WESTFIELD — On Friday evening Byron Miller of the The Rotary Club of Westfield was awarded the F. Matty Mathewson Rotarian of the Year Award by Rotary District 7475.
“Byron exemplifies everything that makes Rotary special. He truly cares about others and is the first to roll up his sleeves and get in the trenches to get things done,” said Rotary President Liz Ensslin. “He is a close personal friend, but he is also a mentor. Everything he does is because he wants to help others. Byron wants to change the world – one person at a time.”
In 1982, Rotary District 7510 (now merged district 7475) established this award to recognize and honor those Rotarians in the district who have, over a period of time, best exemplified Rotary’s motto of “Service Above Self” and earning this award is the highest honor that can be bestowed on a Rotarian by the district.
Byron, a Rotarian since 1981, helped develop the club’s backpack program which provides weekend food to children who are food insecure. Byron’s care and concern for others helped launch this program. It started with one child and has grown to as many as 24 children in four out of the six elementary schools in Westfield.
“I am humbled by this recognition,” says Miller as he accepted the award during the District’s Zoom conference. “My father was a Rotarian, and we are so lucky with all we have that I feel it’s important to help those who have less. It’s what we should do.”
Byron set money aside to provide as a matching grant to any initiative the Westfield club needed help with and because of his generosity, $4,000 was raised. Byron matched $1 for $1, to help homeless veterans housed at Community Hope Shelter at Lyons VA, a program that is now over one year strong with three other Rotary clubs in the district participating.
Byron put his professional experience running Portasoft water company to good use becoming a Rotary International Water Resource Coordinator. Byron has attended several conferences with “Pure Water for the World, Inc.” which was started and is run by Rotarians. Byron has flown to both Nicaragua and Haiti his own expense to install and ensure that water filters were working properly. In 2007, he decided to lead the district in a massive matching grant to save many more lives. His enthusiasm has recruited 32 Rotary clubs which have contributed $50,000 to this $71,000 matching grant to bring clean drinking water to impoverished parts of the world.
At the beginning of the pandemic, Byron challenged the Westfield club to raise $10,000 to feed the hungry in our area and surrounding areas. The club met the challenge and have been using the fund to help our local pantry, provide food and meals to area families in need, support the district’s End Hunger 3.6 and to provide meals to the homeless vets when we were under quarantine last spring.
Byron and his wife Joyce, also a Rotarian, are both Paul Harris Fellows, have an adult son and now reside in Florida.