Rotary makes it easy for millennials to participate

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The Lakes Region Rotary Club meets at the Water Street Cafe in Laconia weekly. (Courtesy photo)

By LEAH WILLINGHAM, The Laconia Daily Sun

When it comes to engaging millennials in the Lakes Region Rotary Club, the tactic is simple: Let them come to us.

“We’ve tried to attract them organically,” said long-time member Karmen Gifford. “We don’t want to sell it to people; we want them to want to be there.”

Ben Wilson, who works out of the Edward Jones office on Union Avenue in Laconia, is in his mid-30s, and is the incoming president of the Lakes Region Rotary Club. He said he was interested in Rotary from a young age: He joined his first Rotary Club in Maine when he was 28.

“It’s a great way to make lifelong connections and give back to your community,” he said.

The Lakes Region Rotary Club is a local chapter of the international service organization whose purpose is to bring together business and professional leaders to benefit communities through service work.

Club members volunteer and raise money for service organizations in the area, including preparing and serving lunch every other month at the Salvation Army, and organizing an annual Youth Leadership program that brings together future leaders from high schools around the Lakes Region.

Gifford said the demographic of the club tends to be in the 30-65 age range. While there are some members who attend every Rotary event, Gifford said members typically come and go, depending on interest in the projects the club is working on.

This open attendance policy is the best way attract any members, especially young people, Gifford said. She said young people are looking to have a variety of experiences, and might shy away from an exclusive commitment to one group.

“If there's an expectation, they might hold back,” she said.  

The club meets weekly for breakfast at Water Street Cafe, where local leaders are invited to join the club and speak on their efforts in the community. Each member is assigned to invite someone over the course of a season. Past speakers have been Laconia Police Department Chief Matthew Canfield and representatives from the New Hampshire Make-a-Wish foundation. Gifford said the group went on a tour of the Colonial Theater renovation project this past summer.

Gifford said club members are notified of upcoming activities via a Google email list. People can sign up for whatever activities interest them, Gifford said.

“There’s no obligation, and no one’s going to say you're not a good fit for this club because you miss a few meetings,” she said.

Gifford said Lakes Region Rotary has also been trying to engage new members by using social media. When they have a breakfast or another event, they will post photos on Facebook, and tag guests.

Rotary clubs in the area are being creative about how they expand their membership.

This year, the Laconia Rotary Club adopted a “business” membership option, where anyone from a company can attend the weekly meetings on behalf of a business.  

Allison Ambrose, a young professional at Wescott Law Firm in Laconia, said her company signed up for that program. She said it’s a great alternative for young people like her, who have young children and might not want to commit to joining the organization on their own.

“We found that [the business membership] was an attractive option, as it affords us the opportunity to participate as a group without having to individually commit to weekly meetings,” Ambrose said.

Gifford said she’s seen a resurgence of young people in Laconia. Both of her children moved away to go to college, but came back.

“It’s a nice place to live, and it’s fulfilling to be a part of a community that’s so focused on giving back,” she said.

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Benjamin Wilson, the Rotary's incoming president, promotes the club's Salvation Army Turkey Plunge fundraiser. (Courtesy photo)

  • Written by Tom Caldwell
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Fiore Article Olive Oils and Vinegars closing location in Wolfeboro

WOLFBORO — Fiore Artisan Olive Oils & Vinegars, an award-winning regional source for extra virgin olive oils and aged balsamic vinegars, will be seeking a stand-alone location to add to its existing locations in Maine: Bar Harbor, Rockland, Freeport, and Brunswick. As such, effective Nov. 15, its tasting room within Wolfeboro-based Orazio’s Gourmet is closed.

Fiore has been on a steady growth track over the past eight years and has been evaluating additional New Hampshire locations for several years. “The Fiore brand is well-recognized in New England and our customer base welcomed our collaboration in Wolfeboro, leading to a great first high season in New Hampshire,” said Pat O’Brien, director of marketing at Fiore. “We are actively exploring options in the Lake Winnipesaukee region as well as other New Hampshire locations and will use this off season to identify our direction for spring of 2018.”

For more information, visit www.fioreoliveoils.com.

  • Written by Ginger Kozlowski
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Lake Winnipesaukee Association toasts a successful partnership to protect the lake

MEREDITH — Proceeds from the recently crafted Winnipesaukee Rosé by Hermit Woods Winery are being put to good use by the Lake Winnipesaukee Association.

Not only is Lake Winnipesaukee the third largest lake in New England, it is also the most visited lake, bringing hundreds of thousands of people each year to swim, boat, fish and enjoy its magnificent beauty. A little over 44,000 acres, it’s a lot of area for the Lake Winnipesaukee Association to cover in their mission is to protect the water quality and natural resources of the lake. As Pat Tarpey, Executive Director, explains “The lake enjoys good water quality today, but is under threat from stormwater runoff, invasive plant and animal species, nutrient loading, and more. Our organization relies on memberships, donations, and grants to monitor and tackle the threats facing the lake, which is why we are very grateful to Hermit Woods Winery for their commitment to our lake protection programs.”

This past spring, Hermit Woods Winery crafted a new wine, Winnipesaukee Rosé, to help raise funds for and awareness of the lake association’s work. The Winery is donating 10 percent of the profits from the sale of the wine to the Lake Winnipesaukee Association, and recently presented the organization with a check for $1,934, bringing the total donated this year to over $3,400. Per Ken Hardcastle, Hermit Woods winemaker, the partnership has worked out better than anticipated.

“Everything came together perfectly," he said. "I am very happy with the wine, the beautiful label created by Stephen Hodecker, and am so pleased that all this came together for such a good cause.”

Bob Manley, Hermit Woods co-founder, is also enthusiastic about the partnership. “This is the second installment of what we hope to be many, many more. Our Winnipesaukee Rosé has become one of our best selling wines. It’s not only a great way for us to help raise the funds this organization needs to do the good work they do, but the distribution of our wine helps raise awareness of the organization across the state. You can now find our Winnipesaukee Rosé in the New Hampshire State Liquor stores.”

Local artist Stephen Hodecker donated the artwork for the label, as well as giving the Lake Winnipesaukee Association 20 percent of the proceeds from sale of his and his sister Christine’s artwork exhibited at the winery, generating over $600 for the association.

“It’s been such a great experience working with Bob Manley and Stephen Hodecker," said Tarpey. "Their positive response to this project, and the resulting success of the wine has been amazing. Our work stems from a deep appreciation and love for the lake and its environment, and desire to keep it beautiful and clean for countless generations. We cannot do it alone; it is gratifying to know that local businesses care and want to help."

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Bob Manley and Ken Hardcastle of Hermit Woods Winery and Pat Tarpey, executive director of the Lake Winnipesaukee Association, toast their successful partnership to protect the lake’s water quality. Proceeds from the sale of Hermit Woods wine, Winnipesaukee Rosé, has generated over $3,400 in support of the Lake Winnipesaukee Association’s lake protection programs. (Courtesy photo)

  • Written by Ginger Kozlowski
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Wescott Law attorney helps farmers with business advice

LACONIA — For the past 10 years, the UNH Cooperative Extension Program, in conjunction with the Agriculture and Natural Resource Business Institute, has offered a nine-week course for those seeking a career in farming. The fall 2017 course was held at Lakes Region Community College, with past courses held in various locations throughout the state.

“Participants have serious aspirations; their goal is to make a living through farming,” according to Kelly McAdam, field specialist for the Belknap County Cooperative Extension Program. “This is a growing trend here in New Hampshire; ours is one of the few states in the country that experienced an increase of farms in the last census, conducted in 2012.”

McAdam reports that during her five years with the program the class has been filled to its capacity of 25 students. Students come from all over the state and range in age from millennials to retirees, with some looking to buy farms while others farm land they currently own.

The purpose of the course is to help strengthen the economic viability of businesses involved with agriculture and natural resources. In addition to topics relating specifically to farming, the program also covers business financing, marketing and record keeping, as well as legal and insurance concerns. Students develop an operational plan for their business proposal through a combination of hands-on activities, web based tools, and presentations, such as one recently offered by attorney Brett Allard of Wescott Law in Laconia.

Seventeen people attended the presentation in person with another seven attending online via Zoom.
Allard spoke about the advantages and disadvantages of the various business entities from a liability standpoint.

“Commercial farms are often situated on the same property as the owner’s personal residence. Due to this, the primary concern expressed by participants was the protection of non-business assets from any potential claims,” said  Allard. “An LLC is probably the most practical entity for a smaller start-up operation; whereas if they were seeking investors to help raise capital, I might recommend forming a corporation.”

Allard was quick to recommend attendees consult with a CPA to discuss the tax consequences of any entities being considered.

UNH Cooperative Extension, partners with private firms, nonprofits, and government agencies to help new and existing business owners. Participation in the program helps students meet borrower-training requirements for the USDA Farm Service Agency. For information on the program, contact McAdam, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 603-527-5475.

  • Written by Ginger Kozlowski
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Irwin to host holiday party Dec. 13

LACONIA — The Irwin Automotive Group is inviting all customers to their annual Holiday Customer Appreciation Party. Join the  staff at the Irwin Automotive Group Wednesday, Dec. 13, for a holiday party where the guests of honor are the customers that the Irwin Automotive Group has gotten to know personally over the years through its service department and sales department.

Chris Irwin, vice president of the Irwin Automotive Group, said, “We have been lucky enough over the years to get to know many great customers of the Irwin Automotive group who we consider friends.”

Join them for food, beverages, and door prizes. They'll be raffling off a set of new snow tires to one lucky customer (must be present to win). Join them at 5 p.m. for the festivities and RSVP by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (603-581-2968) for Irwin Toyota-Scion Ford-Lincoln and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 603-581-2993 for Hyundai.

  • Written by Ginger Kozlowski
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