Rotary emerges as key group in Plum community

| Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012, 8:52 p.m.

Plum Rotary President Michael Thomas didn't know much about the organization a few years ago.

Today, as the leader of the group, Thomas has a mission.

“As president, I want to get more involved in local community efforts,” said Thomas who also is Plum's manager.

Thomas' term as Rotary president goes through June 30, 2013.

Rotary's 34,000 clubs and 1.2 million members serve communities around the world, each with different needs and concerns, according to a Rotary International publication.

The members carry out service projects in their local communities and abroad to address such critical issues as poverty, health, hunger, illiteracy, and the environment.

The 15 business and professional leaders in Plum engage in a variety of community service activities throughout the year.

The group meets at 12:15 p.m. every Tuesday at Palmieri's Restaurant, 951 Old Frankstown Road.

This holiday season, Gateway Newspapers will highlight local nonprofit organizations to tell readers what the needs are in communities and the challenges groups face in meeting those needs throughout the suburbs.

Thomas said one of the Plum Rotary's biggest events is the annual Plum Community Days Festival.

Last year the Plum Community Festival teamed up with the Plum Rotary Club to relaunch the two-day festival that comprises music, food, games and other features.

This year's festival spanned three days.

“We greatly expanded it,” Thomas said.

“There were multiple bands, an animal kingdom and an expanded game area.”

The Rotary also annually turns its attention to academics and Plum School District's students.

Members at the beginning of each school year visit with third-graders and give each student a dictionary.

The organization also awards two Plum High School seniors scholarships to the tune of $600 each.

“Since beginning my six-month association with the Plum Rotary, it is clear to me that this eclectic group of individuals' sole purpose is to give back to our community and work for the betterment of our fellow man,” said Plum Superintendent Timothy Glasspool, who recently joined the organization.

“Public service is something that resonates with me. Rotary's commitment to service above self appeared to be a good fit and a lofty goal worthy of attempting. I was looking for another way to support our community.”

The Plum Rotary also came to the rescue of this year's Sugar Plum Days.

“We didn't have a major sponsor for the event, and the Plum Rotary stepped up as did Mayor (Richard) Hrivnak to sponsor Sugar Plum Days,” said Charlene Hrivnak, Sugar Plum Days coordinator.

Hrivnak said the group donated prizes for this year's event as well as a sign to place in the front yard of the winner of the house-decorating contest.

“Without their involvement, we wouldn't have been able to have prizes to sponsor these events that everyone enjoys so much,” Hrivnak said.

“Sugar Plum Days is very grateful for (the Plum Rotary's) contribution this year.”

Thomas said the organization also adopted a portion of Old Frankstown Road and conducts quarterly cleanups.

And the group donates $1,200 each year to the East Suburban YMCA's Healthier Communities Initiative.

Thomas also is working with the Plum Senior Community Center to schedule times for members to assist with the Meals on Wheels program.

He also wants the Rotary to be more involved in the schools.

Thomas said members enjoy working with other community service organizations in their volunteer efforts.

“There is great community sentiment here,” Thomas said.

Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8753, or

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