Coan honored for efforts to help combat food insecurity
📸 Garden creator Joe Coan (left) with Rotary Past-District Governor Klaus Hachfeld. Courtesy photo.
STURBRIDGE — The Community Food Collaborative (CFC) committee held its monthly meeting at the garden located behind the Town Hall in Sturbridge recently after the regular work shift. The volunteer group had lots to discuss on their agenda and did so while maintaining proper social distancing.
The highlight of the meeting came when Sturbridge Rotary Past-District Governor Klaus Hachfeld, also a member of the CFC committee, surprised CFC President Joe Coan with a Rotary Paul Harris Fellow Recognition. This recognition is a way of honoring an individual who has gone above and beyond in doing something for the betterment of man and/or the community. In Coan’s case, the recognition was for his idea and pursuit of creating a community garden to help feed local hungry individuals. The garden is in its third year, donates everything it grows to the Saint John Paul II Food Pantry that distributes it to the local food insecure individuals in our communities. The garden is supported by the community and operates totally by volunteers. The Sturbridge Rotary Club donated $1,000 to the Rotary Foundation in Coan’s name in order to honor him with a Paul Harris Fellow. “While the garden is an unusual and informal setting to present this recognition,” Rotary Past-District Governor Hachfeld commented, “it was the logical place to present it. During the pandemic, Sturbridge Rotary has been meeting weekly on Zoom but the Zoom platform isn’t conducive to making a personal presentation.”
A surprised Coan, while appreciative of the recognition, was quick to stress the recognition goes to everyone who volunteers at the garden. “The idea to start this garden quickly gained the support of the town and business leaders who have faithfully sponsored us each year, as well as the garden’s committee members and volunteers who work to grow all the great produce. I’d also like to add that without the encouragement and support we received from the Rotary Community Corps, comprised of Sturbridge Rotary and Southbridge Rotary, it may have taken a lot longer to launch this great volunteer community project.”