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Rotary Honors Community Heroes

Westporters Martha Aasen, Julie Belaga, Jack Klinge, and Alan Stolz, and Austen Doolittle of Weston are Westport Sunrise Rotary honorees this Friday, May 14. They have been chosen to receive Paul Harris Community Service Awards. Named for the founder of Rotary International, the award is given to community leaders recognized for "service above self." Sunrise Rotary's incoming president, Arlo Ellison said, "The eclectic nature of these recipients represents the kind of creativity, diversity and activism that is Westport at its very best..”  Here is a sampling of the contributions to the community recipients have made and a partial list of their accomplishments.

Martha Aasen has lived in Westport for nearly 50 years. She is known for her years of strong political leadership at both local and state levels, and her deep commitment to the ideals and leadership of the League of Women voters. She has volunteered service in countless ways -- as a member of Westport ’s Representative Town Meeting, a Justice of the Peace, a member of Charter Review Commissions, and currently as president of the Westport Public Library Board of Trustees. She has served the Saugatuck Congregational Church as deacon, moderator, and trustee, while also playing active roles in the Westport Historical Society, Westport Arts Center, EarthPlace and with the Y’s Women, where she was founder and first president.

Julie Belaga settled in Westport with her family in 1965, and quickly became involved in local politics, joining the Westport Planning and Zoning Commission and serving as its chairman from 1972 to 1976. She was also an RTM member. Belaga was elected to the Connecticut House of Representatives, representing Westport from 1976 to 1986. She was Deputy Majority Leader and a member of the Environment and the Appropriations Committee. While serving in the legislature, she advanced legislation on critical environmental issues. Two presidents, Clinton and Bush, offered her appointments. She currently serves on the board of Connecticut Fund for the Environment/Save the Sound as well as the board of National Audubon Connecticut. She is also a member of the board of trustees of the Westport Public Library.

Austen Doolittle of Weston served as secretary of the Weston Alliance, a group dedicated to oversee the town’s Board of Finance. His charitable activities include: fundraising for Save the Children, chairing a nursery school,  delivering meals on wheels,  reading to the blind and helping Habitat for Humanity.

After retirement, Doolittle served on the board of the Westport/Weston YMCA. He became the chairman of the Interfaith Housing Committee. He has been a long time trustee of Saugatuck Congregational Church. He became active in Y’s Men of Westport/Weston and served as secretary and first vice president before becoming president in 1996-97.

Jack Klinge is being cited for his volunteership ranging from serving youth to serving seniors. For the last 13 years, he has managed Little League baseball, and through Westport’s Human Services Department, he has mentored a family. He is a Westport Safe Rides board member, and in addition to his career work, he substitute teaches for Westport Public Schools. His 12-year leadership as chairman of the Friends of the Westport Senior Center has raised substantial funds. For those who are homebound, Klinge is recognized for some 25 years of service in delivering meals to them at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. Since 1998, Klinge has been a member of Westport’s Representative Town Meeting and in that capacity has been detailed to the RTM Long Range Planning committee, the Parks and Recreation Commission, the Town Maintenance Committee, and the EMS Evaluation Committee.

Alan Stolz has long been active in the American Red Cross. Thirty years ago he was a founding member of Westport ’s Volunteer Emergency Service and has remained active ever since. A certified EMS teacher, with a specialty in heart rescue procedures, he has provided instruction in CPR, first aid, and emergency procedures to the public and youth groups as well as to the EMS volunteers themselves. Involved with the scouting movement for more than 60 years, Stolz founded Cub Scout Pack 38 at Coleytown Elementary, then became Scoutmaster of Troop 100 at Christ and Holy Trinity Church, a post he holds to this day. Stolz is director of Camp Cody in Freedom, New Hampshire. In his volunteer work, Stolz is active in the Westport Sunrise Rotary and teaches Marine Biology at the Norwalk Maritime Aquarium. He has also served as a director on the boards on the Judaica Museum and the Home for the Aged in Riverdale, New York.

The ceremony takes place at Birchwood Country Club, following breakfast at 8:00 a.m. The public is invited and those who wish to attend must reserve by calling Sunrise Rotary’s hotline at 203-454-6446, contacting any Sunrise Rotary member, or calling Club President John Hendrickson at 203-454-1982. There is a $30 breakfast fee for the meeting. Birchwood Country Club is located at 25 Kings Highway South, Westport.

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