Any organization that dedicates its existence for the betterment of mankind deserves not only recognition, but support. A smile can go a long way and a helping hand can go even further. One organization that has made an impressive impact on a global scale goes by the name of Rotary International, started in 1905 by Paul Harris in Chicago, Illinois. With a worldwide membership of 1.4 mil- lion Rotarians and over 46,000 member clubs in existence, it’s clear that the mission to provide community services, promote integrity and advance goodwill are alive and well. You don’t have to live halfway across the world to feel a direct impact from Rotary International if you happen to be a resident of Collingswood, New Jersey – because they’re in your backyard.
The International Rotary Club’s local chapter, known as the Collingswood Rotary Club, was established in 1928. Its current president, Ronald Woods, leads the humanitarian efforts of the Collingswood area having been a member since the 1990s. Another prominent member since 2006 is Scott Gutman, former president of the club and owner of SGI Wealth Management. As a proud member of 15 years, Gutman has been in charge of not only providing help- ing hands to Collingswood citizens, but membership enrollment as well, which is a vital aspect of ensuring community success. According to Gutman, there is a four-way test used as a moral code of conduct for Rotarians.
“Is it the Truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it bring goodwill and better friendships? And will it be beneficial to all concerned?” he says. Regular Rotary Clubs require at least 20 members, but a unique alternative, called a Satellite club, allows club formation with only eight members who may not have the time to meet weekly or want to experience multiple forms of club organization. A regular club serves as a support system and sponsor to Satellite clubs. Once satellite clubs hit 20 members, the option to remain or grow into a standalone club is available. “A lot of younger people are interested,” says Gutman, who reflected on the popularity of Satellite clubs. “We saw an increase in membership after the pandemic,” he continued on, a feat he’s very proud of and hopes encourages more participants.
The Collingswood Rotary Club serves its community in many creative and fun ways. Local events such as pet inoculations, volunteering at the Cathedral Kitchen and Poker Night at the Community Center ensure the health and financial needs of the public are met. Poker night in particular was described as a “success,” by Gutman, and “funds high school scholarships,” which the club frequently offers along with the presentation of boys and girls state awards. Recent events include the renovation of the snack bar in Woodlynne and cleaning up Newton Creek to provide the pollution free environment everyone deserves. The generosity doesn’t end there, one annual event in particular is the gift that keeps on giving—Thanksgiving Baskets.
“It’s one of my favorite events,” says Gutman. A time during the Thanksgiving holiday where less fortunate families are provided turkeys and other foods at local churches. One major influence within the Collingswood Rotary Club came directly from the church and was right at home with such events — the late Father Mark Chattin, a priest for 44 years at the Holy Trinity Church who has been a member of the club since the 1990s. A highly respected man to his peers. Gutman remembers one of their greatest members as “one of the kindest, community people I ever knew.”
The Collingswood Rotary Club has made it their mission to serve their community to the best of their ability since 1928 when the local chapter was formed. Whether it’s passing out turkeys in the fall or hosting school scholarship events in the spring, this humanitarian effort is an ongoing process with no end in sight. The continuation of such good deeds relies on a steady number of new and ambitious members whether it’s via a Satellite club or a traditional club. “We’re looking for new members,” says Gutman. If you have the time, dedication and skills to make Collingswood the best it possibly can be, feel free to reach out to Scottgut@gmail.com and begin your journey of generosity