Rotaract practices ‘cerveza over self’


Screen Shot 2019-10-30 at 6.25.24 PMThe Danes Rotaract Club from UAlbany held another of its periodic social events on Tuesday at Wolff’s Biergarten in Albany to raise funds for the Freedom From Fistula Foundation.

The Rotaractors, who are graduate students at the UAlbany School of Public Health, and several members of SRC which sponsors the club, met for a few hours of socializing during which $1 from the price of each drink purchased went to the Foundation.

Unfamiliar with the Foundation? SRC has been raising funds for several years for the organization that deals with a pervasive obstetric health problem among many sub-Saharan African women. You can get more details online.


Meeting Clipboard: 10/24/19

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

Members Attending (14): Phil Kellerman, Murray Forth, Dick Drumm, Bill Dowd, Jim Leyhane, Peter Brown, Debbie Brown, Pat Bailey, Andy Leyhane, Carol Orvis, Ray Hannan, Dean Calamaras, John Justino, Becky Raymond.

Guests (10): Martha Lepow, Past DG John Mucha, Nina Mucha, Dustin Moore, Aubrey Racz, David Phillips, Bill Nathan, David Palmquist, Nicole MacFarland, Gary MacFarland.

MEETING NOTES: President Phil presided, welcoming members and numerous guests. … Danes Rotaract President Dustin Moore, just returned from a work-study project in Ireland, and Rotaract member Aubrey Racz, a Castleton native who is about to participate in a Peace Corps-affiliated work-study project in the West African nation of Sierra Leone, were among the guests. They announced that Rotaract’s latest drinks social at Wolff’s Biergarten in Albany will be held at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday (October 29), with $1 from the price of each drink purchased going to the Freedom From Fistula Foundation. Past District Governor John Mucha also was among the guests. …

… Phil reminded everyone that next week’s dinner meeting has been cancelled because Quigley’s is closing early for Halloween. … Dean Calamaras, our Gift of Life liaison, reported that the scheduled November 4 arrival of our latest child for heart surgery has been postponed because of problems with the mother’s travel documents. … Members were informed that at Tuesday’s meeting of the SRC Board, it was voted to indefinitely postpone any further work on the proposed 2020 Rotary Run.

PROGRAM: 7th annual World Polio Day

Dr. Martha Lepow and John Justino presented information and thoughts on the status of Rotary’s ongoing battle against polio.

Martha was a pioneering expert in pediatric infectious diseases who was part of the early research that resulted in the Salk polio vaccine. John, an SRC member, is director of the Center for Global Health and clinical associate professor in the UAlbany School of Public Health.

As noted, the announcement that Nigeria no longer is an indemic polio country reduces the list of countries yet to eradicate polio to two — Pakistan, which has had 62 cases this year, and Afghanistan, with 16 cases this year.

Periodically, an isolated case of polio does occur, but there now is only one type of wildpolio virus remaining globally.

After their remarks, attendees were welcomed to view a video from RI that had been released earlier in the day. It is available on our club website.


World Polio Day: An uplifting progress report

From Rotary International

Rotary and its partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) are celebrating a major milestone this World Polio Day: confirmation that a second type of the wild polio virus has been eradicated, which is a significant step toward the ultimate goal of a polio-free world.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), announced the historic feat in a video address during Rotary’s Global Online Update today. He said an independent commission of health experts certified the global eradication of the type 3 strain, which hasn’t been detected anywhere in the world since Nigeria identified a case of polio that it caused in November 2012. The type 2 strain was certified as eradicated in 2015.

“That leaves just wild poliovirus type 1,” Tedros said. He also commended Rotary’s long fight against polio. “Everything you [Rotary] have done has brought us to the brink of a polio-free world.”

Tedros balanced the good news with a note of caution, saying that the biggest enemy of global eradication is complacency. He encouraged Rotary members to redouble their efforts.

“We must stay the course. Together, we can make sure the children of the future only learn about polio in history books.”

“If we stopped now, the virus would resurge and could once again cause more than 200,000 new cases every year,” Tedros said. “We must stay the course. Together, we can make sure the children of the future only learn about polio in history books.”

Rotary’s World Polio Day program this year was streamed on Facebook in multiple languages and multiple time zones around the world. The program, which was sponsored by UNICEF USA and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, featured TV presenter and Paralympic medalist Ade Adepitan, supermodel Isabeli Fontana, science educator Bill Nye, and actress Archie Panjabi.

The program also featured never-before-seen footage of three Rotary members working to protect children from polio in their home countries of India, Pakistan, and Ukraine. In Pakistan, Rotarian Tayyaba Gul works with a team of health workers to educate mothers and children about the importance of polio vaccination. Dr. Hemendra Verma of India encourages his fellow Rotary members and our partners to make sure health workers and volunteers reach every child. And Ukrainian Rotarian Sergii Zavadskyi oversees an advocacy and awareness program that uses social media and public events to educate people who are reluctant to have their children vaccinated. These three heroes of the polio eradication effort show what it means to be a dedicated volunteer, and represent the efforts of Rotarians all over the world.

Adepitan, a polio survivor who contracted the disease as a child in Nigeria, praised the efforts in that country, which hasn’t reported finding wild poliovirus in more than three years. “This is massive news,” Adepitan said.

Nigeria’s milestone clears the way for the entire WHO African region to be certified wild poliovirus-free next year. Adepitan reminded people just how far the continent has come, saying that even a decade ago, Africa reported nearly 75 percent of all polio cases worldwide.

“Today more than a billion African people are at the cusp of a future where wild polio is a disease of the past,” he said. “We’re not done. We’re in pursuit of an even greater triumph — a world without polio. I can’t wait.”

Scientist Bill Nye talked about some people’s reluctance to use vaccines, which he called a dangerous issue around the world. “As the conversation around vaccines becomes more hostile, we’re seeing an increase in outbreaks of preventable diseases. It’s not just measles. It’s rotavirus. Tetanus. Even polio,” he said. However, he said: “The science on vaccinations is settled. There is no dispute.”

Look even just at what Rotary and its partners have achieved since 1988, when the GPEI was formed, Nye said. Three decades ago, the disease affected 350,000 children in one year. Because of massive vaccination campaigns around the world, the number of polio cases has decreased by more than 99.9%.

“That’s about as concrete as evidence gets for preventative medicine,” Nye said.

Despite these accomplishments, polio cases are rising in areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan that face tremendous challenges: They are difficult to get to and travel in, they are often not secure enough for vaccinators to do their work, and people are highly mobile. In all of 2018, these two countries reported just 33 wild poliovirus cases. The 2019 case count is so far is 88, and health experts predict more cases to come.

Michel Zaffran, director of polio eradication at WHO, discussed the increased number of cases in Afghanistan and Pakistan. “At its core, polio eradication is very simple: If you vaccinate enough children in given areas, then the virus has nowhere to hide and eventually disappears,” Zaffran said.

It gets more complicated, he said, when thousands of children are not being vaccinated in some areas. “The reasons vary greatly, district to district, in both countries,” he added. “It could be because there is hampered access due to insecurity, lack of infrastructure, lack of clean water supply, inadequate planning of campaigns, community resistance, and other reasons.”

To combat any further spread of the disease, Zaffran says health workers are evaluating each area to understand why a child is missed and making customized plans to overcome the area’s specific challenges.

This approach is similar to how health experts overcame the last hurdles in India, which was declared polio-free in 2014.

“I encourage Rotary members everywhere to stick with it and stay optimistic,” Zaffran said. “Keep raising funds and awareness, advocate with governments. We truly are on the cusp of eradicating a disease for only the second time in human history.”

If it is eradicated, polio would follow smallpox as the second human disease eliminated from the world.

Rotary has contributed more than $2 billion to polio eradication since it launched the PolioPlus program in 1985, and is committed to raising $50 million a year for polio eradication activities. Because of a 2-to-1 matching agreement with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, that means that $150 million a year goes toward fulfilling Rotary’s promise to the children of the world: no child will ever again suffer the devastating effects of polio.

About our Halloween meeting: Forget about it

Screen Shot 2019-10-22 at 8.11.27 PMIf you weren’t planning to go trick-or-treating this Halloween because it conflicted with an SRC Rotary meeting, dust off that costume and get a couple of plastic bags to hold your swag. The October 31 meeting has been cancelled.

A confluence of two things led to that decision: District Governor Larry Jones, who was scheduled to make his official visit, had to postpone, and — and this was the biggest reason — Quigley’s owner John Walsh decided to close the restaurant at 4 p.m. on Halloween, leaving us without a suitable venue.

After that one-week hiatus, we’ll resume our weekly dinner meetings when guest speaker Kurt Vincent presents “Trolleys Across the Hudson, Part 1: An illustrated talk on the history and legacy of America’s first intermodal electric railroad.”


Albany club’s annual GOL auction coming up

Screen Shot 2019-10-22 at 2.46.26 PMEach year, the Albany Rotary Club holds a major auction evet as a fundraiser for the Gift of Life of District 7190. This year, the event is scheduled for noon to 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, December 11. All are invited.

The venue is the Joseph  E. Zaloga American Legion Post #1520 at 4 Everett Road, Albany. There will be silent auctions, raffle auctions, and a live auction.

Items range in all shapes and sizes and dollar amounts. Payment is to be made by check or cash, with checks made payable to “Gift of Life 7190.”

Tickets can be purchased online for $25, with a December 3 deadline. Admission at the door is $30. Reservations are required for this event so the Legion Post needs a headcount to prepare enough food.


Congratulations to latest 7190 RLI graduating class

Screen Shot 2019-10-21 at 11.13.19 AM
The RLI graduating class of 2019. See anyone you know?

Ten Rotarians were honored on Saturday as the graduating class of Rotary Leadership Institute’s District 7190 training session held in Schenectady.

Last year, SRC had a district-leading 10 people participating, but this year the number dropped off precipitously with Dick Drumm our lone attendee. Dick completed Level 1 of the three-level program needed to receive a graduation certificate. After finishing the three levels, Rotarians may participate in graduate-level classes.


Stay alert for Halloween night meeting news

Screen Shot 2019-10-21 at 11.03.49 AM

Trick-or-treating has come a bit early for SRC. Quigley’s owner John Walsh has just informed us that he will be closing the restaurant at 4 p.m. on that day because of Halloween.

So, we’re working on an alternative site for that October 31 meeting, when District Governor Larry Jones is scheduled to make his official visit.

The SRC Board, already scheduled to meet on Tuesday evening this week, will be discussing alternatives. Please stay alert for email/website/Facebook postings about the outcome of the discussions.

Obviously this does not affect this Thursday’s meeting marking World Polio Day.