Rotary puts service above self

Swampscott Rotary Club is a small group of people with big goals who enjoy each other’s company while doing a lot of good for the local community and beyond. 

If you are looking for something to do, to find new friends or to engage in meaningful volunteer work, the club is always welcoming new members.

Rotary clubs started in Chicago in 1905. Paul Harris, an attorney, formed the first club to bring together various professionals so that they could exchange ideas and form meaningful, lifelong friendships. 

Over time, the organization gradually adopted humanitarian service as its mission and  “Service Above Self” as its motto.

Since its inception, Rotary has grown into an international network of more than 35,000 clubs with 1.2 million members. Clubs tackle the world’s most persistent issues like promoting peace; fighting disease; providing clean water, sanitation, and hygiene; saving mothers and children; supporting education; and growing local economies.

The Swampscott Rotary Club has been a member of the Rotary International for more than 95 years. It currently has about 25 members. Rotary is apolitical. The youngest current member is in his 30s, many members are retired now, and the oldest late member lived to 102 years old.

“Our members join for many reasons. Fellowship and friendships are important, but our focus during our meetings and otherwise is providing service and aid to others, especially in our local community. We just try to have some fun as we do it,” said Walter “Buck” Weaver, who serves as the club’s treasurer.

Weaver, a retired orthodontist, joined Rotary in Swampscott in the late 1970s when he was relatively new to the area. He likes that the projects the club works on are helpful to people.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Swampscott Rotarians met in person. They usually had a guest speaker at their meeting who worked at some nonprofit and would tell them about the issues they are working on.

With the onset of the pandemic, the club shifted to outdoor meetings every other week. Some elderly members decided to err on the side of caution and haven’t been coming to the meetings in person, but Weaver said that about a dozen members continue to gather together.

The club funds its projects primarily from a trust fund that was established years ago, using the proceeds from the golf tournament that they held for more than 16 years.

In the 12 months between July 2020 and July 2021, the club spent more than $34,000 on Chromebooks for Swampscott schools ($12,000), various scholarships (more than $20,000), and other donations. 

The club recently donated to Haiti relief efforts — $4,000 via the Rotary International and $1,000 via St. John the Evangelist Church in Swampscott. They also sent a $400 donation to the Salvation Army in Lynn to support their food relief efforts. 

Another $1,000 went to the Boston’s Wounded Vet Ride, which raises funds for housing modifications and other measures to improve the quality of life of seriously injured veterans.

Swampscott Rotary regularly supports food pantries in the area, including the local Anchor Food Pantry, My Brother’s Table, the Salvation Army in Lynn and others. 

Some of the club’s signature annual activities include delivering holiday gift baskets to senior citizens and people confined to home for health reasons; the annual summer picnic for North Shore residents with disabilities at Marian Court College; serving at My Brother’s Table, and the annual Thanksgiving Football luncheon with the Marblehead Rotary Club.

And don’t forget the Duct Tape Regatta: It takes place in June in the Swampscott Harbor. Teams of four make their vessels with lumber or PVC pipe, recycled bottles and duct tape and race to win the cup. 

Proceeds go to fund clean-water projects. In the past, the club donated to clean-water projects in Honduras and, currently, the donations go to the same cause in Burkina Faso in West Africa.

The club also awards more than $20,000 annually in scholarships, especially to Swampscott High School students, including the Dave Sherman Rotary Scholarship, The Swampscott Rotary Club Scholarship and the Rotary Interact Scholarship.

Plumber Peter McCarriston and his family helped establish the James McCarriston Trade School scholarship that is given to several individuals each year while they learn plumbing or electrical work. 

Several years ago, Swampscott Rotary Club partnered up with Marblehead Rotary Club and tapped into the senior population of the two towns, creating a senior volunteer group, ElderAct. This free group helps seniors socialize and have fun while making a meaningful contribution to the community. 

There is also a Rotary Club offshoot at the Swampscott High School — the Rotary Interact Club. High-school students participate in a large variety of community service projects including reading to youth, serving at My Brother’s Table, participating in shoe drives, and organizing battle-of-the-bands concerts to raise funds for various world relief efforts.

Social interactions go beyond charity in the Rotary Club, Weaver said. They do surprise birthday parties, holiday parties, and social gatherings at restaurants or on someone’s deck.

“You got to enjoy it, too,” said Weaver.

Anyone interested in more info about our Swampscott Rotary Club can contact Buck Weaver at 781-910-5584 or