Penn Yan Rotary celebrates a centennial of service in 2022

John Christensen
The Chronicle Express

Join Rotarians' celebrations at "The Bash in the Bines" June 3 at Climbing Bines, and a free fun Rotary Day in downtown Penn Yan June 4.

PENN YAN -- The Penn Yan Rotary Club is celebrating 100 years of service to the community and the world since its local founding in 1922. In recognition of this centennial they are celebrating several events in 2022.

A formal portrait of the Penn Yan Rotarians celebrating their 100th Anniversary at Esperanza Mansion April 8, 2022, with their guest speaker, Channel 13 news anchor Don Alhart, seated at center.

The first of the was the 100th Anniversary Rotary Gala held April 8 in the ballroom of Esperanza Mansion. Emceed by Rotarian John Socha, and with many guests from surrounding Rotary clubs, the atmosphere of generosity and friendship was vibrant. Among the most generous were the Dundee Rotarians who came bearing bottles of Glenora Sparkling Wine for each Penn Yan Rotarian (plus a magnum).

The gala featured a distinguished guest speaker – Don Alhart – Channel 13 WHAM news director and anchor.  Alhart joined the Rochester Rotary Club in 1976, serving as President of his club in 1987 - 1988 and as the District Governor in 2002 - 2003. He has multiple Paul Harris Fellow Awards, has served on multiple District committees and received many community awards, including the Distinguished Community Service Award from the Masonic Service Bureau, and the Humanitarian Award from the Rochester Police Rosewood Club. He was awarded the 60th Rotary Civic Award presented by the Rochester Rotary Club in 1996, presented to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to Rochester’s cultural, civic, or business life and exemplifying the application of Rotary’s motto, "Service Above Self."

Channel 13 WHAM News Director Don Alhart from the Rochester Rotary Club, was the distinguished guest speaker.

It addition to his own fond remembrances of Rotary and of Keuka Lake, Alhart also made a pre-arranged cellphone call to Shekhar Mehta, President of Rotary International, who added his own congratulations and praise to the Penn Yan Rotarians.

"Rotary is a global network of 1.4 million neighbors, friends, leaders, and problem-solvers who see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change – across the globe, in our communities, and in ourselves. Solving real problems takes real commitment and vision. For more than 117 years, Rotary's people of action have used their passion, energy, and intelligence to take action on sustainable projects. From literacy and peace to water and health, we are always working to better our world, and we stay committed to the end. Perhaps the most well known commitment is to help eradicate Polio from the world."

Paul Harris Fellow Award

Named after one of the four founders of Rotary (Paul Harris), this award benefits the Rotary Foundation, the charitable part of Rotary which earns the top charity rating each year. The Paul Harris Fellow recognition acknowledges individuals who contribute, or who have contributions made in their name, of $1,000 to The Rotary Foundation. Anyone can donate to this cause (

Rotary established the recognition in 1957 to encourage and show appreciation for substantial contributions to what was then the Foundation’s only program, Rotary Foundation Fellowships for Advanced Study, the precursor to Ambassadorial Scholarships. Many notable figures have been named Paul Harris Fellows, including President Jimmy Carter, Russian President Boris Yeltsin, Astronaut James Lovell, UN Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar, and polio vaccine developer Jonas Salk. The number of Paul Harris Fellows passed the one million mark in 2006.

The Penn Yan Rotary Club has awarded over 140 Paul Harris Fellowships in its 100 year history. The first was Lew Gracey in 1975, and the first female recipient was Bonnie McKenzie in 1993 at the 75th anniversary celebration.  

This year, Stacy Wyant was humbled and honored to receive this award from the Penn Yan Rotary Club at the 100th anniversary celebration. He has served as Rotary President for the last two years.

Leon Fontier (left was introduced to present the Paul Harris Fellowship Award to Penn Yan Roatry President Stacy Wyant (right).

The award was presented to Wyant by Leon Fontier who served as Club President in 2017 – 2018 and who helped sponsor/lead two Rotary Global Grants for water initiatives in the Republic of the Congo. Fontier has formed his own not-for-profit organization Habitat Technologies Solutions for the Congo Rotary International has many focuses, but one of them is providing clean water to the world. Fontier has roots in the Congo and has travels “home” regularly. He and his wife Eileen have lived in Penn Yan for many years.

According to Rotary International's website, http//, "When people have access to clean water and sanitation, waterborne diseases decrease, children stay healthier and attend school more regularly, and mothers can spend less time carrying water and more time helping their families. Through water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) programs, Rotary’s people of action mobilize resources, form partnerships, and invest in infrastructure and training that yield long-term change."

Among the most generous guests at the gala were the Dundee Rotarians who came bearing bottles of Glenora Sparkling Wine (plus a magnum) for all the Penn Yan Rotarians.

Bash in the Bines -- June 3

A less formal celebration of Penn Yan Rotary's 100th birthday is coming up Friday, June 3 at the "Bash in the Bines!" (Climbing Bines Craft Ale Co., that is.) Help your friends in Rotary celebrate with a buffet dinner, a sundae bar (with gluten-free and vegan options for both), live music by Dave Boyd, silent auctions, and fun surprises! Join in the fun from 6-10 p.m. at 511 Hansen Point Road, but get your tickets for just $20 by May 31 at Longs' Cards & Books or Amity Coffee Co.

Rotary Day -- June 4

Downtown Penn Yan will be the scene of still more celebration Saturday, June 4 with Rotary Day from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. with lots of free fun for children and adults! There will be a bounce house, magician, a dunking booth, face painting, and a petting zoo. Downtown businesses will be open, and you can meet the friends at Pet Partner Connections, The Arts Center, PYTCo., The Yates History Center, FL Composters and the PYCSD Green Team. There is also StoryWalk on the Outlet Trail, a book sale at the Public Library, and a chicken barbecue at Lyons National Bank.