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Rotary Club gains new leadership


The Freeport-Merrick Rotary Club, which has served its communities since 1943, installed new leadership on June 24. Former Vice President Marc Rigueur will succeed Florence Marc-Charles as president beginning on July 1.

Marc-Charles served as president of the Freeport-Merrick Rotary Club from 2019 to 2021. She was originally attracted to the organization because she knew that the Rotary would provide her a platform to better her community.

“The need to help and serve has been the impetus for me to join the Rotary,” Marc-Charles said. During her time in the Rotary, she embarked on various healthcare related service projects, including dental missions and screening missions for potential open heart surgery candidates.

A program Marc-Charles is most proud of is the club’s involvement with youth mentoring programs, which helped boost local school districts. On the international level, the Rotary Club has also helped fund literacy programs for schools in Liberia and bathroom facilities for a school in Uganda. In Haiti, the Rotary Club has also helped develop sign language programs and water projects.

Although Rigueur is taking over for Marc-Charles for this upcoming year, Marc-Charles plans on remaining involved in the club and helping it carry out its mission.

“We will continue to do community assessment to identify what’s needed, and we’ll support the president in not only identifying, but implementing ways of meeting those needs every year,” Marc-Charles said.

While the role of president is changing hands, similarly to Marc-Charles, Rigueur has always been interested in volunteering and donating to various organizations. He became a Rotarian nearly four years ago after a former president of the club encouraged him to join.

As part of Rotary International, the Freeport-Merrick Rotary Club emphasizes the organization’s motto of “Service Above Self.” Rigueur hopes to continue the club’s legacy of bettering the community during his time as president.

“What I’m trying to do is follow [past members’] lead in continuing the legacy of not just the Rotary Club overall, but continuing the legacy of our local club… and continuing what it means to be a Rotarian,” Rigueur said. “I just want to continue to inspire others to join the club, to learn about what the club, what Rotary does and what it’s all about.”

During the pandemic, the Rotary Club worked to support members of their community whose lives were impacted by Covid-19. They helped provide money for face shields in local hospitals and clinics and helped distribute over 20,000 masks to communities in the surrounding New York area.

While the pandemic forced the club to table several planned programs, as restrictions begin to loosen, Rigueur plans on revitalizing past Rotary events. One program to look for in the fall is the Civic Leadership Award, which, in previous years, the Rotary Club awarded to local police officers, fire departments, and leaders. 

As the Freeport-Merrick Rotary Club looks toward the future, Rigueur emphasizes the importance of selflessness and service. To Rigueur, his membership in Rotary means “putting yourself aside and seeing the bigger picture of what needs to be done within your own community and within the world,” he said.

During his time as President, Rigueur plans on furthering the club’s current direction while continuing to connect people. “As Rotary members, we try to connect people,” he added. “We try to inspire people to do better and do good… All these things are stuff that I hope to continue to do and continue to inspire.”

Currently, the Freeport-Merrick Rotary Club meets on the first, third, and fourth Thursdays of each month over Zoom. For those interested, more information can be found at www.freeportmerrickrotary.org.