By Bonnie Adams, Managing Editor
Northborough – Nearly 20 years ago, Patricia (Pat) Doyle was asked by the Marlborough Rotary Club if she would serve as an advisor for two of the club’s teen programs. Pat, then the social studies coordinator at Marlborough High School (MHS), agreed. She herself was not a Rotarian but her husband Francis (Skip), who owned a photography studio at the time, was a member of the Rotary Club of Northborough. Pat oversaw the two programs, Interact Club and Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA), until she retired from her MHS position six years later.
But her involvement with Rotary did not end there. She decided to join Skip and become a member of Northborough’s club. Together they became a formidable team, serving as chairs of various subcommittees. Both have been named Paul Harris Fellows (the Rotary’s highest honor) multiple times. Skip has served as the club’s president for three terms and both he and Pat have been district trustees and assistant governors. And recently Pat received another significant honor – she was named as the District 7910 governor for the 2016-2017 term. As such, she will oversee 53 local Central Mass. clubs.
And although it is Pat that has been named as the future district governor, their work will continue, as it always has, as a partnership.
“Technically only one of us could be named,” Pat said. “But I told them up front, we are a team.”
Leading up to her term as governor, which will last for one year, the Doyles will be participating in intensive training sessions along with other governor-elects.
“We’ll also be networking and learning about what other districts are doing, such as literacy or helping to provide water to places in different parts of the world,” Pat said.
“It’s also learning about how you can help other districts,” she added. “One example is when Rotarians helped out Vermont Rotaries after the storms last year.”
A grant has already been established for her to use when her official year as governor starts. Some of those monies will be used locally while others will go toward regional, national or international causes.
In Northborough, the local club has had major impact on the community. It recently donated matching grants to help establish a baseball program for kids with disabilities, the Challenger League. Each year, the club holds a pancake breakfast that has raised thousands of dollars for local high school seniors. And, led by the Doyles, the Applefest Street Fair, featuring over 100 local businesses, nonprofits, artisans and crafters, has been one of the signature events in the town’s annual celebration each fall.
The club has also purchased a defibrillator for the Northborough Senior Center, donated to the town’s food pantry and Emergency Fuel Assistance Fund, and hosted picnics for local seniors and meals for residents.
Another project the Doyles are particularly proud of is the Rotary’s work to re-establish elm trees in Northborough.
Once one of North America’s most dominant trees, many elms fell victim to disease during the first part of the 20th century.
In 1993, District 7910 purchased disease-resistant American Elm trees. Four were brought Northborough where they were nurtured for three years and then donated to the town.
“I had them sheltered in the back of my old studio,” Skip said. “Unfortunately one died when we transplanted it but the others are still doing well, except for a bit of ice storm damage a few years ago.”
One of the trees is located in front of Town Hall while the other two are located at the intersection of East Main and Main streets.
The Doyles continue to be actively involved in the Rotary’s Eastern States Student Exchange (ESSEX) and RYLA programs.
In the ESSEX program approximately 200 foreign high school students come to the United States for either a year of study or for a summer while nearly that many go abroad.
“It’s such a great experience for them,” Pat said. “They begin to see a spark of who they are going to become. They are totally transformed.”
RYLA recognizes 11th-grade students who have shown past and present leadership and service activities.
Internationally Rotary continues its work to eradicate polio.
“We are so close but there are still pockets in the world, like parts of Pakistan or Afghanistan where it is still present,” Pat said. “It’s exciting to be part of ending something.”
Now a member of the Northborough club for 43 years, Skip also hopes to encourage others to join Rotary as well.
“There are people from a wide variety of occupations,” he said. “It’s a great way to network but just as importantly, it’s a way for people who desire to make a change in the world.”
For more information visit http://northboroughrotary.org/.