Attending (17): Bill Dowd, April Dowd, Murray Forth, Peter Brown, Debbie Brown, A.J. Amato, Pat Bailey, Jim Butterworth, Terry Brewer, Dick Drumm, Rommel Tolentino, Debbie Rodriguez, Ray Hannan, Roberto Martinez, Carol Orvis, Stewart Wagner, Dean Calamaras.
Guests (10): Maria and Danny Sarmiento and interpreter Carla (from Honduras); Ellen Strait, Pat Herman, Bill Nathan and Richard Hodge (Gift of Life); Maggie and Jeremy Forth; Ebot Tabe (from Cameroon).
Program: “Danny’s Night”
Our special guest for the evening was young Danny Sarmiento from Honduras, who recently underwent successful cardiac surgery at Albany Medical Center. The Southern Rensselaer County Rotary Club helped underwrite his venture with a special $10,000 grant to the Gift of Life organization.
President Bill Dowd told Danny and his mother, Maria Sarmiento, that one of the major events our club has each year is the Rotary Run. Now that Danny will be able healthy enough to run, he said, we wanted him to have one of the special T-shirts we had for this year’s event.
He also told Danny and his mother, through their interpreter, that “We have 50 states in the United States. One that is right next to ours is called Vermont. It has many special things there, and one of them is its bears. We trapped one just for you.”
With that, he removed a personalized Vermont Teddy Bear from its box and presented it to Danny, whose eyes lit up. The bear, dressed in red PJs emblazoned with “Danny,” was accompanied by its own little puppy. Danny clung to the two toys for the rest of the evening.
Maria Sarmiento, with the help of her interpreter, emphatically thanked our club’s members, the Gift of Life and GOL board member Ellen Strait who provided lodging for their outpouring of generosity.
Some of us will see Danny once more when he attends the September 11 GOL Golf & Bocce Tournament before heading back to Honduras the following week. After two weeks recuperating at home, he is expected to be able to live a life full of the activities common for kids his age.
ANNOUNCEMENTS & BUSINESS
• President Bill Dowd offered, for the second time, paper copies of our program policy and assignments and requested that anyone who needs one take a copy. He said he also will e-mail each member an updated copy of the original assignment chart. He thanked those members who hosted our “summer casual” meetings and those who arranged outings.
• The 15th annual annual Gift of Life Golf & Bocce Tournament is scheduled for Thursday, September 11. Our club will have a foursome in the golf portion and several members in the bocce event.
• The District 7190 Youth Exchange Program orientation session will be held in Glenville on Sunday, September 14. It was announced that A.J. Amato has accepted appointment as our club’s Youth Exchange Officer for 2014-15, for which we heartily thank him.
• The final deadline for high school students to register for this academic year’s Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) program is September 15. Our club will sponsor five (5) students again this year. Bill has sent a second round of e-mails and RYLA brochures school to principals, guidance counselors, etc., at five local high schools, encouraging them to help students take advantage of this opportunity. The high schools are Columbia, Maple Hill, Rensselaer, Tamarac and Troy, the five public schools in our club’s sphere.
• The annual Rotary Leadership Institute (RLI) workshops are scheduled for October 18 at Siena College in Loudonville. Our club will pay the registration fee for any member who wises to attend Level 1, 2 or 3. It is a sequential program that must be taken in order. Members are encouraged to participate at the appropriate level.
• The annual “Rotary at the United Nations Day” is scheduled for Saturday, November 1. District 7190 is planning to run two buses to New York City for the event. So far, Bill and Murray Forth are planning to attend. Time is of the essence for registration because transportation is on a first-come, first-served basis. (After the meeting, Jim Butterworth expressed interest on behalf of Terry Brewer and himself.)
• Treasurer Murray Forth reported on fundraising during the summer — $2,240 from contributions to Gift of Life in honor of Dr. Jim Leyhane’s retirement, as well as recipients designated by hosts of our various summer casual get-togethers. The distribution:
$1,100 to District 7190 Gift of Life
$600 to Wildwood School for its autism programs
$300 to Ronald McDonald House in Albany
$240 to the St. Joseph’s Women’s Shelter
The check for GOL was presented at the meeting to Richard Hodge, one of the GOL board members in attendance. He expressed that organization’s extreme appreciation for our club’s ongoing efforts that so far in this calendar year have totaled $12,100 — $10,000 in support of Danny Sarmiento’s medical visit and $2,100 toward the next child’s care. We also will be contributing another $1,000 in the second half of the Rotary Year as our normal annual contribution.
NEXT MEETING: 6:15 p.m. Thursday, September 11, at Quigley’s.