The discussion of forming an evening satellite club in Rhinebeck began during the 2019-20 Rotary year.  Rhinebeck Rotary had been meeting for lunch at the historic Beekman Arms ("The oldest Inn in America") since the Club was founded in 1948, and during that long tenure had distinguished itself as consistently one of the leading Clubs in Rotary District 7210.  Yet Rhinebeck's members knew that it needed to evolve as a Club to remain relevant to the community they served, as well as in the world beyond. 
In order to be more inclusive of all people in the Rhinebeck community, it was decided to establish a satellite Club that met outside of the typical 9-5 business day, yet would not prevent participants from joining their families for an evening meal.  A major goal of the satellite club was to have a very casual and informal format which could encourage fellowship among current members, while also providing an environment where members could invite guests and nurture prospective members.  Under the leadership of the then-club-president Bill Schaefer and then-club-membership-chair Michelle Andrick, Rhinebeck established a monthly Wednesday evening "cocktail hour" gathering which met at a local restaurant (purposefully a different venue than their Monday lunch meetings) from 6-7pm for fellowship and casual conversations about potential service project opportunities within the community and beyond.  
After the first few meetings it became evident that the new monthly evening meeting format, combined with local service projects, would serve as an ideal added opportunity to Grow Rotary in Rhinebeck and achieve the goals of further engaging existing Rotarians while attracting new members.  Then suddenly in early 2020, all meetings were cancelled due to the global pandemic, and soon all of Rhinebeck's Rotary meetings were conducted virtually, postponing the establishment of an evening satellite club.
Happily, within the context of following CDC protocols, Rhinebeck Rotary was able to safely return to meeting in-person during the 2021-22 Rotary year, and Rhinebeck was able to pick-up where they left off prior to the pandemic, hosting vibrant meetings each Monday at lunch, and each fourth Wednesday evening.  The Wednesday evening meetings were quickly back to engaging existing members while attracting the interest of many new members.  Under the leadership of 2021-22 Club President David Ping, and Club Membership Chair Wendy Maitland, Rhinebeck officially chartered its new Rhinebeck Evening satellite club, adding 13 new Rotary members by June 30, 2022 (and two more since July 1)!  Rhinebeck Rotary's two Clubs have a total of 49 members (but by time you read this it almost certainly will be higher....).
"Our satellite club, called "Cocktails and Conversation", provides a wonderful opportunity to gather members in a less formal format, and to introduce prospective members to Rotary," shared Membership Chair Wendy.  "What I personally love the most is that we also utilize this evening meeting to bring the community together for our 'Cocktails for Charity' on a quarterly basis.  At this special meeting, we invite wonderful organizations doing good in our community or area to raise awareness and funds. We've raised thousands of dollars for our recipients in this way, AND it shows prospective members in real time how meaningful Rotary is. They get to participate and feel good about it immediately, which has proved to be a very effective tool in recruiting new members - a win/win for all!."  
[Immediate Past] President Dave adds, "We recognized that there were many people in our community who wanted to do good, but could not attend a weekly lunch meeting.  In order to expand our pool of Rotary members, the satellite club was born.  It gives people an opportunity to be a Rotarian, learn about our service projects and participate in Rotary at a time and in a format that works for them.  So far, the club has been a huge hit. Members like the opportunity to meet after work, have meaningful interactions with people in our community and participate in the wide array of service projects that Rhinebeck Rotary does.  We have many members of the ‘Monday’ club that also come to the satellite club gatherings, so there is good crossover and sharing of ideas."
For current information about Rhinebeck Rotary's two Clubs, contact 2022-23 Club President Joe Phelan at