Meeting of 5/21/15: Retirement Communities

Screen shot 2015-05-22 at 12.44.07 PMMeeting at Quigley’s Restaurant
593 Columbia Turnpike
East Greenbush
May 21, 2015

Attending (11): Bill Dowd, Terry Brewer, Murray Forth, April Dowd, Ron Annis, Geoff Brewer, Dick Drumm, Charlie Foote, Debbie Rodriguez, Rommel Tolentino, Stewart Wagner.

Guests (4): Angela Ssemukutu, Becky Raymond, Monika Annis, Adam Disantis.

PROGRAM: Retirement Communities

Adam Disantis of Eastwyck.

Adam Disantis of Eastwyck.

Adam Disantis, community representative of the Eastwyck retirement village located off Route 43 near Defreestville, was our speaker.

Adam described the layout of the 110-apartment complex as well as the amenities offered to residents. He made particular note of the wellness aspect of the offering — aqua exercise classes in the indoor pool, light exercise programs, games to help retain and strengthen mental cognition, a fully equipped exercise room — as well as numerous social activities such as movie nights, playing pool, knitting/crocheting clubs,  book discussions and numerous others.

The same company that operates Eastwyck will open another, somewhat smaller, community called Glenwyck in Glenville, Schenectady County, next month. More may be constructed, given the increase in demand for such residential offerings around the country as our population ages.

A few other aspects of Eastwyck:

• The community is designed for people age 62 and over.

• The average age of residents is in their mid-70s.

• Pets are allowed.

• Leases are for one year at a time with no long-term contract requirement.


President Bill presents a club pennant to visiting Rotarian Angela Ssemukutu, presodent-elect of her club in Uganda.

President Bill presents a club pennant to visiting Rotarian Angela Ssemukutu, president-elect of her club in Uganda.

GUESTS — President Bill Dowd welcomed a trio of guests in addition to the guest speaker. They were Angela Ssemukutu, a visiting Rotarian from Uganda; Becky Raymond, a local resident just returned from medical work in Malawai who became exposed to the global reach of Rotary while working in that African nation; and, Monika Annis, wife of club member Ron Annis. Ms. Ssemukutu, a native of Uganda, studied at the University at Albany and at Massachusetts General Hospital, earning degrees leading to becoming a cardiac surgery nurse. She was touring this area on vacation, and selected our club among several others to visit to see how they operate since she is president-elect of her Rotary club in Uganda.

SHELTERBOX — Our club has made our annual contribution to the ShelterBox disaster relief program — $3,250 to be precise, but disasters don’t stop or occur on a schedule. President Bill described conditions in Chile, the latest hot spot, where a ShelterBox relief team went this week. Unlike the single-disaster problems we have to some extent helped alleviate in the Philippines and Nepal, for example, Chile has suffered two nearly-simultaneous disasters, the first time ShelterBox has faced such a problem. He said the equivalent of seven years of rain fell in one normally arid region in less than 24 hours, causing rivers to overflow, resulting in flash floods and landslides. At the same time, a thousand miles away, the Calbuco volcano erupted. A 12-mile evacuation zone has been put in place, but there are fears of a full pyroclastic cloud formation, now in the early stages. For those unfamiliar with pyroclastic clouds, they are vast clouds of superheated volcanic gas and rocks that can travel as fast as 450 mph, destroying everything in their path. Bill said he has posted a time-lapse video on the club website ( showing the volcanic activity. “So, we ask once again for those able to do so, to dig a little deeper and contribute to the ongoing ShelterBox humanitarian needs,” Bill said. “To help prime the pump, so to speak, April and I are buying another ShelterBox in addition to the one we bought recently. Each ShelterBox costs $1,000. Anything anyone else can do at any monetary level would be greatly appreciated.”

MEMORIAL DAY — Bill said that as we prepare to enter the Memorial Day Weekend, he is asking everyone to remember in our thoughts and prayers the many men and women who have served our country over the years in military service, and especially for the fallen and their families.

TRVIA COMPETITION — Bill again reminded members to tweak their knowledge in the areas of geography, sports, show biz, food & drink, and science. That will come in handy next Thursday when we present “The Great North American Whizbang Trivia Test of 2015.” Prizes and much praise will be awarded to the best and brightest -– and luckiest — among us. Members are urged to bring along a guest or two for what promises to be a fun evening.

CLUB FUTURE — President-elect Terry Brewer addressed the club with some of his hopes for his 2015-16 presidential year. Among them are more involvement on some level by every member of the club rather than just showing up for dinner; the possibility of having breakfast meetings that may attract potential members unable to attend dinner meetings because of business or family commitments; and, filling our a survey form he distributed, seeking input on what members would like Rotary to be for them. Copies of the survey will be e-mailed to all members.

SUMMER EVENTS — We already have dates for several events on our “summer casual” program. Our annual ValleyCats picnic and baseball game at Bruno Stadium in Troy will be held Thursday, July 30 (we are working to see if we can get several other clubs plus the Greenbush Area YMCA to join us). Our annual visit to the Mac-Haydn Theatre in Chatham for a professional summer production will be Thursday, August 6, for the production of “West Side Story.” There will be no meeting on Thursday, July 2, typically a heavy vacation period. We sill have some dates open for anyone who wants to put together other outings or host potluck or catered picnics: July 9, 16, 23; August 13, 20, 27.

NEXT MEETING: 6:15 p.m. Thursday, May 28, at Quigley’s. The program will be the trivia competition, complete with prizes.

What does it take to get polio vaccine delivered?

Chile latest country needing ShelterBox disaster aid

A ShelterBox response team this week arrived in Chile, where the people are facing the aftermath of two separate natural disasters that have left entire  communities without homes and shelter from some of the most unpredictable displays of nature the South American nation has ever seen.

In the Atacama region, a usually arid area, intense rainfall has led to rivers bursting their banks, flash flooding and landslides. The floods not only damaged infrastructure, they have left more than 8,000 families with either damaged or destroyed homes.

More than a thousand miles away, in the state of Los Lagos, activity from the Calbuco volcano has resulted in the evacuation of 6,600 homes. The volcano erupted for the first time in 42 years, dispersing a 10-mile high plume of ash into the air, along with other pyroclastic materials.

A 12-mile evacuation zone has been enforced around the Calbuco volcano because of concerns that it not only could cause a great deal of destruction, but could collapse itself, which would cause a massive pyroclastic flow, which is a current of hot gas and rock that can travel downhill at speeds of 450 miles per hour, destroying everything in its path.

Ayeaisa McIntyre, ShelterBox operations coordinator, explained how extraordinary these events are:

“The response in Chile is quite unusual given that we are responding to two separate disasters at the same time. Not only is this unusual for ShelterBox, but the events themselves are historically unlikely.

“The Atacama region, which is one of the driest places on earth, received the equivalent of seven years of rainfall in less than 24 hours. In Los Lagos, the area surrounding the Calbuco volcano, was evacuated prior to the first eruption in four decades. After the eruption on April 22, people started returning to their ash-covered homes only to experience two further eruptions.”

The ShelterBox team, made up of John Cordell and Kevin Monforte of the United States and Scott Culbertson of Canada, is working with Habitat for Humanity and the Chilean Red Cross Society to provide shelter kits to 1,500 families whose homes have been destroyed or damaged by these events.

A very special day coming up on May 25

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Meeting of 5/14/15: ‘We the People’

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Meeting at Quigley’s Restaurant
593 Columbia Turnpike
East Greenbush

May 14, 2015

Attending (12): Bill Dowd, April Dowd, Murray Forth, Pat Bailey, Peter Brown, Ray Hannan, Carol Orvis, Stewart Wagner, Roberto Martinez, Dick Drumm, Debbie Rodriguez, Charlie Foote.

Guests (9): Keefe Watson and parents Jeff and Karen, Vincent Caruso and parents Phillip and Kathryn, Jeremy Clement, Maggie and Jeremy Forth.

THE PROGRAM: “We the People”

From left: Jeremy Clement, Keefe Watson and Vincent Caruso of the New York State team.

From left: Jeremy Clement (Troy High), Keefe Watson (Columbia High) and Vincent Caruso (Averill Park High) of the New York State “We the People” team.

BellPresident Bill Dowd introduced Keefe Watson, a senior at Columbia High School who made the initial contact with our club to request help in funding the local team in the national “We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution” civics competition in Washington, DC. Keefe, in turn, introduced teammates Vincent Caruso of Averill Park High School and Jeremy Clement of Troy High School.

They took turns explaining the “New Visions” program in which they are involved. It is a BOCES-run effort that pairs students with organizations in government, communication, business and other fields. Students get real-life exposure to what otherwise is a theoretical study of various fields, but they must maintain their full school agenda as well. The trio was in the “News Visions: Law and Government” sector, interning with a district attorney, state senator and law firm.

One of their academic advisors urged them to get involved in the “We the People” competition. After much preparation and effort, they entered the regional level competition in January and 10 of them advanced as a team to the state finals in February where they finished ahead of five other teams to become New York State’s representative in the nationals.

In Washington, D.C., they were assigned six different topics, or units, in which they had to answer hypothetical and real-world questions, giving their opinions and defending their stances when quizzed. Among the units: British history and their form of law that does not have a single written single constitution, relying instead on a collection of documents and practices; compromise and how it was necessary for our government and how our Constitution has changed; the role  of Congress and how it has changed; the Bill of Rights; trial by jury, and freedom of speech and the press.

Students were given a strict four-minute limit as a group to speak from notes, then had to answer questions unaided. The judges included lawyers, military personnel, judges, “We the People” graduates, and other professionals. In the various units, the New York team placed third, fourth and 17th among 56 teams, winning a Unit Award.

The students also spoke about other aspects of their six days in the Washington area, including visiting monuments, taking bike trips and meeting with local congressman Paul Tonko.

In the fall, Keefe will be enrolling at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, Jeremy at American University in DC, and Vincent at Marist College in Poughkeepsie.


THANK-YOU LETTER — Treasurer Murray Forth announced receipt of a note of appreciation from all the students in the New Visions Law and Government  Class of 2015 which included 10 names for the SRC Rotary Club’s $1,000 contribution. He also read the proclamation about the team’s achievements.

MEETING SCHEDULE — President Bill reminded members we have just five meetings left at Quigley’s before the annual Presidential Changeover Dinner, which will be hosted by Peter and Debbie Brown on June 25. Thereafter, our summer casual schedule will include several outings and hosted picnics. Anyone interested in hosting should contact  President-elect Terry Brewer or Vice President-elect Debbie Rodriguez.

POCKET CHANGE DRIVE — We are nearing the end of the year-long  “Pocket Change” drive to benefit The Great American Milk Drive, a national food pantry supplemental program. As we did last year, we will ask members at the Presidential Changeover dinner to submit written guesses of how much money is in the jar and the person guessing closest to the amount, either over or under, will win a free meal at our first September meeting. Jim Butterworth won last year.

SCHOLARSHIPS — Checks and congratulatory letters have gone out to the two winners of a pair of $500 scholarship awards for our annual Rotary Essay Scholarship Competition — Annie Paone of Tamarac High School and Paige Pangburn of Troy High School.

TRIVIA EXTRAVAGANZA —  Bill issued a reminder  for everyone to refresh their memories to recall everything they ever have read or heard about in their lives in the areas of geography, sports, show biz, food & drink, and science. That will come in handy on May 28 when he presents “The Great North American Whizbang Trivia Test of 2015.” Prizes and much praise will be awarded to the best and brightest – and luckiest – among us.

NEXT MEETING: Adam DiSantis of the Nigro Cos. will speak on “Eastwyck, Glenwyck and other ‘Wycks” that are part of the current boom in the creation of retirement and full-service residential communities.

Scholarship checks are in the mail

Here is a sample of one of the letters sent to the winners in our 2nd annual Rotary Essay Scholarship Competition.

The two winners of a $500 grant each are Annie Paone of Tamarac High School, who will be studying at SUNY Oneonta, and Paige Pangburn of Troy High School, who will be studying at Siena College.

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Meeting of 5/7/15: Gift of Life

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Meeting at Quigley’s Restaurant
593 Columbia Turnpike
East Greenbush
May 7, 2015

Attending (18): Bill Dowd, April Dowd, Murray Forth, Pat Bailey, Jim Leyhane, Peter Brown, Debbie Brown, Ron Annis, Terry Brewer, Geoff Brewer, Dean Calamaras, Jim Butterworth, Carole Spencer, Stewart Wagner, Roberto Martinez, Dick Drumm, Debbie Rodriguez, Charlie Foote.

Guests (2): Richard Hodge, Monika Annis.

PROGRAM: A Gift of Life Update

This was the scene at a December SRC meeting when we presented GOL board members with a check for $11,000. Richard Hodge, left, was our speaker this week.

This was the scene at a December SRC meeting when we presented GOL board members with a check for $11,000. Richard Hodge, left, was our speaker at this week’s dinner meeting.

President Bill Dowd introduced Richard Hodge, a board member of the District 7190 Gift of Life, who offered an update on pediatric medical care given locally and the latest medical mission to the Dominican Republic and thanked our club for its ongoing generosity in helping underwrite such efforts.

Rich spoke about Danny Ezequiel Jimenez Samiento, the six-year-old Nicaraguan child we supported for lifesaving cardiac surgery at Albany Medical Center. GOL worked in conjunction with Samaritan’s Purse, the philanthropic organization begun by famed evangelist Billy Graham and now headed by his son Franklin. That group selects the child in need and helps defray the costs of travel, interpreter service, and the like. Danny, you will recall, paid a post-operative visit to the SRC Club with his mother last fall to thank us for our support. Rich said another child is being brought to the Capital Region in September for a similar surgery.

He also showed images taken in the Dominican Republic, where Capital Region medical and support people worked with DR medical personnel to provide open heart surgeries and cardiac catheterizations, a total of 16 procedures in this most recent trip.

Regretably, the public hospital at which this work was performed has been closed by the government ostensibly for financial reasons. The matter of what happens to the closed hospital’s equipment is under discussion. Much of it was donated when Leonard Hospital in Troy was closed. Jim Leyhane and Bill Dowd joined other GOL board members at that time in building shipping containers for the equipment, beds and materials.

Coincidentally, Rich said, the GOL had planned this to be the last mission to the DR anyway because it had exhausted the amount of training it could provide to local medical staff and funds were running low. Missions to other countries now are under consideration.


CONGRATULATIONS — To member Charlie Foote and wife Barbara on the birth of their newest great grandchild, a baby boy (21 inches, 7+ pounds) named Isiah.

SCHOLARSHIPS — Our two scholarship essay competition recipients are Annie Paone of Tamarac High School and Paige Pangburn of Troy High School. They have been informed of their status, and each will receive a $500 scholarship grant. Annie will be attending SUNY Oneonta and Paige will be attending Siena College.

AID FOR NEPAL — The earthquake devastation in Nepal has drawn a swift response from Rotary International and ShelterBox. You can get details by checking out the message from RI President Gary Huang we have posted on the website, along with a 2+minute video from a ShelterBox team on the scene. Our club has designated a $3,250 grant to ShelterBox this year, but we certainly will accept any further contributions any members wish to make. Please see Treasurer Murray Forth if you are able to do that.

FINAL PROGRAMS — The closeout programs for the 2014-15 Rotary Year have been posted on our website and distributed by e-mail. We urge members to make efforts to extend invitations to friends, family, colleagues, neighbors, people off the street, etc., to join us for those with a broad appeal. And, a reminder that among the programs will be “The First Annual Great North American Whizbang Trivia Test,” with fun prizes for the best and brightest among us.

NEXT MEETING: 6:15 p.m. Thursday, May 14, at Quigley’s restaurant. Three students — from Columbia, Averill Park and Troy high schools — who represented New York State in the recent national “We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution” competition will make a presentation. Our club made a $1,000 grant to help underwrite expenses of the effort.

How you can help the Nepal humanitarian crisis

• The following message has been issued to Rotary International’s 1.2 million members worldwide by President Gary C.K. Huang:

We express our profound sadness and extend our sympathies to all those affected by the devastation resulting from the April 25th  deadly earthquake in Nepal. Rescue missions and emergency aid continue to arrive in Nepal for the 8 million people impacted by the massive 7.8 magnitude quake.

As we mourn the thousands of lost lives, Rotary joins many international agencies in providing immediate relief to survivors and mobilizing our expertise to support long-term recovery and rebuilding efforts.

How to help:

• District 3292, Nepal, has established a disaster relief fund to provide needed equipment and supplies to affected communities. Contact District Governor Kumar Piya for information about contributing to the fund.

• Rotary’s service partner ShelterBox is working closely with Nepali Rotarians to coordinate immediate relief efforts. On Monday, April 27, and Wednesday, April 29, Rotarians greeted ShelterBox response teams in Nepal who will mobilize temporary housing and relief efforts. An initial 1,000 housing tents and 1,000 shelter kits will be distributed throughout affected communities. Two more ShelterBox relief teams and additional kits are ready to be deployed once further assessments are complete. Learn more about supporting ShelterBox’s relief efforts.

• As with all disasters, the Rotary family may apply for global grants to support long-term recovery efforts in Nepal. Once immediate health, safety, and relief efforts have been addressed, work with local Nepali Rotary members and their international partners to develop projects within Rotary’s six areas of focus.

• Monitor the announcements section of My Rotary for more information as it becomes available and do not hesitate to contact with any questions.

Our thoughts are with our Nepali neighbors during this difficult time. Thank you for continuing to Light Up Rotary through your compassion and generosity.

‘We the People’ teammates joining us on May 14

Screen shot 2015-05-05 at 11.53.16 AMOn Thursday, May 14, students from three of the high schools in our area of service — Columbia, Averill Park and Troy — will present a program on their efforts as part of the team that represented New York State in the recent 28th annual “We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution” competition in Washington, DC, that tested  their knowledge of the U.S. Constitution.

The students are Keefe Watson from Columbia High School, Vincent Caruso from Averill Park High School, and Jeremy Clement from Troy High School. They will be accompanied by a group of five parents.

The SRC Rotary Club contributed $1,000 to help defray the team’s expenses.

“We the People” is a national program of The Center for Civic Education that has created a network of 50 civics, government, and law programs sponsored by state bar associations and foundations, colleges and universities, and other civic and law non-profit organizations to promote teaching and learning about the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Those state programs include conducting local teacher professional development events, conferences and organization of  local and state simulated congressional hearings for elementary and secondary students.

Scholarship Essay Competition winners revealed

When Annie Paone and Paige Pangburn were in elementary and middle grades, they were schoolmates  in the Wynantskill district’s Gardner-Dickinson school. When they entered high school, they went in two different directions. Now, in a sense, they’re together again.

The two high school seniors — Annie at Tamarac and Paige at Troy — today were announced as recipients of a pair of $500 scholarships in the “2nd annual Southern Rensselaer County Rotary Club Scholarship Essay Competition.”

Their essays, which had to be based on their interpretation of the “Rotary 4-Way Test,” are available below.

This fall, Annie will enroll at SUNY Oneonta to major in music industry studies, while Paige will enroll at Siena College with an undeclared major.

essay by ANNIE PAONE / Tamarac High School

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essay by PAIGE PANGBURN / Troy High School

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