Circles of Mercy’s Cate’s Kids Easter Basket Program

Once again, SRC Rotary and the East Greenbush YMCA are partnering to support Circles of Mercy and their annual Easter Basket Program. We would like to provide for 25 baskets this year.

Circles of Mercy is asking that cellophane wrapped Easter baskets include the following items: coloring books, crayons, color pencils, facial tissues, toothpaste and toothbrushes, dental floss, hair combs and brushes, age appropriate (1 to 12 years old) small stuffed animals, toys, small games, or reading books, and of course various different types of traditional wrapped candy.

Items may be dropped off at the YMCA or collected at each Club meeting. The last collection day for our Club will be the regular Club meeting on Thursday March 30, 2023. Circles of Mercy will also take monetary donations which they will use towards this project.

Meeting Clipboard 1/5/23

MEMBERS ATTENDING (13): Kevin Leyhane, Jim Leyhane, Charlie Foote, Andy Leyhane, Roberto Martinez, Pat Bailey, Ray Hannan, Debbie Rodriguez, Peter Brown, Debbie Brown, Phil Kellerman, and Dick Drumm, By Zoom: Murray Forth.

GUESTS (1): Richard Zazycki 

President Kevin Leyhane called the meeting to order.


Theme for the Year: Growing Fellowship and Service Locally and Globally.” 

Hybrid Meeting:  Please let Kevin Leyhane, Jim Leyhane or Roberto Martinez know if you plan to join the weekly meeting via Zoom.

Proxy Votes:  If unable to attend please submit your proxy votes to Kevin Leyhane. Proxy votes can also be submitted using the Remind App. Text to the number 81010.

Circles of Mercy Adopt a Family:  Once again, members provided all the gifts from both family’s lists along with additional gift cards. All gifts were delivered to Circles of Mercy on December 19, 2022.  We are looking forward to continuing this Holiday tradition in 2023.

Holiday Party:  Thank you to everyone that invited guests and supported the gift basket auction. The auction raised $675 dollars.

Cafe Capriccio Raffle: Tickets for a dinner for 12 at Cafe Capriccio are still available from Andy Leyhane. All members are asked to sell ten raffle tickets for $20 each. The drawing is planned for January 19th. The dinner will be held sometime in February on a date mutually agreeable with the Restaurant and the raffle winner.

Student Exchange Program: Peter Brown and Jim Leyhane will be meeting with Jeff Simons, Superintendent of the East Greenbush Central School District, next week.

Guest Speakers and Calendar:  The calendar has been updated and we are looking to book speakers for the upcoming year:  If you know someone that would be interested, please reach out to Kevin Leyhane, Peter Brown or Becky Raymond.

Next Meeting: Thursday, January 12, dinner at 6:00 pm at Moscatiello’s Italian Family Restaurant, Route 4, North Greenbush. Also, you can join the by Zoom using the link on the websites calendar page.

Entree choices will be Eggplant Parmesan, Chicken Caesar Salad or Chicken Marsala.

Circles of Mercy

Richard Zazycki, Executive Director of Circles of Mercy, spoke about the services and programs provided to the Rensselaer Community.

During 2021, Circles of Mercy assisted “over 1,600 clients who required over 7,000 service transactions.” The thrift store Catherine’s Closet provided more than 150 grants for clothing for adults and children and for baby supplies. For every dollar donated, 87 cents go directly to programs and services. Due to COVID, they were unable to conduct the Walk for Mercy and the Irish Night Out, two of their major fundraisers.

Through the Cate’s Kid Program, Cirles of Mercy collaborate with other non-profit agencies such as the Rensselaer School District, the Rensselaer Boyes and Girls Club, the Rensselaer Street Soldiers, and the CEO Rensselaer Family Resource Center’s Head Start Program. They are able to share resources and/or donated materials.

Eight grade students from the Doane Stuart School in Rensselaer participate in the “First Friday Club” where they come to Circles of Mercy once a month to perform community service.

In partnership with the IRS, the annual VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) Program will begin on or after January 23rd. Low-income clients and seniors will be able to access both in-person and virtual tax preparation services. Last year “377 tax returns filed resulted in combined refunds and tax credits of $524,565.”

Easter basket project finishes up

A portion of the basket barrage.

A collection of Easter baskets created from donations to SRC and the Greenbush YMCA was delivered to Circles of Mercy headquarters today.

A team of volunteers from the club and the Y finished assembling the baskets on Thursday at the Y. Thanks to all who were involved including Lois Hannan who headed up the club’s effort and Shannon Romanowski who headed up the Y’s effort.

Part of the basket assembly brigade. From left: Jim Leyhane, Lois Hannan, Charlie Foote, Roberto Martinez, Shannon Romanowski.
Volunteers parcel out basket items.

Easter basket assembly volunteers needed

We’re looking for volunteers to assemble donated items into finished baskets for needy kids in Circles of Mercy’s annual Easter Basket drive.

Member Shannon Romanowski informs us a basket assembly session is scheduled for this Thursday from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at the Greenbush YMCA. However, she needs to know ASAP how many people plan to volunteer their time. You can call her at the Y at 518-477-2570, extension 1200, or contact Debbie Rodriguez.

Shannon and Y staff plan to deliver the completed baskets to Circles of Mercy on Friday.

Even if you plan to help but don’t want to miss our dinner meeting that same day, the Y is close to Moscatiello’s so you can leave a few minutes before the end of the session and still make it to the dinner where we will have two guest speakers from the Capital Roots community garden and nutrition services organization.

Wanted: Easter basket project coordinator

Your club is looking for a volunteer coordinator for our annual participation in the Circles of Mercy “Cate’s Kids Easter Basket Program.”

Club President Debbie Rodriguez will be asking at Thursday’s dinner meeting at Moscatiello’s for people to work on coordinating our effort to provide baskets for needy kids in Circles’ area of service in Rensselaer County. It’s a short-term but important role that will allow people to continue Rotary’s community service component.

Easter this year falls on Sunday, April 17. We hope to have completed baskets delivered to Circles no later than Monday, April 4, so they can be assigned and delivered to client families the week before the holiday. That also provides sufficient time for Circles to spend any monetary donations to fill the recipient families’ needs.

We will be publishing on our club website and Facebook page a shopping list for the project. Meanwhile, please consider your level of participation in this very worthwhile undertaking.

Thanks again for your generosity!

Just a part of the bounty of gifts you donated this year.

Imagine thinking your young children would be waking up tomorrow morning to a very sparse Christmas. Now, imagine as a single parent receiving a call from Circles of Mercy, telling you not to be concerned, the Southern Rensselaer County Rotary Club has come through once again.

That’s what happened thanks to our “Adopt-a-Family” effort for 2021, with a big boost from the Greenbush YMCA. Two moms and six kids are receiving a variety of “needs to have” and “nice to have” items donated by the generous folks of both of these organizations, and a few of their friends.

To all who helped in one way or another — wrapped gifts, gift cards, pickups, deliveries, etc. — thank you, thank you, thank you.

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.

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.