Your RSVP and input needed for our Holiday Party

SRC Party 2019

You have just four days left to submit your RSVP for our annual Holiday Party & Basket Silent Auction.

We’re planning a traditional holiday prime rib dinner at the East Greenbush home of Maggie and Murray Forth at 6 p.m. Thursday, December 19. It’s just $25 per person for the main meal and beverages.

Here’s your pre-party “to-do” list:

• If you haven’t yet let Maggie or Murray know you’re coming, please do so no later than this Thursday either by letting Murray know at this week’s dinner meeting, or by calling the Forths at 518-477-7433.

• We’re asking guests to bring an appetizer or dessert, but to avoid an overload — or “underload” — in either category it would be appreciated if you would call Maggie well in advance to coordinate your contribution.

• We hope you’re working on  your themed gift basket for the silent auction fundraiser. (If you’re stuck for ideas, check the club website at for some tips.) It’s a major, fun part of the festivities each year.

In the holiday spirit,
Your Rotary Club

P.S. Did you spot the Rotary emblem in the holiday scene above?

Today’s ‘Adopt-a-Family’ project update


Screen Shot 2019-11-26 at 7.58.25 PMHere is where we stand as of 8 p.m. today (Tuesday) in our annual project to make Christmas for one local family a happy one.

We’re off to a solid start for our annual “Adopt-a-Family” holiday effort in partnership with Circles of Mercy. However, we’re on a short turnaround time and still need help to meet the December 16 drop-off deadline.

The chart above — which we are updating on a daily basis — shows the Hazzard family’s wish list, with items marked in yellow denoting what has been pledged so far. Please note that we’d like to first get all the “Need to have” items accounted for before we begin duplicating anything like clothes, etc.

If you’d like to help make the family’s Christmas morning brighter than it otherwise would be, just email project coordinator Debbie Rodriguez at (copy to Bill Dowd, please, at as soon as you can. She will gather all the donated gifts for delivery.

PLEASE REMEMBER, all gifts must be gift-wrapped and labeled with the recipient’s name.

Thank you for your generosity

P.S. If you’d like to contribute in another way, Circles of Mercy also is in need of personal hygiene kits to distribute to some of its clients. Here is what goes into such kits:

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Here’s the wish list for our Adopt-a-Family drive

Screen Shot 2019-11-22 at 6.00.46 PMAs we head into the holiday season, we plan to mix some giving into the equation as once again we help people less fortunate than we. It’s our annual participation in Circles of Mercy’s Adopt-a-Family holiday project.

This year we have one family, consisting of a mom and dad (ages 45 and 44), a teen daughter (17), a young son (4), and a baby girl on the way. Their “wish list” is modest, mostly clothing and personal items, but with a small smattering of other practical items.

The deadline for delivering donated gifts to Circles of Mercy is Monday, December 16, so we’re on a tight schedule.

Debbie Rodriguez is serving as project coordinator this year. We need your involvement, but we would appreciate it if you would contact Debbie BEFORE you do any shopping to let her know what you would like to provide. That coordination will help us be sure we cover the list without duplications or omissions. (Of course, duplicating clothing items never is a bad thing, but we need the communication nevertheless).

Here is the wish list. Please remember, all gifts (1) need to be gift wrapped, (2) must be labeled with the recipient’s names, (3) and need to be delivered to Debbie in time for her to coordinate her dropoff at Circles of Mercy by the deadline.

Thank you in advance for your generosity in the true spirit of Rotary and of the season.

Hazzard Family Wish List

Looking for Holiday Basket theme ideas?

How’s your planning going for a themed basket for our annual Holiday Party & Basket Silent Auction?

If you’re racking (or wracking, as it sometimes is spelled) your brain for ideas, we have a few below that may help.

Keep in mind that the word “basket” is used loosely when it comes to our silent auction entries. Over the years, we have seen people use buckets, planters, wire baskets, vases, flower pots, colanders, and all other manner of receptacles.

The more imaginative you are, the more guests at our December 19 Holiday Party will bid, and the more we’ll be able to add to our treasury in support of our many community service initiatives.

Crunch Time
We call this one “Crunch Time.” Anything with “crunch” in the name tucked in a basket.
Pamper Pan
This “Pamper Pan” holds a collection of personal bath and grooming items.
Tea for Two
“Tea for Two” is a basket of tea-related goodies in a rustic woven basket.
Bloody Mary Basket
The “Bloody Mary Basket” title says it all.
Breakfast Bowl
This truly is a “Breakfast Bowl.”
Pasta Perfect
“Pasta Perfect” in one neat kit.


Time to prep for the holiday party — and baskets!

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Non-basket ‘baskets’

In just 42 days, many of us will be bidding on a lineup of cleverly-designed holiday gift baskets, with proceeds from the silent auction going to the Southern Rensselaer County Rotary Club treasury.

• The event: SRC’s  annual Holiday Party & Gift Basket Silent Auction on Thursday, December 19.

• The venue: The Forth residence in East Greenbush.

• The reason: ‘Tis the season!

Why? Well, the meal is always hauté, the libations a hit, the company a hoot — and the socializing and fellowship are a heck of a way to lead us into the final week before Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

We’re giving you this advance notice so you can begin working on themed gift baskets to put on the silent auction tables.

For the newer members, please be advised we do not take the word “basket” literally. Gift baskets always are a nice thing for the traditionalists among us, but we invite you to let your imaginations run wild. Anything that holds stuff is good — buckets, colanders, jars, boxes, bags, vases, etc . And, it’s the cleverness of the theme that attracts the most bids.

From time to time over the next few weeks we’ll be showing you some “basket” suggestions. Two of them are shown above. Meanwhile, start shopping for basket items and, above all, save the date for this family-friendly social event.



How we got to Labor Day 2019

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Excerpted from

Labor Day, an annual celebration of workers and their achievements, originated during one of American labor history’s most dismal chapters.

In the late 1800s, at the height of the Industrial Revolution in the United States, the average American worked 12-hour days and seven-day weeks to eke out a basic living. Despite restrictions in some states, children as young as 5 or 6 toiled in mills, factories,  and mines across the country, earning a fraction of their adult counterparts’ wages.

People of all ages, particularly the very poor and recent immigrants, often faced extremely unsafe working conditions, with insufficient access to fresh air, sanitary facilities, and breaks.

As manufacturing increasingly supplanted agriculture as the wellspring of American employment, labor unions, which had first appeared in the late 18th Century, grew more prominent and vocal. They began organizing strikes and rallies to protest poor conditions and compel employers to renegotiate hours and pay.

Many of these events turned violent during this period, including the infamous Haymarket Riot of 1886, in which several Chicago policemen and workers were killed. Others gave rise to longstanding traditions: On September 5, 1882, 10,000 workers took

Screen Shot 2019-08-30 at 1.26.02 PMunpaid time off to march from City Hall to Union Square in New York City, holding the first Labor Day parade in U.S. history.

The idea of a “workingmen’s holiday,” celebrated on the first Monday in September, caught on in other industrial centers across the country, and many states passed legislation recognizing it. Congress would not legalize the holiday until 12 years later, when a watershed moment in American labor history brought workers’ rights squarely into the public’s view. On May 11, 1894, employees of the Pullman Palace Car Company in Chicago went on strike to protest wage cuts and the firing of union representatives.

On June 26, the American Railroad Union, led by Eugene V. Debs, called for a boycott of all Pullman railway cars, crippling railroad traffic nationwide. To break the Pullman strike, the federal government dispatched troops to Chicago, unleashing a wave of riots that resulted in the deaths of more than a dozen workers.

In the wake of this massive unrest and in an attempt to repair ties with American

Screen Shot 2019-08-30 at 1.28.41 PMworkers, Congress passed an act making Labor Day a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories. On June 28, 1894, President Grover Cleveland signed it into law.

More than a century later, the true founder of Labor Day has yet to be identified. Many credit Peter J. McGuire, co-founder of the American Federation of Labor, while others have suggested that Matthew Maguire, a secretary of the Central Labor Union, first proposed the holiday.

Labor Day still is celebrated in cities and towns across the United States with parades, picnics, barbecues, fireworks displays and other public gatherings. For many Americans, particularly children and young adults, it represents the end of the summer and the start of the back-to-school season.


The story behind Memorial Day 2019

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All gave some, some gave all.
[Reprinted from a May 2017 posting on this website]

Beyond the cookouts, the holiday sales, the family trips, picnics and parades there is a deep and profound reason for Memorial Day.

Although we honor all military personnel on Veterans Day, Memorial Day is specifically designated as honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War but did not become an official federal holiday until 1971.

The Civil War, which ended in the spring of 1865, obviously claimed more lives than any conflict in U.S. history because all combatants were Americans, and it required the establishment of the country’s first national cemeteries.

By the late 1860s, Americans in various communities had begun holding springtime tributes to these countless fallen soldiers, reciting prayers and decorating their graves with flowers and flags — thus, the original name, Decoration Day.

Each year on Memorial Day a national moment of remembrance takes place at 3 p.m. local time. It is unclear exactly where this tradition originated. Numerous communities may have independently initiated the memorial gatherings. Nevertheless, in 1966 the federal government declared Waterloo, New York, the “Official Birthplace of Memorial Day.”

Waterloo, which first celebrated the day on May 5, 1866, was chosen because it hosted an annual community-wide event during which businesses closed and residents decorated the graves of soldiers with flowers and flags.

On May 5, 1868, General John A. Logan, leader of an organization for Northern Civil War veterans, called for a nationwide day of remembrance later that month. “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land,” he proclaimed.

The date of Decoration Day, as he called it, was chosen because it was not the anniversary of any particular battle.

On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, and 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there.

Many Northern states held similar commemorative events and reprised the tradition in subsequent years; by 1890 each one had made Decoration Day an official state holiday. Southern states, on the other hand, continued to honor their dead on separate days until after World War I.

Although Memorial Day originally honored only those lost in the Civil War, American involvement in The Great War, later called World War I, made it evolve to commemorate American military personnel who died in all wars.

For decades, Memorial Day continued to be observed on May 30, the date Logan had selected for the first Decoration Day. But, in 1968 Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, a controversial decision that moved several major holidays from their traditional or historic dates to Mondays that gave federal — and later on state and local — employees three-day paid weekends. The law went into effect in 1971.


by Robert Louis Stevenson

Under the wide and starry sky
Dig the grave and let me lie:
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.

This be the verse you ‘grave for me:
Here he lies where he long’d to be;
Home is the sailor, home from the sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.