Home Page Stories
President Steve and Past President MichelleMichelle Venema, our Rotary Club president during a challenging 2020-2021 year, received a standing ovation for her amazing leadership as she presided at her first – and last – in-person meeting of her presidency. And, Steve Brown was warmly welcomed as our incoming club president.
 
Although he has only been a member of our club since 2017, Steve comes to our club with a long history with Rotary. He joined Rotary in 1988 in Fairfax, Virginia, where he accepted his first position as CEO of a small hospital. When the Chief of Pathology invited him to join, in Steve’s words, “I was immediately hooked on the fellowship, comradery, and service to the community that Rotary provided.” When the club sponsored a new club, the Fair Oaks Breakfast Club, Steve volunteered to become a charter member. Steve’s tenure in that club lasted for the 18 years he was with the Inova Health System, until 2001 when he was offered the CEO position with a healthcare system in Kirkland, Washington, a suburb of Seattle. One of the Kirkland Club founders invited Steve to join, and within three years, he became president of the club (2006-07).
June 24th, 2021 - We will be returning to in-person meetings
 
   12:00 noon, West Chester Golf and Country Club
   Lunch Buffet will be served, $15.00 per person
 
Mask Update  -  Indoors: Masks are not required for non-serving staff, WCGCC members and guests who are vaccinated. Masks must still be worn by unvaccinated staff, members and guests when not seated.
 
About a dozen Rotarians signed up to help residents around Marshal Square Park with mulching and spreading this summer, according to Mac Neilon, coordinator of community volunteer projects for our club. However, on Saturday morning, almost double that number showed up, when Rotarians brought their children and spouses to help with the project. Mac reports that this has become an annual volunteer event for our club, as each year, the park committee contacts him to enlist volunteers from our Rotary  club to help at the park. Along with the volunteers from the neighborhood, the work was completed in record time.
     
A small, but fun-loving group of Rotarians gathered in The Pub at Arbor Square (senior living community) for one of the monthly club socials, planned by Phyllis Dunn and her committee. Among those attending were President Michelle Venema, Doug Meis, Phyllis's husband, Dan, Randy Lyndell, Phyllis and Catherine Friedman. The Pub, located on the second floor, was adjacent to a lovely outside deck that enabled guests to watch the planes landing and taking off from the nearby airport. In addition to the adult beverages, tasty appetizers were served, including the most delicious crab cakes Randy said he has ever tasted!
 
Dwight Leeper, West Chester resident, and member of the Rotary Club of West Chester, and Sam Lowry, of the Downtown Rotary Club of Huntsville, Alabama, wrote a proposal to The Rotary International Foundation requesting a Global Grant to provide Deep-Water Hand Pumps to improve the health and quality of life in five, small, rural communities in Senegal, West Africa. In January 2021, the West Chester club was awarded a $131,215 Global Grant for the project.
 
The ultra-deep pumps (LifePump) are capable of operating more efficiently than hand pumps currently in use in Africa, going three times deeper, with a projected life span of 30 years.  Pumps currently in operation don’t reach potable water, resulting in villagers’ drinking water from dirty runoff, mud puddles, and ponds that livestock wade through. Consequently, people face chronic illnesses that prevent children from attending school, adults from working, and perpetuate the cycle of poverty.
 
 
 
 
On a cold and blustery Saturday in March, a stalwart team of Rotarians, under the leadership of our dedicated fruit sale chair, Christine Wildauer (top, center) braved the weather to distribute the fruit purchased  during the annual Rotary fruit sale. Bundled up and properly masked, Rotarians handed out the fruit boxes, aided by Bill Friedmann (front, right). Among those picking up fruit was Ernest Zlotolow (front, center). If you look closely enough, you can recognize other Rotarians behind their masks. The fruit sale this year benefitted The Barn at Springbrook Farm, which provides programs and camps for children year around. Approximately $5,500 was raised through the sale, down from the usual funds raised, but good, given the virus  and its regulations. Our thanks to Christine for containing to chair this committee year after year.
Welcome, Michelle!
Members of the Rotary Club of West Chester are happy – and fortunate - to welcome Michelle Venema as our new club president for 2020-2021. Someone said Rotary started out headed by a man, so its high time we have a woman at the helm as Rotary celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2021. In addition, 2020 is the 100th anniversary of the Suffragette Movement, when women achieved the right to vote!
 
Given this dual commemoration of both important anniversaries, Michelle brings a wealth of experience, knowledge, and dedication to our club. A graduate of East High School, Michelle worked as a summer intern bank teller at First National Bank of Chester County during her junior and senior years at Sweet Briar College in VA nearly 30 years ago. She majored in biochemistry in college, intending to become a doctor, but caught the banking bug and never left the financial world until joining Home of the Sparrow as its CEO in 2016.
 
At First National, she quickly rose from teller to Executive Vice President for Business Banking, with a banking degree from Stonier Graduate School of Banking, working in commercial lending, marketing and development, and as installment loan officer along the way. She also worked for a short time at Fulton Bank and Brumbaugh Wealth Management, leaving first National after over 23 years.
 
In addition to her successful professional career, Michelle has generously donated her time to many community organizations. In addition to Rotary, which she joined in 1994, she has volunteered with United Way, Chester County Bar Assn., PA Bankers Assn.., Chester County Community Foundation, Planned Parenthood, Chambers of Commerce and Business and Industry, the West Chester Borough Bicentennial Celebration, and numerous others. She was recognized with the March of Dimes Ellen Ann Roberts Excellence in Business Award in 2008, and the Women’s Yellow Pages Women of Accomplishment award in 2012.
 
The first born generation in her family, Michelle has spent many happy hours traveling throughout Europe with her German born parents. In her spare time, Michelle enjoys talking about wine and food, puttering in her garden, or reading her favorite British murder mystery. She now shares her knowledge, financial acumen and leadership experience with Home of the Sparrow, where she helps to end homelessness for women and children in Chester County.
 
Congratulations!  It is with great pleasure that we inform you that the Rotary Club of West Chester has qualified for and been awarded District 7450’s Literacy Award.  We have been recognized with this award because of our outstanding Literacy projects completed during this 2019-2020 Rotary year. With completion of three (3) projects, we have demonstrated efforts to combat illiteracy in our community and our world.
District 7450 is extremely proud  and hope that West Chester Rotary will continue with our efforts to strengthen and promote Literacy.