Members of the Hammonton Rotary Club gathered at Marcello’s Trattoria June 28, for the club’s 65th annual changeover dinner where they welcomed a new club president and said thank you to its outgoing leader.

Outgoing president Franco Catania, left,
passes the gavel to incoming president
Mike Brown.

Michael Brown accepted the gavel from Franco Catania, who served as president for two consecutive terms during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A highlight of the evening’s festivities was the swearing in of a new member, Dom Salvatore, who was welcomed to the club under the sponsorship of President Brown.

The membership showed its appreciation for outgoing president Franco Catania who managed to lead the club to some successful outcomes, despite the COVID menace.

With COVID cancelling Rotary’s major fundraisers, finding new ways to fundraise was imperative to continue the club’s “Service Above Self” mission. So It mounted new fundraisers in 2021 including a scholarship raffle, a Memorial Day Murph Fitness Challenge and a Fun Shoot. All were successful,

Catania said he appreciated all of the help he received to get things done in the COVID period.

“We have a lot of fighters amongst the group,” he said. “If we need something to get done it gets done. It’s not just the Franco show, it’s everybody. 

He said he’s looking forward to seeing what Brown will do as the new president.

“I’m really happy that Mike has taken the leadership. I think he’ll do a fantastic job.”

Brown thanked Catania for all of the extra effort he put in keeping the club together during COVID, including the emails, the Zoom calls and taking on a second consecutive term when one and done is the norm.

“This year we’re getting back to normal. This year we’re starting fresh,” Brown said.

Now is the time to unify the club, he said.

“I want to make it fun again. I want to bring in some fresh new members,” he said. “Fresh with new ideas and a strong work ethic.”

“I’m a third generation Rotarian as well as a third generation Rotary president,” he said, acknowledging his father, Joe Brown, and his grandfather, John Santora.

“I understand the needs of this community and I understand how close everybody is,” he said. “I will be implementing some new ideas to revamp our meetings to make things more enjoyable for everyone.”

“Hold on tight, it’s gonna be a wild ride.”

Officers sworn in included Ken Long as vice president/president elect; James FitzPatrick as club secretary, Jerry Daunoras and Phyllis Mazzeo as co-treasurers, and Joe Brown as  sergeant at arms. 

Installed on the Hammonton Rotary Club board of directors were past presidents Franco Catania, Don DeFeccio, Karl Wicks and Phyllis Mazzeo. Also on the board is Deana Harold.

Serving on the Hammonton Rotary Scholarship Foundation are Jerry Daunoras, Phyllis Mazzeo and Mike Hitman.

Chairing the Rotary International Foundation Committee is Phyllis Mazzeo. Chairman of the Social Media and New Membership committees is James FitzPatrick.

On hand to conduct the swearing in ceremony was Melanie Druziako, assistant governor for Rotary District 7505.

The club also acknowledged Elyse Ryan, winner of the 10th Annual Hammonton Rotary Foundation Scholarship. The $2,000 scholarship is presented to a Hammonton area graduating senior who exemplifies the values of service, leadership and scholarship.

Ryan, who was unable to attend the dinner due to a previously scheduled family vacation, will be attending TCNJ in the fall as a nursing student.

Michael Brown, 30, and his wife Jessica Brown, 29, live on Michael Road in Hammonton. He works in the insurance business for Symmetry Financial.