RSVP by today for Thursday’s dinner meeting

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On Thursday’s menu

LuAnnn McCormick, director of the Capital Region chapter of the Girls On The Run organization, will be our after-dinner speaker this Thursday at Quigley’s.

Sounds like a good program that might be of interest to guests as well as Rotarians, but we need to know who’s coming to dinner.

If you have not yet emailed dinner coordinator Debbie Brown ( if you plan to attend, and if you plan to bring a guest, the deadline for doing so is this evening (Tuesday).

PRICE REMINDER: Our dinner price goes from $15 to $18 as of this week to allow us more selections. Please try to bring some singles so Murray doesn’t have to conjure up change out of thin air. Thank you.



Clothing drive deadline is Thursday

Screen shot 2016-04-20 at 4.03.23 PMA Reminder To All:

The Southern Rensselaer County Rotary Club’s “Clothes For Kids” drive will end this Thursday, May 5. Please be sure to drop off your final donations of clothes at our dinner meeting. Particularly needed are clothes for kids of middle school and high school age.

We’d like to have every member involved — even if you don’t usually attend our Thursday meetings — since this effort since it is part of Rotary International’s annual “Day of Service” initiative, this year with an anti-poverty theme.

Your donations will be distributed through the local family assistance organization Circles of Mercy. Contributions are tax deductible.

Thank you for your generosity.

Bill Dowd
Project Coordinator


Meal price going up just a smidge

(Past dates estimated.)
(Past dates estimated.)

Our club does not change the price of meals for the weekly dinner meetings very often, as you can see by the accompanying chart — especially compared to many other clubs. But, it will go up by $3 to $18 as of Thursday, May 5.

Why? As we discussed at several meetings, the goal is to provide members with more and better menu choices so we do not continue in a rut of having only a handful of selections rotating each week. We received consensus approval at two different meetings to make the change.

Debbie Brown, who coordinates the dinner menus with Quigley’s owner John Walsh, will be providing us in the coming days with more information on what we can expect.

‘Clothes for Kids’ donation time growing short

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A reminder: This Thursday is one of the last two days we’ll be accepting donations of new or like-new items in our “Clothes for Kids” drive.

If you haven’t been shopping yet, please bear in mind that what we’ve collected so far have mainly been items for toddlers and young children. We’re now mostly in need of items for middle- and high-school ages.

This is our project for this year’s “Rotary Day of Service” that has been given a poverty theme. We are working with the family assistance agency Circles of Mercy to distribute the clothes to needy families in our area. Our goal is to collect at minimum 400 pieces of clothing. That is less than 10 items per member.

Even if you are unable to stay for meetings this Thursday and/or next, you can always drop off your donations on those nights and be on your way. In a pinch, if I have to I’ll even drive to your home to pick up donations if that’s the only way we can get them. I have to deliver them to Circles the week of May 5.

Thanks to all.

Bill Dowd
“Clothes for Kids” coordinator

This is from District 7190's DOS (Day of Service) update on its Facebook page, where our club is mentioned.
This is from District 7190’s #ROTARYDOS (Day of Service) update on its Facebook page, where our club is mentioned.

RSVP by today for Thursday’s dinner

Screen shot 2016-04-26 at 2.51.47 PMAccording to the Institute of Food Technologies (IFT) at Rutgers University:

“Surveys indicate that many consumers purchase organic foods because of the perceived health and nutrition benefits of organic products. In one survey, the main reasons consumers purchased organic foods were for the avoidance of pesticides (70%), for freshness (68%), for health and nutrition (67%), and to avoid genetically modified foods (55%). Such consumers appear to be willing to pay the typical 10% to 40% price premium that organic products command.”

That makes an interesting connection to this week’s program — after a dinner of chicken parm — when Dr. Mike Flesher will discuss “Organic Nutrition.”

If you have not yet emailed Debbie Brown at with your RSVP, please do so no later than this evening. And, as always, feel free to let her know if you’ll be bringing guests.

Scenes from a Saturday night mixer

Roberto Martinez and Jim Leyhane co-hosted a Saturday night mixer at Roberto’s residence to allow our newest Rotarians to meet some of the “old guard.” The event was a big hit with members and their many guests.

And, as karma would have it, Roberto won the drawing for a free biplane flight at the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome, donated by the “living museum” during a presentation to the club earlier in the week.

Thanks to Roberto and Jim for a very good time.

Heading up the hill to party!
Heading up the hill to party!
Our gracious hosts, Roberto and Jim.
Our gracious hosts, Roberto and Jim.
A wide array of appetizers quickly laid waste.
A wide array of appetizers was quickly laid waste by hungry partygoers.
Extra 1
We always know where to find David.
Carole and Amatos
Carole imparts some wisdom … or something.
Raymonds and Jim B
A Mr. Butterworth moment.
Shannon and Ron
Some conversational clusters.
Deb, Giuliana,, Geoff
Deb, Giuliana, and Geoff enjoy a moment.
Andy and Mary share a laugh.
Terry talk
President Terry explains the raffle rules.
David and Julia
David chatting with Julia, a recent guest speaker for our club.
A pair of Deweys.
Peter and Monika
Monika and Peter strike a pose.
Becky ponying up $5 for a raffle ticket.
Raffle 2
Murray and Roberto peddling raffle tickets.
New member Becky’s guests.
Stewart, Betty, Leonardo
Stewart and Betty deep in conversation.


Party 1
Guests Lois and Julia sharing a moment.
Party 2
Matt’s first photo appearance (and April almost made it into the frame).
Uniform of the day.
Uniform of the day.


Meeting of 4/21/16: ‘The Spirit of St. Louis’

Screen shot 2015-05-22 at 12.44.07 PMMeeting at Quigley’s Restaurant
593 Columbia Turnpike
East Greenbush, NY
April 21, 2016

Members Attending (14): Terry Brewer, Debbie Rodriguez, Murray Forth, Pat Bailey, Jim Leyhane, Bill Dowd, Debbie Brown, Peter Brown, Ray Hannan, Charlie Foote, Roberto Martinez, Dick Drumm, Stewart Wagner, Carol Orvis.

Guests (15): Assistant District Governor Bob Van Alstine; 7 Rotarians from the Lansingburgh club, 2 from the Kinderhook Tri-Village club, and 1 from the Albany club;  speakers Michael DiGiacomio and Clay Hammond; Sharon Wheeler, and Jennifer Kilinski.

PROGRAM: “The Spirit of St. Louis”

Michael DiGiacomio and Clay Hammond
Speakers Michael DiGiacomio (left) and Clay Hammond.

Charlie Foote introduced Michael DiGiacomio and Clay Hammond from the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome. Mike is president of the board of trustees, and Clay is a pilot at the “living museum” located in Dutchess County. Mike did most of the talking, while Clay “flew” the computer presentation.

Cole Palen

The aerodrome, which contains numerous historic renovated or replicated aircraft as well as vintage cars and clothing, formally opened to the public in 1960 with six planes. It was the creation of James Henry “Cole” Palen Jr. (1925-1993), an avid enthusiast of all things aviation. Mike noted that Palen had little money, putting virtually everything he had into planes and parts as well as traveling around the country to exhibit his planes.

There has been some plane-swapping over the years in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institution, which has been a strong supporter of the aerodrome. One of Palen’s original aircraft now hangs in the Smithsonian.

The speakers showed numerous photos of aircraft and pieces of aircraft that have come to Old Rhinebeck over the years, and talked about the many volunteers who have put in countless hours restoring the planes and vintage cars.

Lindbergh and the original 'Spirit.'
Lindbergh and the original ‘Spirit.’

The latest completed project is a replica of early aviator Charles Lindbergh’s famous plane, the Spirit of St. Louis, that will make its public debut as part of a day-long celebration on May 21. Lindbergh (1902-1974) flew the original solo from New York to Paris on May 20-21, 1927, the first-ever such flight.

Ken Cassens, director of aircraft maintenance at the aerodrome, led the years-long effort to create the replica that includes three rare instruments donated by the National Air & Space Museum. He will be piloting the plane during its debut.

In addition to work on planes and vehicles, aerodrome staffers and volunteers have been busy building a new gift shop and toilet facilities after a fire consumed the original building last year, destroying all the merchandise as well as most of a collection of rubber-band-drive model planes built by Cole Palen.

The aerodrome museum is open from May through October. The facility offers a variety of activities, including simulated dogfights with World War I-era planes on weekends. Full details are available on its website.

One of the aircraft in the aerodrome's collection.
One of the aircraft in the aerodrome’s collection.


FULL HOUSE -- Lots of visitors at Thursday's dinner meeting.
FULL HOUSE — Lots of members and visitors at Thursday’s dinner meeting to hear the early-aviation presentation.

WELCOME — President Terry Brewer welcomed a group of visitors from the Lansingburgh Rotary Club, as well as from the Kinderhook Tri-Village Rotary Club, and Assistant District Governor Bob Van Alstine. (Later, a member of the Albany club arrived.)

SRC Breakfast Club LogoBREAKFAST CLUB — Terry reported that 11 members attended that morning’s monthly breakfast meeting at the Greenbush YMCA. (Minutes of the event are on the following post.) The next breakfast meeting will be on May 19, the third Thursday of the month.

3 FUNDRAISERS — The Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome, the subject of the evening’s program, has donated a gift certificate for a bi-plane sightseeing ride at the facility. We are offering raffle tickets for that prize at $5 each. Tickets will be sold through Saturday’s social mixer (5 to 7:30 p.m. at Roberto Martinez’s residence), and the drawing will be held at that time. • Terry and Murray Forth are working on plans for a nine-hole outdoor golf tournament in June to raise funds for the club treasury. Details to come. • More than $200 was raised at last Saturday’s “Rotary Home Cooking” dinner hosted by Bill and April Dowd.

Screen shot 2016-04-22 at 11.14.10 AMPURE WATER — Terry reported that he attended Tuesday’s Albany Rotary Club lunch at which speakers from the Colonie-Guilderland club made a presentation on Rotary’s effort to provide clean water for schools in developing nations. He said he is working to bring the speakers to our club for a similar presentation that could be a prelude to a financial effort in support of  Pure Water for the World Inc.‘s initiative in Haiti. Jim Leyhane suggested we adopt a school in Haiti and ask the District to challenge other clubs to do likewise to reach the organization’s goal of aiding 10 schools at $1,400 each. Terry said he would table the suggestion pending a presentation, after which we can discuss it in detail.


NEW ASSISTANT DISTRICT GOVERNOR — Visitor Bob Van Alstine noted that he is nearing the end of three years as our assistant district governor, expressed his appreciation for members’ support, and announced that Jack Faddegon will succeed him on July 1. Jack and wife Nancy, owners of Faddegon’s Nursery in Latham, recently gave our club a presentation on the latest news concerning the ShelterBox program, for which they serve as district coordinators. Bob also urged members to attend the annual District 7190 Conference, this year scheduled for May 13-15 in Lake Placid. Much of the schedule is filled with hands-on public service projects, a  mystery dinner-theater, and awards.

SCHOLARSHIPS — We are finalizing details of our high school scholarship awards for the year. The effort will be expanded to include three separate $1,000 scholarships — one each at Columbia, Maple Hill, and Rensselaer. Recipients will be required to attend a meeting.

Clothing ThanksCLOTHES FOR KIDS — Project coordinator Bill Dowd reported that he has received about 60 pieces of new clothing for kids served by the Circles of Mercy family support organization. He said he is shooting for several hundred, and asked members to bring contributions to the Saturday mixer, or to either of the next two Thursday meetings. The drive will end May 5, and all clothing will be delivered to Circles of Mercy on Saturday, May 7, which is the date for this year’s Rotary “Day of Service.”

NEXT MEETING: 6:15 p.m. Thursday, April 28, at Quigley’s when Dr. Mike Flesher will discuss organic nutrition.

Breakfast of 4/21/16: ‘Changing Face of Education’

SRC Breakfast Club Logo
The new breakfast meeting logo.

3rd Thursday Breakfast Meeting
Greenbush YMCA
20 Community Way
East Greenbush, NY

Members Attending (11): Terry Brewer, Shanon Romanowski, Monika Annis, Ron Annis, Mike Dewey, Andy Leyhane, Murray Forth, Jim McHugh, Matt Smith, John Sawchuk, Josh Wainman.


President Terry Brewer reviewed upcoming Rotary activities and programs and encouraged participation in scheduled events.

• This Saturday, April 23, Roberto Martinez and Jim Leyhane will co-host a social mixer for members and significant others at Roberto’s residence from 5 to 7:30 p.m. From among the breakfast group, Mike and Deb Dewey, Andy and Kara Leyhane, and Matt Smith and friend Guiliana have indicated they will attend.

• On Saturday, April 30, A.J. Amato is hosting a document shredding day at his office, 4 Springhurst Drive, East Greenbush. People may bring as many items as possible, and will be asked to make a small donation to the club’s youth programs.

• On Thursday, May 12, a contingent from the club will be preparing dinner for lodgers at the Ronald McDonald House in Albany.

• Terry and Murray Forth are planning a nine-hole outdoor golf tournament as a June fundraiser. Details to come.

PROGRAM: “The Changing Face of Education”

Screen shot 2016-04-22 at 9.37.00 AMMembers John Sawchuk, principal at Columbia High School, and Jim McHugh, principal at Belltop Elementary School, spoke on the challenges that students, staff, and families face in the current education environment.

John discussed principal leadership and how to support teachers and students through evidence-based decision making. He also spoke about the qualities of effective leadership and how to work with staff and communities in meeting high stakes educational goals.

He shared insights into his personal management system and how Columbia has moved into the top five schools in academic success in the Capital Region.

Jim shared insights into the changing culture of schools and preparing students and families for the rigors of the Common Core elementary curriculum. He shared information on professional evaluation processes, data on the shrinking number of people going into education programs, the absence of quality substitute teachers, and the rigors of the grades 3-5 ELA and math test.

He shared sample questions from the tests and noted that even intelligent adults would have difficulty with some of the questions. He also shared stories on how the new testing process with no time limits has some students taking tests for more than five hours in a school day.

The culture of schools and communities is changing with more students/families in poverty, more transient families and less funding for programs such as social workers and librarians, as most financial support is driven by required programs tied to Common Core.

NEXT BREAKFAST MEETING — 7 a.m. Thursday, May 19, at the Greenbush YMCA.

‘Clothes for Kids’ dropoff at 2 Thursday meetings

Screen shot 2016-04-20 at 4.03.23 PMA reminder that we’ll be accepting your donations of new or clean, like-new clothes, including shoes/sneakers, for kids of various ages at both of this Thursday’s Southern Rensselaer County Rotary Club meetings — the 7 a.m. breakfast meeting at the Greenbush YMCA, and the 6:15 p.m. dinner meeting at Quigley’s.

Thereafter, we’ll be accepting donations for the “Clothes for Kids” effort at our April 28 and May 5 meetings at Quigley’s.

On Saturday, May 7 — designated as Rotary’s annual “Day of Service” and this year using a poverty-related theme — project coordinator Bill Dowd will be delivering the donations to the Circles of Mercy family aid organization’s thrift shop.

Thank you in advance for your generosity.