When Al DeSimone was first approached to organize a new Rotary club in Kenosha in 1971, one of Kenosha’s most active service clubs was born. For the next 34 years and right up until today, Rotary Club of Kenosha West has been providing community services and activities to benefit local, national, and even international causes.
The new club was spirited by the Rotary Club of Kenosha in commemoration of their 50th anniversary. By recruiting DeSimone, the success of the club was a foregone conclusion. DeSimone gathered 34 charter members as the club was officially inducted into Rotary International on December 30, 1970.
DeSimone was elected to the prestigious position of District Governor of Rotary District 627 (predecessor to today’s District 6270) during the Rotary year 1975-1976.
Rotary is founded on four avenues of service – international, community, vocational, and club service. In 1974 the club won an award from Rotary International for a project they had sponsored in Leon, Mexico. The club contributed $10,000 to the Leon School for mentally and physically handicapped children and also delivered a fire truck to the community.
Rotary Club of Kenosha West has a long history of involvement in Rotary’s student exchange program, sponsoring both outbound students to many different countries as well as hosting inbound students from as far away as France, Belgium, Finland, and Thailand.
Funds for Rotary Club of Kenosha West’s community service projects have been raised in a number of ways through the years. In the early days, the club sponsored a corn and brat roast. The club’s annual Softball Tournament at Lincoln Park evolved from that. The tournament is Rotary Club of Kenosha West’s largest fundraising initiative, with over $40,000 raised annually.
For the past several years, Rotary Club of Kenosha West has also led District 6270 in total number of tickets sold for the annual Super Bowl raffle.
In the area of community service, besides raising and distributing funds to a wide variety of organizations and causes, Rotary Club of Kenosha West participates in other community activities. These include the Salvation Army’s annual Kettle “bell-ringing” campaign, and the Christmas toys for needy children campaign organized by the Kenosha County department of Human Services.
Rotary Club of Kenosha West is also the naming sponsor of Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha’s Pride of Kenosha, an annual gourmet food and wine tasting event, and their inner-city basketball league.
Vocational service by Rotary Club of Kenosha West consists of organizing and conducting a Shadow Day program for area high school students, where high-schoolers identify an area of employment interest and spend time with Rotarians and others in that field of work.
Club service is the avenue which provides opportunities for social and fellowship activities within the club. These include the annual Charter Night celebration, Changing of the Guard, a Christmas party, golf league and many other activities.
Rotary Club of Kenosha West prides itself today on continuing the proud tradition established by Al DeSimone and the other charter members. “Service Above Self” is the Rotary motto and at the Rotary Club of Kenosha West it is adhered to enthusiastically.