by Terry Rogers
Over the past few weeks, members of the Milford Rotary Club visited Benjamin Banneker, Lulu M. Ross and Mispillion Elementary Schools in order to provide dictionaries to every third grader in Milford School District. According to Debbie O’Neill, a member of the Milford Rotary, this is a project she looks forward to each year.
“We have been doing this for around 12 years,” O’Neill said. “It is a project that I think is very important as these dictionaries are for the kids. They can take them home and use them when they go on to the Milford Central Academy, Milford High School and even when they go off to college.”
After handing out the books with the assistance of Bob Starkey, another Rotary Club member, O’Neill spoke to the students, showing them the various aspects of the dictionary. After showing the students that they could write their name on the first page of the book, she explained that one of the focuses of the Rotary Club was benevolence.
“Now, let’s use this dictionary to find out what benevolence means,” O’Neill said, helping the children spell the word and guiding them to the definition. “Remember that the words at the top of the page of the dictionary are guide words so we use them to locate the word benevolence. Benevolence means ‘a disposition to be good, an act of kindness, a generous gift. That is what we want to do as members of the Rotary, to bring goodwill and kindness to other people, to be charitable to others.” After helping the children look up other words, such as goodness, O’Neill showed the children other features of the book, including information about each state and sign language symbols.
At the end of her presentation, O’Neill told the students that the Milford Rotary Club offers several scholarships designed to help students go on to college and encouraged them to apply when they were ready to graduate from high school.
“Donations like this are important,” Cindy McKenzie, Principal of Lulu M. Ross Elementary School, said. “We use the dictionaries during writing time as a resource and a lot of the children use the glossary section to look up planets, the sign language information and other items. Many of them just enjoy having the dictionary in their hands. In today’s technologically driven world, it is important for us to continue teaching methods of research that do not involve a computer. Having their own dictionary that they can use at home is a great way to encourage them to develop good research skills.”
The Milford Rotary Club is the oldest service club in the town, organized on June 9, 1925. At the time, the Wilmington Rotary Club was becoming active. Milford businessmen R.A. “Buck” Derrickson and G. Marshall Townsend were close personal friends with the president of the Wilmington organization, Cornelius Garretson, leading Garretson to back the establishment of a Milford charter.
Derrickson served as the first president of the Milford club with Townsend serving as secretary. G.T. Reed, Sr. served as treasurer until his resignation in 1927. At that time, C.D. “Don” Holzmueller served as treasurer until his death in 1961.
Since it’s inception almost 100 years ago, the Milford Rotary Club has assisted many community fundraising efforts. Louder N. Hearn, a member of the Rotary, established a scholarship trust in his will that is managed through the Rotary. William G. Powder also left funds in his estate to establish a Rotary Scholarship while Daniel Hirsch created the Hirsch Fund which was designed to assist those who were temporarily without funds or employment. I.G. Burton initiated a drive within the club to purchase the second modern ambulance for Carlisle Fire Company.
Milford Memorial Hospital was established due to the efforts of another Milford Rotarian, DR. G. Layton Grier who worked tirelessly to create the hospital, giving freely of his time and money to gain the support of the community. In 1933, a garden contest resulted in the first town motto “Garden City of Twin Counties,” a submission by the Maag family.
The Milford Rotary Club was also a strong supporter of the Can-Do Playground on Airport Road in Milford and arrange for the Flags for Our Heroes display in Bicentennial Park each Memorial Day.
The Milford Rotary Club meets every Monday at 5:45 PM at the Rookery North Country Club on Rehoboth Boulevard. Guests are welcome at meetings and the club looks for civic-minded professionals who want to make a difference in the community.