We need you for District Training & Grants Management

The annual District Training and Grants Management event is set for Saturday, April 10, and all SRC Rotarians are invited to participate.

In particular, the second part of the day requires our attention. It’s the Grant Management training session, and any club that hopes to apply for financial grants in the 2021-22 Rotary Year is required — without exception — to have at least two (2) participants.

Past presidents and current SRC Board members Bill Dowd and Phil Kellerman have volunteered to represent SRC. However, the more people we have the better, especially if one of our participants has to bow out at the last minute. It also is an excellent opportunity for members wishing to learn more about the inner workings of the District.

If you’re interested but cannot commit to the full day of training (8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.), you can always commit to just the 90-minute Grants Training scheduled for 1 to 2:30 p.m. that day. However, advance registration is required no matter the length of participation.

To sign up, simply go online and fill out the easy form. Once you do, please inform President-elect Debbie Rodriguez so she knows who is qualified to work with her in the next Rotary Year, which will begin on July 1.

As District Governor Rich Griesche says, “All Rotarians are encouraged to attend, especially all club executives (president, president-elect, treasurer, secretary, committee chairs and members, and all board members). This training is prepared to help you during the upcoming year.  It is extremely important that you attend.”

This session will begin at 8:30 the morning of April 10. There will be a lunch break, and the Grants Training will begin promptly at 1 p.m.

“This is being presented under one ZOOM meeting,” Rich explains, so if you are attending both morning and afternoon you do not need to sign off as the meeting will be kept open during lunch.  If you do leave after the morning session, just use the same link to re-enter for the afternoon session.”

Meeting Clipboard: 2/11/21

MEMBERS ATTENDING (19): Dick Drumm, Bill Dowd, Debbie Rodriguez, Dean Calamaras, Doris Calamaras, Ray Hannan, Pat Bailey, Roberto Martinez, Jim Leyhane, Tony Morris, Phil Kellerman, Peter Brown, Debbie Brown, Carol Orvis, Becky Raymond, Murray Forth, Kevin Leyhane, Charlie Foote, Andy Leyhane.

GUESTS (2): Gift of Life International CEO Rob Raylman, Assistant District Governor C.G. Frinke.

MEETING NOTES: President Dick Drumm welcome members and our guests, Gift of Life International CEO Rob Raylman, Assistant District Governor C.G. Frinke of the Albany club. … Members were reminded to register for the Rotary Leadership Institute (RLI) virtual workshop before the February 20 deadline (click here for details) and the February 22 multi-district “Young People Speak” panel discussion (click here for details). …

Guest Speaker: Rob Raylman, who has held the GOL post since February 2008, graduated from Hobart College in 1984 with a degree in political science. Directly out of college, he went to work for then-U.S. Senator Alphonse D’Amato (R-NY) from 1984 to 1986. He worked for Browning Ferris Industries (BFI) in Albany from January 1987 until 1999, where he was a vice president, and from 1999 to 2007 managed his own political consulting business. As CEO of Gift of Life International, Rob has focused on the creation of sustainable pediatric cardiac surgery programs in developing countries. Presently he is working to develop programs in Bolivia, Panama, the Philippines, Romania, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic.

Rob provided a thumbnail of GOL’s activities since its inception in 1975 by the Manhasset, Long Island, Rotary Club. Over the years, it has provided cardiac and other lifesaving medical treatment for 38,000 children from 80 countries, thanks in large part to the efforts of 80 GOL chapters, including one in our own District 7190.

He noted that a congenital heart defect occurs in one of every 100 live births worldwide, and more than half of those require surgical intervention. Over the years, GOL has emphasized training missions to many countries in an effort to expand the knowledge base for surgical techniques and medical aftercare. That provides a much more cost effective way of handling far more cases than relying as heavily on bringing children to the U.S. for surgeries.

Rob answered a variety of questions from attendees, and he and eight members signed back in after the ZOOM meeting cutoff for an “extended session” of discussion.

NEXT MEETING: 7 p.m. Thursday, February 18, via ZOOM. Check the website calendar for the link to access the meeting.

Sign up now for ‘Young People Speak’ panel

Curious about why some younger Rotarians stay, or why they left?

“Young People Speak,” a multi-district membership panel discussion that should help us learn the answers to both questions, is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, February 22. It certainly should provide some insights in how we can attract, nurture, and hold younger members for the Southern Rensselaer County Rotary Club.

While admission to the discussion is free, advance registration is required. The process is simple. Just click here and fill in the form to reserve your virtual seat.

Meeting Clipboard: 2/4/21

MEMBERS ATTENDING (20): Dick Drumm, Bill Dowd, Murray Forth, Kevin Leyhane, Dean Calamaras, Doris Calamaras, Ray Hannan, Pat Bailey, Terry Brewer, Geoff Brewer, Carol Orvis, Peter Brown, Debbie Brown, Charlie Foote, Phil Kellerman, Roberto Martinez, Jim Leyhane, Tony Morris, John Justino, Andy Leyhane.


MEETING NOTES: President Dick Drumm welcomed attendees. … Bill Dowd reminded all that this week was the start of Easter basket donation drop-offs at the Greenbush YMCA. Anyone who has misplaced the preferred shopping list as well as the project timeline and details can find it on the club website by clicking here. … A reminder that the deadline for online registration for the February 27 virtual Rotary Leadership Institute is February 20. Details on the event and a link to registration are available on the club website by clicking here. … Dean Calamaras announced that the Gift of Life is looking for two board members who have an interest in fundraising for the medical charity. If interested, please contact him. … A reminder that rather than sending out several emails with links to weekly meetings, all members need to do is go to the website calendar page and click on the link for the appropriate date to gain meeting access.

PROGRAM: Kevin Leyhane, who teaches at the Genet School which has approximately 450 students in grades K-5, spoke on how the physical education curriculum is being handled there during the pandemic.

The difficulties of social distancing during physical activities and the need to create alternative activities to the usual sports was emphasized.

Taped-off “boxes” in the gymnasium are used to designate activity space for the students and keep them apart. As Kevin pointed out, anything a student touches — including the “boxes” — has to be cleaned before anyone else can use them. Teachers have integrated calisthenics, dance, and video-led activities to keep the students’ interest while providing good physical training.

He took a series of questions from members, and stayed on in an extended session after the meeting to discuss anything else attendees wished to know.

NEXT MEETING: 7 p.m. Thursday, February 11, via ZOOM.

Meeting Clipboard: 1/28/21

MEMBERS ATTENDING (18): Dick Drumm, Terry Brewer, Geoff Brewer, Roberto Martinez, Jim Leyhane, Debbie Rodriguez, Carol Orvis, Tony Morris, Pat Bailey, Phil Kellerman, Charlie Foote, Ray Hannan, Kevin Leyhane, Peter Brown, Debbie Brown, Dean Calamaras, Doris Calamaras, Murray Forth.


MEETING NOTE: President Dick Drumm called the meeting to order and welcomed members. … In a round-robin chat, about half the members reported having received the first of their COVID vaccinations. … As part of the annual Easter baskets project in conjunction with Circles of Mercy, Jim Leyhane has purchased 60 baskets. He will inform our event coordinator, Shannon Romanowski, who is keeping a running tab of the number of baskets contributed so far, with 175 baskets as the target. The shopping list for basket contents SRC members and friends are asked to purchase is available on the website, along with all details of the effort. …

Financial items: Murray Forth said he still has Hoffman Car Wash tickets for sale. All proceeds go to the club treasury. … Jim reports having only 50 more bars of handcrafted scented soaps to sell. So far, that effort has raised more than $1,000. Please contact Jim or Roberto Martinez if you would like to purchase some.  … Phil Kellerman said he has a limited number of coffees available. … A committee has been formed to study the possibility of creating a 501(c)3 Foundation as discussed at the January 14 general meeting: Members: Terry Brewer, Dick Drumm, Phil Kellerman, Murray Forth, Roberto Martinez, Jim Leyhane. They will discuss options and report back to the club. … 

Speakers:  February 4, Kevin Leyhane on “Elementary School During COVID”; February 21, “Gift of Life” update. Meeting access links available on the website calendar page.

It’s RI’s 116th birthday, and you’re invited

A note from District 7190 Governor Rich Griesche:

Are you ready to party? I know I am. On Tuesday February 23, Rotary International will celebrate its 116th birthday. I am inviting you to celebrate it with your fellow Rotarians at a virtual social event at 7 p.m. that day via live streaming.

To participate, BYOB, wear your favorite party hat, have a cupcake (or whatever) with a candle in it, and be ready to have some fun.

No speakers, no format, no business. YOU set the tone. It will be an opportunity to socialize in the district. And, no masks required.

Many of you may know that a virtual auction to raise funds for the Rotary Foundation will take place from Monday, February 1, through Monday, February 22. The results will be announced on the 23rd. Any auction items that didn’t get auctioned (no bids) will be auctioned live during the birthday party! Please mark your calendars.

The zoom link will be sent out a few days before on a reminder e-mail.

Meeting Clipboard: 1/21/21

Meeting held virtually via ZOOM videoconferencing.

Always show pre-publish checks.

MEMBERS ATTENDING (18): Dick Drumm, Bill Dowd, Jim Leyhane, Roberto Martinez, Kevin Leyhane, Charlie Foote, Debbie Rodriguez, Ray Hannan, Andy Leyhane, Terry Brewer, Geoff Brewer, Murray Forth, Dean Calamaras, Doris Calamaras, Pat Bailey, Peter Brown, Debbie Brown, John Justino.

GUESTS (1): Charles Frink.

MEETING NOTES: President Dick Drumm welcomed members and our guest, Area 8 Assistant District Governor Charles Frink. … Bill Dowd displayed a pair of handwritten thank-you notes from the two families we sponsored in December’s “Adopt-a-Family for the Holidays” effort with Circles of Mercy. … Murray Forth mentioned that we also received thank-you notes from the four local food pantries we helped support over the holidays with financial contributions — (The Anchor, Doors of Hope, CoNSERNS-U, Food for Families) …

Murray also reminded members he still has Hoffman Car Wash tickets for sale as a club fundraiser. This is a good time of year to regularly wash road salt from your cars. … Bill noted that he posted the timeline and shopping list on our website today for the annual “Easter Basket for Cate’s Kids” project in conjunction with Circles of Mercy. Shannon Romanowski is our coordinator this year. … It also was noted that members should regularly check the website calendar page for information and links to local and district activities. …

Terry Brewer led a discussion on the pros and cons of applying for 501(c)3 IRS status (the club currently is recognized as a 501(c)4 organization) and of creating a foundation as an adjunct to the club. Members had been sent copies of an analysis by Terry served as background for the discussion. Our guest, Charles Frink, currently is president of the Albany Rotary Foundation, which is more than 25 years old. He described its operation and its revenue streams primarily coming from fundraisers, member donations, and bequests. He advised having a “reasonable level” of money as the target for a foundation startup, clear investment guidelines, and a simple money in/money out operation.

Terry opined that $25,000 might be a good target level and asked that the topic be placed on the discussion agenda for the next SRC Board meeting, to be scheduled.

NEXT MEETING: 7 p.m. Thursday, January 28, via ZOOM. All meeting links now may be found in advance on the club website calendar page. We no longer will be sending out link announcements via email.

‘Easter Baskets for Kids’ is under way

Each year for the past seven years, the Southern Rensselaer County Rotary Club has partnered with Circles of Mercy to provide “Easter Baskets for Kids” ages 1 through 12 in the City of Rensselaer.

This year, despite the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re doing it yet again. Shannon Romanowski has stepped up to act as coordinator for the project, for which we thank her. In the past few years, the Greenbush YMCA she administers has been a strong ally in the effort.

We will be circulating via our club website and Facebook page as well as e-mail blasts a shopping list of items such as traditional Easter candies, oral hygiene items, reading books, small toys, etc. Shannon will be letting us know her deadlines, basket-creation procedures, etc., which we’ll share via the same methods. This is just to give you a bit of a headstart on shopping.

For those not fully familiar with it, Circles of Mercy is an outreach center for poor and low-income families which is sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy Northeast Community. SRC has partnered with the organization for years on a number of effort, including holiday family “adoptions,” back-to-school supplies, etc.


Speaker: Educating in a pandemic

Have you or anyone you know been home-schooling kids during the COVID-19 pandemic? No easy assignment, to be sure. But, imagine if you had to do the same for dozens and dozens of kids, sometimes in person, sometimes virtually.

That’s what teachers and support staff have been doing in our schools this academic year. Lara Vazquetelles, a Delmar resident who is a special ed teacher in the East Greenbush Central School District, will be visiting us at our 7 p.m. Thursday, January 14, ZOOM meeting to take us “behind the scenes.”

Please be sure to circle the date on your calendar, and plan to join your fellow SRC Rotarians for what promises to be an enlightening event.

‘Director Dialogue’ virtual session registration open

The next “Director Dialogue” free webinar event, this one featuring Rotary International Past President Barry Rassin, is coming up.

Unfortunately, as so often is the case with District and RI events, it falls on our regular meeting time and day, 7 p.m. Thursday, January 14. (The next event is on a Wednesday, thank goodness.) This could be a particularly interesting session for members of the Danes Rotaract, given the topic title. If you’d like to attend, pre-registration is required. RI Director Valarie Wafer will be hosting the event. Just go to our website calendar page and click on the appropriate link.

As Valarie explains:

“We’ll be discussing the concept of ‘Elevate Rotaract,’ and what it means to Rotary’s future. Special guests from throughout the Rotary world will join me in future months to cover a wide range of topics of interest to all Rotarians, all provided at no charge as a benefit to you as a member of a club in Zones 28 & 32. The next webinar is scheduled for Wednesday, March 10.”