Members Attending (13): Terry Brewer, Debbie Rodriguez, Murray Forth, Pat Bailey, Bill Dowd, Jim Leyhane, Peter Brown, Debbie Brown, Dick Drumm, Ron Annis, Monika Annis, David Taylor, Ray Hannan.
Guests, (2): Bill Nathan, Julia Goodwin.
PROGRAM: “Sierra Leone”
Ray Hannan introduced Dr. Julia Goodwin, a retired educator who presented a program on life in Sierra Leone, a tiny, impoverished West African nation that more than a decade later still is shaking off the effects of a lengthy, brutal civil war as a constitutional democracy.
The country — which got its name from Portugese explorers who called it Land of Lions (“sierra leone” in Portugese) even though there are no lions there, has about 6.1 million inhabitants. It ceased being a British protectorate in 1961 when it was granted independence.
It is one of the poorest African nations. Its capital, Freetown, founded in 1787 as a home for repatriated slaves, is home to more than a million inhabitants. The poverty and lack of medical care — there are no hospitals, for example, in Freetown — is shown in the fact that the average life expectancy is 48 for men, 49 for women. More than 11,000 people there have died from the ebola virus.
The economy depends on fishing, agriculture, and surface mining for such things as “blood diamonds” — so-called because they fueled much of the civil warfare and governmental corruption — as well as bauxite (aluminum ore), rutile (titanium dioxide), gold, and iron ore.
Julia noted that in contrast to western roles, women usually do the mining and men usually do the sewing in the garment industry. She said that because of the lack of consistent electric power, the sewing machines used are the old treadle type.
The level of education is poor, since few people went to school during the civil war. There are no adult education programs, and formal schooling remains limited for children. What textbooks are available usually are very outdated. In Freetown, which Julia described as being in a beautiful setting overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, there are no stop signs or traffic lights despite a large number of cars, which she said made for some frightening experiences. No driver education or licensing is required.
Julia also displayed a selection of handicrafts and artwork she purchased during two trips to Africa, and spoke of the kindness of the people she came across in her travels.
SOCIAL MIXER — Members were reminded that RSVPs are due to Jim Leyhane or Roberto Martinez no later than this weekend for the new member/old member social mixer they are hosting at Roberto’s residence from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 23. President Terry Brewer urged all members to make a special effort to attend to foster familiarity among members in this booming year of new-Rotarian inductions. As noted before, this is not a dinner event, but attendees are asked to bring an hors d’oeuvre for six, with beverages and desserts being provided by the hosts. Dress is casual.
IRS UPDATE — Terry reported that the club’s 501(C)(3) paperwork has been accepted by the Internal Revenue Service, so we are up to date on all requirements as a tax-exempt organization.
THANK YOU LETTERS — Bill Dowd reported that he received, on behalf of the club, an effusive letter of appreciation from Circles of Mercy for our Easter basket drive for needy kids. And, he said, letters also were sent to Columbia High School and the Greenbush YMCA for their extra efforts supporting the drive.
CLEAN WATER — Visiting Rotarian Bill Nathan extended an invitation to an Albany club luncheon set for Wednesday, April 20, on the topic of “Rotary’s Effort to Provide Clean Water to Schools in the Developing World.” The speaker will be Bob Mohr from the Colonie-Guilderland Club, representing Pure Water for the World Inc. The subtitle of his talk is “The Right Way, The Wrong Way (What Works and What Doesn’t).” The one-hour event will begin promptly at noon on Wednesday, April 20, at the American Legion Zaloga Post, 4 Everett Road Ext., Albany. Admission is $20. The menu includes sausage and peppers, vegetarian baked ziti, tuna salad, tossed salad, mixed fresh fruit and cookies. Reservation deadline is this Friday. Call (489-4499) or email (email@example.com) Bill Nathan. The event is open to non-Rotarians as well.
GRANTS TRAINING — Five members attended the District 7190 Grants Training Workshop last Saturday at Skidmore College, which now qualifies us to submit grant requests. Terry said he’ll report to the members in the next few weeks some grant ideas.
FUNDRAISING BUFFET — Debbie Brown reported that she and Peter attended the Returned Peaces Corps Volunteers’ fundraiser on behalf of the Freedom From Fistula Foundation. She said the goal was to raise $1,300, but more than $4,000 was raised. (See next item.)
POCKET CHANGE FOR … — This annual fundraiser, begun by April Dowd during her presidency, this year is supporting the Down’s Syndrome Buddy Walk. Because that event is coming up soon, Terry said we’ll cut off the donations for it in two weeks, but then will continue the weekly contributions through May and June on behalf of the Freedom From Fistula Foundation. Previous “Pocket Change For … ” donations have gone to the Wildwood School’s autism program and The Great American Milk Drive. Each new club president selects the recipient at the start of the new Rotary Year.
RONALD McDONALD HOUSE DINNER — A contingent from the club will prepare a dinner at the Ronald McDonald House in Albany on Thursday, May 12. Signed up so far are Bill Dowd, April Dowd, Debbie Brown, and Mike Dewey. We need one or two more volunteers, so anyone interested should contact coordinator Debbie Rodriguez. The team will report to the facility at 4 p.m.
DAY OF SERVICE — Rotary has designed Saturday, May 7, as a day of service on poverty projects. Terry asked Bill Dowd to speak with Circles of Mercy to ascertain the potential for a joint effort that day.
SCIENCE TEAM SUPPORT — Once again, a Columbia High School team has won the Division C title in the New York State Science Olympiad and is raising funds to go to the national competition in May. The club agreed to donate $200 to that effort. Columbia outscored 53 other schools in 25 categories ranging from “Air Trajectory” to “Wright Stuff.”
OFFICER SLATE — We still are accepting potential candidates for office for the next two Rotary Years. Anyone interested in being considered as President-elect and Vice President please see any member of the Nominating Committee — Bill Dowd, Jim Leyhane, or Murray Forth — ASAP. We will vote on a slate at our May 26 meeting, in accordance with our bylaws.
PROGRAMS — All members with assigned program dates are asked to provide Debbie Rodriguez with details on speakers and topics for May and June ASAP.
NEXT MEETINGS — There are two next Thursday. At the 7 a.m. breakfast meeting at the Greenbush YMCA, John Sawchuk and Jim McHugh will speak on education today. At the 6:15 p.m. dinner at Quigley’s, we will have a speaker from the Rhinebeck Aerodrome with a presentation on “Charles Lindbergh and the Spirit of St. Louis.” We are expecting a contingent from the Lansingburgh club to join us for that event.
And, remember, we now are using the Quigley’s entrance that leads directly into the meeting room, rather than having to trek through the bar and dining areas. Just look for this sign and ignore the “Please use other door” instruction.