The Rotary Club has had a very active year, returning to in-person meetings after meeting by Zoom during Covid. We meet every Wednesday at the Portuguese American Club in Oak Bluffs, where there is plenty of parking and an excellent lunch is served by Mo’s.

We meet for friendship, networking and for the fun of helping our local Island community and the wider Rotary communities on the national level. At each meeting we discuss our charitable activities around the Island, and listen to speakers who keep our members up to date on local and national topics. Recent speaking guests have included Sean Driscoll, communications director of the Steamship Authority; Nancy Gardella of the Martha's Vineyard Chamber of Commerce; state representative Dylan Fernandes; and Dhakir Warren, executive director of the Martha's Vineyard Boys & Girls Club, to name a few.

The national Rotary organization began in Chicago in 1905. Since then local Rotary communities have continued to evolve, focusing on their local populations while also taking part in the larger mission of the organization. The Vineyard chapter was started in 1991. It is a non-political and non-religious organization dedicated to giving back and spreading goodwill.

Since it began, the Rotary Club of Martha’s Vineyard has given out more than $750,000 to Island organizations and individuals in need. Fundraising is done in a variety of ways, the largest being the Vineyard Charity Golf Tournament that we co-sponsored with Martha’s Vineyard Community Services. After a year off, the Lobster Raffle had a successful return as did the Run the Chop Challenge on July Fourth.

Stephanie Burke chairs the student exchange program that helps kids from other countries come to the Vineyard. The way it works is if we take an exchange student, we get to send one. We have brought students here from Germany, France, Spain, Peru, Japan and Italy, to name a few, and in return sent Vineyard students to those countries.

Stephanie also supervises the Rotary Club of high school students. There are more than 30 active students involved now, with their own momentum and direction. This program is building character and teaching kids to lend a hand to their community.

Other activities include informal, relaxing walks on Sundays and holidays with other members, and supporting the annual Crop Walk. We also meet at members’ homes for drinks and dinner, and clambakes.

There will be a meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 18 for anyone interested in learning more about the Rotary Club of Martha’s Vineyard. The meeting begins at noon at the Portuguese American Club, located at 137 Vineyard avenue in Oak Bluffs.

For more information, visit or contact Leo Convery at or Tom Rosenthal at

Leo Convery is a past president and current member of the Rotary Club of Martha’s Vineyard.