Meeting of 5/24/18: ‘WWII Man of Mystery’

screen-shot-2016-10-16-at-7-10-54-pmMeeting at Quigley’s Restaurant
593 Columbia Turnpike
East Greenbush, NY
May 24, 2018

Members Attending (12): Roberto Martinez, Murray Forth, Pat Bailey, Jim Leyhane, Peter Brown, Terry Brewer, Geoff Brewer, Debbie Brown, Dick Drumm, Charlie Foote, Stewart Wagner, Phil Kellerman.

Guests (18): Lorraine McConnlee (Scotia Rotary Club), Lois Wagner, Mary Drumm, Sandy and Mickey Conlee, Debbie and Bill Romer, Corliss and Len Tantillo, Doris and Robert Malesardi, Jan and John McEneny, Steve Bielinski and wife, Shirley Lentz, Joe and Cherie Corr.


OPENING: President Roberto welcomed the large number of guests.

Screen Shot 2017-10-13 at 7.35.39 PMROTARY LEADERSHIP INSTITUTE: We are urging as many members as possible to enroll in Level I, II, III or the Graduate Level of the RLI sessions scheduled for Saturday, October 20, at the UAlbany School of Public Health. The club will pay the registration fees for anyone who is interested. Check with Bill Dowd who is coordinating our registration. Click here for details.

DUES STRUCTURE: The second installment of a $4-per-year, three-year plan of dues increases instituted by Rotary International will take effect on July 1, the first day of the 2018-19 Rotary Year. An explanation of the reasoning behind the change and where your dues money goes is available by clicking here.

SHELTERBOX: The recent 24-hour online fundraising effort by the international relief agency that was matched up to $100 per individual pledge raised $35,000, the equivalent of the purchase price for 35,000 temporary shelters and accomoanying emergency equipment. Click here for details.

MIRACLE LEAGUE: SRC member Burke Adams, founder of the Miracle League for athletes with disabilities, was honored on opening day with “Burke Adams Day” as proclaimed by the Rensselaer County Legislature.

Rotary Home Cooking logoROTARY HOME COOKING SERIES: The last event of the season’s series, “An International Wine & Cheese Tasting,” drew more than 30 people to Roberto’s residence last Saturday. He, Bill Dowd, and Jim Leyhane co-hosted the event, with proceeds going to the club treasury. Click here for a photo gallery of the evening.

REFRESHING QUIGLEY’S: Murray Forth is working with Quigley’s owner John Walsh on SRC’s plans to paint and clean up the meeting room John provides for us at no charge.

CALENDAR ITEMS: Circle Thursday, June 28, on your calendar for the annual Presidential Turnover event, with Andy Leyhane succeeding Roberto Martinez, again being hosted by Debbie and Peter Brown. … The second Board Retreat of this Rotary Year will be held on Monday, June 4, at the Community Care offices in Schodack. … Wednesday, July 25, has been selected for our annual outing at Bruno Stadium for a family picnic and ValleyCats baseball game. Terry Brewer again will coordinate the arrangements. Total per-person cost will be $26. … A contingent of RYLA students will visit us at next Thursday’s dinner meeting to discuss their experience with this year’s program.

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PROGRAM:  “Sports and Intrigue: the Story of Moe Berg”

Stuart Wagner, assisted by Robert Parzek, presented a short history of a little-known hero of World War II —  Morris “Moe” Berg.

Berg, who was born in 1902 and died in 1972, served as an American spy in World War II. He was born in New York City, the youngest of three children, and was raised living above the family’s pharmacy. He was a baseball player as a youth, continued playing while attending Princeton University, then went on to play for six different major league teams.

In 1932, Berg went to Japan to coach and to teach baseball. While there, he filmed strategic areas around Tokyo. His photos are believed to have been used in helping plan American air raids against Japan in 1944.

Berg joined the Office of Strategic Service, colloquially known as the OSS, and the predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency, at the beginning of WWII and aided the resistance in Poland. He received the Medal of Freedom from President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The medal description was intentionally vague, but Moe turned it down. After the war he was contracted by the CIA to spy on Russia.

Stuart played a portion of a broadcast of the radio show “Information Please” on which Berg, who also earned a law degree, was a guest. He also displayed several sports cards of Berg.

A movie on Berg’s life will is scheduled to be released in late June.

Click here to access Stewart’s entire PowerPoint presentation.

RLI, a golden opportunity for a leadership role

RLI Brochure CoverNow that you have been a Rotarian for some time, how would you like to advance by learning more about the nuts-and-bolts of how Rotary works at all levels, how you can take a leadership role in helping your club become even stronger as a pillar of your community and a player on the world stage through involvement in RI’s global initiatives, and build your leadership skills to help Rotary, your career, and any other organization you belong to?

And, it’s free!

We’re talking here about attending the Rotary Leadership Institute (RLI), a simple one-day investment of your time that will reap rewards for you and your club, with registration paid for by your club.

Registration already has opened for the RLI workshop to be held at the UAlbany School of Public Health on Saturday, October 20. Contact Bill Dowd if you are interested.

Many of your fellow SRC members have attended one or more RLI workshops over the years, with several of them completing three years of ever-increasing training and graduating with full certification. (Talk to Bill, Debbie Rodriguez, Dean and Doris Calamaras, our most recent graduates, for details.)

RLI offers a leadership development program in three  sessions (Parts I, II, and III), and must be taken sequentially. The courses are designed to provide Rotary knowledge and to develop leadership skills for voluntary organizations. Some examples of course sessions include “The Perfect Meeting.” “A Look Outside the Club,” “The Rotary Foundation,” “Membership Retention,” five sessions on “Leadership,”  “Creating Service Projects,” “Public Relations,” “Vocational Service,” “Membership Development,” “Analyzing a Rotary Club,” “International Service,” “Written Communications,” and “Public Speaking.”

RLI believes in course sessions with as much discussion/participation as possible. Discussion breakout sessions are limited to approximately 10 to 15 persons. Lectures are strictly limited. Course methods include discussion groups, role playing, problem-solving workshops, creating projects and audiovisual presentations. Everyone participates during the institute’s sessions.

A course workbook containing an institute manual, session program agendas, faculty biographies, and course outlines and materials, is provided to each attendee. In the Graduation Program level after participating in Parts, I, II, and III, graduates are eligible to attend in-depth seminars held at selected locations in conjunction with regular courses.

Click here to access the 2018 RLI brochure.





The whys, whats, and how-comes behind RI’s 3-year dues increase plan

By Ian Riseley
Rotary International President, 2017-18

Rotary CashAt our last Council on Legislation, your Council members approved an increase in Rotary International dues of $4 per year in each of the the 2017-18, ’18-19, and ’19-20 Rotary Years. As a result of that decision, the yearly per capita dues that clubs pay to RI for each member now is $60, increasing to $64 next year, and $68 the year after that.

Historically, Rotary International has been very reluctant to institute increases, and the dues increases have been extremely small. Rotary’s first dues were set in 1910 at the rate of $1 per member per year — the equivalent today of about $26.90. Even at that time, then-Secretary Ches Perry protested that the amount was insufficient to cover expenses of office rent, stenography, telephone, postage, and the occasional purchase of a necessary item such as a typewriter.

Today, of course, our far larger organization, engaged in much more complex activities in a far more complex world, requires a vastly larger budget to run. Our global staff supports 1.23 million members around the world. It is largely thanks to the good work of that staff that we are able to carry on with the service that we do, on the level that we do it — fully supplied with the materials, club services, training events, international meetings, language services, IT, Foundation support, leadership support, and everything else we have come to expect as Rotary members.

In recent years, it became clear that the services RI was able to provide to Rotarians with the available budget no longer were in line with what Rotarians needed and expected. Nine out of 10 Rotarians wanted Rotary to provide more services, but, given Rotary’s current and projected income, the rate of global inflation, and the ongoing volatility of world financial markets, we had only two fiscally prudent options: either cut back RI services or increase dues. Essentially, we had to decide whether we wanted Rotary to continue to grow and thrive or not.

As an accountant, I take fiscal responsibility and long-term financial planning extremely seriously. It was and remains abundantly clear that a modest increase in dues was our only viable path forward. Our five-year forecast at the time of the Council on Legislation projected that a dues increase of just $1 would have resulted in only a 1.8% increase in revenues, far below the 2.5% impact of global inflation. A $2 increase would have resulted in reserve levels falling below the Board target by 2019, and a $3 increase would have resulted in reserve levels only marginally above the target by 2018. None of those options would have allowed us to do what our members wanted: allow Rotary to increase and improve its services.

I am pleased to report that, as a result of the still-modest dues increases approved in 2016, Rotary now not only is on a firm financial footing, it is able to invest in our future.

I would like to let you know how RI is spending your dues this year, and what we have planned for the years ahead.

• Your membership dues are our organization’s largest single source of revenue, accounting for about $74 million out of a $103 million budget in 2017-18. Of the $60 you currently pay in dues, $32.58 goes directly to member support in the form of RI events, online training, and digital tools such as our recently-improved website  (click here to visit it) and updated Rotary Club Central, along with Rotary Ideas, Rotary Showcase, and RI’s social media feeds.

• Rotary’s operations extend to 220 countries and territories worldwide, using 29 different currencies. This year, RI is applying $14.43 of your $60 toward administration and compliance. That money pays for staff and services at the Secretariat and regional offices, who provide translations, support Rotarians on a regional level, and ensure that we are keeping pace with global security and privacy regulations.

• We all know that enhancing Rotary’s image in the world is vital to our future success. RI is earmarking $12.99 of your RI dues this year for resources to help promote Rotary in your community and beyond. This includes not only the postcards, brochures, and other materials available on your Brand Center, but also our “People of Action” campaign, external relations, and our ongoing outreach and public relations work around the end of polio.

Within the next year, look for news about an improved technology infrastructure for your data, streamlined online giving, more timely online club-reporting resources, and a more user-friendly My Rotary — all funded by the dues each of us pays. For more information on RI’s budget and the value of your RI membership, I invite you to watch the presentation “Your Dues at Work.” Click here to view it.

For all of us, Rotary is an investment — not only of money, but of time, energy, and effort. As with any good investment, the more we put in, the greater our returns. None of it would be possible without the international association that unites us, and which we all support.

I thank you all for that support, and for the good work each of you do, as you make a difference in our world.


Explaining SRC to the NYS Legislature

• In preparation for writing a proclamation by the New York State Legislature to be read at their June 13 gala dinner at which SRC will be honored, the folks at Circles of Mercy asked us for a brief statement covering the history and work of our club.

That’s not an easy request to fill, given the broad mandate and reach of Rotary and the many, many initiatives we undertake each year. But, since we are asked that same question quite often, here was our reply. Feel free to use it when needed. (By the way, the legislators who will co-sponsor the proclamation are Senator Neil Breslin and Assemblyman John McDonald.)

Join Us LogoThe Southern Rensselaer County Rotary Club, founded in 1960, is one of 33,000 clubs in more than 200 countries comprising the 1.23-million-member organization called Rotary International, now in its 113th year of public service.

The men and women of Rotary are volunteers working together in an inclusive manner in many fields to improve the lives of people everywhere.

Locally, the Southern Rensselaer County Rotary Club regularly provides assistance in the categories of youth scholarships, leadership training, and foreign exchange study; aid to military veterans and families; curriculum and supplies for schools; food pantries; holiday adoptions of children and families in need; recycling and conservation; athletes with disabilities, and organizations such as Circles of Mercy, Ronald McDonald House, the YMCA, and Scouting, plus many more initiatives.

Globally, the club supports lifesaving pediatric cardiac surgeries through the Gift of Life program; aid to victims of natural and other disasters through the ShelterBox relief program; ongoing vaccination efforts through PolioPlus that have nearly eradicated the once-prevalent disease from the planet; hygiene and medical training programs for women in African nations through the Freedom From Fistula Foundation, plus other initiatives.

ShelterBox online drive = 35,000 temporary homes

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A tent contained in a ShelterBox kit.

The returns are in on the recent ShelterBox online matching pledge fundraiser.

Several SRC members took advantage of the opportunity to pledge up to $100 each, which was matched dollar-for-dollar by a foundation during a 24-hour period.

Overall, the nationwide drive raised $35,000 in that one day span which means proceeds of the drive will purchase 35,000 temporary tent homes plus equipment for use in disaster areas around the world.

Thanks to all SRC Rotarians who participated in the drive.


Mystery program, but no mystery meat, for Thursday’s dinner meeting

Screen Shot 2018-05-21 at 6.04.26 PMThis Thursday’s dinner meeting will feature a presentation by Stewart Wagner under the intriguing title “World War II Mystery Man.”

The dinner menu will feature a familiar item, Quigley’s popular ziti and meatballs, plus antipasto salad, chef’s selection of sides, bread, dessert, and beverages. And, as always, the cash bar is available.

The signup list didn’t get circulated last week, so the following list of RSVPs is reflective of “old information” from the previous week.  Please email Debbie Brown at no later than Tuesday evening if your name isn’t on the list but you wish to be included.  As always, the more the merrier.

Pat Bailey
Debbie Brown
Peter Brown
Murray Forth
Ray Hannan
Phil Kellerman
Jim Leyhane
Roberto Martinez
Stewart Wagner

Burke Adams has his rainy day in the sun

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(Above) Burke being honored. (Below) Athletes brave the rain. (WNYT photos)

Screen Shot 2018-05-20 at 8.43.55 PMBurke Adams, founder of the Miracle League and a member of the Southern Rensselaer County Rotary Club, was honored on Saturday’s opening day at the league’s East Greenbush facilities with “Burke Adams Day.”

The honor was created by a resolution from the Rensselaer County Legislature, commending Adams for his 25 years of dedication to special needs athletes through the Miracle League of the Capital Region. Despite intermittently heavy rain, athletes, coaches, family, and fans played through opening day festivities and fun.

The organization offers baseball, basketball, bowling, football, soccer and track & field events to special needs Upstate athletes of all ages. All baseball, football and soccer games are held at Jaime M. Adams Field in East Greenbush, which opened in 2009 as the first multi-sport turf field in the U.S. specifically designed for such athletes.  Basketball games are held at the Boys and Girls Club in Rensselaer, and bowling takes place at the East Greenbush Bowling Center, Click here to find out more about the organization.