It took over a year to attain the 25 members required by Rotary International for a charter, but thanks to the enthusiasm and dedication of founder Russ Hilliard, The Rotary Club of Hopkinton, NH came into being on August 1, 1996. Helping Russ in this endeavor were Special Representatives PDG John Lyford of Bow Rotary and the late Phil La Rosa of Henniker Rotary. Early on, the club met at the former Horseshoe Tavern, but later moved to the Parish House of the First Congregational Church of Hopkinton. The club was able to hire Sandy Bartlett as our caterer and she has been serving the club delicious breakfasts ever since. Our membership grew steadily over the years and we currently average 40 Rotarians.
Hopkinton Rotary has a proud history of service to our local and international communities and has truly lived up to Rotary’s motto of Service above Self. Our very first Community Service monetary donation of $1,500.00 went to the new Hopkinton Town Library in 1996-1997. The first Hopkinton High School scholarship was awarded in 1998 to a graduating female student in the amount of $250.00. Since that time, $192,000.00 in scholarships has been awarded to qualified graduating seniors. Our club has also donated to countless worthwhile causes or organizations over time.
Community projects have included the restoration of the Hopkinton Village Civil War Park now known as the Rotary Civil War Park with a granite monument erected in the club’s honor. During the holiday season Rotarian Harry Meinzer coordinated the annual lighting of the Christmas tree at this park. Club members have also worked on the restoration of the Contoocook Railroad Depot. In winters past, the club sponsored an annual cross country ski meet at the Hopkinton Fairgrounds. For many years, Hopkinton Rotary joined other clubs in the Concord area at the Merrimack County Nursing Home Fun Fest helping provide fun and great food for the residents. The club continues to support the Sean Powers Wood Bank project both monetarily and physically. Another ongoing project is the Hopkinton Road highway clean-up conducted every spring and fall.
Fundraising efforts have included a Festival of Music at the high school, selling programs at the Highland Games when they were held at the fairgrounds, and the sale of a historical and art calendars. The biggest annual event has been the golf tournament which still raises money for the scholarship fund. And in recent years, the Rotary Mt. Kearsarge Hill climb has been a very popular event for avid cyclists.
The Hopkinton High School Interact Club began in 1998-1999 and they have been involved in countless local and international projects. Former HHS French teacher Mary Harb led numerous student work trips to Honduras and in recent times the club has traveled to Nicaragua under the leadership of teacher Pam Moskal.
In 2002-2003, Hopkinton Rotary hosted its first inbound exchange student, Krystyna Matskela, from Crimea. This proud tradition has continued since then and has grown to include outbound students as well. Former Rotarian Bill Wiley and current member Gerry Youngman have put in countless hours to insure the success of this program. Our current student is from Japan.
The members of Hopkinton Rotary have been very generous supporters of The Rotary Foundation over the years and as of June 30, 2016, $101,148.92 has been contributed to this fund which includes the Annual Programs Fund and Polio Plus. One of our proudest moments was in 2002-2003 when our members contributed $6,270.00 to the Annual Programs Fund and raised $6,502.70 for Polio Plus as participants in the Polio Plus 24 Hour Relay at Keene State College for a grand total of $12,772.70. Our club has also participated in numerous matching grant projects through The Foundation.
I have tried to cover many of the highlights of the club’s past 20 years, and I am sure that I have omitted some noteworthy accomplishments.  However, Hopkinton Rotary has so much to be proud of thanks to the outstanding efforts of our members. May we continue this tradition of service to our town and international communities in the years to come.