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Rich Anania has held several key roles in the East Haven community, ranging from an elected ember of the Town Council to president of both the Rotary Club and Foxon Recreational Baseball League. (Photo by Nathan Hughart/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
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Even with his yearlong term as president of the Rotary Club recently ended, Rich Anania has stayed active with the club, giving back to East Haven through many different avenues, including his service as a Town Council member. With the holidays quickly approaching, Rotary is preparing for an array of events to celebrate the season.
The East Haven tree lighting ceremony will take place at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 24 and the Rotary Club members will be there to offer free hot cocoa. They’re also looking forward to their Breakfast with Santa event starting at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 8.
“As much as we can we give back to the community, because that’s what the Rotary organization is all about,” Rich says.
Rich joined the Rotary simply because he had many friends who were involved. They encouraged him to join because the club was looking for new members.
“We always take members,” Rich says. “In fact, within the past three or four years, we’ve had a lot of women getting involved, which is good.”
In 2017, while Rich was president of the club, it donated nearly $4,000 worth of Dot and Dash learning robots to the school district with money raised by fundraisers throughout the year.
The robots can be programmed through apps to change their behaviors in order to teach kids basic coding, a valuable career skill for the future. Rich says that the school system began implementing the robots this year.
“It gives the kids a lot of different avenues to work with the robot to plan things on it, program. They’re very good learning tools,” Rich says.
The idea of donating the Dash and Dot robots came from the teachers within the club.
“We have educators that are in the Rotary and they suggested [the robots],” Rich says. “They gave me all the information and I really liked it. We put it out to the club and the club liked it.”
During his time as president, the club also participated in their usual fundraisers, including a golf tournament and the Anginetti Wars, to support their causes like Feed Thy Neighbor and Clothe the Children.
Every February, the Rotary Club solicits names of children in need from the school district as part of their Clothe the Children drive.
The club gives them $100 to shop at Kohl’s, which often offers discounts of its own on that day. Rich says that participants are often very grateful, thanking Rotary members with new coats in their hands.
“It’s emotional. It really is,” Rich says. “It’s something we all enjoy doing. The whole Rotary pitches in. We’re all there.”
Rich has also been the president of the Foxon Recreational Baseball League, a position he’d been working toward in some ways since he first joined the league when he was a child.
“I played baseball there. I wasn’t that good, but I played. And then I moved up and I was on their board and moved up through the ranks until I became president,” Rich says.
Along the way, Rich took up umpiring for the league, taking on a sometimes busy schedule with a variety of ages.
Serving on the league’s board of directors and working as an umpire are more ways Rich gets to serve the town of East Haven.
In the rec leagues, Rich didn’t need to go through any sort of certification. He learned the skill simply by watching others and reading books.
“[As an umpire,] you get called every name in the book sometimes, but you kind of just take it with a grain of salt, you let it go,” Rich says.
With the rec league, and especially with younger kids, umpiring was an important part of keeping the game running smoothly.
“You’ve got to try and keep it steady and keep the sportsmanship good,” Rich says. “You have to try to keep it going so they enjoy the game, they like the game.”
Especially with the younger kids, Rich sometimes finds ways to teach the kids while they play.
“At that age…we’ll sometimes make a little correction just so they learn,” he says. “Coaches are new, sometimes they don’t know the rules so we try to explain to the kids a little bit why we called them out or why we made the call we did.”
Eventually, Rich became certified to umpire high school games and later a travel league as well, allowing him to umpire more games and meet new people.
“An older umpire once told me, ‘Let the game umpire itself,’” Rich said. “You try and keep the game going smooth and make sure the sportsmanship is there.”
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