Joint statement from RI and other service groups

Woven through the fabric of virtually every community on Earth, service clubs of Rotary International, Kiwanis International, Lions Clubs International, and Optimist International are working safely and diligently to maintain connections with each other and our neighbors so we can cope with and overcome the effects of COVID-19.

We are leveraging the strength of our combined networks of 3.2 million members to provide comfort and hope to those feeling the effects of isolation and fear. And, we are focusing our collective skills, resources and ideas to support frontline health workers and first responders as they battle this disease and save lives.

In these times of uncertainty, your local service clubs remain committed to meeting the challenge of finding innovative ways to take action together to help communities around the globe heal and thrive — and become more united than ever.

“The global effort against COVID-19 depends on actions taken in every country. As people of action, this is our time to connect with each other to offer immediate help to people in need,” says Mark Daniel Maloney, RI 2019-20 president.

“The scale and magnitude of this global pandemic requires our world’s citizenry to heed the advice and cautions of the experts. The work and plans of our collective members and volunteers must not cease.  Our immediate response after the crisis will be necessary to support local Governments respond to the many social and economic challenges that will ensue in its aftermath,” says Adrian Elcock, Optimist International president for 2019-2020.

“Great challenges test us, but they also bring us together. Lions are finding new ways to safely serve. Our Lions Clubs International Foundation has granted over one million dollars to help communities facing extreme rates of COVID-19, and additional grant requests are being received daily.  Our communities depend on service clubs, and we will be there, supporting and strengthening them just as we always have together,” said Dr. Jung-Yul Choi, Lions Clubs International president for 2019-2020.

“During these difficult times, we’re seeing everyday heroism across the globe. I encourage us all to recognize the health and safety professionals who are putting their own health at risk for the greater good. To the educators, grocery workers, delivery drivers and the countless professionals who can’t stay home, the Kiwanis family thanks you. We all play an important role in keeping our friends and neighbors safe. Please follow the advice of the World Health Organization, your local health agencies and the instructions given by your Government. Please, stay safe,” said Daniel Vigneron, Kiwanis International president, 2019-2020.


Meeting clipboard: 1/16/20

SRC ClipboardHeld at Quigley’s Restaurant
573 Columbia Turnpike
East Greenbush, NY 12061

Members Attending (15): Phil Kellerman, Pat Bailey, Terry Brewer, Geoff Brewer, Peter Brown, Debbie Brown, Dean Calamaras, Doris Calamaras, Dick Drumm, Murray Forth, Ray Hannan, Andy Leyhane, Jim Leyhane, Roberto Martinez, Wells Packard

Guests (6): Ruth Samuels Russell, Ryan Nowak, Madison Rifenberick, Mrs. Rifenberick, Madison Shumpert, Noah Mujalli

MEETING MINUTES: President Phil welcomed members and guests. … He reported that he and Wells Packard had attended the recent District Membership Training session and will discuss the information at the next Club Assembly, set for next Thursday, January 23. … Terry Brewer reported that the new Finance Committee will meet on Friday with A.J. Amato to discuss club investments and bookkeeping practices. …

Screen Shot 2020-01-18 at 3.37.57 PMWells Packard, who has accepted the role of club Youth Exchange Officer, explained that a student from Maple Hill High School has completed the process to be a Rotary Youth Exchange student next year. Now our club must decide whether to sponsor an incoming student as required by Rotary. He said he believes Maple Hill is receptive and will provide homes to the visiting student. This also will be a topic for the Assembly next Thursday. ….

60th logoCo-chairs Murray and Terry reported that lane sponsorship forms will be available next week for the March 1 Foundation Bowl-a-thon to benefit the Oley Foundation and the Freedom From Fistula Foundation. Businesses and/or individuals are invited to sponsor at $100 per lane. … Members are asked to contact Bill Dowd ASAP to make reservations for the club’s March 5 60th Anniversary Party. … Murray issued a save-the-date reminder that the next SRC Recycling & Shredding Day is scheduled for Saturday, April 18.

PROGRAM: New Visions Students’ Science Research Projects

Screen Shot 2020-01-18 at 3.25.49 PM
Ruth Russell with her New Visions students. From left: Madison Shumpert, Ryan Nowack, Madison Rifenberick, Noah Mujalli.

Debbie Brown introduced Ruth Russell, a professor of chemistry, biology, and mathematics. She is the project leader of the New Visions program’s Scientific Research and World Health Program, located at the UAlbany Health Sciences Campus in Rensselaer.

This program involves seniors from high schools in the region who spend five mornings each week researching scientific studies in addition to their usual class load. The program involves 15 to 18 students each academic year.

Ruth introduced four students to explain their projects:

• Madison “Maddy” Rifenberick, valedictorian for Troy High School, discussed mercury toxicity through ingestion or dental fillings and the risk of developing Parkinson ’s disease. Mercury can lead to the loss of dopamine receptors in the brain. Her study shows the majority of her subjects also had exposure to coal and often had a genetic factor. She explained that environmental risks clearly are a concern.

• Noah Mujalli, from Rensselaer High School, discussed his work on the pulmonary effects of hydrogen sulfide contamination from the Dunn Landfill in Rensselear. While the state Department of Environmental Conservation has said that hydrogen sulfide levels should not exceed .010 parts per million, tests show that levels around the landfill often exceed this, yet use permits have been given up to the year 2035. He explained his methods and talked about the risk of tumors and sarcoids (skin tumors)  that increases with higher limits. He recommended that those concerned speak up and attend town hall meetings.

• Ryan Nowak, a senior at Taconic Hills High School, discussed private wells near dairy farms and the risk of E. coli contamination in Columbia County. He said the increase in agriculture, while a good thing, also has added problems due to animal waste, the use of manure as fertilizer, and runoff into local streams. His surveys showed that nitrates were getting into local wells and water supplies, and he discussed possible symptoms of contamination. Ryan also spoke about the use of antibiotics in farming and the concern that this, too, can lead to new, resistant E. coli strains, so more study is needed.

• Madison Shumpert, a student at Shenendehowa High School, spoke on the effects of tetrahydrocannabinol — better known as THC, the primary psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis: i.e., the stuff in marijuana that gets you high — on the development of schizophrenia. Her study covered four countries that have liberal laws on the use of THC products. She said she is 90% confident that the higher use of cannabis can lead to the development of schizophrenia, but study is complicated by the variety of laws and regulations in each country.




May is a very special month for Rotary

Feel free to share this flyer on your social media accounts. Developing leadership skills and a commitment to community service among young people has long been one of Rotary’s priorities. Check this website’s inside pages list for links to information on RYLA, Rotary Exchange, Rotaract, and other Rotary-affiliated organizations and activities suitable for high school- […]

It’s going to be a happy Easter for a lot of kids

Screen Shot 2019-04-16 at 8.18.07 PMThe final tally has been made of how many Easter baskets SRC and its project partners at the Greenbush YMCA, Cub Scout Pack 253, and Danes Rotaract are providing.

The effort, to help make a lot of needy kids happy with traditional holiday baskets distributed by Circles of Mercy, is something SRC has been doing for a number of years, and each year we try to expand the effort to encompass more organizations performing various parts of the project, from shopping to donating to packaging to delivery.

Our pledge this year was 75 baskets, an ambitious number. How close did we come?

Drumroll please ……..


Thanks to all who pitched in with money, time, and hands-on efforts. You’re making a lot of kids happy again this Easter.

Help your student get involved in ‘Peace Summit’

Screen Shot 2019-04-06 at 8.59.35 PMThe upcoming annual “Peace Summit for Youth,” sponsored  by Rotary District 7190, should be of particular attention to all educators and parents of high school students in the Southern Rensselaer County Rotary Club’s service area.

The event is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 11, at the First Reformed Church, 10 North Church Street in Schenectady’s historic Stockade neighborhood just off Union Street.

The summit is open to high school students from throughout the area with the goal of creating an environment in which the youths feel empowered and believe they can become the agents of change — that change is possible, that resources are available, and that just a few voices can create a movement.

Using the “World Cafe Model” and other techniques, the six-hour event will stimulate youths in a thought-provoking interactive manner that keeps them engaged. It will include inspirational participation by Flynn Jeb, a Rotary Peace Scholar who is the regional volunteer services coordinator for the American Red Cross in Massachusetts.

Educators and parents are encouraged to make their high schoolers aware of this opportunity, and to register for it online ASAP because space is limited and the event is open to those in a nine-county area. While there is no charge to participants, there is a cost to Rotary. To help offset that, donations are being solicited from clubs and/or individuals. It costs approximately $50 for each student to attend, so any contribution of $50 or multiples of that amount would be greatly appreciated.

Please make donations payable to the Glens Falls Rotary Foundation, which is helping underwrite the summit, or Rotary District 7190. In either case, please mail your checks to PDG Fred Daniels, 1413 Clifton Park Road, Schenectady, NY 12309.





Time to begin our annual Easter basket push

Screen Shot 2019-02-21 at 9.49.46 PMIt’s that time of year, when SRC joins with Circles of Mercy to make a lot of needy youngsters in the area happy. It’s the annual Easter basket drive for kids ages 1 to 12.

Circles, a frequent public service partner with SRC, is an outreach center for poor and low-income families that is sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy Northeast Community. In 2002, Mercy Associates started for Circles what has become a yearly tradition, of providing Easter Baskets to children of our client families.  This holiday program is known as “Easter Baskets for Cate’s Kids,” referring to the founder of Circles.

First up, we need someone to step up as coordinator/s of our effort. What that entails is:

(a) lining up a work partner — the Greenbush YMCA has been suggested since SRC member Shannon Romanowski is executive director there, and fellow member Len Leonidas at Community Care Physicians has been a frequent help through his Cub Scouts kids;

(b) purchasing a sufficient number of baskets, artificial grass, clear wrappings, etc. (the club will reimburse for expenditures) and delivering them to the work partners;

(c) being sure all assembled, clear-wrapped baskets are delivered to Circles of Mercy no later than Monday, April 15.

We strongly urge one or two of our members to step up to handle this short-term initiative, an excellent way to get your feet wet in community service for a grateful clientele. All who are interested are asked to contact President Andy Leyhane ASAP.

Meanwhile, here is the shopping list to distribute to our club and to our work partners:

  • traditional Easter candies
  • coloring books
  • crayons
  • color pencils
  • facial tissues
  • toothpaste and tooth brushes
  • dental floss
  • combs and brushes
  • age appropriate (1-12 years) small stuffed animals, toys
  • reading books

Last year, more than 150 requests for Easter baskets was met, and the same number or larger are expected for this year. The April 15 dropoff deadline was established to be sure the volunteer staff at Circles has time to get the baskets to their client families in time for the April 21 Easter holiday.

Details revealed for ‘Peace Summit for Youth’

Screen Shot 2017-09-04 at 7.04.53 PM(Update of September 4 posting)

7190 Rotarians will host a “Peace Summit for Youth” in Mechanicville on Sunday, November 12.

For more than 110 years, Rotary members have been addressing challenges around the world and acting as ambassadors for peace. In today’s global climate, our youth are anxious about international relations, terrorism, America’s position in the world, their personal futures, and how they fit in.

The “Peace Summit for Youth” will provide a forum to express their concerns and work collaboratively to consider pathways to peace –- peace in their schools, on their streets, and in the world.

The event, organized using the World Café Model, will encourage our youth to explore deeper thought and awareness regarding the issues affecting peace worldwide. The objective is to create an environment in which the youth generate all the content and develop the relevant outcomes for the day.

It will begin with a large-group discussion in which peace-related themes will be developed by the youths. Those themes subsequently become the topics for small-group conversations. Small groups (4 to 5 students) then will meet to engage the topics and develop the conversations using whatever tools make sense — doodling, note taking, writing, drawing, etc. The youths then will revolve to other “cafe” tables throughout the day, engaging the energy and dialog of other participants to continue fostering ideas, questions, and themes which begin to link and connect. At the end of the “cafe” discussions, all conversation clusters in the room will be cross-pollinated with insights from prior exchanges.

The keynote speaker will be Anne Kjaer Riechert, a Rotary Peace Scholar from Germany who is the owner and managing director of an IT training school for Syrian refuges in Berlin. Her talk, “The Many Paths of Peace,” will focus on the issue of global peace and the many ways young people can find careers in the business of peace.

The summit is open to high school students throughout the Greater Capital Region, including our nine Interact clubs, Rotary Youth Exchange, and Rotary Youth Leadership Awards. The effort will reach into every high school in our community where there is a Rotary club. This not only provides students the ability to participate through Rotary sponsorship, it also affords a learning opportunity about Rotary.

The event is being conducted in partnership with the Glens Falls Rotary Foundation. The District is asking individuals, private foundations, and Rotary Clubs to sponsor students. Each student will pay for their own meals, but there is an additional $50 per student to attend the Summit. Tax-deductible contributions of $250 to sponsor five students or $500 to sponsor 10 are being requested. Checks, made payable to the Glens Falls Rotary Foundation, should be mailed to DG Fred Daniels at 1413 Clifton Park Road, Schenectady, NY 12309.