Annual school supplies drive under way

Screen Shot 2019-07-12 at 12.04.19 PMSRC members, family, and friends are once again helping less-fortunate students prepare for their return to school by participating in the annual Circles of Mercy Back-to-School Supplies Drive.

(Even though the matter of resuming classes in the fall is under debate because of the COVID-19 pandemic, at some point schools will reopen. But, no matter the date the same students still will need the supplies. They’ll simply be stored at the Circles headquarters until an opening announcement is made.)

The program, as in other years, focuses on grades (9-12) and on pre-school students, and SRC has been a major contributor for the past five years. Debbie Rodriguez again will serve as our coordinator for rounding up and delivering the donations. We must deliver our donations no later than August 21.

You can drop off your donated items at one (or more) of four events:

(1.) at our social gathering at the Brown residence on Thursday, July 23;

(2.) at the social event to be held by Roberto Martinez or Jim Leyhane on Thursday, August 6;

(3.) at our dinner meeting at Quigley’s on Thursday, August 20;

(4.) any time through Wednesday, August 19, at the Drumm Veterinary Hospital, 1639 Columbia Turnpike, Castleton.

The shopping list recommended by Circles of Mercy:

  • Pencils (Regular Lead #2 and Color)
  • Pencil Sharpener
  • Erasers (For Pencils)
  • Pens (Black or Blue)
  • Dry Erase Markers (Assorted Colors)
  • Pocket Folders (Assorted Colors)
  • 3 Ring Binders (in 2” and 3” Sizes)
  • Loose Leaf Paper (College Ruled)
  • Graph Paper
  • Spiral Subject Notebooks (1, 3 and 5 Subject – College Ruled)
  • Subject Dividers (for 3-ring binders)
  • Plastic Zipper Pencil Cases / Boxes
  • 3”X5” Index Cards
  • Highlighters (Yellow)
  • Rulers (Regular with Metric)
  • Kleenex Tissues
  • Hand Sanitizer (Small Bottles)
  • Post-It-Notes
  • Backpacks (No Rollers/No Wheels)
  • Ear Buds (inexpensive, for computer use)
  • Flash Drives (all sizes)
  • Scientific Calculators (Texas Instrument TI-84)
  • Hole Reinforcement Labels
  • Combination Locks (for gym lockers)
  • Sharpie Markers (any color)

If you do NOT plan to attend any get-together or cannot utilize the Drumm Vet drop-off point, please contact Debbie Rodriguez to arrange a dropoff or pickup of donations: 518-766-3451 or

While there obviously are needy students in all districts, this effort is aimed at helping the Rensselaer City School District because it has the heaviest concentration of such children. Of its approximately 1,070 students, 68% qualify for free or reduced-price lunch compared to the state average of 52%. In addition, nearly a quarter of them live near or below the federal poverty level.

From our new DG: A Million Dreams

Screen Shot 2020-07-09 at 10.19.50 PMBy RICH GRIESCHE
7190 District Governor 2020-21

July begins our new Rotary year. It is like no other we have had. As a new District Governor reflecting over the past few months, Rotary has been the constant for me during the COVID-19 pandemic. Globally the figures today are staggering — 8.99 million confirmed cases, 4.46 million recovered, and, sadly, 469,000  deaths.

So, why “A Million Dreams”? Last year, I was listening to the song “A Million Dreams,” from the movie “The Greatest Showman,” and thought, “I need to use this during my District Governor year.” Little did I know at that time what we would be facing as we began 2020.

The lyrics spoke to me about Rotary. There are more than 1 million Rotarians, going through doors where no one gone before. This ties into Rotary International President Holger Knaack’s theme, “Rotary Opens Opportunities,” and the three open doors.

I think of what the world could be, a vision of the one I see. “A million dreams is all it’s gonna take, a million dreams for the world we’re gonna make.”

As Rotarians, we all have dreams and visions. Share your dreams with me. I am using this song during my year to help guide us as Rotarians so we can have that dream of the world we want to see.

Rotarians everywhere strive to make the world a better place. I believe these trying times will make us all better citizens of the world. We have been witness recently to severe unrest, protesting, and peaceful demonstrations. Rotary is the largest peace-building organization in the world. We should be proud of that. We are approaching the concept of peace with greater cohesion and inclusivity, broadening the scope of what we mean by peace-building, and finding more ways for people to get involved.

Rotary creates environments in which peace can happen. Rotarians all are peace builders, which our world needs. Rotary has vibrant programs for students and youth that can change the lives of those who participate. Through these programs, young people can earn scholarships, travel on cultural exchanges, or help a community through a service project –- all things resulting in greater world peace.

I would like to thank Immediate Past District Governor Larry Jones and his team for the leadership and guidance that got us through the past few months. During Larry’s year we formed an aggressive membership initiative we still are working on. Looking ahead, Rotary’s vision statement are words to live by: Together, we see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change -– across the globe, in our communities, and in our ourselves. Contact me to learn how you can join us in our projects.


Meeting Clipboard: 7/9/20

SRC ClipboardHeld via Zoom video conference

Members Attending (13): Phil Kellerman, Dick Drumm, Bill Dowd, Dean Calamaras, Doris Calamaras, Jim Leyhane, Kevin Leyhane, Peter Brown, Debbie Brown, Ray Hannan, Charlie Foote, Mike Harkin, Roberto Martinez.

Guests Attending (1): Lindsey Conboy.

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Lindsey Conboy

MEETING NOTES — President Dick Drumm called the meeting to order via Zoom video conferencing. He welcomed Lindsey Conboy, who just graduated from Columbia High School, one of the winners of a $1,000 SRC Scholarship. Lindsey said she will be attending Cornell University in the fall, enrolling in both the agriculture and life sciences college and the engineering college to study environmental engineering. At Columbia, she was heavily involved in numerous activities, including tennis, community photography, student council, library volunteers, chamber singing, and the Science Olympiad. Our other two scholarship winners — Shannon Tacy of Rensselaer High School and Mackenzie Brown of Maple Hill High School — joined us via Zoom at our June 18 meeting. …

We will return to Quigley’s restaurant for a “trial meeting” on Thursday, August 20. Owner John Walsh wants to get a feel for the proper layout to accomplish the necessary social distancing protocols, and this will be our first opportunity since meetings there were halted in mid-March. … It was decided to establish a different sort of “Summer Casual” schedule for July and August. We will alternate brief Zoom meetings with social picnics. That will maintain club continuity of activity through the summer. The scheduled Zoom meeting dates also will serve as potential rain dates for social events or, if additional hosts come forward, dates from which they can choose. …

Bill Dowd reported on a conversation he had with Murray Forth about potentially holding our next recycling/shredding day in late summer or early fall because such activities have a good chance of proper social distancing. Some discussion pointed out that members who do the unloading of recycled equipment tend to work physically close together, and that with the recent Chinese pullback on buying recycled materials from the U.S. the number of vendors we can partner with might be smaller than usual. We’ll consider all those factors, although we are in need of fundraising activities since the pandemic cancelled such major money activities as the bowl-a-thon, recycling day, and the Rotary Home Cooking series. Bill mentioned that, thanks to the generosity of Dick and Mary Drumm underwriting our recent outdoor picnic at their home, we raised $680 for the club  treasury.

Here is the “Summer Casual” schedule as agreed upon at this meeting. It will be modified as needed:

• Thursday, July 16, 6 p.m. — Zoom video conference meeting.
• Thursday, July 23, 6 p.m. — Catered outdoor picnic, residence of Debbie and Peter Brown.
• Thursday, July 30, 6 p.m. — Zoom video conference meeting.
• Thursday, August 6, 6 p.m. — Picnic at either Jim Leyhane’s or Roberto Martinez’s residence.
• Thursday, August 13, 6 p.m. — Zoom video conference meeting.
• Thursday, August 20, 6 p.m. — Dinner meeting, Quigley’s, East Greenbush.

NOTE: Please check the website CALENDAR page regularity for updates.

Don’t forget, we will meet Thursday via Zoom

Screen Shot 2020-04-03 at 5.56.21 PMAttention SRC Members:

We’re doing something a bit different to begin the new Rotary Year.

Normally, we have a busy “Summer Casual” schedule of social events and field trips during July and August. However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, we have nothing scheduled — yet. (Two of our traditional outings, for example — a baseball game and a picnic at Bruno Stadium and dinner out followed by a play at the Mac-Haydn Theatre — have been scratched because both the ValleyCats’ season and the Chatham playhouse’s lineup have been cancelled.)

Instead, new president Dick Drumm will preside over a virtual meeting via Zoom at 6 p.m. this Thursday. His agenda was sent to all members some time ago. If you have additional items to be considered, please email them to Dick right away at

One of the things we will be discussing is how to create both social and fundraising events for the summer. The latter is of particular importance since we missed several usually-strong fundraisers (bowl-a-thon, recycling day, Rotary Home Cooking, etc.) during the winter and spring because of the pandemic.

All members have been emailed the links and password for the Zoom meeting. If for some reason you missed it, please contact Peter Brown ASAP  at


A happy 4th of July to all

Screen Shot 2020-07-04 at 10.49.53 PMFrom

On July 4, 1776, the 13 colonies claimed their independence from England, an event which eventually led to the formation of the United States. Each year on the fourth of July, also known as Independence Day, Americans celebrate this historic event.

Conflict between the colonies and England was already a year old when the colonies convened a Continental Congress in Philadelphia in the summer of 1776. In a June 7 session in the Pennsylvania State House (later renamed Independence Hall), Richard Henry Lee of Virginia presented a resolution with the famous words: “Resolved: That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.”

Lee’s words were the impetus for the drafting of a formal Declaration of Independence, although the resolution was not followed up on immediately. On June 11, consideration of the resolution was postponed by a vote of seven colonies to five, with New York abstaining. However, a Committee of Five was appointed to draft a statement presenting to the world the colonies’ case for independence.

Members of the Committee included John Adams of Massachusetts; Roger Sherman of Connecticut; Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania; Robert R. Livingston of New York; and Thomas Jefferson of Virginia. The task of drafting the actual document fell on Jefferson.

On July 1, 1776, the Continental Congress reconvened, and on the following day, the Lee Resolution for independence was adopted by 12 of the 13 colonies, New York not voting.

Discussions of Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence resulted in some minor changes, but the spirit of the document was unchanged. The process of revision continued through all of July 3 and into the late afternoon of July 4, when the Declaration was officially adopted. Of the 13 colonies, nine voted in favor of the Declaration, two — Pennsylvania and South Carolina — voted No, Delaware was undecided and New York abstained.

John Hancock, president of the Continental Congress, signed the Declaration of Independence. It is said that John Hancock’s signed his name “with a great flourish” so England’s “King George can read that without spectacles!”

Today, the original copy of the Declaration is housed in the National Archives in Washington, DC, and July 4 has been designated a national holiday to commemorate the day the United States laid down its claim to be a free and independent nation.


How are we doing with Clynk fundraiser?

Screen Shot 2019-03-14 at 8.56.26 PMOne of the simplest and most direct ways to raise funds for SRC Rotary’s ShelterBox effort is through the CLYNK recycling project.

In conjunction with Hannaford Supermarkets and its fellow New Hampshire-based CLYNK company, SRC has been able to ever-so-slowly but ever-so-steadily raise funds through the diversion to our treasury of redemption of deposits on glass, plastic, and metal beverage containers.

What do you have to do to participate? Not much. Simply purchase the appropriate bags (and contact CLYNK coordinator Bill Dowd to obtain the appropriate bar-code stickers to apply to them). Then, scan the stickers when you drop off the bags at any Hannaford market. No need to separate or rinse them. Just bag ’em and drop ’em off. Can it get any easier? We doubt it.

Please bear in mind that in addition to raising funds for SRC, you are helping the environment through dedicated recycling of those containers.





Holiday off, but we’re Zoom-ing back next Thursday

Screen Shot 2020-07-02 at 4.13.07 PM

Welcome to the 2020-21 Rotary Year, and Happy Fourth of July week.

Following tradition, there will be no meeting this week because of the holiday, but we will hold a meeting via Zoom videoconferencing from 6 to 7 p.m. next Thursday, July 9.

It will be the first meeting presided over by new club President Dick Drumm. Here’s his agenda outline, with details to be emailed to members before then:

1. Summer events
2. Year-long schedule of programs, speakers, fundraisers, and projects
3. Alternate plans for a meeting site if Quigley’s does not reopen
4. Best way to regularly schedule Zoom meetings to optimize attendance
5. Open for Rotarians to freely express ideas on what they would like if not already included on this agenda

Catching up on club financial notes

Rotary Cash

• We missed several major fundraisers because of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown (bowl-a-thon, recycling day, etc.). Thus, it is with pleasure we can report that Thursday’s Presidential Changeover dinner raised $680 for the club treasury. Many thanks to Dick, our incoming club president, and Mary Drumm for  not only hosting the outdoor event, but for underwriting the catering fee which allowed all monies from several dozen attendees to go directly to the club.

Screen Shot 2020-06-28 at 6.55.07 PM

• We must soon submit our annual payment to Rotary International, which means we are counting on all membership dues to be paid promptly for the 2020-21 Rotary Year. The deadline is July 1, the start of the new fiscal year, as noted in an earlier announcement. Dues remain at just $175 per individual member or $350 for “Family” or “Corporate” group memberships covering an unlimited number of members.  If it is easier for you, dues may be paid in two equal installments, by June 30 and by December 31. The initial partial payment for individuals is only $87.50, or $175 for “Family” and “Corporate” groups. Please send checks, payable to “SRC Rotary Club,” to Southern Rensselaer County Rotary Club, P.O. Box 71, East Greenbush, NY 12061.

Screen Shot 2019-03-14 at 8.56.26 PM

• We’re still involved in the CLYNK returnable beverage container program. More bags and tags were distributed at the Presidential Changeover event, but if you’ve run out of the official green bags (the only ones that may be used), you can pick up a box for less than $2 at any Hannaford supermarket. If you need the bar code stickers that must be attached to them, just contact Bill Dowd (518-238-1950 or and he’ll mail you some. All proceeds from the deposit returns go to our club treasury. And, remember you do not have to rinse and sort the metal, plastic, or glass containers. Just stick them in the correct bag, slap on a sticker, and scan the bar code at any Hannaford drop-off window. A very easy fundraiser, so drink up!


• Because of ongoing social restrictions and uncertainties, to club events have been scheduled for July and August. That does not mean, however, that we’re giving up on the usual “Summer Casual” period. It’s not to late for some small bit of return to normalcy. If you have an idea about hosting or helping arrange an event — preferably one involving families and one we can use as a small fundraiser — please contact incoming President-elect Debbie Rodriguez (518-766-3451 or as soon as possible.

Screen Shot 2020-04-30 at 8.13.04 PM

As one of his final presidential acts for 2019-20, Phil Kellerman announced that the packet of required documents has been sent to the Internal Revenue Service as part of an effort to regain tax-exempt status for the club. Although it may be a slow process, we’ll be sure to keep club members informed of any progress.


The gavel is passed on a stormy evening

SRC ClipboardHeld at Drumm residence,
Fox Hollow Road, Valatie

Members Attending (18): Phil Kellerman, Dick Drumm, Debbie Rodriguez, Murray Forth, Terry Brewer, Andy Leyhane, Bill Dowd, Pat Bailey, Murray Forth, Geoff Brewer, Dean Calamaras, Doris Calamaras, Jim Leyhane, Kevin Leyhane, Peter Brown, Debbie Brown, Maggie Forth, Ray Hannan.

Guests Attending (10): Numerous friends and relatives.


The figurative gavel was passed on Thursday evening, with lone charter member Dick Drumm (1960) assuming the presidency of the Southern Rensselaer County Rotary Club for the 2020-21 Rotary Year from Phil Kellerman as dozens of members and guests looked on.

The al fresco dinner event, hosted by Dick and Mary Drumm at their rural Valatie manse, was the first in-person SRC event since March because of the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. Although well attended, the crowd fell well within the 50-person limit imposed by the state. All social distancing protocols were observed.

Catering was by Talk of the Town, owned by former Rotarian Jim Mendrysa who served a dinner of his signature chicken Parm, plus appropriate sides, salad, rolls, coffee, and chocolate mousse. All went well until a sudden storm blew up the event around 7 p.m., upending the catering canopy and drenching many attendees before they moved indoors. Typically, the Rotary spirit was undampened.

Outgoing President Phil thanked several members for their varied effort in the pandemic-curtailed Rotary Year. In particular, he made note of the trio of $1,000 scholarships presented a week earlier, the work done on filing for reinstatement by the IRS of our club’s tax-exempt status, and hosting of virtual events via Zoom.

While no firm dates have been set for “Summer Casual” events during July and August, members were encouraged to let incoming President Dick Drumm and incoming President-elect Debbie Rodriguez know of any thoughts on planning and scheduling such events. Members were encouraged to visit the club website’s Calendar page regularly to stay apprised of events.

The fate of our normal weekly dinner meetings for September through June 2021 remains in limbo until we learn owner John Walsh’s plans for Quigley’s restaurant, which has been closed since mid-March.

Thanks from the entire membership was proffered to Dick and Mary Drumm for hosting the event.

Here are more scenes from the event, including the scramble to anchor the catering tent upended by the blustery winds.



Bill & Debbie




Chow Line







RI incoming president not who we expected

Screen Shot 2020-06-22 at 2.07.14 PM
Holger Knaack

German Rotarian Holger Knaack is expected to take office on July 1 as president of Rotary International for 2020-21 after an unusual set of circumstances.

The Nominating Committee’s decision to select him follows the April resignation of President-nominee Sushil Gupta due to health reasons.

Michael McGovern, chair of the Nominating Committee, issued a statement explaining the process for selecting a new presidential nominee. It also addresses some controversy in the use of social media to perhaps try to influence the committee’s final decision. Interesting reading.

Knaack, a member of the Rotary Club of Herzogtum Lauenburg-Mölln, Germany, says to build a stronger membership Rotary must focus on increasing the number of female members and transitioning Rotaractors into Rotarians.

Knaack says he believes the People of Action campaign offers new public awareness possibilities for Rotary. “This campaign conveys our global image while still respecting differences in regions and cultures,” he says.

A Rotary member since 1992, Knaack has served Rotary as treasurer, director, moderator, member and chair of several committees, representative for the Council on Legislation, zone coordinator, training leader, and district governor.

He is an endowment/major gifts adviser and was co-chair of the Host Organization Committee for the 2019 Rotary International Convention in Hamburg.

He is the CEO of Knaack KG, a real estate company. He previously was a partner and general manager of Knaack Enterprises, a 125-year-old family business.

Knaack is a founding member of the Civic Foundation of the City of Ratzeburg and served as president of the Golf-Club Gut Grambek. He also is founder and chair of the Karl Adam Foundation.

He and his wife, Susanne, are Major Donors to The Rotary Foundation and members of the Bequest Society.