By Gary Nager | September 14
Although there are currently three Rotary Clubs in New Tampa and two in Wesley Chapel — and despite all of the promoting of those clubs that we do in the New Tampa & Wesley Chapel Neighborhood News — there are still some people who don’t know what Rotary is or what it does.
All Rotary Clubs are under the umbrella of Rotary International, the oldest and still the largest service organization in the world, established in 1905 which today has 34,000 clubs and more than 1.2 million members worldwide. Although other organizations and individuals have helped, since 1979, Rotary International has been and continues to be the lead organization in the eradication of polio from the world. And, to date, there is no polio in 97-98 percent of the world, with only Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan still “polio-endemic,” according to the World Health Organization.
But, Rotary also is about local clubs helping local people, organizations and causes — and all of our area Rotary Clubs do as much as they can to help people in New Tampa, Wesley Chapel and even the Tampa Bay area as a whole.
The first Rotary Club founded in either of our distribution areas was the New Tampa Rotary Club, which has been meeting Friday mornings at 7 a.m. at Tampa Palms Golf & Country Club (TPGCC) since the club was chartered with a southeastern U.S.-record 86 members in 1995. The club’s leadership has changed over the years, and the New Tampa “Breakfast Club” has lost some members through attrition (as most clubs and organizations have the last few years in particular), but today still has more than 60 active and about 20 honorary members.
And yes, the New Tampa Rotary is still the vibrant, energetic group that started the annual Rotary PigFest, hosts golf tournaments and is involved in many other events and service projects. Current New Tampa Rotary president and long-time member Peter Gambacorta says that the club currently is working on one of its biggest service projects of all — the establishment of a dog park for all New Tampa residents in front of the New Tampa Community Park & Recreation Center on Commerce Park Blvd. in Tampa Palms.
“We’re close to having a commitment from the City of Tampa,” Gambacorta says. “If it is approved, the city will match our $25,000 investment to build the park and the city’s Parks Department will maintain it and provide the pooper-scooper bags and trash receptacles for it. A lot of people in our area have been asking for a park like this for a long time.”
On Being A Pig…
Gambacorta, a Culinary Institute of America-trained chef who owns the Private Chef of Tampa catering service, also is working on not only bringing back, but also expanding, the Rotary’s annual PigFest, which will celebrate its ninth anniversary in 2014.
“We didn’t have a PigFest in 2013,” Gambacorta says. “But, we plan to hold it the weekend of February 22 and make it more of a culinary weekend, with me cooking a wild game dinner one night, the PigFest on one day and other culinary events that are still in the planning stages. We hope to be announcing firm dates and locations later this month.”
The PigFest started as a New Tampa Rotary-only event, but as many as six or seven local Rotary Clubs — including the New Tampa Noon and New Tampa Evening Rotaries (both of which meet at Hunter’s Green Country Club) — have teamed up to make the PigFest an outstanding local event in years past and Gambacorta and his “team” of Rotarians are confident it will be even better next year.
Gambacorta says the New Tampa Rotary also is proud to support the Tampa Fisher House, the residence on the campus of the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital on Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd., which offers free room and board to family members of the wounded veterans being treated at the hospital, which later this year will be one of several charitable recipients of funds raised by the New Tampa Rotary in 2013.
Gambacorta, New Tampa Rotary senior director (and a past president) Gary Gunter and other club members also are frequent visitors to the monthly Operation Helping Hand (OpHelpHand) dinners served at the hospital for the wounded vets and their families.
OpHelpHand Tampa is a project of the Tampa Chapter of Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), and has been organized to help the families of the wounded and injured during their stay in Tampa Bay. U.S. Navy Capt. (Ret.) Robert Silah, the chairman of OpHelpHands Tampa, will be the guest speaker at the New Tampa Rotary’s meeting on Friday, October 4, 7 a.m., at TPGCC.
Thanks for the updates, Pete!
For info about the New Tampa Rotary Club, visit NewTampaRotary.org.