Maureen Foley was installed as the 91st president of the Rotary Club of Chelsea at the organization’s Installation of Officers Receptions June 21 at the Homewood Suites Event Center.
Rotary Club President David Mindlin (right) and President-Elect Maureen Foley congratulate Paul Harris Fellow honoree Ledia Koco after she received the prestigious award.
Foley was on her home turf. She is the director of community relations for Colwen Hotel Management which operates three hotels in Chelsea, with a fourth, brand new hotel on the Chelsea-Revere line set to open soon.
Foley has become the face of the busy and beautiful hotels since their openings. She is visible at community events and has been a goodwill ambassador for Colwen with her numerous philanthropic and community-spirited endeavors.
And now she’s ready to lead one of the city’s most prominent service organizations that has been here for close to a century. She succeeds outgoing president, Attorney David C. Mindlin.
“When I came to Chelsea and Saritin [Rizzuto] invited me to my first meeting, I had no idea what Rotary was,” said Foley. “I came to make business connections because my company was building a hotel here, but it didn’t take very long before it wasn’t about the business connections any more, it was about a feeling – that I was part of something special and I wanted to stay.”
Foley, who is the eighth woman to serve as Rotary Club of Chelsea president, called it “a great honor” to be the new leader of the club. She noted that Rotary International approved a new vision statement last years.
“It says, together we see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change – across the globe, in our communities, and in ourselves,” Foley told the gathering.
“Preparing for tonight and the year ahead,” Foley continued, “I thought about that statement and this year’s ‘Be the Inspiration.’
“Inspiration comes from the Latin word, meaning to breathe into; to put life into. I realize before inspiring passion, energy, enthusiasm, or excitement into our club, all of us must work to create change within ourselves, to first inspire ourselves to bring new attitudes, ideas, and passions to Rotary.”
Concluding her remarks, she said, “I am sure the Chelsea Rotary Club can be the inspiration for each other, for our community, and for all those who will follow us in the next 91 years.”
As proud as Maureen Foley was to take office as Rotary president, you could sense the equal feeling of joy and proudness in her daughter, Marika, son, Peter, and 5-year-old granddaughter, Aria, who sat together at a table closest to the podium.
Rotary President-Elect said that Ledia Koco was a wonderful example of the importance of the Interact Club at Chelsea High School.
Koco, 25, was a member and president of the CHS Interact Club during her four years at the school. Interact Club is sponsored by the Chelsea Rotary Club and introduces students to the club’s service to the community and its international reach.
For her outstanding efforts as an Interact leader and senior facilitator of Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) her 1,000 hours of community service, and her continued work in the community, Koco was honored as the recipient of the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International’s Paul Harris Fellow Award at the club’s Installation of Officers Reception at the Homewood Suites Hotel.
Past President Allan Alpert handled the formal presentation of the award to Koco.
“All Paul Harris Awards are important and very distinguished, but this one is a little more special because it’s the members of the Rotary Club that honored you by making you a Paul Harris Fellow for all the things that you have done in your very short time here,” said Alpert.
Koco is the daughter of Luan and Manjola Koco, who are originally from Albania. A former model who finished as first-runnerup in a major pageant, Ledia graduated in 2011 from Chelsea High where she was an honor roll student and member of the National Honor Society. She continued her education at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, receiving her degree in International Relations and Spanish.
Koco continued her membership in RYLA while at Bucknell, teaching other students in work force development. She is a member of the Chelsea Enhacement Team, which is a volunteer organization who participates in community service such as beautification efforts in the city.
“Ledia is the administrative assistant to the Chelsea City Council and probably the youngest person that has ever held that very distinguished honor,” said Alpert.
Koco humbly accepted the prestigious award.
“This is such an honor – I’m overwhelmed right now,” she said. “I just want to say that I feel incredibly honored to be gifted the Paul Harris Fellow Award, especially because it helps raise millions of dollars for the Rotary Foundation.”
Koco said her commitment to public service began early in her life.
“I always knew I wanted to make a difference, especially having emigrated to the States from a Third World country, Albania,” said Koco. “But it wasn’t until I joined Interact and started doing community service, that I realized how much of an impact you can make starting from the bottom up. I didn’t need a fancy job or to be an adult to make a difference. Through Rotary and Interact, I was able to give back to my community regardless.”
She thanked the Rotary Club for presenting her a college scholarship, along with helping to build her leadership skills.
“The irony here is while Rotary is recognizing me, I feel like I should really be recognizing Rotary,” she added thoughtfully.
Koco concluded her remarks by thanking her mentors, including her favorite high school teacher, Ilana Ascher, the Chelsea City Council, Council Clerk Paul Casino, and “my parents, the hardest-working people I know –
I want to thank you for your unconditional love and support.”
Koco received a warm ovation from the many Rotary members and guests in attendance.
“This was an outstanding honor for one of Chelsea’s young adults who is making a difference in our community,” said Councillor-at-Large Leo Robinson. “I wanted to be here tonight to join the Rotary in this much-deserved recognition of Ledia’s contributions to Chelsea with this prestigious award. I congratulate her on behalf of all my colleagues in city government and the citizens of Chelsea.”
The Chelsea Rotary Club will hold its 91st Annual Installation of Officers at 6 p.m. at the Homewood Suites Event Center on Thursday June 21. Past President Allan Alpert will be Master of Ceremonies for the evening celebrating Rotary’s 2018-19 Theme, “Be The Inspiration.” Installed officers will be Maureen Foley of Colwen Hotels as President, Peter Zaksheski of Frank A. Welsh & Sons Funeral Services as President-Elect, Todd Taylor of KSM Staffing as Vice President, Past President D. Bruce Mauch of Chelsea Clock as Secretary, Frank Kowalski, Retired as Sergeant-at-Arms and Past President Joe Vinard of Chelsea Bank a division of East Cambridge Savings Bank as Treasurer. Todd Taylor will be honored as Chelsea Rotarian of the Year. The Club will also be awarding Paul Harris Fellowships, one of Rotary International’s highest honors to LediaKoco, Administrative Assistant to Chelsea City Council and to seven Chelsea Rotarians; Robert Alconada, Paula Barton, Daniel Flores, Susan Gallant, Arthur Michaud, Jackie Moore and Joseph Panetta. Outgoing President David M. Mindlin, Esq. of Kraft and Hall will be thanked for his past year of dedicated service to the Rotary Club of Chelsea.
Everyone is invited to attend this Chelsea Rotary event honoring many outstanding business people in our community. If you would like to attend, please contact Maureen Foley at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 781-964-6576 for tickets.