3/20/14 meeting: Our gift for Gift of Life

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

Attending (15): April Dowd, Bill Dowd, Murray Forth, Pat Bailey, Peter Brown, Debbie Brown, Jim Leyhane, Doris Calamaras, Dean Calamaras, Terry Brewer, Len Leonidas, Dick Drumm, Carole Spencer, Charlie Foote, Stewart Wagner. (One reservation no-show.)

Guests (1): Melissa Ehlers.

Program: District 7190’s Gift of Life

Screen shot 2014-03-24 at 7.09.25 PMDr. Melissa Ehlers, a board member of District 7190’s Gift of Life, is head of pediatric anesthesiology at Albany Medical Center.

She explained GOL’s goals which range from medical intervention for children with heart disease as well as finding and aiding countries that wish to start their own programs.

Santiago, Dominican Republic, is one place medical missions from 7190 have worked with children in need of open heart surgery or catheterization procedures. They also have trained doctors and nurses in modern techniques.

Melissa spoke about their daily routine and processes when in the field. She explained about the difficulty of keeping the doctors and other medical personnel once they are trained at the public hospital because they can earn much more at private hospitals nearby.

She showed photos of the operating rooms and some of the children they have served, and spoke about the challenges of operating in a country with frequent power outages and lacking in many items of medical equipment.

Melissa spoke about the ways Rotary helps such as clothing drop boxes (we already have several in our area), fundraisers, direct donations and sponsoring a medical operation as a club.

She explained that going to the countries is much more cost effective than bringing children here because they can do multiple procedures during a visit for the same money.

Terry suggested we try to raise enough money to support a child’s operation here. April pledged $1,000 to kick it off; Bill, Jim and Stewart followed suit with $1,000 pledges, and Terry and Murray pledged $500 each, meaning we raised $5,000 in pledges in just a minute or two. We will raise the rest by June 1.

Melissa expressed her gratitude at such a decision.


SCHOLARSHIPS: President April read a letter from our Assistant District Governor Bob Van Alstine, congratulating us on our scholarship program and the writeup about it in the District Toolbox newsletter. However, she said despite several mailings to eight different high schools in our area, we have received only one entry so far, from Tamarac High School. Entry deadline is April 1.

Jim Leyhane reported that 36 people completed our 3rd annual CPR Certification Course, which included AED training. The club made $540 on the event. Murray Forth suggested we reach out to youth groups and coaches for next year.

SIMULATED SPRING FLING — Terry Brewer reported on the simulated golf tournament scheduled for Burden Lake Country Club on March 29 that he and Murray are coordinating. There will be room for 12 four-person teams. Half the field is filled so far.  Part of the proceeds will benefit Ronald McDonald House.

BASKETBALL REPORT — Murray reported that Darko Sedlar, who has maintained his SRC membership while living and teaching in Virginia, has coached his school’s girls basketball team to a state championship.

ROTARY RUN — Event coordinator Peter Brown informed us this year’s T-shirts have been designed and ordered. We also have received our first “paper” registration form. Murray said he will forward a list of last year’s sponsors to Peter so they can be divided up among several members and contacts refreshed. reported on Rotary Run, shirts are ordered and we have received the first registration. We will need to begin collecting the sponsors soon.

EASTER BASKET PROJECT — Len Leonias said he has been getting plenty of donations and he and his  Tiger Cubs will be putting together the baskets for Circle of Mercy. Members are asked to bring final donations of items (as listed on our website) by next Thursday’s meeting.

SUMMER EVENTS — Debbie Brown said the summer theater schedule for MacHaydn Theatre is out and she will bring the information to the April 3 meeting so we can select a play for our annual trip. … April said she is working on a date for a field trip to Stone Hollow Farm, Amy and Colin Dowd’s horse farm, in Stillwater this summer. She’ll try to arrange a barbecue there with Jim Mendrysa.

NEXT MEETING: 6:15 p.m. Thursday, March 27, at Quigley’s. Our own Len Leonidas will present a program on “Playing with Gapminder: Stats Made Visual.”


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