Person of the Week
LuAnn Buono is Living Rotary’s Motto of ‘Service About Self’ Lots of Work, Tons of Fun
LuAnn Buono, a longtime volunteer with the North Haven Rotary Club, is looking forward to the upcoming The North Haven Rotary’s 18th Annual Day of Wine, Steins & Roses on Sunday, Sept. 22 where she will be helping to serve the wine. (Photo courtesy of LuAnn Buono )
LuAnn Buono is really looking forward to the North Haven Rotary’s 18th annual Day of Wine, Steins, & Roses event coming up on Sunday, Sept. 22 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Forget Me Not Flower Shop on State Street in North Haven.
She’s looking forward to the food from the local restaurants, along with the pig roast, the coffees and desserts, the gourmet chocolate tasting, and, a recent addition, the beer court featuring breweries from all over Connecticut. She’s excited about the local entertainers who will be performing, and also to the headliner Ray Suntino and Company, who will perform songs from Italy, along with some Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, and a little bit of Englebert Humperdink, too. She can’t wait to see all of her friends at the event, which welcomes everyone in the community.
And she’s looking forward to the wine, in part because she will be one of the volunteers helping to serve the crowd, which likely will include about 500 to 700 people.
That’s just one of the many ways that LuAnn has lived Rotary’s motto of “service above self” for many years while volunteering for the community organization that gives back more than $40,000 every year to local organizations.
LuAnn’s service to the North Haven Rotary Club was a natural extension of her earlier service to parent teacher associations for her sons’ schools, elementary, middle, and high school. A lifelong resident of North Haven, she met her husband Frank, also a lifelong North Havener, at a local deli where she worked when she was a teenager. After she and her husband married, both of them volunteered with the PTA, service that, for her husband, also included taking on leadership roles.
One Opportunity Leads to Another
When her sons, Michael, now 32, and Mathew, now 29, graduated from high school, LuAnn looked around her empty nest and realized she missed working as a volunteer. Then she remembered working on an event one of the PTAs did with the Rotary, and decided to jump in with both feet with the Rotary.
“We raised a lot of money with that event, the PTA and the Rotary. Fifty percent went to the PTA and 50 percent to the Rotary. And I got to know a lot of people there. I graduated high school with some of the members of Rotary. And I finally decided to join about seven years ago,” she says.
She served as membership chair for about five years but, due to some health concerns and family obligations, had to step back from that for several months. She still is taking a great interest in a program she helped start, corporate membership in the North Haven Rotary. The group has one corporate member, and is close to signing up another. Any company interested in corporate membership in North Haven Rotary may contact her at email@example.com.
She also is very excited about several other events coming up later this year, in November, including the eighth annual North Haven Rotary and Tessa Marie Memorial 5k & Walk on Nov. 10 at North Haven High School, 221 Elm St North Haven, and the pancake breakfast on the same day. Not only does she love the events themselves, but she also is particularly excited about the organizations that will benefit this year.
With the proceeds from the race, the Tessa Marie Memorial Fund along with the North Haven Rotary will be sponsoring the game room at the Ulbrich Boys & Girls Club (UBGC) of North Haven.
A Big Need
As a mother who worked both in the home and outside the home, LuAnn is passionate about the UBGC. After 56 years of serving children in the Wallingford area, UBGC opened its North Haven location for before school and after school care at the end of August. Upon its opening, all 70 spots were filled, and there was a waiting list of more than 100.
“So when I raised my kids, I worked. My husband worked. We were always in need for before and after school care,” she says. “Back in the day, there wasn’t as many choices for before and after. It was very difficult.”
LuAnn says she finds it fascinating, even in this day and age, that there’s still such a great need for such care, pointing to the waiting list of 100 for the new UBGC in North Haven.
“There is a big need in town, especially today. I see it with my children, too. People need this,” she says. She notes that UBGC charges a nominal rate for its services, to keep it affordable for all families and as a result relies upon fundraising and donations to make up the difference.
“When I heard that, I knew I had to get involved,” she says. “It will be the North Haven Rotary Tessa Marie Game Room. As soon as you walk in. What a great, everlasting honor for her family, in her memory, and Rotary will be supporting it.
“You know what? It’s all about making a difference. That’s what it’s about. Think about how fortunate we all are,” she adds. “If I can give that back a little to make a bit of a difference, it warms my heart.”
The road race, one-mile walk, and pancake breakfast is a great family event, she says. And it’s usually held around Veterans Day, which is this year on Monday, Nov. 11, so that the group can honor area veterans by letting them eat free.
What does LuAnn love about Rotary? Let her count the ways.
“The service work, number one. Number two, the fellowship,” she says. “I’ve reacquainted myself with several members I went to school with. I’ve met new friends. And what we try to do is keep all of our fundraising efforts fun. It’s a lot of work. We work hard and try to have fun doing it best we can. And, we all love to drink wine.”
For more information about the Rotary Club or the upcoming events visit the Rotary website at portal.clubrunner.ca/4090, the North Haven Rotary Facebook or Instagram pages, or email LuAnn at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Please reach out. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll find someone that does,” she says.