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New Rotary president keeping the focus on the youth

Don Dowling, back left, stands with his wife, Laney, back right, his daughter Elle Dowling, front left, and his son Bobby. Photo by Marblehead Rotary Club

New Marblehead Rotary President Don Dowling is hoping to bring energy and passion to his position.

A Saugus native, Dowling took over as president of the club in July. In an interview, he said he got involved in the club almost by accident. 

After moving to Marblehead, he started an auto-body shop, Marblehead Collision, with his father. After attending a Chamber of Commerce event, he was informed about the work that the Rotary does. Curious, Dowling attended a meeting and bought in immediately.

“Once I got there, I realized this isn’t about business, it’s something more,” Dowling said. “Ever since, I want to get involved as much as I can.”

It’s safe to say that Dowling has done a lot more than just get involved.

Since joining, Dowling has embodied the core values of the Rotary by participating in and taking charge of a number of initiatives, fundraisers, and programs. He was the captain of the Rotary’s Polar Plunge to End Polio campaign for many years, the crew leader in the Duct Tape Regatta, which benefited the clean-water project in Burkina Faso, and a co-captain of the Marblehead softball team in the district championships. 

“You help so many people,” Dowling said. “Everyone is here for a good reason.”

Rotary member Arthur Schwartz also described him as the “point man and ‘glue’” in terms of the logistics of the Lobstah Raffle, the club’s yearly scholarship-fundraising project.

Dowling has been recognized for his community work with multiple Paul Harris Fellowship awards through the Rotary and recently completed a project at the Eveleth School with his wife, Laney, which involved raising funds to build a new playground. 

Since being named president, Dowling has emphasized supporting the community’s youth.

The Rotary supports a program known as Inner Explorer, a mindfulness platform which supports the mental health and wellbeing of students in the school district. Dowling said it has been an ongoing program that the Rotary helps to fund, and that he wants to continue providing those important resources to Marblehead’s students.

“I have two kids, both in school, and we want to make sure we can see what they’re going through,” Dowling said. “And if there’s issues, then I feel I kind of have the inside because I can see it firsthand, and then we can try to help the school systems or the town.”

Dowling said he is also looking forward to Marblehead’s Got Talent, a talent show put on by the Rotary that takes place annually in the spring for all Marblehead residents in high school. 

Dowling added that he wants to increase membership and focus on maintaining the already well-established programs, scholarships, and projects that the Rotary provides.

“Everything that the Rotary does is so good already, that if I can just continue that, I feel I will do a good job,” Dowling said.