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05/11/2022 08:30 AM

Gary McCauley: Finding a Community, Ready to Help

Since moving to town full time in 2018 and joining the Old Saybrook Rotary Club, Gary McCauley has found ways to serve a community he has admired for more than a decade.Photo courtesy of Gary McCauley

In 2011 Gary McCauley and his family bought a summer place in Old Saybrook. They became year-round residents in 2018 and ever since Gary has made his presence felt in the community as a member of the Old Saybrook Rotary Club.

The Rotary is an international organization with local chapters dedicated to helping the local community in any way the can.

“In the big picture, Rotary is a service organization,” Gary explains. “We have a motto here in Old Saybrook of ‘service above self.’”

The Old Saybrook Rotary Club has more than 30 members, according to Gary, and includes people from Lyme, Old Lyme, and Westbrook along with Old Saybrook.

“We have active members who come from all walks of life,” Gary says.

Gary points out that while helping with education and environmental endeavors are part of the core tenets of the club, they are by no means the only aspects of the club’s service.

“It’s not a political or religious organization; it’s not tied to anything,” says Gary.

The club hosts shred days, runs scholarship programs, helps with the craft fair, and runs a macaroni dinner, among other endeavors. Recently, the Old Saybrook Rotary Club was recognized by the district and presented with an award for its commitment to helping the community.

Gary first joined the Old Saybrook chapter in 2018.

“My neighbor was telling me about it and I kept putting it off because I was still working and I didn’t want to join until I could give my full time,” Gary explains.

In 2019, Gary became president elect of the club with a date of becoming president in summer 2020. Only there was a snag.

“Our president at the time ended up getting a new job out of state, so I actually became president early and took over in January of 2020,” Gary says.

Gary has been president since then, but his term will end this summer.

As president, Gary’s duties include running the meetings, overseeing the budget, and working with others to make activities become a reality.

“We’re a mom-and-pop shop without really a staff, so it falls to individuals to get things done,” says Gary.

Those individuals are what makes it so worthwhile for Gary.

“The people are just fabulous,” he says. “In these years, I got to know dozens of folks I never would have interacted with otherwise.”

“It’s such a collegial group of people that you just ask for help with something and people are willing to pitch in and help,” says Gary.

Prior to his involvement with the club Gary enjoyed a long career in education. Over the course of that career, Gary was everything from a middle school teacher to an assistant principle to an H.R. manager. Gary says that career has helped him with the Rotary Club since there are members of the education community as members.

“We have a good representation across both the education and business world in membership,” says Gary.

Besides the Rotary, Gary was also played a leadership role in the community, helping to coordinate the response from non-profits, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

“Though the Rotary takes enough time as it is—it’s difficult for me to take on other things,” Gary admits.

Gary grew up in Massachusetts but his family regularly vacationed in Connecticut. Eventually his son mentioned looked for summer house in Old Saybrook. Soon after Gary and his family found a place they liked in Old Saybrook, though it wasn’t necessarily all smooth sailing from there.

“We moved in in April and then in August Hurricane Irene hit and took it down,” Gary remembers with a chuckle.

The family kept coming back to the area until Gary retired in 2018 and then moved in full time.

In his spare time Gary and his wife Pam can be found traveling or reading.

“We love Old Saybrook and don’t go anywhere else in the summer, that’s for sure,” Gary says with a laugh.

At the end of the month, Pam and Gary will be celebrating their 51st wedding anniversary.

Asked his favorite thing about Old Saybrook, Gary replies, “People is the obvious one, but also everything is so easily accessible.”

Gary recalls living in Massachusetts where “everything was 30-minute trip,” which isn’t the case in Old Saybrook. “It’s all five minutes away and the quality is outstanding—from restaurants to health care, it’s all amazing.”