Meeting at Quigley’s Restaurant
593 Columbia Turnpike
East Greenbush, NY
May 19, 2016
Member Attendance (23): Terry Brewer, Murray Forth, Pat Bailey, Bill Dowd, Jim Leyhane, April Dowd, Peter Brown, Debbie Brown, Dick Drumm, Ray Hannan, Roberto Martinez, Ron Annis, Monika Annis, Becky Raymond, Stewart Wagner, Charlie Foote, David Taylor, Julius Frankel. (Attending breakfast meeting only: Matt Smith, Bob Horan, Shannon Romanowski, Andy Leyhane, John Sawchuk.)
Guests (6): Bill Jordan, Kathleen McLean, Phil Kellerman, Willie Widby, Maggie Forth, Jeremy Forth.
PROGRAM: “Let’s Share the Sun Foundation”
Murray Forth introduced Bill Jordan and Kathleen McLean of the Let’s Share the Sun Foundation. The organization’s goal is to help make solar energy devices available for people in need in poor regions of the world.
Because solar energy is perhaps the simplest and most-abundant power source on the planet, the Foundation is helping install and maintain solar collectors in several spots. In Haiti, for example, they are supplying solar-powered lanterns that allow children to safely make their way home from school and to do their homework by solar light in homes that have no other power.
Kathleen spoke about their trip to Haiti in 2015 and the 26 solar panels donated by GE for a new school and the community center. Several universities were also represented on their recent trip, including Syracuse, Stanford, St. Lawrence, and Notre Dame.
Another goal is to help a local Haitian hospital, Hospital St. Croix, cut into its current prohibitively-high electric bill of $140,000.
Bill said 1 in 7 people in the world do not have electricity. The Foundation has partnerships with a large number of organizations, including groups from Siena College and St. Gabriel School, and have been getting interns from those schools to travel to Haiti on work programs. Kathleen noted that because the Foundation is a small organization, it is careful not to overextend its reach.
The Southern Rensselaer County Rotary Club already has donated funds to purchase solar lanterns in Haiti, and has plans to expand its effort to help underwrite the program.
BREAKFAST MEETING — President Terry Brewer reported that nine members attended the “Third Thursday Breakfast Meeting” today at the Greenbush YMCA. Member Bob Horan, superintendent of the Schodack Central School District, gave a talk on how his district was able to use innovative nethods to create a revenue stream and make use of building spaces not needed for students.
SUMMER SCHEDULE — A signup sheet was introduced for anyone wishing to host a cookout or arrange a field trip during our July-August “summer casual” period when we do not hold formal meetings. Anyone who wishes to add their names to the list should contact Debbie Rodriguez ASAP.
RYLA REPORT — The five-student contingent from Maple Hill High School that our club sponsored in the annual Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) program has been honored for being the most active group in this year’s field.
YMCA BREAKFAST FOR KIDS — Member Shannon Romanowski, director of the Greenbush YMCA, is developing a kids’ breakfast event for needy children, probably in July. She has asked if the club would be willing to participate. Terry said we’ll discuss it further as information is presented.
SHELTERBOX EXPANSION — Although the club already has donated $5,000 to purchase five ShelterBoxes, the growing number of natural disasters around the world makes the organization’s needs even greater. Terry said he is pledging $500 toward the purchase of two more boxes (at $1,000 per box) in this Rotary Year. He said anyone who wishes to do so can donate any amount.
DRIVER TRAINING — Jim Leyhane, who is coordinating a defensive driving class that will allow graduates to apply for an auto insurance reduction, said we may have enough people interested to hold two sessions. He emphasized that he needs to have anyone who has not yet done so either call or email him ASAP so he can get an accurate count for the Sunday, June 5, course to be held at Community Care Physicians, 81 Miller Road, Schodack.
WEBSITE/SOCIAL MEDIA — A reminder was issued that the relaunched, redesigned club website is accessible only via http://SRCrotaryblog.wordpress.com, that the club Twitter account is available @SRCrotaryNY, and that our Facebook page continues to be widely used.
SPECIAL EVENTS — Three June meeting dates have been given special designations. June 16 will be scholar recognition night when we meet the winners of our annual scholarships. June 23 will be our second new-member induction night of the year, with both District Governor Milan Jackson and incoming DG-Elect Fred Daniels scheduled to attend. June 30 will be the annual Presidential Changeover event, to be hosted by the Forths.
NOMINATING COMMITTEE — The full slate of officer candidates has been sent to every member via email, and will be voted on at the Thursday, May 26 meeting, as required by our bylaws. Terry noted that we are reinstituting the office of vice president, and expanding the number of at-large board seats, as allowed by the bylaws. The idea is to have a stronger presidential succession plan in place. The Nominating Committee consists of Bill Dowd, Jim Leyhane, and Murray Forth.
HOSPITAL STAY BROCHURE — Roberto Martinez reported that the group behind the brochure, which the club is sponsoring, has applied for a $400,000 state grant to support their efforts. He noted that even if we do not make the cutoff in the first round, we will at least have greater exposure for the effort.
DISTRICT CONFERENCE — Terry reported on the annual District Conference, held this year in Lake Placid. Our club received an award for having the greatest number of new members, although the award was given without SRC being notified when it would happen and, thus, we were not present. At the event, Terry also presented Murray with a presidential award for his continuing efforts on behalf of the club.
SPECIAL THANK-YOU — Roberto expressed appreciation for Bill and April Dowd’s efforts to manage the club breakfast effort at Ronald McDonald House last week, and Bill’s work on creating the menu and directing the volunteers. (Scroll down for a photo report on the effort.)
NEXT MEETING: 6:15 p.m. Thursday, May 26, at Quigley’s. Dr. Linda Pessolesi of Hudson Valley Community College will make a presentation on tick-borne diseases.