Tour and meeting of November 1, 2012


Guided tour of the new Federal Express Ground terminal, East Greenbush

Jim McDade, facilities manager at the new $56 million Federal Express Ground terminal in East Greenbush,  gave us a fascinating hour-long tour of the sprawling facility — six-tenths of a mile in outside diameter — and the scope of its activities.

Despite its size, McDade said the sparkling facility is surprisingly quiet even when in full operation.  There are nearly 100 bay doors for trucks to load up in what is mainly a ground sorting and routing facility. Some loads are delivered to local businesses and homes; other shipments are sent not more than 400 miles.

The facility employs about 400 people, with most of its activity at night. It currently handles bout 50,000 packages daily, but that number is expected to be ramped up very soon to more than 120,000 as a result of planned expansion.

Thanks to Murray Forth for arranging the guided tour taken by 14 Rotarians and guests. Here are a few more views of the facility interior:

Our tour guide explains the safety features.

Large trucks are dwarfed by the sheer interior facility size.

A lineup of chutes directs packages to specific trucks.

A computer-controlled panel directs packages to proper chutes.

Good old-fashioned valves contrast with the cutting edge machinery.

An intricate maze of sliders, chutes and scaffolding.

It takes several types of conveyances to zip around the facility.

Packages await the first of the early workers at 5 p.m.

First meeting in our new home at the Comfort Inn

Attendance (18): Peter Brown, Murray Forth, Debbie Brown, Debbie Rodriguez, Russ Edberg, Pat Bailey, Bill Dowd, Doris Calamaras, Dean Calamaeas, Dick Drumm, Charlie Foote, Jim Leyhane, Mark Hoyt, Jim Mendrysa, Roberto Martinez, Stewart Wagner, Len Leonidas, Julius Frankel.

Guests (5): Maggie Forth, Jeremy Forth, Laurie Mendrysa, Melissa Ward, Sandy Maculae.


• President Peter Brown informed us that member Debbie Rodriguez’s daughter, Megan, who has presented two financial programs  to the club, is making efforts to start a Rotary club in our club territory for younger professionals.

They would  meet once a month at Teagan’s Steak & Seafood, which is located at 1 Ferry Street in Rensselaer. However, they might also have a monthly service effort as well.

The idea is to attract young people in business who need to meet less frequently and pay lower dues than the current structure allows.

District Governor Melissa Ward, who was in attendance, said another group in the Capital Region is attempting the same thing. She is encouraging such efforts as a way of building stronger Rotary membership for people whose lifestyles and needs are not in line with the way Rotary currently operates.

Peter said the new effort might be requesting support from the Southern Rensselaer County club in the near future, but that no specifics have been presented. He will keep us updated on developments.

• The club received a thank-you note for our $100 donation that helped Janet Leonidas’s team reach its $1,000 goal in the “Walk to End Alzheimer’s.”

• Jim Leyhane said he may need club assistance to help obtain a steady supply of feeding formula for a 7-month-old being treated by his practice. The problem is that it is not covered by insurance. Jim said he hopes to eventually get the insurance board to approve coverage, but that will take months to achieve and the infant needs formula now. He estimated a $500 contribution to cover a six-month period. Led by Peter, the club immediately agreed to cover the cost.

• The Rotary Foundation dinner is next Thursday, November 8, in the Hall of Springs in Saratoga Springs (attendance would count as a makeup). Details are available by clicking here.

• District 7190 is setting up an online method of making financial contributions to purchase gift and debit cards that will be sent to District Governors in the New York metro area hard hit by superstorm Sandy. The idea is to get aid there by the fastest, most efficient means. Go here to donate.

Speaker: Sharing the Rotary Experience

Governor Melissa Ward (right) spoke about the need to share the Rotary experience with family, friends and the community.

Melissa explained her first exposure to Rotary was in her hometown of Manhasset, Long Island, with a medical aid program that eventually became the Gift of Life. She also shared her greatest “Rotary Moment,” which took place when she was part of a crew of Rotary volunteers building a school and its furnishings in Zimbabwe. She said the crew also brought along some soccer and baseball equipment and taught the children how to play American baseball.

She said one morning the crew was walking to the building site, they found themselves being serenaded by about 600 children with a traditional song of welcome while on the other side of them a dozen or so children were playing baseball, all according to American rules. She said the crew was overwhelmed with emotion.

“Rotarians do so many great things so often, so why are they so quiet about it?”
Melissa Ward

Melissa asked others in attendance to share a “Rotary Moment” from their experiences.

— Bill Dowd spoke about getting to know the owner of the Little Brook Farm equine rescue facility the club financially supports. During a tour there, he realized she rescues humans as well as animals.

— Jim Leyhane told the story of visiting a Caribbean community that was home to a child who needed lifesaving surgery and had been helped by Dr.Mo Rad and the Gift of Life after Rad accidentally came across the case. When it was discovered Jim and his group were Rotarians from the same area, the local Rotarians treated them like royalty.

— Doris explained about her exposure to Rotary and its activities and said she “will be a Rotarian for the rest of my life.”

— Mark Hoyt spoke about his experiences in Thailand as a Rotary exchange student and how, when he came back to Rotary as an adult and an educator,  he became involved as an exchange student coordinator at Maple Hill High School.

NEXT MEETING: 6:15 p.m. Thursday, November 8, Comfort Inn, Castleton. Guest speaker will be the Rev. Perry Jones of the Capital District Rescue Mission.

Go here for the Events Calendar.


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