In vivid proof that the adage “one person can change the world” is indeed true, a Montclair resident known as a powerhouse for local and international change was honored at a festive holiday dinner by the Rotary Club of Montclair on December 20.

Rose Cali was feted at a holiday luncheon at the Upper Montclair Country Club.

Montclair Rotarian Juliana Belcsak spoke lovingly about her friend of many years, painting a picture of a strong leader who was not afraid to do the hard work in matters big and small: helping create the groundwork for Montclair State University; imagining and building the Yogi Berra museum and center at MSU, and helping to safeguard art on local and larger levels.

Belcsak described how Cali pulled on her husband’s high water rubber boots to place protective coverings over books during a heavy rainstorm at a fundraising event in Montclair during a Booktoberfest in Edgemont Park, with about 60,000 donated books sitting on the tables as the park quickly flooded.

The luncheon was attended by about 80 people from all walks of life: educators, government leaders, business owners, a museum director, non-profit organization directors, musicians and business owners.

As two flutists played lively holiday tunes, the eclectic crowd mingled, speaking to Rotarians and re-discovering old friends in the large, sun-filled room, decorated with a large Christmas Tree.

Belcsak thanked her friend, Rose Cali, for the life changing works she has done both on a local and larger level, bestowing upon her the Montclair Rotary Club’s International Community Service Award her commitment to “Service Above Self,” her humanitarian outreach to the underserved, and her important contributions to fields of music, the performing and visual arts, and education.

Cali, ever humble, accepted the honors and immediately turned the focus from herself to all those present with great humor, joking that Belcsak had credited her with single hand-idly transforming Montclair College into Montclair University, among other accomplishments.

“Miracles: I’ve been credited with miracles,” said Cali. “When I looked around the room at friends that are here - Rotary you are one of the miracles. I looked up Rotary International and it’s stellar how Rotary has invested in developeing countries to eradicate polio. I want to congratulate all of you as Rotarians because you are all volunteers. You really laid the roadwork for all of us.”

Cali then pointed out the numerous leaders in the room that have truly shaped Montclair.

“I want to call out the real miracles in this room,” she continued. “The people here in this room: Melissa Walker, Jazz House Kids; my friends from the Montclair Art museum; Barbara Rudy, who has been on the scene for years in this community supporting great music with the community band; MFEE,the Montclair Fund for Educational Excellence; Home Corp, and Beverly Riddick; the Food Pantry, May in Montclair’s Jean Kidd who has done miracles throughout the years, JoAnn Short from the YMCA: you are all miraculous, because you are change makers and you make things happen every day. Those of us in the trenches are there to support you.”


In her career, Rose Cali has worn many hats: she is the founder and past President/CEO of the Yogi Berra Museum and LEarning Center; an experiences historic site researcher; a volunteer services coordinator for Sunland Training Center in Miami serving more than 1,000 residents with disabilities; and a public relations officer for Sunland Training Center.

But it is in the field of the arts this dynamic leader has truly contributed to many.

Cali is a past chair of Unity Concerts; present chair of the Sharron Miller’s Academy of Performing Arts in Montclair; present advisory board member of Luna Stage; present board member of Montclair ARt Museum; on the board of the Women’s association New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC); and a member of the Arts Education Committee at NJPAC.


Rose Cali with Rotarian and Chair of holiday luncheon Juliana Belcsak

Her work in human services includes serving on the board of the Mental Health Association of Essex County (past member); past member of the board Big Brothers Big Sisters NJ; present member of the board of St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital; present chair of BBBS Essex Hudson and Union Counties; past member Salvation Army Advisory Board, MOntclair; past chair of New Jersey Coalition for Inclusive Education/NJCIE; member National Italian American Foundation/NIAG QWashing, DC; presnte board member Westchester Italian Cultural Center and present member of 

the NJ State Advisory Board Salvation Army.