2017 President’s Report

Serving the Cohase Region of VT & NH | www.cohaserotary.org

This year has been a wild ride. I was invited by 2009-2017 President, Ian Clark to join the Woodsville-Wells River Rotary Club in January 2017. Little did I know that I would immediately accept the position of President-Elect for the 2017-2018 year. I will be the first to admit that I wasn’t quite sure what was in store for me. They sent me to the Northeast Presidents-Elect Training Seminar in Framingham, Massachusetts for three days in March. I walked away from the weekend with 700+ new friends and an overwhelming sense of pride in Rotary and the compassion of its members. All weekend I learned about projects locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally that folks were working on. I didn’t even get home before I was excitedly writing to all of the club and district members about my hopes for the coming year. We accomplished a lot this year and I owe a huge debt of gratitude to eight-year President Ian Clark and members Rolk Zuk, David Perry, and Dean Rowden for welcoming me and showing me the ropes. I have included the highlights below and would love to discuss Rotary with anyone who is interested in learning more – whether at a club meeting or one-on-one for coffee. Get in touch!

Monique Priestley, Cohase Rotary Club President 2017-2019


This year, we awarded four scholarships to local high school graduates, trained youth leaders, supported literacy by donating books, and participated at both Spring and Fall Paddle the Border. We raised money for international projects, were awarded a district grant to fund classroom equipment at BMU, and accepted applications for a district-wide educator scholarship. We also organized an opioid awareness event at Oxbow High School, invited area high schools to participate in the district speech contest, opened the speaker portion of our meetings up to the public to participate, and had displays at both the Giving Fair and So Long Summer – Hello Fall. Additionally, we assisted several other local organizations with projects.

Our biggest project each year is to raise money to award at least four $1,000 scholarships, one to a student from each of Blue Mountain Union School, Oxbow High School, River Bend Career & Technical Center and Woodsville High School. Since 1999, our Club has awarded $128,500 in scholarships. The recipients of our 2017 Educational Scholarship Awards were: Samuel Pushee of Woodsville High School who went on to study nursing at Colby-Sawyer; Cayleigh O’Connell of Oxbow High School who went on to study political science at University of Connecticut; Joseph Mitchell of River Bend Career & Technical Center who went on to study sustainable business at Green Mountain College; and Joshua Walls of Blue Mountain Union School who went on to study fire science at Southern Main Community College. Most of the funds for our scholarships come from our annual Jr. High School Basketball Tournament. 2018 will be our 51st year for the tournament. We’ve received comments from many grandparents who recall playing in it themselves.


Additional Highlights:

  • We tripled meeting attendance with active new members: Hope Saunders, Joy Loschiavo, Nathan Ellsworth, Joanne O’Meara, Tony O’Meara, Kenneth Schaffer, and Rob Elder.
  • We renamed Woodsville-Wells River to Cohase to be inclusive of all of the towns we serve.
  • Every year we participate in the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) program. We send three high school freshman/sophomore students to a long weekend of leadership development at Lyndon State College. The RYLA program is run by previous recipients of the award.
  • Rotary International views literacy as a basic human right. Our club works with the Dictionary Project to donate dictionaries to all 3rd grade students at Newbury Elementary School each year. We plan to expand this to additional area schools in 2018.
  • We sold food and assisted boaters at both Spring and Fall Paddle the Border.
  • The Club raised just under $600 to contribute to a project that Club #6410 of Sherbrooke, Canada initiated with Club #6868 of Obregon Sur, Mexico. The money went to an international effort to plant community orchards in Mexico.
  • We were awarded a $1,100 district grant to fund kinesthetic classroom equipment at BMU. The Club is working with Beth Fraser’s class at BMU to raise an additional $1,145.
  • We accepted applications for the Alonzo Malouin Teacher Scholarship which provides $5,000 to an educator for continuing education.
  • We organized an opioid awareness event at Oxbow High School with a large panel of local, regional, and state industry experts. We continue to work on follow-up events.
  • We invited area high schools to participate in the District #7850’s 4-Way Test speech contest.
  • We opened the speaker portion of our meetings up to the public to participate.
  • We took part in community events including The Giving Fair and So Long Summer – Hello Fall.
  • We donated to help the West Newbury Congregational Church send supplies to Zimbabwe.
  • We provided a BMU class with newspaper subscriptions for Newspapers in Education.
  • We donated to student Ambassadors in the People to People program.
  • We won Rotary District #7850’s Club Sustainability Award: Comeback Club of the Year.
  • Rotary International offers many opportunities that clubs can extend to students. We would love to work on Youth Exchanges and to set up EarlyAct, Interact, and Rotaract Clubs in schools.
  • We launched our Pay It Forward Volunteer Network, an initiative to match up volunteers and nonprofit causes in the Cohase region. Visit cohaserotary.org/volunteer for more information.

The mission of the Cohase Rotary Club is to build meaningful friendships and build members up while we serve our local community as well as the world at large. We affect real change with real people interactions. We believe there is value by meeting in person, serving locally through hands-on projects as well as monetary donations and serving internationally with human development projects. If you believe that civic participation is an essential element in the lives of well-rounded business leaders and engaged community members, please consider becoming a candidate for membership in the Cohase Rotary club and connect with like-minded leaders. Get in touch with us at www.cohaserotary.org.