The Branford Rotary Club's annual book sale is back, and safer than ever! Bring a mask and a few bucks to the Trinity Episcopal Church on the Town Green Friday, Saturday and Sunday (Oct. 16-17-18) and we'll help you turn a literal page on 2020.

THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS of books for sale! Strict safety protocols will be followed.

Proceeds from the sale fund Rotary’s efforts to fight disease and hunger, provide scholarships, and do everything we can to support the community during this pandemic. 

Sale dates and hours:

  • Friday, 10/16  9 am - 3 pm
  • Saturday, 10/17  9 am - 3 pm
  • Sunday, 10/18  Noon – 6 pm

The health & safety of everyone attending is of prime importance, and Health Departments safety precautions will be used:

  • Everyone attending MUST wear a mask covering the nose AND mouth.
  • There will be hand sanitizers at the entrance & gloves for those that prefer to use them.
  • The room is equipped with a state-of-the-art air purification system by Aerus that kills bacteria and viruses.
  • The room is large but we will still limit the number of people in the room to allow for a 6-foot spacing between attendees
  • There is an elevator available for those that need it.

See you there!


The Branford Rotary Club is proud to announce that three recent graduates of Branford High School have been awarded $6,000 in “Service Above Self” scholarships for 2020.

The honors are given annually to high school seniors from Branford who excel both in the classroom and in their community.

Abigail Pawlowicz, the first-place winner, received $3,000 to put toward her studies at Providence College, where she’s enrolled this fall.

“Not only did Abigail’s application stand out with her clear academic prowess, but she accomplished all of this while being active in Model Congress, Young Women’s Club, Interact Club, Chemistry Club, Science Olympiad, competitive gymnastics, cross country, track and volunteer work,” said Karen Jensen, a scholarship committee member.

Cordelia Keberle, who has enrolled at St. Lawrence University, was honored for her ability to successfully juggle many responsibilities during her athletic and academic careers.

“We congratulate Cordelia, not only for her accomplishments, but for all she contributes to her peers and community,” said Scholarship Committee Chair Tony Terry.

Alyssa Hackley, also attending St. Lawrence, stood out for many reasons, notably her love of equestrianism.

“Alyssa embodies the foundational elements of Rotary,” said Chuck O’Connor, a scholarship committee member. “Where she sees a need, she looks to help, where she sees something missing, she works to close the gap. She has demonstrated this consistently in her work patiently training horses and helping children with special needs to grow through their interaction with the them.”

Chosen from among a dozen impressive applicants, Terry said the 2020 “Service Above Self” winners all shared an impressive inner drive.

“Their interests encompassed the spectrum, but the striking common denominator among them is the genuine expression of personal initiative,” said Terry. “Each one is going somewhere and has already developed a passion to their plans.”

Applications for Rotary's 2021 'Service Above Self' scholarships will be available later in the fall.


The first annual BRAFFLE – Branford Rotary’s Outrageous Restaurant Raffle – is in the books, with Wendy Bluemling of Branford taking home the Absurd Grand Prize of $100 gift cards to each of 34 Branford restaurants!

The Ridiculous Second Prize - $50 gift cards to each of 34 Branford restaurants – went to Sarah McTavish of Branford, who was, not surprisingly, thrilled.

“I can’t believe it! Thank you everyone at the Rotary Club who has made this Braffle happen - a brilliant idea, and I am so excited to have won,” said McTavish. “I can’t believe how many great restaurants we’ve got in Branford -  Braffle has been a timely reminder and I can’t wait to get out there and try them.”

She and Bluemling can take all the time they want, as the gift cards never expire.

Third through 10th place prizes - $100 gift cards to be used at the restaurant of the winner’s choice – also went to people who live or work in Branford.

3rd - David Brown

4th – Lindsay Rodriguez

5th – Jane Farrington

6th – Natalie Forbes

7th – Linda Dirienzo

8th – Brittany Turkaj

9th – Larissa Foster

10th – Gene Burban

Branford Rotary would like to thank all 920 ticket holders who snapped up the 2,000 tickets, as well as our terrific Rotary Partners and of course the 34 restaurants that took part in the 2020 Braffle. We, like most of you, look forward to Braffle 2021, partly for the Braffle, but mostly for the “2021” part.


To learn more about Braffle, CLICK HERE


BRANFORD, CT - As the coronavirus swept into the state, the strains in Branford were everywhere. At Connecticut Hospice, frontline health workers needed protective equipment. The Branford Food Pantry was having trouble sourcing fresh food. Restaurants and small businesses across town were suffering due to closures, and the ranks of the unemployed swelled.

Faced with this panoply of challenges, the Branford Rotary Club responded in force. The Club spent $5,000 to buy medical gowns for Hospice. For the Food Pantry, Rotary members sourced, bought, and delivered a truckload of fresh produce. And as the needs in town grew, Rotary launched the ambitious HELP OUT – TAKE OUT program, which supports both local restaurants and those who’ve lost work due to the pandemic.

In all, Branford Rotary has so far responded to the crisis with $85,000 in aid, an unprecedented effort for the service group. (Click for More)

HELP OUT - TAKE OUT is a public-private partnership that supports both local restaurants and Branford residents who are struggling or have lost income due to the pandemic.

A joint effort of Rotary and Branford Counseling & Community Services (BCCS), the program purchases gift cards from local restaurants and distributes them to Branford residents in need, especially those who are out of work, cannot work, or have lost hours as a result of the coronavirus. Branford Rotary has donated $10,000 to start HELP OUT – TAKE O­UT, and hopes to quickly ramp-up the program with donations from the community.



Due to the current health situation, all Branford Rotary meetings and public functions are cancelled through May. Be well. - Branford Rotary.


The Rotary Club of Branford, Connecticut is a group of civic-minded business leaders and professionals who join together for fellowship and the opportunity to serve. As part of the 1.2-million-member Rotary International, our members volunteer their time and expertise to improve lives in Branford, across the shoreline, and around the world.



In response to COVID-19, Branford Rotary, the Soundview YMCA, and the Ben Callahan Sports & Fitness Complex (BC2) have teamed up to provide free grocery delivery to seniors, first responders, medical professionals and those with underlying conditions.

Serving residents of East Haven, Branford, North Branford, Guilford, and Madison, Operation Compassion will deliver food purchases from Bishop’s Orchards Farm Market and The Marketplace at Guilford Food Center. We are committed to helping our seniors stay safe at home and our professional heroes remain healthy and strong while carrying out their duties.

Orders will be taken on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays by calling the YMCA at 203-481-9622. Orders can also be placed via email to soundviewinfo@cccymca.org

Be advised that volunteer drivers will deliver to your doorstep but are not allowed to enter any home.

“Everyone understands the need for social distancing, so the idea of reducing the number of people out shopping is clear,” added Gary Gambardella, President of Branford Rotary. “But there are so many people - nurses, doctors, health technicians, as well as police, fire and ambulance crews – who can’t keep their distance during this pandemic. We may never be able to thank them enough, but we did want to do what we can to support them by limiting their exposure however we could.”


The Branford Rotary will once again award college scholarships to high school seniors looking to enter college in the fall of 2020. To qualify, students need to be a graduating senior and a Branford resident. The application deadline is April 6, 2020.

Every year, the Branford Rotary Foundation provides six scholarships worth $9,000 to local high school seniors. Branford High School administrators choose three recipients, and the Rotary Club awards three "Service Above Self" scholarships that can be given to any local high school senior, whether they attend Branford High or another area secondary school.

The top 'Service Above Self' award is $3,000. The other two are $1,500 each. To be eligible, students must enroll in a 2- or 4-year college or technical school in the Fall of 2020. Students should also exhibit outstanding evidence of:

  • Academic achievement
  • Clear goals
  • Participation in community service
  • Adherence to Rotary "Service Above Self" values.

Financial need is not a requirement, but a statement of need is welcome.

The written portion of the scholarship application requires an official high school transcript with seal, either SAT/ACT scores, a teacher reference, documentation of community service experience, and a student-written essay focusing on how the applicant’s future will incorporate the Rotary theme of 'Service Above Self.' Upon receiving the scholarship, students must provide a copy of the acceptance from a post-secondary school.

Applications for scholarships are available at the Rotary website – BranfordRotary.org – or at the Branford High School guidance office. The deadline for application material is April 6, 2020, and can be emailed to: scholarships@BranfordRotary.org.  

If necessary, they can be mailed to:
Branford Rotary Club
PO Box 593
Branford, CT 06405

Sarah Koljaka, a graduate of Choate Rosemary Hall, was the winner of Branford Rotary’s top “Service Above Self” $3,000 scholarship for 2019.
Sarah, the daughter of Enejda and Franc Koljaka, is attending the University of Chicago on a pre-med track.

“Sarah’s academics are well balanced by a mature, generous and down-to-earth personality,” said Rotary Scholarship Committee Chairman Anthony Terry. “Her accomplishments are extensive, but her willingness to give back, by mentoring, teaching, leading, and volunteering, show Sarah to be an amazing young person with unlimited potential.”

John Leigh, who attended Sound School in New Haven, and Branford High’s Max Warner, each received $1,500 scholarships from the organization.

“John Leigh most impressed us with a natural capacity for defining and undertaking projects, and making his own decisions from early years onward, including an application and transfer to The Sound School to study Marine Biology during his high school years,” said Terry. “Perhaps it was training received in the regimens of the Boy/Eagle Scout programs, but he’s a natural fit, and these attributes will carry him through whatever he pursues.”

Warner also impressed the committee.

“This year we had an extraordinary and diverse field of applicants, and each excelled in multiple aspects of their high school career, but no one, either this year or the past several I recall, has exemplified the ideal of service the way that Max Warner has,” Terry said. “During our interview with him he clearly described a transformation within himself, brought about by his hard work and commitment to the cause of coaching and guiding the development of others.” 


Thanks to the 1,100 runners who came to our Thanksgiving Branford Rotary & BC2 5k and Fun Run, plus the generosity of our Rotary Partners (see list at right), and a wonderful matching program at Liberty Bank, Branford Rotary is distributing more than $10,000 during the holiday season to help feed families, seniors, veterans, and more.

Among the groups and organizations we're able to help:

  • The Branford Food Pantry, which provides meals for an average of 204 families (about 500 people) per month.
  • Orchard House Adult Medical Day Center, a Branford non-profit that assists those with Alzheimer’s and their families.
  • Branford Counseling and Community Services, which provides an incredible array of social services for residents in need.
  • The Community Dining Room, which servers 4,500 meals a month.

In addition, our funding also pays for:

  • Branford Rotary’s annual Nelson Bernabucci Veteran’s Luncheon, where we feed and honor nearly 100 military veterans, many of them from the VA’s Eastern Blind Rehabilitation Center.
  • Branford Rotary’s Senior Holiday Dinner, where we cook and serve a full holiday meal for nearly 200 seniors, many of whom don’t have families with whom to share the holidays.

We'd like to thank the Branford community, Liberty Bank, and our generous Partners for helping Rotary help others.


The Branford Rotary Club installed its 91st president Thursday, as Rotarian Gary Gambardella replaced much-accomplished outgoing President Mary Donaruma.

Gambardella, who owns Bardell Printing and Office Supplies in East Haven, joined Branford Rotary in 2012 and headed the Club’s student-of-the-month program for the past three years. He begins his one-year term on July 1.

“Mary had a great year, accomplishing everything she set out to do,” said Gambardella. “With 81 members, and 81 different personalities, it can be a tough job, but she really got new members involved in the Club. “

Gambardella plans to build upon Donaruma’s achievements. “I want to continue keeping everybody involved in activities, and, if we can, increase our community involvement, maybe with some new events,” he said. “It’s important that people know Branford Rotary is a vital part of the town, and that we’ll be there whenever the community needs us.”

At its annual installation dinner, the Club also presented coveted Paul Harris awards to three long-standing members: Milt Baisley, John Mooney, and Rich Shanahan.

The new Board of Directors was also installed. They are Marilyn and John Altavilla, Al Bertoline, Ellen Carucci, Tom Laurenson, Andy Marlatt, John Mooney, Virginia Page, Vince Ragonese, and Mary Donaruma, as past-president.

Mary Donaruma and Gary Gambardella



Branford Rotary Club President Mary Donaruma, flanked by past club presidents Hap Storer (L) and Dave Kozma, with the Pettengill Award, given for outstanding service during the past three years.

BRANFORD, CT, (May 22, 2019) - The Branford Rotary Club this week received the 2019 Charles W. Pettengill Award as the “most outstanding” large club from among the nearly 60 Rotary clubs in District 7980, which covers the southern half of Connecticut.

The most prestigious service honor given by the district, the Pettengill annually goes to the club that has excelled in service to its community, and in support of the international Rotary Foundation.

“I am extremely proud to accept this award on behalf of our wonderful members, who have done so much for our community and the world,” said Branford Rotary President Mary Donaruma. “Because Pettengill winners are recognized for their past three years of service, I’d like to especially thank my two presidential predecessors, Dave Kozma and Hap Storer, whose dedication and hard work inspired the Club to great achievements."

With more than 80 members, Branford Rotary was recognized for its charitable giving and participation in numerous volunteer events. Among them: the Club has packaged thousands of meals for “Feed Our Neighbors” Haitian relief, hosts an yearly holiday dinner for 175 senior citizens, and every fall has a luncheon for nearly 100 veterans, annually provides free dictionaries to all 3rd graders in town, cooks for Take a Vet fishing and Pat Andriole Family Day, co-hosts the Thanksgiving Day 5k and Fun Run, and has the anchor tent at the Branford Festival. Rotary also awards nearly $10,000 in college scholarships to high school students from Branford, and last year organized the “Party at the Pond” fundraiser for the Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale New Haven. Over the past three years, Branford Rotary has given more than $100,000 to dozens of charities and organizations, like the Community Dining Room, Orchard House, Special Olympics, Brian’s Hope, the Blackstone Library, Branford Hospice, and Read to Grow.

Internationally, the Club has sent several members to Kenya to help build schools, and is funding clean water projects in Uganda. As part of Rotary International, Branford Rotary is a partner in the fight against polio, which has been a Rotary hallmark for decades.

“Branford Rotary is an extraordinary club that consistently gives back, engages on a global level to the Rotary Foundation and delivers service on a local and international level,” said Rotary Assistant District Gov. Robert Friend. “The Pettengill is probably the most coveted award in the district for any large club, and my hat is off to Branford, as well as the other two fantastic Rotary clubs that were nominated, Devon and Ridgefield.”

If you’d like to join or sponsor Rotary and make an impact, please contact info@BranfordRotary.org.


Applications are due June 10 for Branford Rotary’s 2019 “Service Above Self” scholarships! Spread the word! 

For more information, and to download the application, CLICK HERE.

Every year, the Branford Rotary Foundation provides $9,000 in scholarships to high school seniors who live in Branford. Rotary awards six scholarships in total: three to Branford High School students, chosen by BHS administrators, and three "Service Above Self" scholarships, chosen by Rotarians, that can be given to any local high school senior, whether they attend Branford High or another area secondary school. The top 'Service Above Self' award is $3,000. The other two are $1,500 each.

To be eligible, students must enroll in a 2- or 4-year college or technical school in the Fall of 2019. Students should also exhibit outstanding evidence of:

• Academic achievement
• Clear goals
• Participation in community service
• Adherence to Rotary "Service Above Self" values.

Financial need is not a requirement, but a statement of need is welcome.

The written portion of the scholarship application requires an official high school transcript with seal, SAT/ACT scores, a teacher reference, a letter of acceptance from a post-secondary school, documentation of community service experience, and a student-written essay focusing on how the applicant’s future will incorporate the Rotary theme of 'Service Above Self.' 

Applications for scholarships are available HERE or at the Branford High School guidance office. Completed Applications can be emailed to scholarship@branfordrotary.org, or mailed to:

Branford Rotary Club
PO Box 593
Branford, CT 06405


(April 19, 2019) - The 46,000 meals recently packed by Rotarians at ‘Feed Our Neighbors’ are now on their way to Haiti, according to Haitian Health Foundation Executive Director Marilyn Lowney. Last weekend, HHF volunteers (see photos) filled a 40-foot container with the food, plus hygiene items, building materials, and medical supplies and equipment. The container has been loaded on a ship bound for Port-au-Prince, and eventually the town of Jeremie, Haiti.

Nearly 150 Rotarians and volunteers worked the ‘Feed Our Neighbors’ event, held March 23 in Madison, and organized by the The Outreach Program. Rotary clubs from Branford, Madison, Guilford, Clinton, East Haven and North Branford took part. Congratulations to all those who stepped up to help those in need!


Rotary Peace FellowshipApplications for the 2020-21 Rotary Peace Fellowship program are now being accepted. The due date is May 31, 2019, and residents of Branford should make enquires to the Branford Rotary Club President, Mary Donaruma. For the application, Click Here.


Every year, The Rotary Foundation funds some of the world's most dedicated and brightest leaders to study at Rotary Peace Centers. Many recipients go on to careers with governments, NGOs, the military, law enforcement, and international organizations like the United Nations and the World Bank. Read more...


MADISON, CT - In one of the largest Rotary food relief efforts ever held in Connecticut, 150 Rotarians and volunteers from across the shoreline gathered in Madison on March 23 to package 46,000 meals for the struggling residents of Haiti. Read More...


BRANFORD, CT (March 13, 2019) - The Branford Rotary Club proudly inducted five new members into its ranks this week, women and men who join the 1.2 million members of Rotary International in volunteering their time and effort to improve lives in Branford, across the shoreline, and around the world. The newest Rotarians are Suzanne McColl, Lucas Mainiero, Lauren Nasreddine, Sue Wharfe, and Robert Imperato.

The new members were sworn in by Assistant District Governor Robert Friend, and welcomed to the club by Branford Rotary President Mary Donaruma.

“I’m so pleased that these five wonderful professionals have chosen to step up and serve,” said Donaruma. “A strong Rotary means a strong Branford, and I know our new members will be a great asset to the club and the community.”. New Club members


BRANFORD, CT (March 7, 2019) – The Branford Rotary Club donated $1,000 this week to the Dan Cosgrove Animal Shelter, funds that will help homeless animals with medical needs, surgeries, specialty equipment and much more, said shelter Director Laura Burban.

“This money will help to save animals lives,” said Burban. “Without the support of organizations such as the Rotary, we would never be able to help all the animals that we do.”

“The Cosgrove Animal Shelter does an incredible job providing care, food, and shelter for injured and neglected animals,” said Rotarian Jim Carpenter, chairman of Branford Rotary’s annual Golf tournament, which raised the funds. “In recent years, with the advent of ‘support animals,’ the shelter has helped match people in need with the proper animal companion, which shows how they continue to improve the quality of life in our town.”

The Dan Cosgrove Animal Shelter’s mission is to protect the public, provide excellent animal care, find good homes for animal guests, promote responsible pet guardianship, and work to end the overpopulation of feral cats in the community. 


BRANFORD, CT (Feb. 23, 2019) - The Branford Rotary Club this week donated $1,000 to the Orchard House Medical Adult Day Center, which provides compassionate care for aging adults.

"We are so grateful to the Branford Rotary Club for their very generous support,” said Orchard House Executive Director Mary-Margaret Mandel. “Their gift helps provide therapeutic programming, medical supervision, and meals to more aging adults in need. I want to thank the Rotary for making our seniors smile."

“Orchard House is a wonderful organization and what they do for our seniors is so important for the community,” said Rotarian Jim Carpenter, chairman of Branford Rotary’s annual Golf tournament, which raised the funds. “We’re proud to support their efforts to help people lead full, independent lives in their later years.”

Orchard House has helped aging adults, especially those living with Alzheimer's disease and other dementia related illnesses, since 1981. The center’s mission is to improve the quality of life of older adults and provide support for their caregivers. The goal is to enable aging adults to live independently - in the community - as long as possible. 


BRANFORD, CT (Jan. 26, 2019) - The Branford Rotary Club is proud to be an active partner in our community. How active? Here’s what the Club has been up to the past few months:

• In September, Branford Rotary hosted a fundraiser to benefit the Smilow Cancer Center at Yale New Haven and the Rotary Scholarship Program. More than 200 guests helped Rotary raise thousands of dollars for those two great causes.

• September also saw our five most recent Branford Rotary Foundation Scholarship winners enroll in their universities. The Club annually awards $7,500 to high school seniors from Branford, and our newest recipients are a credit to their communities. The 2018 scholarship winners are now attending the University of Amsterdam (Netherlands), Clark University, UConn, the University of New Hampshire, and the University of Delaware.
• As October came in, the Rotary distributed 350 free dictionaries to all third-graders in Branford schools. This is an annual program run by the Rotary, and is made possible by donations from our generous Rotary Partners.

• Rotary also participated in (a very wet) Take-A-Vet Fishing event last Fall, cooking food for veterans who spent the day fishing at Killam’s Point, part of a program run by the Branford Congregational Church.

To read more, CLICK HERE. 


Veterans at luncheon

The Branford Rotary Club once again honored those who served in our Armed Forces at the annual Nelson Bernabucci Veteran’s Luncheon in November. More than 60 veterans, spanning 75 years of United States military service, attended the event, where they told stories, shared laughs, and were serenaded by the Branford High School Music Makers chorus.

Held at the Italian American Club, the luncheon hosted special guests from the VA’s Eastern Blind Rehabilitation Center, as well as members of the American Legion and VFW. Veterans who served from World War II through Afghanistan and Iraq were honored.

“Veterans ensure that we have the rights and freedoms we all benefit from,” said Rotarian Josh Balter, who chaired the event and was a 20-year Navy Chief. “When we take the oath to serve, every man and woman in uniform writes a blank check that says we are willing to give our lives for our country. The luncheon is one small way we can honor their sacrifice.” Nelson Bernabucci

The veterans shared stories of their time in the service, ranging from memories of fallen comrades to mess tent meals gone awry. But one common theme held throughout the afternoon, Balter noted.

“The veterans at the luncheon are always grateful that they’re not forgotten, and grateful for the opportunity to be with people who have shared the same things as them, no matter where or when they served,” he said.

The luncheon is named for Rotarian and World War II veteran Nelson Bernabucci, who served in the U.S. Navy in the Philippines. It was made possible by the generous contributions of the Branford Rotary Club’s “Rotary Partners”: Empire Paving, KMK Insulation, Cherry Hill Glass, Anderson Krause Insurance, Lorensen Enterprises, Mobeck-Guandalini Insurance, Brown & Knapp and BK Benefits, Burban’s Landscaping, Stop & Shop, The Parthenon Diner, All-American Waste, and American Polyfilm. 


Photos from the Party at the Pond are now available for perusal and download, and for free. It's our way of saying thank you to those who supported the Branford Rotary Foundation and Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale New Haven on a glorious night at Van Wilgen's.

If using mobile: https://bit.ly/2OykWPP 
If using a browser: https://triciabohanphotography.zenfolio.com/p977830528 

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