Marlborough Rotary Club celebrates 100th anniversary, looks to future

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Marlborough Rotary Club celebrates 100th anniversary, looks to future
The head table included President-Elect Mark Vital, District Governor Cliff Rober, Amanda Aykanian, President Aaron Aykanian, Master of Ceremonies Sem Aykanian, Donna Aykanian, Mrs. Ned Eames, and Ned Eames.

MARLBOROUGH – The Marlborough Rotary Club celebrated its 100th anniversary earlier this year.

As the Marlborough Rotary Club now looks toward its future, members are envisioning new work as the role of civic organizations in the United States undergoes dramatic change.

“Being a rotarian means that you are someone who places serving the community above your own self,” now former President Aaron Aykanian said, evoking the club’s motto of “Service above Self.”

Rotary is 1,000th in the world

The first Rotary Club was established in Chicago in the early 1900s.

As the idea for Rotary Clubs spread, Marlborough soon joined the wave in 1922.

As Aaron described it, rotarians are people who take time out from their jobs, families and lives to get together in groups and do things for the community’s benefit.

Being a rotarian runs in the Aykanian family, with Aaron being the third generation to serve as Rotary Club President – an honor dating back to Sem’s father, Joe

Joe moved to Marlborough in 1960 at a time when there were few Armenian-Americans in the city. Residents had difficulty pronouncing his surname. Ultimately, though, Joe served as a city councilor in addition to his role as Rotary Club president.

“It just means a lot,” Sem said. “It means a lot for us, but really it says a lot about the growth and the diversity of the city.”

To commemorate its centennial this year, the Rotary Club held a gala at the Best Western Royal Plaza Hotel and Trade Center on May 14.

Sem served as the event’s master of ceremonies.

Over 150 people attended, according to Aaron.

Marlborough Rotary Club celebrates 100th anniversary, looks to future
Marlborough Rotary Club President Aaron Aykanian presented the Paul Harris Fellow Award to Past President Alan Herzog at the Centennial Gala on May 14.

Rotary looks to the future

Mark Vital has since taken the helm of the Rotary Club as its president, beginning on July 1. Speaking earlier this year, he said he has a goal to bring in 20 new members by the end of his term.

This goal comes as many civic organizations are seeing declining membership. Sem attributed it to less free time in an era of economic stress.

When Sem was president in 2017, he had a goal for each rotarian to bring in a new member by the end of the year. Although the goal wasn’t met, Sem said this caused more people to join the Rotary Club.

“Finding good Rotarians is going to be a challenge,” Sem said.

Specifically, Vital is hoping to increase the Rotary Club’s diversity. He also wants to find younger members and plans to do outreach with his former Marlborough High School students.

“With younger members come new ideas,” Vital said.

While the club remains invitation only, Sem said it is looking to be inclusive for people who can meet the Rotary’s requirements of attending at least half of the group’s weekly Thursday lunch meetings.

“If you’re interested in being part of the community and giving back, then Rotary is for you,” Sem said.

For more information, visit https://www.marlboroughrotary.org/.