"Service Above Self."
That’s the motto that the Rotary Club of Hatboro lives by, and an idea that has fueled a longtime community event and its perennial organizer.
Frank Jarrett has chaired the club’s Lobster Pot fundraiser, coming up Sept. 10, for 30 years, after resurrecting the fundraiser from near-extinction. In 1962, at the urging of his father — himself a Rotarian and the late founder and owner of Jarrett Dodge, a fixture in Hatboro since 1946 — Jarrett joined the club, which unites community members to support charitable agencies in the area.
“I knew a lot of people who were Rotarians, and they were business and professional people in the area, so I thought that would be a great opportunity to get to know them better,” Jarrett said. “And I knew it would be an organization I would enjoy being a part of because of all the good that it does.”
The Rotary Club, in existence for 70 years, brings together community-minded individuals to foster fellowship and a sense of pride in the local area. The approximately 50 current members host numerous fundraisers throughout the year to give back to their community, one of the largest of which is the Lobster Pot.
The fundraising dinner was held annually in the 40s and 50s at a Rotarian’s home in Ivyland, but the event tapered off in the 1960s. In 1982, the club decided to revive the event and relaunched Lobster Pot at a member’s home, an event that Jarrett volunteered to help stage as chair.
“They really just needed someone to do it, so I said I would,” Jarrett said of his simple motivation to take on the leadership position.
In the beginning, the event brought in a couple hundred guests. After a few years, it became so popular that it outgrew its space, and Jarrett volunteered to open up his own 60-acre home, where it was held for 17 years — at times bringing in upwards of 1,000 guests.
While hosting that many guests for a dinner party poses myriad stresses, Jarrett said one of the toughest challenges was figuring out the food order.
“We order food depending on our ticket sales,” he explained. “So when we’re ordering the steaks and lobster, we have to try and estimate as close to what we think we’ll need as possible. That’s probably the biggest hassle.”
While the fundraiser has grown leaps and bounds in the past three decades, Jarrett noted that one thing has surprisingly stayed relatively constant—the price of steak.
“I did an analysis of the costs and I thought it was interesting that the steak prices from 30 years ago to now are really only about 50 cents different,” he said. “Prices for things like lobster and corn have doubled, but for some reason steak hasn’t.”
Jarrett’s leadership has also been steady throughout his 30 years at the helm, said Rotarian Joe Tryon, president of Hatboro Federal Savings, who has co-chaired the event alongside Jarrett.
“Knowing that Frank Jarrett is the chairman of this event has always made this very successful for the Rotary Club,” Tryon, a club member since 1980, said. “He’s a really natural person, very down to earth, and he has always pursued this with great emphasis. It’s one of his real loves and passions.”
That passion has paid off, with the event bringing in tens of thousands of dollars annually that have gone to benefit such agencies as the local Big Brothers & Big Sisters, the Hatboro Library and the Hatboro YMCA.
Tryon said the benefits for the Hatboro community last far beyond the date of the event.
“Every cent we make, 100 percent goes right back into our community,” he said. “We pride ourselves on giving back everything we make to our own community.”
If you go
The event recently was moved to a new location, the Vereinigung Erzgebirge Club, 130 Davisville Road in Warminster, where it will be held from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Sept. 10.
For the $35 ticket price, guests can choose from filet mignon or 1.5-pound lobster, cooked in pots on the grounds, along with corn on the cob and other dishes. The event also features a DJ, raffles and drawings and a cash bar. This year the club is extending a special invitation to children, who can partake in a hot dog dinner.
For more information on Lobster Pot or to purchase tickets, contact Linda Lynd at (215) 675-4000.