2014-15 first quarter project unveiled

Screen shot 2014-04-13 at 3.28.06 PMAccording 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, as the first quarterly goal for his 2014-15 presidency, Bill Dowd has selected The Great American Milk Drive as one of our club’s four short-term projects.

“In addition to the video, if you go to The Great American Milk Drive’s website you’ll find further details on the program,” he said, “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.”

We’ll be sharing further details of this project as we get closer to the start of the 2014-15 Rotary Year.


Fundraiser follow-up

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Meeting of 4/17/14: The Art of the Dart

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

Attending (9): April Dowd, Bill Dowd, Murray Forth, Pat Bailey, Jim Leyhane, Peter Brown, Debbie Brown, Dick Drumm, Debbie Rodriguez. (2 reservation no-shows.)

Guests (2): Speaker Burt Van Wie, prospective member Jim Davis.

Program: The Art of The Dart

Burt Van Wie explains the scoring system.

Burt Van Wie explains the scoring system.

Murray Forth introduced our after-dinner speaker, Burt Van Wie, an East Greenbush resident who is a member of the National Darts Hall of Fame.

Burt said he began his career in darts in 1978 and continues now operating the local league that competes at our meeting place, Quigley’s.

He explained the origin of darts — beginning as a game in the England of the Middle Ages among archers forced indoors during harsh weather. The game probably   arrived in America with the first Europeans. The circular dart board was derived from the practice of using tree cuttings that showed the growth rings at which dart throwers aimed. There now are both English- and American-style dart leagues all around the country.

Burt, clad in one of his all-star shirts, has run the league at  Quigley’s since 2008 and is responsible for organizing many events. Four-person teams often travel nationally to compete. The local league includes six women; all  players are rated by their skills, so “A” throwers will compete against “A” throwers, “B” against “B” and so on to create a balanced competitive atmosphere.

Burt Van Wie explains the scoring system.

A set of Burt’s darts.

Burt explained the scoring system, which requires quick math and is somewhat complicated. He described the lighted boards used at Quigley’s and the types of darts players use. His trio of darts costs about $100.

He gave a brief demonstration of his throwing skills and easily hit the best scoring spot as well as the bullseye.

Burt said there are thousands of competitive dart players in the country, and he has even journeyed to England to compete. Many serious players actually can win significant amounts of money. He encouraged us to take in one of the Tuesday night league sessions at Quigley’s.


GIFT OF LIFE – President April reminded members that the deadline for our $10,000 fund drive for Gift of Life is June 1. So far we have raised $6,300 from member pledges and the simulator golf tournament. Keep watching the funding “thermometer” on the website to track the pledges.

SUMMER CAMPS — April said the club will be underwriting tuition for one summer camper from the East Greenbush YMCA, at a price of $300, as approved earlier. Murray Forth said Dennis Chicinno of Boy Scout Troop 41 has asked for $400 to sponsor one summer camper as we have done in prior years. That was approved without dissent.

SUMMER EVENTS -- Debbie Brown has agreed to coordinate our annual Mac-Haydn Theatre outing. She will be working on play selection as well as concurrent dining possibilities. … The club is interested in another ValleyCats picnic and baseball game outing at Bruno Stadium in Troy. We will ask Terry Brewer, who has been on vacation, if he is willing to again coordinate that event this year. … Jim Mendrysa has informed the club he will not be available to cater any Thursday events this sporing and summer because he has joined a golf league that plays on that night. He will, however, be available other nights.

PRESIDENT-ELECT – Once again the membership was reminded that we still need someone to volunteer to serve as president-elect for 2014-15 and president in 2015-16. As of now, no one has come forth. A brief discussion covered the topic of extending the presidential term to two years. That could be brought up for a vote by the membership in the near future.

RYLA – Bill Dowd said he e-mailed a letter and brochure to chief administrators at high schools in our area, soliciting candidates for the 2014-15 RYLA program. Nick George, the district RYLA trainer, will be our after-dinner speaker on May 8.

ESSAY CONTEST – Bill reported that he and April have reviewed the submissions for a pair of $500 scholarships and will pass along to Terry and Jim Butterworth, the other members of the evaluation committee, copies of the essays that have been coded to mask the identities of the young writers.

MISCELLANY – The club received a letter of appreciation for its support of the “Cate’s Kids” Easter basket project at Circles of Mercy. Our effort was coordinated by Len Leonidas and his Tiger Cub Scouts. April reminded members that we are continuing support of Circle and of The Anchor food pantry as our fourth-quarter Rotary Year project. … Peter Brown reported he had touched base with Bob Somerville who will be the honorary starter for the Rotary Run. Bob is set to run this month in the Boston Marathon for the 26th time. Several scouts from Troop 41 also have been promised to help out at the Run.

NEXT MEETING: 6:15 p.m. Thursday, April 24. The speaker will be Eric Paul, owner/cheesemonger of the Cheese Traveler in Albany. Samples have been promised.


Gift of Life target more than halfway achieved

Fund Thermo

SRC’s 1st quarter project for 2014-15 Rotary Year

Screen shot 2014-04-13 at 3.28.06 PMOne of the most-needed items at food pantries is milk. But, it is one of the least-donated.

That’s what is behind the creation of “The Great American Milk Drive,” a 2014 push to provide milk for food pantries across the country.

The drive has been selected by 2014-15 SRC President Bill Dowd as the first of four quarterly club projects he’ll be designating during his presidency, which begins July 1. It fits the criteria of one of Rotary International’s six areas of focus — enhancing maternal and child health.

“In New York State, 3,150 gallons of milk have been donated so far this year of the 24,359 gallons donated nationwide,” Bill says. “Even though that is only 11% of the total, given our club’s history of effective quick-turnaround fundraising, imagine what a concentrated three-month effort can accomplish.

“Although people can make donations online of $5 and up to support the program, what I’m hoping for in SRC is for donations to be pooled, then donated as one lump sum as of August 31, the end of the Rotary first quarter. A onetime donation of as little as $35 per club member would result in a $1,000 contribution.”

In addition to the two-minute video above, you can access plenty of background information on the program by going to “The Great American Milk Drive’s” official website. There, you will find a continually-updated donation tracker, a state-by-state breakdown of how the drive is progressing.

In addition, the site has a variety of videos, including one from Bob Aiken, CEO of Feeding America, the national network of food banks that is behind the milk drive.


Thought for the week

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4/10/14 meeting: The story of Schuyler Mansion

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

Attending (12): April Dowd, Bill Dowd, Murray Forth, Pat Bailey, Jim Leyhane, Peter Brown, Debbie Brown, Dick Drumm, Debbie Rodriguez, Charlie Foote, Roberto Martinez, Stewart Wagner. (2 reservation no-shows.)

Guests (2): Heidi Hill (speaker), Nancy Siegel (visiting Rotarian).

Program: The Story of Schuyler Mansion

Heidi Hill describes the history of Schuyler Mansion.

Heidi Hill describes the history of Schuyler Mansion.

Bill Dowd introduced Heidi Hill, site director of the Schuyler Mansion historic site in Albany. He noted she had presented a program on Fort Crailo, the other site she oversees, last fall.

Heidi said the mansion was built between 1760 and 1765 for Major General Philip Schuyler and his family and has operated as a museum since 1917.

She explained that restoration of the mansion has been an ongoing project. Presently, there are some funds on hand, but not enough to undertake any major project.

She used a Powerpoint show to talk about changes, repairs and needs such as the outside brownstone stairs leading to the front door. They were a 19th Century  addition to the original structure. Other images included a model based on a 1790s interpretation, showing the property from above and including the house, an enclosed courtyard with several small buildings and a large formal garden to the south of the house.

Schuyler’s property holdings in the 1700s included more than 10,000 acres in Saratoga with a large house, fields and a sawmill.

Heidi spoke about the family, including Catherine Van Rensselaer Schuyler, her friends and cousins and their activities, such as group activities by age ranges that assured the children of the elite class would grow up with each other and perhaps meet a “suitable” mate.

She also presented photos of restored and redecorated rooms at the mansion. She hopes to begin renovation by 2017 on what is called the Best Parlor with new carpeting and wallpaper. She also has plans to restore the Yellow Chamber at a later date as well as the upstairs large chamber now used for concerts and occasional dances. Many rooms need carpeting and wallpaper. They hope to digitally reproduce period wallpaper originally in the house and now on display in other museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Heidi explained that a cadre of reenactors appears at the mansion at various times, such as 12th Night. The mansion will reopen for the season May 14, with tours on the hour Wednesday through Sunday.


ROTARY RUN – President April asked Peter Brown to follow up with honorary chairman Bob Summerville on particulars of his involvement. Murray Forth reported that permission from Green Meadow School has been received for building use for the Run and reservations have begun to arrive.

NEXT MEETING: 6:15 p.m. Thursday, April 17. Guest speaker will be Burt Van Wie, a member of the National Darts Hall of Fame.

Anyone looking for a free (float) ride?

Scotia float in winter action.

Scotia float in winter action.

David Hitchcock of the Niskayuna club writes:

On Saturday,  May 17, the Town of Niskayuna is going to have their annual Nisky Day celebration.

I have arranged for our club to use the float the Scotia club uses in Scotia’s parades.

Because we are a small club and we are going to be stretched very thin, I am looking for some folks from other clubs to help us fill the float with Rotarians. There will be people attending from areas other than Niskayuna so this is a great way to get exposure for the district as well.

More details to come.

Thanks, Dave

4/3/14 meeting: Mental Health and School Safety

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

Attending (12): April Dowd, Bill Dowd, Murray Forth, Pat Bailey, Jim Leyhane, Peter Brown, Debbie Brown, Terry Brewer, Len Leonidas, Dick Drumm, Charlie Foote, Stewart Wagner.

Guests (2): Jim Butterworth, Ann Myers.

Program: Promoting Mental Health and School Safety

Ann Myers addresses the club.

Ann Myers addresses the club.

Ann Myers, Ed.D, director of the Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung Center at The Sage Colleges, was introduced by Terry Brewer.

The center was created in honor of the principal of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, a Sage graduate student who was the first person killed in the mass shooting there.

In her current role, Ann works to improve and implement communications between communities and schools in the area of mental health and violence.

She said there are no sustainable models for dealing with mental health issues in the schools. In addition, boundaries, walls and traditions are changing.

She explained the history and progression of interrelated systems from institutions to BOCES to managed care and the problem now of incarceration of young mental health patients. Prisons are the three largest mental health providers in the country, and Ann noted they are both stressed and resource-poor.

She suggested this is a societal and community problem, as well as an educational and mental health problem. Solutions need to be local as school violence is raising awareness to a new level. Violence includes bullying, both in-person and cyber-bullying, the latter ratcheting up the level because there is no way to get away from it.

Ann touched on the lack of help for many mental health problems, including lack of treatment space for those who should be hospitalized but are not. Using the example of Sandy Hook, she spoke about school shootings across the country.

She invited us to attend a May 30 conference at Sage on improving the situation and how to make changes.


MEMBERSHIP: The club welcomed prospective member Jim Butterworth.

EASTER BASKET PROJECT: President April suggested we all check the club website for photos of the Cub Scouts putting together the Easter baskets for Circles of Mercy. Len Leonidas, project coordinator, reported that 14 baskets were assembled and delivered, including a box of leftover items.

SCHOLARSHIP COMPETITION: The club has received essays from students at four high schools — Columbia, Maple Hill, Tamarac and Troy — in the $1,000 scholarship project. April and Bill have read them and will pass them along to Terry Brewer and Jim Butterworth. Two winners will be selected.

SIMULATED GOLF TOURNAMENT: Event coordinators Murray Forth and Terry reported on this first-ever fundraiser. Thirty-three golfers participated, and Murray reported that $1,575 was raised. A portion of that was the from the Ronald McDonald House raffle. Murray suggested that $1,000 be added to our special Gift of Life fund drive, which would bring that total to $6,200 of the $10,000 we pledged to raise by June 1. It was suggested that the sponsors of the golf event be added to our website’s sponsors page. In addition, Murray and Terry recommended we hold three such events — in December, January and February — next winter.

ROTARY RUN: Murray provided the list of sponsors of last year’s Run and outlined who needs to be contacted to renew for this year by sponsoring T-shirts and signs. He, Terry and Peter Brown split up that duty.

FOURTH QUARTER GOAL: Not having heard any suggestions from members for a fourth quarter project, April stated her intention to continue support of Circles of Mercy, which was our third quarter recipient. Debbie Brown suggested supporting The Anchor, the Castleton food pantry we aided in December. So, we will adopt both organizations for the final quarter of this Rotary Year.

NEXT MEETING: 6:15 p.m. Thursday, April 10, at Quigley’s restaurant. Heidi Hill, site director of the Schuyler Mansion in Albany, will be our after-dinner speaker.

Cubs complete club’s Easter basket project

Project coordinator Len Leonidas and his Cub Scouts created 14 baskets from contributions made by club members for the Circles of Mercy’s annual “Cate’s Kids Easter Baskets.” Their handiwork was delivered to Circles in Rensselaer today.

Our thanks to Len for his efforts, and for sharing these images of the creative process:









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