Taking over anything except possibly a mask-making factory is a challenging task these days, but Edna Harrison, a longtime member of the New Paltz Rotary, is ready. Harrison, an MVP Health Care client manager based in New Paltz, now serves as Rotary president, a one-year post last held by Linda Ferrante of Wallkill View Farms.
“I’ve been a Rotarian for nine years now, and the secretary for the past two years,” she said. “When it was my time, I started designing this entire plan of all the projects and things I wanted to help the organization accomplish – and then Covid hit, and it all went into the garbage.”
Harrison saw a silver lining to the limits on gathering and the closure of many local restaurants and non-essential businesses. “I think it made us closer and stronger as an organization. We really had to live our mission and make sure that we reached out to each other, and our entire membership and make sure that no one felt alone or isolated.”
The group’s weekly Thursday lunch meetings were replaced by meetings conducted online via the Zoom app. “We’ve had to keep inspired as a club and work even harder at finding creative ways to fundraise and do more virtual events. We’ve had incredible attendance, and I think, moving forward, that we have to be mindful that we have some elderly members and others with disabilities, and that we have to find ways to bring everyone together.”
Harrison said two things drew her to become a Rotarian: “The first was that I was looking for a way to give back to my community, which isn’t always easy when you’re working full-time, but the Rotary was an organization that fit into a working person’s schedule,” she said. The second thing was the fact that her company, MVP Health Care, encourages its employees to engage in a civic way with the communities they work in. “So being on the Rotary served a personal and professional obligation.”
Besides being inspired by the work that the other members of the organization , when she first joined Harrison said that she was particularly moved by the Backpack Project, where Rotarians fill backpacks up with school supplies, clothes, winter jackets and other items that children who may not have enough money to do so are provided with the material items that go along with receiving a good education.
“If I can bring anything to the organization as its leader this year, it’s to keep everyone motivated, and finding new ways that we can adapt and still provide our community with services and scholarships and things that might be needed that could be overlooked in these times,” she said. “Every day brings a new challenge, and I want the Rotary to be there to meet them.”
To learn more, go to www.newpaltzrotary.com.