Like many Westporters putting away beach chairs last fall, Dan DeVito realized he needed a replacement.
Unlike most Westporters, though, he could not just run down to Patio.com.
As Parks & Rec operations supervisor, Dan’s chair was a beach wheelchair — specially adapted for use on sand. It had been a gift form Westport Rotary, but after 7 years of steady use — by disabled visitors, and carrying injured people in emergencies — it was rusted and falling apart.
DeVito called Peter Ferrara, former Westport Rotary president. The organization unanimously agreed to buy a replacement.
That’s just one of many good deeds done by the 88-year-old civic group. A short list of Rotary-funded projects includes the original Compo Beach playground, Levitt Pavilion, interfaith housing and a gazebo at Mahackeno.
A longer list — all the way back to Rotary’s 1st year, 1924 — is fascinating. Anson Leary, club historian from its founding until his death in 1962, wrote:
The playground of Bedford Elementary School was covered with rocks. All our members, augmented by other citizens, spent an entire Saturday (June 7, 1924) with teams, trucks and other heavy equipment clearing the area and making it into a good playground. The project cemented the ties that bound us together.
More projects soon followed. The town needed an ambulance, so Rotary raised the entire price: $3,600.
Then came a junior high fife-and-drum corps, a twilight baseball league, and several Boy Scout troops.
Rotary members built — with their own hands — the first 6 fireplaces at Compo’s South Beach; the swimming pool at Aspetuck’s Girl Scout camp, and the pavilion at Mahackeno.
The Rotary Club even organized Westport’s Chamber of Commerce.
If you just want lunch, that’s fine too. Come to the tent outside the Inn at Longshore at noon. Everyone is welcome.
And everyone using the new beach wheelchair will soon thank Westport Rotary — and you.