In an organization such as The Rotary Club of The Caldwells, whose mission is that of service and whose members are involved in dozens of projects both locally and internationally, no one seeks to stand out. However, through his work, Caldwell Rotary’s Past-President Kevin Hersh has done just that. On Tuesday, November 30, Hersh’s “indefatigable and exemplary service to the causes and ideal of Rotary” was recognized with the presentation of the club’s Bill Davidson Service Above Self Award.
The Service Above Self Award is a prestigious honor for individual Rotarians, recognizing those who have displayed exemplary humanitarian service with a focus on active involvement in helping others through Rotary. In 1989, Rotary International established “Service Above Self” as it’s principal motto because it best conveys the philosophy of unselfish volunteer service.
“Kevin has devoted himself to Rotary and is perhaps the most accomplished person ever to receive this award,” said Tom Cocchiola, President. “His efforts on committees, in club office, and during his two year presidency have been tireless and his contributions have truly made a difference in people’s lives.”
Community Service Chairperson Sam Kent presented the award, commending Kevin for the impact his work has made in such a short period of time. “When trees were coming down in a recent storm in North Caldwell, Kevin was there to help,” recalled Kent. “When people needed help during the Fairfield floods, Kevin was there.”
“You can’t call what I’ve been doing work, because I honestly enjoy it, “ explained Hersh. “I went out during the storm to keep people from driving over the dangerous electrical wires that were down. I went out during the flooding, because people needed to know they were not alone at such a difficult time.” Hersh received emergency services training through the West Essex Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) so that he could be of service during local emergencies.
Hersh has been instrumental in gaining support for the club’s Haiti Relief Effort from the community and from Rotary clubs across New Jersey. Through the efforts of Caldwell Rotarian Mike Kamborakis and the Dominican Republic Rotary, the capability for shipping, storing and distributing supplies on the island was already well established when the earthquake hit. Locally donated food, water, medicine and supplies were distributed to remote, devastated areas of Haiti and the Dominican Republic within 48 hours. Recognizing the club’s unique capability to reach those in need while many were still scrambling to respond, Hersh went on a major campaign for donations. Thanks to his continued outreach efforts and a tremendous response from the community, relief shipments continue weekly and have helped thousands of people.
Recognizing and capitalizing on low cost, little time, high impact opportunities to help others is the foundation for other “micro projects” spearheaded by Hersh. He has arranged for Willing Hearts to be drop off point for used printer cartridges that will be exchanged for school supplies for local students in need. And, he is collecting used strollers and car seats to be donated to low income mothers in Irvington.
Hersh also chaired the 2010 Caldwell Street Fair committee, coordinating the efforts of Rotary and Kiwanis members throughout their ten months of planning. The Street Fair was successful in raising money for service projects by both organizations.
Volunteerism is a Hersh family affair. Rita Rovazzi, Kevin’s wife and business partner, has provided tremendous support to her husband and to the Caldwell Rotary. Rovazzi has generously donated her professional expertise to team with Hersh on club design projects and in developing a series of videos to promote Rotary initiatives. View The Haiti Relief Effort at www.youtube.com/watch?v=MUOAHzm1erE and Help The Children Hear at www.youtube.com/watch?v=vWvSfbrFCmo&feature=youtu.be&a.
“My father taught me as a child to give back to your community wherever you live or work,” said Hersh. His family has had a multi-generational commitment to service – a tradition Kevin continued by joining Rotary.
Hersh’s hope is that more professionals in the Caldwells consider Rotary membership as their avenue to service. “I’d like to get more hands on deck so we can accomplish more in less time and generate more ideas about what our community needs. I’m especially inspired by our volunteers in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s who are looking forward and at what our town needs tomorrow.”
For more information about membership opportunities and the Rotary Club of the Caldwells, please contact Tom Cocchiola at 973-226-2344. Visit www.caldwellrotary.org to read about some of the club’s current projects.
By Rotarian Christy Berg