Shady Brook Rotary’s virtual meetings yield real-world results

While much of Bucks County remained hunkered down through May, the Rotary Club of Shady Brook continued to “venture outside” to fulfill its motto, Service Above Self.

Meeting virtually every two weeks via Zoom, the two dozen or so members, mainly retired seniors, continue to champion their favorite causes, while tweaking their usual modus operandi. 

“Rotarians are all about helping others to overcome obstacles,” says club President Jeff Revak. “Thanks to technology, we still get together to plan our projects, but we’ve had to make some adjustments of our own. The most obvious, of course, is the absence of our weekly breakfast meeting at a local diner that features a favorite, long-running fundraiser, a 50-50 hunt for an elusive joker from a deck of cards that never fails to draw good-natured teasing when the joker remains AWOL.” 

With many community-based organizations (CBOs) scrambling to find scarce funding to provide much-needed services for their constituents, the Shady Brook club remains eager to help, even when the pandemic doesn’t cooperate.

The group and the Villas at Shady Brook community, where many members live, were to co-host a program, complete with silent auction, to benefit Doylestown-based A Women’s Place, a service provider to victims of domestic physical, emotional and financial abuse and violence. 

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four women and one in seven men will experience severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

The CBO provides comprehensive free, private and confidential service, support education and advocacy to the victims of domestic violence, including children and older adults. 

“Domestic abuse is prevalent in all communities, regardless of demographics, including age and socioeconomic status,” observed Fred Edelman, who together with his wife Fran, and Dolly Sokol, presented the idea to the club and Shady Brook community. “Unfortunately, coronavirus has worsened an already bad situation. 

“But even after the virus preempted the proposed program, we still showed support through a $1,000 donation.” 

The pandemic also prompted donations to the Bucks County Veterans Center to help several former service members who recently lost jobs, and also to the Penndel Food Pantry.

The vets occupy a special place in the hearts of the Rotarians, some of whom are themselves veterans.

Two of their most important and successful annual initiatives are fundraising drives outside local groceries before the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. 

“No one should go hungry at any time, especially those who served their country,” noted Irv Perlstein, whose wit, charm and general gift of gab leave even the most reluctant of shoppers – those with overstuffed carts – reaching for their purses and wallets. “It’s hard not to support the cause, and it’s our pleasure to ‘enlist’ several grocery chains, McCaffrey’s, ShopRite and Colonial Farms, to help us purchase gift cards for those who need a helping hand,” Irv said. 

The Penndel Food Pantry and its sister pantry in Doylestown are run by the Bucks County Housing Group, Warminster.

Although providing housing for the homeless remains its primary focus, the nonprofit devotes considerable resources to assist those facing daily challenges to feed their families. 

“About 10% of all Bucks County residents – 63,000 – are considered ‘food insecure,’” said Revak. “We were pleased to donate $1,000.” 

Among other recipients of the club’s generosity are the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, which researches blood cancers that have directly affected several Rotarians and family members; Angel Flight, whose 500 volunteer pilots provide free medical transportation to patients, many of them children and caregivers, regardless of ability to pay; Philadelphia’s William Dick School, the vast majority of whose 500 elementary students come from families with incomes below the federal poverty line; and select students from Maple Point Middle School and Neshaminy High School, who receive scholarships for community service and academic achievements. 

For more information on the Rotary Club of Shady Brook and the many causes and organizations it continues to support, visit

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