By SHERIDAN CYR
The Southington Rotary will be throwing a Mardi Gras “Fat Tuesday” celebration to raise funds to benefit the Southington Middle School Athletic Association on Feb. 13 at 6:30 p.m. at Tavern 42 at 42 West Main Street in Plantsville.
Each year, the Rotary chooses a different beneficiary in the community that deserves a helping hand. This year’s event will help fund the intramural sports and afterschool activities at Kennedy and DePaolo middle schools.
“Having a program like that can benefit all students and not just those who are athletically inclined,” said Rotarian Joanne Alfieri
Ideally, the Rotary seeks to partner with organizations that help large groups of people rather than targeting specific groups within those organizations. For example, if they raise funds for the local community service center, they intend for the funds to aid all of the center’s patrons rather than a specific portion like just kids or just adults.
Last year, the Rotary’s Mardi Gras event raised $5,000 to benefit the Connecticut House of Heroes, a nonprofit organization that assists military and public safety veterans and their spouses.
Alfieri is excited about this year’s location for the event. “It’s going to be a lot of fun,” she said.”We had a bit of a hiatus with the event, but last year, we decided to resurrect it. We had such a great time that we knew we wanted to bring it back.”
Tavern 42 will offer a special menu for the event with a New Orleans inspired theme. Guests are invited to dress up with Mardi Gras masks and beads.
“The decoration and the atmosphere is always incredible,” Alfieri said. “We even have a jazz band traveling from New York to join us and celebrate.”
The Rotary club is an international organization that tries to help organizations in need. Southington’s Rotary in particular helps support locals such as Bread for Life and Southington Community Services. They also give scholarships to high school students going off to college.
Throughout the year, the group meets and discusses the impact and levels of need of the organizations seeking assistance. “We budget for different things in advanced, and have some funds set aside for people who randomly come in and need some help.”
The two biggest fundraisers of the year for the Rotary Club are the Apple Harvest Festival and a golf tournament that they host, but they have smaller scale events throughout the year.
“One thing the Rotary is known for internationally is our ongoing efforts to eradicate polio,” said Alfieri. “One day we hope there will be a world where polio does not exist.”
The Southington Rotary is constantly working on a number of projects, such as providing NICU cameras for UConn Health Centers; building shelter boxes including a shelter kit, tent and safety utensils to combat cold weather; fundraising for their Hefer program which buys livestock for people so they can begin to raise their own farms and provide sustainable products; donating to Guiding Light Orphanage, and many other ongoing projects.
The Rotary is made up of business people in a given community. Southington’s club meets weekly to plan and discuss operations. The Rotary, Alfieri explained, started as a networking group in the early 1900s. Since then, it has built up to approximately 1.2 million members across 35,000 individual Rotaries.
Southington’s Rotary debuted in 1948 and has a long history of local service. “We are excited now bringing in new and younger members to our organization. People come to us weekly with a need, and we are always looking for ways to help,” said Alfieri.
The Mardi Gras celebration will begin at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $75 per person, and can be purchased online at www.southingtonrotary.org.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Cyr, email her at SCyr@SouthingtonObserver.com.