Meeting at Quigley’s Restaurant
593 Columbia Turnpike
East Greenbush, NY
September 8, 2016
Members Attending (14): Debbie Rodriguez, Murray Forth, Pat Bailey, Peter Brown, Debbie Brown, Bill Dowd, Ray Hannan, Dick Drumm, Terry Brewer, Phil Kellerman, Doris Calamaras, Dean Calamaras, Becky Raymond, Charlie Foote.
Guests (1): Dawn Vavala.
PROGRAM: “Rotary Serving Humanity”
New President Debbie Rodriguez presented a review of our summer activities, plus a look ahead for the remainder of the Rotary Year utilizing the 2016-17 RI theme “Rotary Serving Humanity.”
Among things she noted while recapping the summer activities: (1.) We have raised slightly more than $1,000 for the Freedom From Fistula Foundation and will continue raising more such funds through the Rotary Year via the “Pocket Change” jug and other efforts; Becky Raymond, who first brought this need to our attention, has joined the Rotarian Action Group for Population & Development to further our flow of information; (2.) We raised $250 for Gift of Life; (3.) Although we had some well-attended “summer casual” events — in particularly the ValleyCats picnic and game — some other events were lightly attended, and we even had to cancel the planned wine tasting dinner at Goold Orchards. Debbie said we will need to revisit our summer event planning.
She also discussed the six standing committees we will have this year — Membership & Leadership Training, Foundation Giving, Public Relations, Youth Programs & Scholarship Awards, Fundraising Programs, and Community Service . She said the intent of committees is to allow manageably-sized groups to better discuss ideas then report them to the full membership for refinement. In support of planning our activities, she circulated a questionnaire during the summer to all members and took their responses into account when assigning committee roles. Committee memberships are listed on the club website.
As to membership, we stand at 42, down from our high of 45 due to the death of Bob Horan and resignations of longtime members Rommel Tolentino and Len Leonidas. Our stated goal for this Rotary Year is to reach the 50-member level. We will be looking at projects and activities that may be more appealing to younger people who are reluctant to join rigidly-run clubs, which is something being recommended by RI.
FUNDRAISING EFFORTS — In addition to planning to continue such successful efforts as Bowling for Veterans, CPR training, simulator golf tournaments, Rotary Home Cooking series, Hoffman’s Car Wash tickets, etc. , several other ideas were thrown out for discussion, including a technology “crushing” session, a “mud run” obstacle course that may attract a younger demographic, and calendar sales. Further discussion will be held over the coming weeks.
RLI — The annual Rotary Leadership Institute will be held on Saturday, October 22, at Siena College in Loudonville. Members are urged to participate in what has proven to be an excellent training and networking program. Workshops will be held for first-time attendees, as well as advanced levels for those completing the course in prior years. The club will pay the fee. Anyone interested should check with Debbie Rodriguez.
GOL GOLF & BOCCE — Jim Leyhane is sponsoring the foursome of Murray Forth, Jim Mendrysa, Terry Brewer and Rob Mangold in the 17th annual Gift of Life Golf & Bocce, scheduled for Wednesday, January 21, at the Mohawk River Country Club in Halfmoon, Saratoga County. The same foursome won the event two years ago and finished second last year. Registration remains open for anyone else who wishes to enter a foursome. Details are available on the club website.
THANK-YOUS — Debbie read a letter from Mikaela Mueller, a graduate of Maple Hill High School who was one of our three latest $1,000 scholarship winners, updating us on her activities entering her freshman year at the University of Hartford. Treasurer Murray Forth noted that Mikaela, Jolene Bell, and Matt McHugh all sent thank-you notes to the club during the summer for their awards.
MEMBERSHIP — Terry Brewer, who is serving on the District 7190 Membership Committee, said a workshop titled “Next Generation Rotary Summit” — aimed at how to recruit and retain new members — will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday, September 24, at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs. It will be one of only 19 such events nationwide. He said anyone else who wishes to attend should contact him ASAP and he will have their registration fee covered. In response to a question about availability of membership information shared by District Governor-elect Fred Daniels during a recent visit to the club, webmaster Bill Dowd said that Fred’s entire presentation has been available since that visit on the club website under Program Presentation Archives, along with copies of other programs as announced several times.
ROTARY DAY AT THE U.N. — The District is providing bus transportation to the annual fall event at the UN headquarters in New York City. Registration is closed, but Becky Raymond is on the standby list with hopes to be included.
RYLA — Terry reported that Maple Hill High School administration is working on a list of students to participate in this year’s Rotary Youth Leadership Awards program. Columbia High School has declined to participate in favor of its own program. Becky Raymond said she would like to get in touch with officials at Averill Park High School to see if they have any candidates and asked for information on RYLA. Bill Dowd explained that the club website has for years had an entire page devoted to RYLA, including explanation, registration information, and a current online brochure. Tuition is $375 per student, which our club will pay.
AID TO LOUISIANA — Anyone wishing to contribute money to disaster recovery efforts in Louisiana is asked to send checks directly to Rotary District 6200, 2266 South College Road, # C, Lafayette, LA 70508.
EXCHANGE STUDENT UPDATES — Debbie said it appears that the arrival of Rafaella Leal Câncio, our Brazilian exchange student, was delayed due to a paperwork problem. However, our outgoing student, Michaela Rosetti, a Maple Hill graduate, left on schedule for a year in Italy. We’ll look forward to an update by Youth Exchange Officer A.J. Amato.
FLAG CEREMONY — Ray Hannan reported that a flagpole area has been installed in the Eastwyck Village community where he and fellow club member David Taylor reside, and club members are invited to attend the dedication ceremony scheduled for 2 p.m. Wednesday, November 2. He said he will circulate a signup sheet to ascertain who will attend.
SCHOOL SUPPLIES DRIVE — Project coordinator Bill Dowd reported a successful 2nd annual “School Supplies Drive” to collect items for needy students in the Rensselaer City School District. He noted that despite a large increase in membership since the first drive, member contributions overall did not increase appreciably. However, the strong participation of John Sawchuk and students at Columbia High School helped push the total contributions to about 600 items.
FOOD DRIVE — Project coordinator April Dowd sent thanks to all who contributed to an emergency collection of non-perishable food items for the Ronald McDonald House complex. One delivery already has been made, and the items contributed at this meeting will be the second and final load.
SHELTERBOX UPDATE — Our SB Liaison, Bill Dowd, reported that ShelterBox teams were the first disaster relief group on site after the recent devastating earthquake in Italy. He noted that this timeliness usually is the case with a non-governmental organization (NGO) such as ShelterBox because of the lack of bureaucracy. He said SB continues to juggle aid to a large number of regions in Asia, South America, and Africa, and urged all who have not yet contributed in this Rotary Year to ShelterBox to do so. (See Murray for details on tax deductibility.) Anyone who needs information on how the humanitarian project works can find it on the club website.
POLIO UPDATE — Bill reported that although Rotary’s PolioPlus decades-long effort had reduced the dread disease’s prevalence to just two countries — Afghanistan and Pakistan — three cases have recently been reported in Nigeria. They occurred in a part of the country where immunization programs had been blocked by the terrorist organization Boko Harum. He also noted that because polio is not something they grew up with, younger people tend not to know anything about it. He said they can be pointed to the “What Is Polio?” video on the club website.
NEXT MEETINGS: Our “Third Thursday” breakfast meeting series will resume at 7 a.m. September 15 at the Greenbush YMCA, 20 Community Way, East Greenbush. Please let Terry Brewer or Shannon Romanowski know in advance if you plan to attend.
At the 6:15 dinner meeting that same day, new member Phil Kellerman will speak on the controversy over the immigrant crisis.