ShelterBox aiding displaced minorities in Iraq

GospelHerald.com photo

Refugees fleeing ISIS terrorists. [ GospelHerald.com photo]

The common belief about ShelterBox aid is that it is for natural disasters. However, relief activity in the war-torn Middle East shows that not to be the case.

When the United Nations declared a “Level 3 emergency” in Iraq, with religious minorities fleeing ISIS terrorists, ShelterBox partnered with both the U.N. and the Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTED) to attempt to deliver vital shelter to families previously stranded on Sinjar Mountain.

Thousands of such people were left stranded atop Sinjar Mountain after being driven from their homes by the advance of Islamic State militants in the region. The rapid advance of militant fighters that has thrown Iraq into crisis now has led to overseas involvement in the form of aid interventions.

The U.N. estimates that 1.2 million Iraqis have been internally displaced by the crisis. ShelterBox has a wealth of experience in humanitarian responses in the region, having been responding to the Syria crisis since early 2012 and also has rendered aid in the Kurdistan sector of Iraq.

The U.N.’s Level 3 statement explained that, “given the scale and complexity of the current humanitarian catastrophe, this measure will facilitate mobilization of additional resources in goods, funds and assets to ensure a more effective response to the humanitarian needs of populations affected by forced displacements.”

ShelterBox, which had pre-positioned stock in Iraq, worked with the U.N. and ACTED to move 500 U.N.-specification tents to Duhok, near the border with Syria, to be used to establish a camp to provide shelter for internally displaced people.

Although daytime temperatures in the region currently are high, the ShelterBox is making making provisions to supplement the current stock of shelter in Iraq with winterization kits. This is a precautionary measure in case the need for shelter sadly extend into the colder winter months.


Our 2014-15 “Pocket Change for …” beneficiary

Screen shot 2014-09-19 at 3.10.31 PMBy BILL DOWD

According to the organizations that keep track of such things, milk is one of the essential foods, especially for children, that seldom is donated to food pantries across the nation.

The reasons are many — storage problems chief among them — but the need remains as this video explains.

Thus, our “Pocket Change for … ” beneficiary in the 2014-15 Rotary Year will be The Great American Milk Drive.

Last year, my predecessor — and wife — April instituted the president’s choice “Pocket Change for … ” program to benefit a different effort each year. The inaugural recipient was the Wildwood School’s autism program. I hope our president-elect, Terry Brewer, will enjoy making his president’s choice next year.

In addition to the video, if you go to The Great American Milk Drive’s website you’ll find further details on the program, including how to track donations, a continually-updated counter of how many gallons of milk have been donated nationwide, and a variety of videos and other pieces of information.

For example, as of the date of this posting, just 3,150 milk gallons have been donated to food banks in New York of the national total of 24,359 gallons donated.

Nevertheless, even though the New York figure is just 11% of the nationwide total, it supported food banks serving more than 2,853,000 families. Imagine how much we can increase that helping hand with a concentrated three-month effort.

As always, I thank our club members for their ongoing generosity and effort to improve the lot of people throughout the world.


Meeting of 9/18/14: A photo tour of Nassau

Picture 3Meeting at Quigley’s Restaurant
593 Columbia Turnpike
East Greenbush
September 11, 2014

Attending (15): Bill Dowd, Murray Forth, Pat Bailey, Roberto Martinez, Terry Brewer, Jim Butterworth, Peter Brown, Debbie Brown, Dean Calamaras, Doris Calamaras, Stewart Wagner, Charlie Foote, Debbie Rodriguez, Dick Drumm, Rommel Tolentino.

Guests (1): Kurt Vincent.


Program: “A Short Photographic Tour of Nassau,
and 3 Things Maybe You Never Knew”


Historian Kurt Vincent addresses the club.

Historian Kurt Vincent addresses the club.

Kurt Vincent, a local historian who has written a book on the history of the Town of Nassau (available for purchase at the Nassau Public Library), presented a program using projections of maps, post cards, photographs and newspaper clippings dealing with major points in the history of Nassau.

He traced it from its beginnings as part of the sprawling Dutch colony of Rensselaerwick. He continued with slides showing historic scenes in and around the Village along with information about the early years.

Kurt entertained us with little-known facts, such as:

1. Nassau Lake is a man-made body of water, created in 1792 from a diverted stream to supply power to a local mill.
2. Maury Park was an early planned development.
3. Boyce Road is named for the Boyce family farm.

Kurt noted that several local short-line railroads used third-rail electric power, meaning electrical current ran through an exposed rail between the two outer rails, which meant potential danger to humans and animals who came in contact with them. Parts of the system still can be seen from County Route 7 that runs from Hudson to Albany. As an aside, he noted that efforts are being made to create a rail trail on an abandoned portion of railroad.

Kurt also spoke about the Park at Nassau Lake. As part of a promotional effort by the major local newspaper of the time, The Knickerbocker Press, very small plots were sold around the lake. Many people bought them as tent-camping sites for summer escape from the hot cities. During the Great Depression, virtually every one of the parcels suffered from foreclosure. He also showed photos of the small hotels that dotted the area, which was a major vacation region.

One of the local characters Kurt spoke about was Claude “Doc” Avery, the controversial one-man Nassau police force who made national news in the 1950s because of the number of speeding tickets he wrote. Because the Village of Nassau is located in a dip between two hills, it was common for vehicle traffic to gather speed coming down either slope and Avery would write tickets for as little as one- or two-miles-per-hour violations. The police court judge of that period resigned, citing the overwhelming caseload Avery’s actions created.

Kurt also spoke about various plans over the years to create a bypass around Route 20 — Nassau’s main street. Each would have meant the demolition of many homes and farms, and local opposition to such projects was strong. After all the upset, nothing ever came of such an idea.

We thank Kurt for a fascinating look at a part of our local past.


BUSINESS/ANNOUNCEMENTS

Murray Forth (left) and Terry Brewer, half of the winning foursome.

Murray Forth (left) and Terry Brewer, half of the GOL Golf Tournament’s winning foursome.

GOLF CHAMPIONS — President Bill Dowd congratulated the SRC foursome that won the 15th annual Gift of Life Golf Tournament on September 11, a major fundraiser for the District 7190 GOL program. The winners: Jim Mendrysa, Rob Mangold, Murray Forth and Terry Brewer. Murray reported that our GOL child, Danny Sarmiento, made an appearance at the event and Murray treated him to a golf cart ride. (Danny and his mother and translator were scheduled to return home to Honduras today.)

Rotary Home Cooking logo 2ROTARY HOME COOKING -- Event coordinator Terry Brown said beginning next Thursday he will have a signup sheet for any members who wish to host one of these casual dinners. Hosts determine the date, number of guests, a theme and what they wish to charge. Cost generally is in the $35 to $50 range per guest. The host(s)’ contribution is the food and drink for the evening. Funds raised go to the club’s general treasury. This is an event meant not just to raise money, but to promote social interaction among members and guests in an informal setting. Bill & April Dowd already have volunteered to host one of the dinners, with a date to be determined.

Debbie Rodriguez asked if something other than a full-fledged dinner would work with the series, such as a holiday cookie exchange. It was noted that it would be preferable to see such an undertaking as part of a regular meeting since the dinners usually are for 8 to 10 people, whereas a meeting would at least double that and, thus, make it a bigger event. Debbie concurred, and was appointed coordinator of that event, with a date to be decided.

Rotary United Nations Day logoROTARY AT THE UNITED NATIONS – Four members have been registered for the annual “Rotary Day at the United Nations,” this year scheduled for Saturday, November 1: Bill Dowd, Murray Forth, Terry Brewer and Jim Butterworth.  Bill said because Rotary International was one of the advisory organizations for the founding of the UN, and noted that “Rotarians have always had a relationship with the UN, even if not always agreeing with its actions or inactions.”

RLI logoROTARY LEADERSHIP INSTITUTE – Tonight was the club deadline for indicating intent to sign up for any level of the annual RLI workshop, to be held October 18 at Siena College. No one stepped forward. Bill expressed disappointment over the lack of interest, and noted that because the District Governor and Assistant District Governor are visiting us next week, we probably will be prompted to reconsider since RLI is a major District activity.

Screen shot 2014-09-19 at 12.54.42 PMPROGRAMS – Bill reminded members to line up their speakers and/or programs for the dates assigned to them. He noted that the schedule can be viewed by going to our club website —  http://SRCrotary.com — clicking on “EVENTS,” then simply scrolling down and clicking on the calendar link. He noted the 2014-15 assignment chart has been e-mailed to all members at least twice, has been available on the website since May, and that hard copies have been distributed on several occasions.

Screen shot 2014-09-19 at 12.56.30 PMMISCELLANY – Debbie Rodriguez informed the club that the state’s School of Public Health is presenting a free program discussing public health matters that anyone can audit. Contact her for details. … Bill informed us of attractions and speakers for future meetings and explained who was up in the coming weeks. … The club received a thank-you note from member Doris Calamaras for flowers sent to her during a recent hospitalization.


NEXT MEETING: 6:15 p.m. Thursday, September 25, at Quigley’s. Visitors will be District Governor Dave Hennel and Assistant DG Bob Van Alstine. Members are encouraged to attend and to bring a guest.


What you can get out of RLI training

RLI logoThe Rotary Leadership Institute (RLI) is a grassroots multi-district development program using facilitators primarily from other districts to engage Rotarians in small groups and strengthen clubs.

In addition to learning more about Rotary, and getting tips that can be applied in other activities such as your line of work, you will be able to meet Rotarians from other clubs you may not otherwise meet. A great way to network.

RLI consists of four parts, with each part covered in a single day of classes. You need to take them in order: i.e., completion of Level I is necessary to take Level II, and so on.

Level I: My Rotary World
Engaging Members
Service Projects
Rotary Foundation

Level II: Team Building
Attracting Members
Club Communication

Level III: Rotary Opportunities
Making a Difference
International Service

Graduate Level:
Ethics in Rotary — Application of ethical standards using case studies.
Council on Legislation — How to submit a proposal for consideration.

Because we need to know how many people wish to participate, the club-level deadline is Thursday, September 18. That will give us sufficient time to register you and submit payment since the club picks up the tab for tuition that covers materials, instructors and food.


Meeting of 9/11/14: Busy ‘futures’ calendar

Picture 3Meeting at Quigley’s Restaurant
593 Columbia Turnpike
East Greenbush
September 11, 2014

Attending (11): Pat Bailey, Jim Leyhane, Peter Brown, Debbie Brown, A.J. Amato, Stewart Wagner, Ray Hannan, Charlie Foote, Dick Drumm, Roberto Martinez, Carole Spencer.

Guests: None.


BUSINESS/ANNOUNCEMENTS:

Gift of Life logoGIFT OF LIFE CHILD – Jim Leyhane reported that Danny Sarmiento, our special guest last week, continues to do well post-cardiac surgery. His goodbye party is scheduled for 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, September 17, before he returns home to Honduras. All are welcome. Contact Jim for details.

RLI logoROTARY LEADERSHIP INSTITUTE – The annual training workshop is scheduled for Saturday, October 18, at Siena College in Loudonville. Because the deadline for paid registrations is September 26, President Bill Dowd will need to know no later than next Thursday, September 18, if you plan to participate. The club will pay tuition. which covers registration, materials, food and beverages. Levels 1, 2 and 3 are being offered. As always, check our website for more details.

Rotary United Nations Day logoROTARY DAY AT THE UNITED NATIONS – Four club members are registered to attend the November 1 event in New York City: Bill Dowd, Murray Forth, Terry Brewer and Jim Butterworth.

Rotary Foundation logoROTARY FOUNDATION EVENT – This year’s fundraiser is titled “Broadway Lights Up Rotary.” It will be held on the main stage of historic Proctors theater in downtown Schenectady. Honorary Committee members will be listed in the program and be given a special backstage tour. Committee reservations are $100, all others $75. The gala is open to anyone, including non-Rotarians, so feel free to treat a friend or family member to a unique evening. Of funds raised, 60% returns to the District to fund various projects.

Rotary Home Cooking logo 2ROTARY HOME COOKING – Our series of member-hosted dinners is being held again this year, with Terry Brewer acting as coordinator. Guests will pay anywhere from $35 to $50, depending on the menu and beverages, and funds to go to the club treasury. Contact Terry for details and to schedule your date .


NEXT MEETING: 6:15 p.m. Thursday, September 18, at Quigley’s. Our speaker will be Nassau historian Kurt Vincent.


We are the champions!

4some

Our club’s foursome of Jim Mendrysa, Rob Mangold, Murray Forth and Terry Brewer did more than represent us well at Thursday’s Gift of Life Golf Tournament.

They won the whole thing!

Congratulations to all of these gentlemen. We suspect that, as part of the afterglow of victory, they’ll be standing everyone to a drink at Quigley’s this Thursday. (Just guessing.)


Update: Details on ‘Broadway Lights Up Rotary’

The main stage at Proctors.

The main stage at Proctors.

UPDATE (9/8/14): Details for non-Honorary Committee participation in the upcoming Rotary Foundation event were not available when we posted the story below. We now can tell you that dinner reservations will be just $75 per person and the reservation list will be open on Sept. 20 for the Nov. 14 event. FYI: The event is open to non-Rotarians as well. A great chance to treat some friends to a dinner on the Main Stage at Proctors. (Club prez Bill Dowd’s comment: “Since being an Honorary Committee member is only $100 compared to the $75 ticket and counts toward your place in Foundation Heaven, I’m personally inclined to become an Honorary payee.”)

(Original posting)

District 7190’s annual Rotary Foundation event will be “Broadway Lights Up Rotary.” Honorary committee members are being sought.

The festive evening is scheduled for Friday, November 14, at the historic Proctors theater complex in downtown Schenectady.

District Governor David Hennel has issued an invitation for Rotarians to enjoy dinner and entertainment on the main stage at Proctors that evening.

“This year, as in the past, we offer you the opportunity to make our world a healthier, safer and happier place to live,” Dave says. “To help ‘Light Up Rotary’ in 2014 we ask that you consider making your Sustaining Membership contribution of $100 or more to the Annual Program Fund, which is fully deductible and is credited directly to your personal Rotary Foundation account.

“Your name will be listed in the program and in the December Toolbox as a member of the ‘Broadway Lights Up Rotary’ Honorary Committee. In addition, as a member of the Honorary Committee you will enjoy a special VIP tour of the beautiful Proctors theater when you attend the event.”

The name of any Rotarian who already has made a $100 or higher contribution to the Annual Program Fund of the Rotary Foundation since July 1, 2014, or has a Rotary Direct account designated to the Annual Program Fund in that amount or more will also appear in the Program and the December Toolbox.

To become an Honorary Committee members, print out the form below and mail it with your check of $100 or more per person to:

David Rey
District 7190 Annual Giving Chair
310 Juniper Drive
Schenectady, NY 12306


Screen shot 2014-09-05 at 2.13.46 PM


A.J. Amato named Youth Exchange Officer

A.J. Amato

A.J. Amato

A.J. Amato has accepted the position of Youth Exchange Officer (YEO) for our club’s 2014-15 Rotary Year.

In that role, he will act as our liaison with local high schools — Columbia, Maple Hill, Rensselaer, Troy and Tamarac — to encourage presentation in the Rotary Youth Exchange Program, which brings students to the U.S. and sends American students abroad under Rotary’s auspices.

Because some of our members have experience with the workings with Youth Exchange and A.J. is new to this role we would appreciate offering him a helping hand to get grounded in this important role.


9/4/14 meeting: It was ‘Danny’s Night’

Picture 3Meeting at Quigley’s Restaurant
593 Columbia Turnpike
East Greenbush

Attending (17): Bill Dowd, April Dowd, Murray Forth, Peter Brown, Debbie Brown, A.J. Amato, Pat Bailey, Jim Butterworth, Terry Brewer, Dick Drumm,  Rommel Tolentino, Debbie Rodriguez, Ray Hannan, Roberto Martinez, Carol Orvis, Stewart Wagner, Dean Calamaras.

Guests (10): Maria and Danny Sarmiento and interpreter Carla (from Honduras);  Ellen Strait, Pat Herman, Bill Nathan and Richard Hodge (Gift of Life); Maggie and Jeremy Forth; Ebot Tabe (from Cameroon).


Program: “Danny’s Night”


SR, GOL plus Danny and friends.

Danny poses with some SRC members, Gift of Life board members, his mom, his interpreter and a pair of his new fuzzy friends.

Our special guest for the evening was young Danny Sarmiento from Honduras, who recently underwent successful cardiac surgery at Albany Medical Center. The Southern Rensselaer County Rotary Club helped underwrite his venture with a special $10,000 grant to the Gift of Life organization.

President Bill Dowd told Danny and his mother, Maria Sarmiento, that one of the major events our club has each year is the Rotary Run. Now that Danny will be able healthy enough to run, he said, we wanted him to have one of the special T-shirts we had for this year’s event.

He also told Danny and his mother, through their interpreter, that “We have 50 states in the United States. One that is right next to ours is called Vermont. It has many special things there, and one of them is its bears. We trapped one just for you.”

With that, he removed a personalized Vermont Teddy Bear from its box and presented it to Danny, whose eyes lit up. The bear, dressed in red PJs emblazoned with “Danny,” was accompanied by its own little puppy. Danny clung to the two toys for the rest of the evening.

Maria Sarmiento, with the help of her interpreter, emphatically thanked our club’s members, the Gift of Life and GOL board member Ellen Strait who provided lodging for their outpouring of generosity.

Some of us will see Danny once more when he attends the September 11 GOL Golf & Bocce Tournament before heading back to Honduras the following week. After two weeks recuperating at home, he is expected to be able to live a life full of the activities common for kids his age.

Maria Saramiento (right) expressing her appreciation for the help of our club and GOL in making lifesaving surgery available to her son, Danny.

Maria Sarmiento (right) expressing her appreciation for the help of our club and GOL in making lifesaving surgery available to her son, Danny.

President Bill Dowd presented Danny with his very own Vermont Teddy Bear. He didn't let go of it the rest of the evening.

SRC President Bill Dowd presented Danny with his very own Vermont Teddy Bear, attired in red PJs and accompanied by a its own puppy. Our GOL child didn’t let go of it the rest of the evening.



ANNOUNCEMENTS & BUSINESS

Programs:

• President Bill Dowd offered, for the second time, paper copies of our program policy and assignments and requested that anyone who needs one take a copy. He said he also will e-mail each member an updated copy of the original assignment chart. He thanked those members who hosted our “summer casual” meetings and those who arranged outings.

Upcoming Events:

• The 15th annual annual Gift of Life Golf & Bocce Tournament is scheduled for Thursday, September 11. Our club will have a foursome in the golf portion and several members in the bocce event.

• The District 7190 Youth Exchange Program orientation session will be held in Glenville on Sunday, September 14. It was announced that A.J. Amato has accepted appointment as our club’s Youth Exchange Officer for 2014-15, for which we heartily thank him.

• The final deadline for high school students to register for this academic year’s Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) program is September 15. Our club will sponsor five (5) students again this year. Bill has sent a second round of e-mails and RYLA brochures school to principals, guidance counselors, etc., at five local high schools, encouraging them to help students take advantage of this opportunity. The high schools are Columbia, Maple Hill, Rensselaer, Tamarac and Troy, the five public schools in our club’s sphere.

• The annual Rotary Leadership Institute (RLI) workshops are scheduled for October 18 at Siena College in Loudonville. Our club will pay the registration fee for any member who wises to attend Level 1, 2 or 3. It is a sequential program that must be taken in order. Members are encouraged to participate at the appropriate level.

• The annual “Rotary at the United Nations Day” is scheduled for Saturday, November 1. District 7190 is planning to run two buses to New York City for the event. So far, Bill and Murray Forth are planning to attend. Time is of the essence for registration because transportation is on a first-come, first-served basis. (After the meeting, Jim Butterworth expressed interest on behalf of Terry Brewer and himself.)

Contributions

• Treasurer Murray Forth reported on fundraising during the summer — $2,240 from contributions to Gift of Life in honor of Dr. Jim Leyhane’s retirement, as well as recipients designated by hosts of our various summer casual get-togethers. The distribution:

$1,100 to District 7190 Gift of Life
$600 to Wildwood School for its autism programs
$300 to Ronald McDonald House in Albany
$240 to the St. Joseph’s Women’s Shelter

The check for GOL was presented at the meeting to Richard Hodge, one of the GOL board members in attendance. He expressed that organization’s extreme appreciation for our club’s ongoing efforts that so far in this calendar year have totaled $12,100 — $10,000 in support of Danny Sarmiento’s medical visit and $2,100 toward the next child’s care. We also will be contributing another $1,000 in the second half of the Rotary Year as our normal annual contribution.


NEXT MEETING: 6:15 p.m. Thursday, September 11, at Quigley’s.


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