The Merrill Rotary Club recently awarded a Paul Harris Fellowship to a Merrill resident. Denis McCarthy received the honor named after the founder of Rotary International, an organization that has the motto of “Service Above Self.”
Locally, McCarthy is best known for his work with the St. Francis Xavier Council of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. He was instrumental in founding the local chapter, which helps people in need, in 2003, and is still a driving force in its operation.
What the public does not know, generally, is that over the last 15 years of operation, the Society, under McCarthy’s direction, has offered assistance, at last count, 13,262 times and given $1,013,908 in aide. Utility bills and rent top the list of requests but other areas of assistance include vehicle needs, natal, dental and medical care, food, fuel and utilities, lodging, clothing, furniture, fines and miscellaneous purchased items. Clearly, the Society is easing the needs of local people who find themselves in difficult situations by offering service above self.
But the Society is not the only interest in service that has attracted him. McCarthy is actively serving on the Merrill Homeless Shelter project and a project known as Neighbor to Neighbor that offers people assistance in fulfilling furniture needs. In addition, he serves on the boards of the Merrill Ministerium, The St. Vincent de Paul Free Clinic and is an officer of the Fr. Menard Council of the Knights of Columbus. But, since there is more work to be done, he also volunteers at Helping Hands in Wausau and the local Community Food Pantry and has made multiple trips to Kingston, Jamaica, with his wife Christine, to work with the Missionaries of the Poor and taken missionary trips to Africa, also to serve the desperately poor.
In the past, he has volunteered his service to Wausau Inhouse Network, the United Way, Communidad Hispania, Good Samaritan Hospital, the Merrill Community Foundation, Stable Hands, St. Matthews Parish Council (Wausau) and the St. Ita Council of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Chicago.
Because of his tireless work for people in need, the Merrill Rotarians selected him as their first non-member to receive the fellowship. Rotary International has recognized the work of St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Dr. Jonas Salk, and President Jimmy Carter with the award along with several others. In addressing the group after the ceremony, McCarthy gave high credit to the other volunteers who work with him on the many projects on which he has been involved.
The Rotary Club of Chicago was founded in 1905 by attorney Paul Harris who wanted to form a group of people with diverse backgrounds who would exchange ideas, form life-long friendships and give back to their community. Today, Rotary International has 1.2 million members in 35,000 clubs world wide. Its focus is promoting peace, fighting disease, providing clean water, saving mothers and children, supporting education, and growing local economies.