Friday, May 07, 2021

Person of the Week

Dee Tully: The Drive Behind the Food Drive

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Helping ensure all her neighbors can celebrate the holidays is a key part of Dee Tully’s involvement in the Rotary Club of Clinton. Photo courtesy of Dee Tully

Helping ensure all her neighbors can celebrate the holidays is a key part of Dee Tully’s involvement in the Rotary Club of Clinton. (Photo courtesy of Dee Tully )

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Helping ensure all her neighbors can celebrate the holidays is a key part of Dee Tully’s involvement in the Rotary Club of Clinton. Photo courtesy of Dee Tully

Helping ensure all her neighbors can celebrate the holidays is a key part of Dee Tully’s involvement in the Rotary Club of Clinton. (Photo courtesy of Dee Tully )

Every year since 2008, the Clinton Rotary Club and Liberty Bank have partnered for the Rotary/Liberty Bank Thanksgiving Dinner Drive to raise money for the Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantry. Each year, Dee Tully has been instrumental in making that drive run smoothly.

Dee says that the drive lasts for 40 days, starting the Tuesday after Columbus Day and running until the weekend before Thanksgiving.

“People are so generous. Last year we raised over $8,000,” Dee states with pride.

Dee notes that Liberty Bank matches 25 cents for every $1 donated and that this year Gerry Vece, the owner of Shore TV and Appliance, made a donation to this year’s drive with a $2,500 check that he presented in early November.

“It’s outstanding, amazing. We’re being challenged by other rotary clubs to do more every year,” Dee says.

Since the drive began, the total donations to the pantry have been more than $70,000.

“I cry every year when I give them the check,” Dee confesses while laughing.

This year in particular Dee says the need to help the food pantry has increased. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of people relying on the pantry has dramatically increased.

“It really is a big deal for them to be able to go out and get what they need,” Dee says.

For Dee, the understanding that there are people out there who need help and that there are ways for people to step up and help is one of the reasons she does what she does.

“I’ve always felt for the less able people that can’t make ends meet or feed their kids or buy Christmas presents,” explains Dee.

Dee’s involvement with helping people in the community through the Rotary Club dates back to the early 2000s. After Dee had a battle with cancer, she wanted to find a way to give back and her friend recommended she get involved with the cancer relief fund that the Rotary runs.

“I got really involved with the people and I liked how the fund helped people up and down the shoreline with their needs,” says Dee.

For Dee, part of the appeal of getting involved with the fund was that a lot of the work is done behind the scenes with aspects of dealing with cancer that people may not think about. Dee says, for example, that the fund doesn’t pay for someone’s treatments in the hospital, but will help with buying groceries during treatment.

“I embraced that because I thought that was like a secret thing to do,” Dee explains.

As Dee got more involved in the fund, she eventually decided she wanted to become a full-on member of the Rotary Club in 2006. She hasn’t looked back since. Dee is now the secretary of the club, a position she has held for years.

As part of her duties Dee has done everything from keep attendance records for meetings to record meeting minutes and assist with other administrative tasks.

Still, “My favorite part of being a Rotary member is doing the food drives, says Dee.

Helping others that need help is something that Dee says is personal to her because she’s been there before.

“When I was little, we didn’t have much and we had to make use of the facilities like [the food pantry] and so it feels good to be able to give back,” says Dee.

Dee remembers at her induction into the Rotary “my husband stood up and said ‘Dee has been a Rotarian all her life.’”

In short Dee sums up: “I think that my passion is helping people.”

Dee grew up in New Jersey but has lived in Clinton for more than 20 years. Dee originally worked as a graphic artist in the area, but left that world a few years ago to work in the purchasing department of the Lee Company.

“I love it. It’s an awesome company to work for,” Dee says.

As much as she loves working for the Lee Company however, she still hasn’t completely left the graphic arts world behind. She still does some volunteer work on the side.

“Ever since high school I’ve been a graphic artist, I love it,” says Dee.

In her spare time Dee enjoys to read, cook and bake. Dee is a member of the Club Corvette of Connecticut, a club dedicated to Corvette enthusiast that hosts rides and a car show the club also works to support a number of local charities, an aspect that Dee really enjoys.

Dee and her husband Scott own a C-3 Corvette.

Though she hails from New Jersey originally, Dee calls Clinton “my new little hometown” and says she loves the community she’s come to know. “The people in Clinton are the most generous people. They recognize me because they see me at the food drives and their generosity and sincerity when they help means a lot,” she says.


Eric O’Connell covers news for Clinton for Zip06. Email Eric at e.oconnell@shorepublishing.com.

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