March 2019 marked the centennial year for the Bath Rotary Club. I recently sat down over coffee with Lee Patenaude, a 39-year member of Bath Rotary to review some of the accomplishments of our community service organization. 

“To begin at the beginning,” said Lee, “the Bath Rotary Club was established by Langdon Snipe, MD under the sponsorship of the Lewiston-Auburn Rotary. Being a graduate of Yale University and the Columbia Medical School, he knew he could have chosen an easier career path, but chose to serve where he could contribute and make a larger difference to his community. So, he came up to Bath. Dr. Snipe was a humanitarian and a product of a time that historians would later record as the Progressive Movement in American history.” 

“He must have had tremendous energy,” continued Lee, “because in addition to seeing his regular patients, 1919 marked the return of Maine’s doughboys with their assorted maladies; they also brought with them the flu of 1918, America’s plague. During winter and spring, he made his patient visits on horseback since road conditions made car travel all but impossible.” 

Current Bath Rotary Club president, Bob Warren, commented “of the many contributions Dr. Snipe may have made to the city of Bath his most enduring may be the establishment of this club. Rotary is so embedded in the culture of our community that there are now two Rotary Clubs and an Interact Club. In addition to the Bath Rotary Club with 50 members there is the Sunrise Rotary Club under the capable leadership of Carol Fleming and the Morse High School Interact Club led by Thomas Trundy with 20 members in each. 

“Embedded in the culture of our community” is an interesting turn of phrase because it explains a great deal about how things work here. Before we can support worthy organizations, we must raise funds. There are four spokes to that wheel: First, we organize an annual golf tournament, an electronic waste collection, a 5K race and this year the Morse Interact Club baked and sold pies for the holiday season. Second, the membership generously supports the club. Third, much less would be accomplished if it were not for the generous support of our business leaders who are sponsors of the golf tournament and MidCoast Hospital which was a leading supporter of the 5K race. And fourth, it is our neighbors who register teams for the golf tournament, run in the 5K race, bring their electronic waste for recycling and make donations, purchase pies, those who generously donate food to the Bath Area Food Bank when we “stuff the bus” in front of Brackett’s and Shaw’s and those who contribute their dollars and coins to the Salvation Army when we volunteer to supplement their manpower during the holiday season, that complete the circle. 

Having successfully raised funds, we can then turn our attention to worthy recipients. The success of the golf tournament allowed us to donate thermal imaging equipment to both the Bath fire and police departments. This equipment allows our first responders to get to the victims in need more quickly and avoid serious injury to the responders as well. 

The proceeds from the 5K race were donated to the Mid Coast Community Alliance whose mission is to raise awareness and prevention of teen suicide. 

This summer we will again be sponsoring 12 Morse high school students to attend a youth leadership camp (RYLA). This is a game changer. The students who have attended this camp in previous years have said that the experience of skills gained and friendships made were transformative. 

Under the presidency of Lee Patenaude in 1985 Rotary International began its crusade to eradicate polio. Along with the support added by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation we are three countries away from the goal of eliminating polio worldwide. So, it is worth noting that our 100year celebration will take place on June 15 at the Hyde School, the site of the polio hospital for the state of Maine during the height of the epidemic. 

As has been previously reported here, our work in rural Cambodia under the tireless leadership of Rich Cromwell continues. The orphanage and school are now selfsustaining. Rich has now focused the attention of the International Services Committee on Getting Water Right (GWR). This effort is not only financial support of materials but teaching the villagers how to construct and dig wells, purify their water with bio-sand filters, build latrines and practice good hand washing hygiene. Last year he was joined by Jenn Clarke and on the next trip they will be joined by Phyllis Wolfe from the Sunrise Rotary, a very welcome addition to the committee. 

Going forward, you may see us hanging banners around the city or stringing holiday lights and wreaths. Honk your horn, wave, stop and chat. Together, we are a community. We welcome you to join us as our guest at one of our meetings on the first 3 Tuesdays of the month at J.R. Maxwells, 122 Front Street at noon and find out more about us at bathrotary.org and like us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Rotary-Club-of-Bath-Maine-USA. 

Comments are not available on this story.