Meeting Minutes: 12/9/21

MEMBERS ATTENDING (15): Debbie Rodriguez, Kevin Leyhane, Bill Dowd, Becky Raymond, Jim Leyhane, Roberto Martinez, Charlie Foote, Ray Hannan, Andy Leyhane, Phil Kellerman, Dean Calamaras (by proxy), Doris Calamaras (by proxy), Carol Orvis (by proxy), Peter Brown (by proxy), Debbie Brown (by proxy).

GUESTS (1): Lois Hannan.

President Debbie called the Zoom meeting to order and noted the presence of a quorum with the help of proxies.


• Bill Dowd reported that we are close to filling the gift list for our “Adopt-a-Family” effort on behalf of Circles of Mercy. Several members stepped up at the meeting to handle most of the remaining needed items. The updated shopping list is at the bottom of this post. Items marked in red are taken care of; the few remaining items can be purchased, wrapped and labeled, and dropped off at Circle, 10 Washington Street, Rensselaer, no later than December 15. Please call ahead (518-462-0899) to be sure office is open.

• Roberto and Jim reported that the menu for the annual “Holiday Party & Theme Basket Silent Auction” at Moscatiello’s on Thursday, December 16, has been finalized: choice of chicken Caesar salad, chicken Marsala, or eggplant parmagiana. Salad and cookies will be included. Price is $30 per adult. Children will be able to order off the kids’ menu. Reservations are requested no later than Monday, December 13, by calling or emailing Roberto (518-396-7250 / or Jim (518-428-1732 / And, attendees are reminded to bring a themed gift basket, proceeds of which will go to the club treasury.

• Becky Raymond reported that the NYSCR Danes Rotaract Club we sponsor has scheduled a “Moon Bee” work session for Tuesday, February 15, to assemble feminine hygiene kits for the Mooncatcher Project. At present, it will be for students and faculty at the UAlbany School of Public Health.

Donation dropoffs have … dropped off

The second of two scheduled dropoff dates for donations to our annual “Adopt-a-Family” drive for the holidays was scheduled for today at Moscatiello’s.

How did we do? How many people showed up?

Drum roll, please!


That’s right. Exactly one person showed up at the 5:30-6:00 p.m. session.

This year we have only one family, a small one — a mom and two kids — to buy for. (We had accepted two families proposed by Circles of Mercy, but the Greenbush YMCA volunteered to take the other.) Nevertheless, we have a significant number of items on the recommended shopping list still unfilled.

We’ll be discussing the situation during Thursday’s 7 p.m. Zoom meeting to see what we can do to return to our usual level of holiday giving. Meanwhile, here’s the latest update as of 7:30 p.m. this evening. Items in red are taken care of, all others still are needed.

Is your basket ready? Some last-minute ideas

Today is December 7. That means in just nine days we’ll be resuming our annual Holiday Party & Basket Auction, a festive event that was derailed last year by the pandemic. Are you ready?

The key to a good time is creation of themed gift baskets (cost in the $35-40 range) that fellow partygoers can bid on as a way to raise funds for our treasury in support of community service activities.

We’ve been sharing some basket ideas over the past month (see here and here), and this post has several more if your imaginations need jump-starting. Just bring the finished products with you to Moscatiello’s at 6 p.m. on Thursday, December 16, when fully-vaxxed Rotarians and friends of Rotary gather to ring in the holiday season. No advance reservations needed.

Meeting Minutes: 12/2/21

MEMBERS ATTENDING (19): Debbie Rodriguez, Pat Bailey, Bill Dowd, Kevin Leyhane, Terry Brewer, Becky Raymond, Andy Leyhane, Shannon Romanowski, Peter Brown, Charlie Foote, Phil Kellerman, Jim Leyhane, Roberto Martinez, Dick Drumm, Tony Morris, Carol Orvis (by proxy), Debbie Brown (by proxy), Dean Calamaras (by proxy) Doris Calamaras (by proxy).

GUESTS (2): Richard Zazycki, Debbie Morris.

President Debbie Rodriguez called the meeting to order at Moscatiello’s Italian Family Restaurant. A quorum was present, plus four members by proxy.


• Debbie announced that the District is seeking candidates for District Governor 2024-25. Anyone interested in being nominated and interviewed for the post is asked to let her know. All candidates go through an interview process by a panel appointed by the District.

• Becky Raymond reported that the NYSCR Danes Rotaract club we sponsor is working on a joint effort with the Mooncatcher Project to create and ship feminine hygiene kits to young women in Africa. The club supported a smiliar effort, headed by the Niskayuna club, in 2020 (see details here). She also said several new Rotaract members have been recruited.

• Shannon Romanowski reported that the Greenbush YMCA’s annual Community Basket Brigade, to which SRC donated $250, provided 502 families with full Thanksgiving meal baskets, including turkeys.

• Bill Dowd reported that our annual “Adopt-a-Family” effort for Circles of Mercy was going well, with a half-carload of donated gifts received before the meeting. (The Greenbush Y is handling efforts to supply another family for us.) He said he will be in the Moscatiello’s parking lot from 5:30 to 6 p.m. next WEDNESDAY to receive the remainder of gifts. He reminded attendees that he is regularly refreshing the website chart with gifts still needed and including a red banner on the post that lets people know when the list was last updated.

• Bill also reported that the club will be sending a $500 check to ShelterBox from proceeds from our ongoing Clynk container recycling program. He also noted that several members made individual donations during “Giving Tuesday” which are matched dollar-for-dollar. SRC has been a longtime strong financial supporter of the ShelterBox organization. Past District Governor Larry Jones, our District’s liaison with ShelterBox, will be our guest speaker on February 24 with an update on ShelterBox’s activities.

• Discussion was held about the Holiday Party & Theme Basket Raffle. It is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday December 16, at Moscatiello’s. All fully vaxxed members and their fully vaxxed guests are invited. Cost will be about $35 per person (still being negotiated) with a cash bar.

• In a post-meeting note, Roberto Martinez reported that we have sold $300 in Hoffman Car Wash tickets, proceeds going to the club treasury.

• Next Meeting: 7 p.m. Thursday, December 9, via Zoom. As always, go to the website calendar page and click on the link for that date to access the session.

PROGRAM: Richard Zazycki, executive director of Circles of Mercy, was our guest speaker. He discussed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on funding his organization, which provides family services to people in need. Despite the limitations on in-person fundraisers, Circles has been able to secure a number of grants as well mantain ties with other service organizers such as Rotary.

Richard also provided a rundown on the number of families and individuals served in the past 12 months through the clothing thrift shop, income tax prep services, job interview techniques, financial counseling, computer instructions, etc. He also noted that Circles continues to be interested in purchasing a building to house its thrift shop, offices and class spaces rather than continuing to pay rent.

Last call for reduced RI Convention rate

Rotary International is returning from virtual conventioneering to in-person activity next June in Houston.

Organizers of the 2022 Rotary International Convention, set for June 4 through 8 in Texas, have announced a December 15 deadline for a reduced rate. Rotarians will be able to cancel and receive a full refund until April 30, except for a $50 administrative fee.

The theme will be “Discover New Horizons.” Convention details and registration information are available online.

What’s on the dinner menu for Thursday?

We hope you are planning to join your fellow Rotarians for dinner this Thursday at Moscatiello’s? If so, you’ll have the choice of one of three entrees:

• spaghetti and meatballs with marina sauce
• chicken Caesar salad
• baked ziti

No need to reserve in advance. Just let us know your choice when you arrive. And remember, a cash bar is available to find a beverage complement to your meal. (If you’re not planning to attend, you can email your proxy to Debbie Rodriguez at no later than Wednesday. You’ll be counted as “present” for quorum purposes.)

Our guest speaker will be Richard Zazycki, executive director of Circles of Mercy, who will share his thoughts on running a family aid organization under pandemic conditions.

And remember, Thursday will be one of just two drop-off days for your donations (the other is Wednesday, December 8) to our “Adopt-a-Family” holiday project. Coordinator Bill Dowd will be posted in the Moscatiello’s parking lot from 5:30 to 6:00 p.m. each of those days to receive your wrapped-and-labeled donations. (Look for his white Subaru Impreza.)

NOTE: Please do not bring gifts into the restaurant, even if you plan to stay for dinner. We don’t want to intrude on other customers’ space.

Here’s the Adopt-a-Family shopping list update

AS OF 7:30 P.M. WEDNESDAY, 12/8/21


We’re steadily adding to our pledges of “Adopt-a-Family” gifts for the Monroe family, although we still have plenty of “needs to have” shopping list items remaining to be claimed. In particular, the shopping list for the 12-year-old boy is in need of attention.

The last gift drop-off is scheduled for 5:30 to 6:00 p.m. this WEDNESDAY in the Moscatiello’s parking lot. Look for project coordinator Bill Dowd who will be there to load gifts into his car, a white Subaru Impreza. Please be sure all gifts are wrapped and tagged with the recipients’ names. If you are contributing gift cards, please be sure they are activated.

Scroll down for the latest spreadsheet update and check out what is NOT in red if you want to contribute. Also, if you’d prefer contributing a gift card, see below for some suggestions.


We’re already doing great with our “Adopt-a-Family” effort for Circles of Mercy. As we progress, we’ll keep updating the spreadsheet below so those of you who wish to participate do not duplicate purchases.

Anyone who wants to supplement the overall gift for the Monroe family may wish to purchase gift cards for such businesses as Stewart’s, Walmart, Aldi, or any such place in the Rensselaer area.

You’ll note that only one family is on the spreadsheet. We had two, but the Greenbush YMCA is using its relationship with a local Target store to handle the other family, as explained in an e-mail sent to all members today.

Please note: Anything marked in red on the spreadsheet already has been spoken for. Please keep checking back on a daily basis to see what still is needed. All gifts must be wrapped and labeled with the intended recipient’s name. They may be dropped off to Bill Dowd in the Moscatiello’s parking lot between 5:30 and 6 p.m. Thursday, December 2, and Thursday, December 9.

Thanks to all who already are helping and those who will.

Here’s our Adopt-a-Family information

SRC Rotary Club / Circles of Mercy

We have just received the names and shopping lists for the two families SRC has been assigned for the annual “Circles of Mercy Adopt-a-Family” project. The information is on the two spreadsheets shown below.

Here’s how we’re handling it this year in view of the fact we are not meeting in person each week

• Please select which item(s) you would like to donate, and email project coordinator Bill Dowd via to let him know your choices. He’ll continually update the spreadsheet on the club website so everyone can see it and avoid duplicating gifts already spoken for.

All donations must be gift wrapped and clearly labeled as to recipient.

• Any monetary donations should be done in the form of gift cards placed in envelopes marked with the name of the intended recipients.

• Donations may be brought to our dinner meetings at Moscatiello’s on either December 2 (when Circles Executive Director Richard Zazycki will be our guest speaker) or December 9. Those are the only dropoff dates.


• Bill has to inventory and deliver all donations to Circles by December 15, so your dropoffs in a timely fashion are very important. 

• Even if you don’t plan to stay for the dinner and meeting on those two dates, Bill will be available in the Moscatiello’s parking lot at the side of the building from 5:30 to 6 p.m. to accept your donations.

As always, thank you for your generosity. In these unusually trying times you’ll be helping needy families have a holiday they otherwise might not be able to imagine.

How are your raffle gift baskets coming along?

After a COVID-induced break in our annual Holiday Party & Gift Basket Raffle last December, we’re back on schedule with a 3B (basket bidding battle) dinner at Moscatiello’s on Thursday, December 16.

We’ve been dropping large hints on how to come up with a theme for your baskets (in the $35-or-so range to create) to help jump-start your imaginations. Here are some more.

To begin with, “baskets” can be any type of container, such as these:

Then, of course, the contents are up to you. In the past, we’ve had wine baskets, candy collections, cheeses-and-crackers, movie-and-popcorn combos, children’s toys, soaps and lotions, craft beers and munchies … It’s limited only by your imagination. And, if you feel particularly creative, don’t feel constrained to creating just one basket. The more the merrier!

For those new to the process, it’s a simple one. Baskets are arranged on tables with bidding sheets next to them. Party-goers jot down their bids, with the highest bidder winning the basket. All proceeds go to the club’s general treasury to help support our community service initiatives.

So, be sure to mark December 16 on your calendar and plan to join your fully vaxxed fellow Rotarians and their guests at Moscatiello’s to ring in the holiday season in fine form.

Wine treat basket

Green thumb collection

Bloody Mary in a basket
Italian dinner in a colander
Something to satisfy the sweet tooth

Meeting Clipboard: 11/18/21

MEMBERS ATTENDING (13): Debbie Rodriguez, Bill Dowd, Charlie Foote, Roberto Martinez, Jim Leyhane, Dick Drumm, Pat Bailey, Kevin Leyhane, Phil Kellerman, Dean Calamaras (by proxy), Doris Calamaras (by proxy), Carol Orvis (by proxy), Tony Morris (by proxy).


President Debbie Rodriguez called the meeting to order via Zoom, noting the presence of a quorum. (Plus one cat and one duck. Don’t ask if you weren’t there.)


• Debbie reported her delivery of a check for $250 to the Greenbush YMCA in support of its annual Community Thanksgiving Basket drive. She said Y Director Shannon Romanowski, an SRC member, has been preempted from attending meetings because of working with two Y facilities, but hopes to soon rejoin us.

• Debbie provided a summary of last week’s SRC Board meeting that included approval of our Y contribution; approval of a continued alternating of meetings between Zoom and dinner meetings at Moscatiello’s, and a fundraising proposal by Pat Bailey (see next item).

• Pat Bailey supplied more details of her fundraising proposal presented to the Board, which would combine a raffle and public appearances to tell people about Rotary and its many community service activities. She has a four-person committee — Pat, Becky Raymond, Peter Brown, Phil Kellerman — assembled to brainstorm and plan the 2022 event. She is looking for a fifth member.

• Several programs have been lined up, including an Iranian travelogue by Dean Calamaras; a talk by Assemblyman Jake Ashby, and the almost-annual trivia quiz by Bill Dowd. (See our website calendar page for details.)

A fundraising letter, crafted by Bill, has been sent over President Debbie’s signature to all members as a way to help underwrite various projects in lieu of some of our traditional activities derailed by the pandemic.

• Bill reported that the latest incremental “bank” total in our ongoing Clynk recycling project is nearing $400. Jim Leyhane said he has received a $60 check from non-Clynk recycling from Ron Annis. Treasurer Murray Forth will send a check from the club to ShelterBox for $400, and we’ll immediately begin rebuilding the total for additional contributions.

• Bill also reported that he has made some inquiries of Circles of Mercy, asking for details of which families we will have for the “Adopt-a-Family” holiday project. The information was promised by this Wednesday, but still has not been sent. He will inform members of details via email as soon as received.

• Phil Kellerman, a member of our Foundation Advisory Committee along with Murray Forth, Andy Leyhane, and A.J. Amato, was asked if the group had met yet, as had been asked at previous meeting and at last week’s Board meeting. He said it had not, but he hoped to convene a meeting in January to reply to a list of questions from members in recent weeks.

NEXT MEETING: We are off next week because of Thanksgiving. We will meet at 6:15 p.m. Thursday, December 2, at Moscatiello’s when Richard Zazycki, executive director of Circles of Mercy, will be our guest speaker.