By:  Aileen Dugan, PP Portsmouth RC
On April 20, 130 members and their guests gathered at the festively decorated Elks Club on the waterfront in Portsmouth to celebrate a huge milestone for the Portsmouth Rotary Club.  Past Presidents Cleo Villaflores and Neal Ouellett chaired the committee, and they were instrumental in creating a fun and celebratory atmosphere geared towards members past and present, with dancing to live music by Yellow House Blues Band.  Delicious food was provided by Great Circle Catering.  The weather gods shined upon us with a bright, sunny spring day.  Event planning was coordinated by Love Affair Event Planning’s Emily Gross.  Decorations were coordinated by PP Aileen Dugan and Betsy Scott.
Portsmouth Mayor Declan McEachern read a Proclamation to the Club on behalf of the City of Portsmouth.  The Club has spent the past year and a half planning many important aspects of their 100th anniversary which happens to coincide with the 400th anniversary of the City of Portsmouth.  To commemorate this year's milestone, a group of past and current Club leadership members met and determined that the Club would raise and allocate $100,000 to a variety of projects that would benefit the City and its residents over the next 100 years.  The Club worked closely with City Manager Karen Connard and other leaders to identify projects that would embody the spirit of Rotary in our community. 
Projects undertaken by the Club in honor of its 100th anniversary included planting 200 trees, a major renovation of the Portsmouth Women’s City Club, funding playground equipment to create a more accessible playground, and funding a new Portsmouth Community Garden project for residents.  In addition, the Club has set a goal of exceeding the $1,000,000 mark in giving to the Rotary Foundation during its 100th year. 
President Joanie Dickinson thanked everyone who worked so hard to make the event such a success.  “There is no 'I' in Team and no 'I' in Rotary either.  The Portsmouth Rotary Club has been an integral part of the community for a century and the impact we have had on the lives of so many people cannot be overstated.  We also know how to throw a party!”  She remarked, “Another great milestone for our Club:  for the first time in our history three women will succeed each other as President, President-Elect, and Vice-President, an accomplishment I am very proud to have contributed to.”
Ben Wheeler, PP of the Club, spearheaded this 100th initiative and often hosted meetings to see it to the finish line.  Ben gave a very moving speech to all those gathered, where he touched on the many reasons that we have to be proud as Rotarians of the impact that we make in our communities.  As a high school student, Ben attended RYLA, and his love of all things Rotary was born.  Quoting just a small portion of his very moving tribute, Ben said “As the baton passes from one hand to another, eyes meet, and an unspoken word and understanding is acknowledged.  Our work will never end.  That is to say, the world will always have its challenges.  But, the world will always have Rotarians.”
(Editor’s Note: A few clubs in the district are in their 100th year.  Congratulations to them all. Because of the timely nature of the Portsmouth Club, it was decided to include it on the District Newsletter’s Front Page. See Club News for more photos and information.)