President-elect proposes a ‘Rotary Kitchen Crew’

A cheery chore on a rainy Saturday.
A cheery chore on a rainy Saturday: Prepping a breakfast buffet at the Ronald McDonald House .

From Bill Dowd:

As most of my fellow Rotarians know, I have a love affair with the kitchen. (not in the kitchen … well, uh, maybe … but that’s a story for another time.)

Anyway, I spent this morning hiding out from a persistent rain by preparing breakfast for the temporary residents — moms, dads and kids of all ages — and the volunteers at the Ronald McDonald House in Albany. Nothing exotic, but a very full buffet spread my crew (April and our friends Fred LeBrun and Carolyn Garrison) and I put together in two hours, in an unfamiliar kitchen — with two accursed electric stoves — using unfamiliar tools, except for my knives which I refuse to leave behind.

We whipped up scrambled eggs with tangy salsa, potatoes O’Brien (home fries with salt, pepper, olive oil, a hint of rosemary and diced red bell pepper and sweet onions), fresh grilled sausage, bacon, French toast, a gorgeous fruit salad (strawberries, blueberries, kiwi, cantaloupe, red raspberries, oranges), and various just-baked muffins and bagels we imported from the nearby Panera Bread cafe, plus coffee, tea, chocolate and white milk, hot cocoa and on and on. Not bad in two hours for 20 or so people.

The reason for this report is that even though we were kitchen volunteers for the day as an unaffiliated group, April did mention to the folks in charge that we are part of the Southern Rensselaer County Rotary Club that periodically donates money to support the work of Ronald McDonald House Charities.

Which brings me to the underlying reason for posting this information.

When I succeed April on July 1 as club president, I want to continue having quarterly goals in addition to year-long and one-time goals and fundraisers. I think you’ll agree that provided a good mix of efforts that allowed us to get virtually every club member involved in the good works of Rotary in some way large or small.

However, in addition to the same mix of goals, for 2014-15  I would like your help in identifying local organizations that could benefit in one way or another from an occasional meal prepared by a “Rotary Kitchen Crew” from our club.

I spoke this morning with the Rev. Jonathan Hentrich, the young pastor of Christ Church, the new independent Protestant church in Albany.  He oversees a large group of volunteers who often are available to back up such groups as the one April and I had today if they need some extra hands, and he keeps them moving to a variety of shelters, assistance centers and the like. He said the need is great at many places for the sort of help we gave to the Ronald McDonald House today.

I believe he can help us identify deserving organizations, but they may tend to be more “across the river” while our immediate concerns are in the area of Southern Rensselaer County. Using the contacts and day-to-day experiences of our members, we probably can help create a list of such facilities that would let us help in some way on a bi-monthly basis: i.e., helping six organizations in a year via our “Rotary Kitchen Crew” to help put on a one-shot fundraiser, or a public meal for needy people, or some such endeavor.

Please let me know your thoughts on such an idea. This could be an excellent way for more club members to be hands-on in Rotary service and avoid having us function just as a dinner club. However worthwhile such weekly camaraderie is, reaching out into our community is what Rotary is all about.


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