Members Attending (19): Terry Brewer, Murray Forth, Pat Bailey, Jim Leyhane, Bill Dowd, April Dowd, Peter Brown, Debbie Brown, A.J. Amato, Charlie Foote, Dean Calamaras, Dick Drum, Roberto Martinez, Carole Spencer, Carol Orvis, Ray Hannan, David Taylor, Mike Dewey, John Sawchuk.
Guests (3): Cindy Dean, Willie Widby, Shayne Stump.
PROGRAM: Speech & Language Pathology
Pat Bailey introduced Cindy Dean, a speech and language pathologist and teacher in the Unity Sunshine Program at Unity House in Troy.
[Before her presentation, Cindy thanked the club for the book drive Bill and April Dowd spearheaded in 2013 for Unity House that resulted in creating a 600+ book library for the family services organization when it moved into its newly-built quarters. She described how they are being used, and said they have been of great help to the staff and clients. Go here for a report on the drive at the time it was concluded.]
As to her specialty, Cindy spoke about early speech and language education, from children from birth to age 3 and up to 5, in which she concentrates on communication.
Cindy explained the differentiation between speech and language, along with the physical cues to communication. She explained the misfire in the brain that triggers immense difficulty for some children trying to communicate. In their minds they know what they want to say, but cannot physically do so. Early intervention attempts to correct this problem before the frustration level becomes too hard for the children to handle.
Pre-language skills are very important, she said, as the brains of the smallest are like little computers, absorbing everything. She said children age 2 and younger respond to speech from adults and others, but the same response is not seen when they are given speech via a screen. “So, no screens under 2. No screens under 2. No screens under 2,” she emphasized, imploring people with children or grandchildren not to sit the young ones in front of a computer or TV screen. They absorb no stimuli.
She described several types of speech disorders, such as apraxia. Children must work very hard to improve, so she tries to make it fun and use all the senses. Home carryover also is necessary for support. She described what she does in the classroom with the kids and showed photos of some of their activities.
MEMBERSHIP — President Terry Brewer welcomed two new Rotarians to the club — Mike Dewey and returning member and past president John Sawchuk. Mike is the financial officer for St. Colman’s School, and John is principal of Columbia High School. Terry said we have as many as nine or 10 other potential members, people who have indicated an interest in joining Rotary. Shane Stump, who has attended the breakfast meeting series we’ve instituted, tonight made her first visit to a dinner meeting. Terry noted that our success already far exceeds District Governor Milan Jackson’s push for “at least one new member per club” this Rotary year. He hopes to have some sort of special group induction in January.
BLUE STAR GRANT — Terry presented a check for $1,500 to three representatives of the Blue Star Mothers — Robin, Kate and Donna — to support their projects in support of military personnel and families. Their latest project was the installation of a Christmas tree at the Stratton VA Medical Center in Albany, where veterans helped create ornaments and decorate the tree. They also have shipped out “Freedom Boxes” containing essential personal items such as socks, granola and jerky, travel-size toiletries, puzzles, etc., to 370 servicemen and women overseas. More are in the assembling stages.
HOLIDAY HELP FOR FAMILIES — Thanks went to Bill Dowd for finding a family to help for the holidays through Circles of Mercy’s “Adopt-a-Family for Christmas” program and coordinating gift purchases and delivery. We also are getting details and a wish list for a mother-and-daughter family through Doors of Hope, and may find others in need during the holiday season.
FOOD PANTRY AID — Thanks were expressed to students and staff at Columbia High School for their generous contributions to The Anchor food pantry in Castleton in time for Thanksgiving. That was a followup to a $100 emergency grant the club provided for the pantry.
CLUB CALENDAR — Members were reminded that we have only two events remaining in 2015 — a regular dinner meeting on Thursday, December 10, and the annual Holiday Party & Gift Basket Silent Auction at the Browns’ residence on Thursday, December 17. Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve fall on the two Thursdays after that, so we will not meet again until Thursday, January 7. The party is open to members, families, and friends, but anyone interested in attending is urged to please make reservations with Debbie Brown so we have a proper headcount for the caterer.
SIMULATOR GOLF — Murray Forth said initial response to our first indoor simulator golf event of the year, scheduled for Saturday, December 12, at Burden Lake Country Club, has been unsatisfactory. He said he will advise everyone within the next few days if we need to reschedule it to some time in January.
EXCHANGE STUDENT — A.J. Amato reported that he has been in contact with a Maple Hill High School student interested in entering the Rotary exchange student program. He said it is estimated it will cost the club $1,000 to $1,200, and he pledged $500 toward that amount. Stewart Wagner pledged an equal amount, and those in attendance approved, without dissent, club support for any other expenses. Jim Leyhane and Terry will advise A.J. on the necessary procedures for making the exchange take place. We will need to arrange a host family for a foreign student as part of the exchange.
PILL BOTTLES — Dean Calamaras said he and Doris would continue collecting clean, unlabeled pill containers for Project Malawi through the end of the year. The containers then will be shipped out in January.
NEXT MEETING: 6:15 p.m. Thursday, December 10, at Quigley’s. Dean Calamaras will present an illustrated travelogue titled “Corinth: Ancient Crossroads of the Mediterranean.”