Club, Bob Eaves, president of the Sunrise Club, and (front) Judy Curtin, immediate past president of the Sunrise Club.
According to Melissa, “the social gathering was an opportunity to strengthen Rotary through fellowship, networking, and fun." Guests learned about each club, and “connected with our greatest assets – our club members,” explained Melissa. “It was a chance to have fun, as well as build your personal and professional networks,” she added.

At a recent luncheon, the club awarded $30,000 to representatives of 10 non-profit organizations chosen by the Community Philanthropic Committee (CPC) from 22 applications. Representatives pictured with Melissa Baxter, club president, seated left, are Nan Latona, Glenda Brion, Kara Todd, Sandra Romeo, and standing from left, Rob Malone, co-chair of the CPC, Kathleen Sanger, Doug Pacitti, Ryan Enns, David James, Don Neimetz, Heather Robino, and Christine Scott, co-chair of CPC. Each representative was given an opportunity to explain how their grant funds would be used.

According to Chili King Bill Friedman, an estimated record crowd of about 10,000 people flooded the streets of West Chester Borough Sunday, October 9th, when the annual Chili Cook-off returned for its 20th year!. Lines of chili lovers  formed prior to noon, and booths remained busy until the awards presentations at 3:30, although many booths had run out of chili by then.
Sponsors helping Rotary host the popular event, which is 100% volunteer driven, included Stoltfus RV’s & Marine, Christ Community Church, Lorgus Flower Shop, West, Arthur Hall Insurance, Blue Dog Printing & Design, Chester County Eye Care, Greystone, A. Martinelli & Sons, A Storage Depot, WAWA, and 1st Resource Bank. Sixteen other businesses and organizations also supported the event.
The first place winner in the People’s Choice Division was Parrot Troopers, who have participated for many years, and won in most divisions nearly every year. Ryan’s Pub took first place in the Restaurant Division, a first time cooking Arthur Hall Insurance won in the Business Division, Church Farm School, which has won in many categories for several years, won in the Non-profit Division, and Hammacher & Schlemmer won in the Hometown/Volunteer Division. Go to the Chili Cook-off link on our website for the complete listing of the first through third place winners in all divisions.
One of the most popular, tasty and interesting events is coming back after a two year hiatus due to the pandemic. The annual Rotary Club of West Chester Chili Cook-off will return for its 20th year on Sunday, October 9th! Vendors will be set up by 10:30 in the morning, and chili will be dished up beginning at noon until the chili awards presentations at 3:30.
Sponsors helping Rotary host the event, which is 100% volunteer driven, include Stoltfus RV’s & Marine, Christ Community Church, Lorgus Flower Shop, West, Arthur Hall Insurance, Blue Dog Printing & Design, Chester County Eye Care, Greystone, A. Martinelli & Sons, A Storage Depot, WAWA, and 1st Resource Bank. Sixteen other businesses and organizations are also supporting the event.
Teams providing chili include hometown cooks and volunteers, non-profits, restaurants and businesses - 49 teams dishing out chili to date! The Saloon 151 restaurant will again participate to defend its previous “People’s Choice” title with its Outlaw Chili.
Anne Driscoll and Club President Melissa Baxter were among the several Rotarians who volunteered to staff  our Rotary table at the recent Restaurant Festival in the Borough of West Chester to promote our upcoming Chili Cook-off. They sold wristbands so folks don't have to stand in long lines the day of the cook-off on October 9th,  handed out updated brochures, and answered questions about Rotary. Meanwhile, John Schwab was busy "planting" Chili Cook-off signs in the borough. Many Rotarians have "planted" the bright red and yellow signs outside the borough, on corners, heavily trafficked streets, in their yards, and intersections. This will be the 20th year of our cook-off, which seems to grow in popularity each year, and even attracts folks from, other states, in addition to thousands of local individuals and families. Our cook-off returns after a two year hiatus due to COVID, and  is widely anticipated. If you haven't signed up to volunteer that day, it's not too late to get in on the fun! See you on Sunday, October 9th!
For the 20th year in a row, Mac Neilon (fifth from left, next to West Chester Area School  District Superintendent Bob Sokolowski) arranged for the donation of school supplies to the WCASD. Club President Melissa Baxter (sixth from right) joined Mac in delivering over $1,000 in supplies for students and families in need, from funds generated by the Rotary Club's Chili Cook-off. Caseworkers for the school district, pictured above,  divide up the supplies and distribute them to economically disadvantaged students In the 17 district schools.
"We are so appreciative of the Rotary Club of  West Chester's continued donation of school supplies," said Tricia Alston, WCASD social worker coordinator. "Their generosity goes such a long way to helping to make the start of the school year an exciting rather than stressful time for our families."
John Schwab (left) and Mac Neilon recently put up the first of several new road signs to provide additional visibility for Rotary clubs, and encourage individuals to look up and find a club, and learn about Rotary. The URL will direct individuals to all four Rotary clubs in the greater West Chester area. New and replacement road signage is one of the new projects of our club's Communications Committee. There will be additional signage  to follow at all road entrances to West Chester, so keep watching for them!
"Promoting Rotary in sunshine and fresh air" was how Sue Casso Rogers described Sunday afternoon at the annual Melton Center Community Day event.
Manning the table with Jeff Cantwell, they had a close-up view of the young men playing a lively basketball game on the court in front of them. Just four Rotarians responded to John Schwab's request for volunteers, despite Sue's "sunshine and fresh air" prompting. This is the second recent area event at which Sue has volunteered. Volunteering with her is always fun because, as club secretary and membership chair (among other things!), Sue has a wealth of information about Rotary, which is always interesting. There will be additional outdoor "sunshine and fresh air" events coming up this fall, so plan to volunteer when you hear of other opportunities to engage with the larger community, spread the word and provide information about Rotary, and enjoy fun times with fellow Rotarians.
Our new club president, Melissa Baxter, had the pleasure of meeting the new Mayor of the Borough of West Chester Lillian DeBaptiste, when the mayor was our recent guest speaker.
Mayor DeBaptiste is the daughter of former mayor, Clifford DeBaptiste, who at age 98, has been a member of our club for 49 years!
Mayor DeBaptiste said she hadn’t really thought about running for office until about two years ago, when she felt she had something to offer, her ABCD list: Arts, Balance, Clean and Green, and Diversity. She was sworn in exactly 20 years to the day after her father was sworn in as mayor! “It’s been an amazing, you might even say 'divine' journey,” she said. ”I’ve enjoyed the job for the past eight months,” she added, explaining that she has helped open stores with ribbon cuttings, interviewed and hired four outstanding new police officers in conjunction with Police  Chief Jim Moreland,  and even performed the wedding of a couple she knows!
The Rotary Club of West Chester, the Greater West Chester Sunrise Rotary Club and the Rotary Passport Club of West Chester joined together in choosing and awarding three high school graduates $2,000 college scholarships each. The scholarship recipients were chosen based on essays they wrote about their volunteerism, based on the Rotary motto, “Service Above Self.” Letters of recommendation from school administrators added verification of the students’ volunteer work.
Receiving scholarships from John Abitabilo (left) and Robbe Healey (right) are Reagan Peri (second from left) and Taylor Krafchick. Also receiving a scholarship was Chinonye Moneme, (center, pictured with from left) David Sweet, Nathan Keisler, Chinonye’s father, John Abitabilo, and Jim Gasho.
The principal and teachers at East High School wrote that Chinonye Moneme, “is a leader in diversity awareness, and tutors other students. She participated in a food drive for Martine Luther King Day of Service. She was also an elementary school mentor, and sent cards to veterans and senior citizens. In addition, she was the school’s cross country manager, and worked on clean-up projects.”
“I have learned the importance of little things each day,’” said Chinonye. She will attend Boston University in the fall, studying mechanical engineering with a focus on environmental renewable energy.
Steve Brown, our outgoing president, received accolades for his leadership in the second half of the 2021-2022 Rotary year, our 100th anniversary, for his outstanding leadership during the (still circulating) pandemic. In addition to keeping club members engaged, Steve gave us brief looks back at our country’s history, and provided humorous moments at every club meeting to lighten the challenging times.
After walking us down memory lane, he turned the gavel over to Melissa Baxter. Melissa has been busy on the board and as president-elect, and chairperson of the Community Philanthropic Committee (CPC), helping seek/review applications from non-profits vying for grants. What a challenge to select from about 30 agencies narrowing that down to about a dozen to whom we can award a total of $30,000!
Mailing Address:
Rotary Club of West Chester
PO Box 743
West Chester, Pennsylvania 19381-0743 USA
West Chester Rotary meets every Thursday at Noon at the 
West Chester Country Club,
111 West Ashbridge Street,
West Chester, PA USA
Programs begin at 12:20pm
Chili Cookoff Leaders
Oct 05, 2023 12:00 AM
Chili Cook Off Details and Plans
Bill Raup, Pickle Ball Pro
Oct 12, 2023 12:00 PM
The Pickle Ball Craze
Oct 19, 2023 12:00 PM
Classification Talks