The 341 North Main Grille dinner party at the Suffield Country Club was packed. It was awards night for the Suffield Rotary Club on June 28, and, with pandemic restrictions waning, it was also the first time in many months that the members would meet in person. Over 60 members and guests were present to enjoy the excellent feast put on by Sam Karagiannis and his competent crew.
After dessert, the meeting began with the traditional patriotic singing and the recitation of the Rotary Creed. Then down to business: welcoming guests, recognizing new officers and thanking retirees. Former recipients of the Paul Harris Award were recognized individually. The award, named after the organization’s founder, is customarily given to two citizens each year, one a member of Rotary, the other not. They are chosen as individuals who have shown their devotion to the ideals of good will, peace, and understanding, demonstrating “Service Above Self,” the Rotary motto.
Former president Scott Seabury spoke about new Paul Harris Award winner Chris Nikolis, well known for his successful introduction of the PMC Kids Ride in Suffield in 2009. This fundraiser fights cancer through the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Chris had begun his connection with that cause by participating in the full Pan Mass Challenge, riding 192 miles in two days from Sturbridge to Provincetown, in Massachusetts, another yearly event for Chris. With the help of his wife, Denise, his vigorous efforts have raised over half a million dollars to help Dana-Farber. Their three children helped by managing a neighborhood effort collecting redeemable cans and bottles. (This reporter first met Chris years ago riding an exercise bike on the sidewalk by the Springfield Coliseum to raise money for his PMC ride.)
Chris Nikolis also collects gently used sports equipment for several organizations, he volunteers with the Suffield Soccer Club and Little League and has recently joined the Suffield Veterans Appreciation Committee.
Seabury then turned to Paul Muska, who was the Rotary member chosen for the Paul Harris award this year. Seabury reported that Muska, retiring now as president of Suffield Rotary, had completed a very successful term in office, guiding the organization through another year of pandemic, recruiting eleven new members, and leading the club through fundraising, charitable giving, and community and Guatemalan service projects. Last spring, he managed the club’s first Day of Service, coordinating with other service organizations as 115 volunteers gave Sunrise Park a major spring clean-up. Paul also led the effort last fall to plant two trees in Stony Brooke Park in memory of the late Warren Packard, a Rotarian who had served the Town as first selectman. (The trees were nicely visible from the parlor window of Flo Packard’s condo on Oxford Drive.) Seabury said that Paul lived the Rotary motto of “Service Above Self.”