History of the New Jersey Rotary Vocational Assembly
It all began 35 years ago, in 1981, when two visionary Rotarians decided to continue a New York Area Vocational Assembly that had lasted from 1978 to 1980 and involved a majority of New Jersey Rotarians. Past District Governor Bob Pityo and Past Director and Treasurer, the late Carmine Torsiello, initiated and organized the first New Jersey Vocational Assembly. Upon the approval of the respective state district governors, District 7470 served as first host, followed by District 7490 the next year, and continued annually (and successfully) for the next 30 years with each of the five districts hosting in succession.
The purpose of the Assembly was to afford Rotarians from the entire State of New Jersey the opportunity to come together to celebrate and learn more about the true meaning and purpose of Vocational Service, as well as to clarify Vocational Service so that every Rotarian could enthusiastically pursue its ideals.
Several years later, a significant feature was added to the event—the Vocational Service Award.  Today, a Rotarian, duly nominated and chosen from each district, is individually recognized and honored for exemplifying Vocational Service and for demonstrating high ethical standards through his or her business or profession. This remains an essential highlight of the program at each Vocational Assembly.
RI President T.A. Warren (1945-46) once said, “The only unique feature of Rotary is Vocational Service.  Everything else we do is repeated by every other recognized service organization.”  The late Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, an honorary Rotarian, repeated that statement when he appeared at the 1985 and 1989 Assemblies as the keynote speaker (with more than 1100 Rotarians in attendance).  This is when Rotary International recognized the true significance and importance of this unique event and began to participate.  Since 1985, more than a dozen sitting RI presidents have acted as keynote speakers, signifying a real tribute to what was begun by two individuals in 1981. 
Today, New Jersey is the only state in the Rotary world to sponsor such an Assembly, in which every club in the state participates.  We hope that through the hard work and dedication of many Rotarians, this Assembly will continue for many years to come and that Vocational Service will remain as major an emphasis of Rotary as it was on the day of its founding.