Lodge to honor Elk of the Year

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NAUGATUCK — Elks Lodge No. 967 will honor a man who has spent 35 years serving the club at a special dinner Saturday evening.

Past honorees chose Joseph Rotella Jr. as the Elk of the Year, according to Jim Desmarais, chairman of the trustees and a past Elk of the Year.

Desmarais said Rotella has been a very active member. As chairman of the trustees several years ago, Rotella guided the club in its renovations after a flood damaged the lodge, he said.

“He’s the type of guy who steps to the plate and volunteers,” Desmarais said.

Desmarais said the dinner is an opportunity to reward a member who does a little extra for the club, which has 450 members.

Rotella said he was honored to be nominated for the award.

His father introduced him to the Elks over three decades ago and he has since helped the club with yard cleanup, and volunteering to cook Saturday lunches for the other members.

When the club was flooded a few years back, he said he planned the renovations and helped remove walls and wet sheet rock, redesigned the bar and kitchen, installed tile and ceilings.

“I did most of it, me and my brother-in-law did most of the removal ourselves,” Rotella said.

Although he works in road construction for a living, Rotella said he gained experience remodeling his own home.

Rotella said he enjoys spending time with the other club members a couple times a week, playing cards and pool and working on community projects.

The Elks are involved in many community service projects, support veterans organizations, help seniors with chores, youth activity programs, Little League, Babe Ruth baseball and basketball programs. The Naugatuck club is the longest continuous supporter of Little Pal Basketball and some of its members were on first Little Pal teams 50 years ago, Desmarais said.