Meeting of 4/28/16: ‘Organic Nutrition’

Screen shot 2015-05-22 at 12.44.07 PMMeeting at Quigley’s Restaurant
593 Columbia Turnpike
East Greenbush, NY
April 28, 2016

Members Attending (16): Terry Brewer, Debbie Rodriguez, Pat Bailey, Bill Dowd, Jim Leyhane, Jim Butterworth, April Dowd, Ron Annis, Monika Annis, Carole Spencer, Dick Drumm, Roberto Martinez, Ray Hannan, Charlie Foote, Rommel Tolentino, Becky Raymond.

Guests (1): Dr. Mike Flesher.

PROGRAM: “Organic Nutrition and Fundraising”

Mike Flesher
Mike Flesher

Ron Annis presented a brief introductory talk and video on the benefits of proper nutrition, emphasizing a line of powdered supplements from a California company called Purium Health Products.

Purium transforms foods sourced from selected farms into dehydrated versions used in a variety of shakes and supplements.

Ron then introduced Dr. Mike Flesher, who also spoke about the benefits of nutritional supplements produced in an organic “farm-to-family” process. He, too, recommended Purium products.

After his talk, Ron passed around Purium special-offer cards that he suggested the club consider as an ongoing fundraiser. The idea is that the club would distribute cards to anyone in need of dietary assistance, and each time they make a purchase the club would receive $50.

[Independent reviews of Purium’s 10-day cleanse routine and its products in general are available online, here and here.]


Clothing ThanksCOATS FOR KIDS — Project coordinator Bill Dowd reported that roughly 300 items of clothing have been donated so far for our “Rotary Day of Service” poverty project. Bill said his goal had been 400 items, but now that we’re nearing that number he’s hoping for 500. He reminded members that next Thursday, May 5, is the deadline for donations, and said we now are mostly in need of clothing for middle- and high-school kids. He will be delivering the clothes to the family assistance organization Circles of Mercy.

DINNER PRICE HIKE — Terry reminded members that the price for the weekly dinner at Quigley’s is going from $15 to $18 as of next Thursday, May 5. He said that is to provide us with the opportunity to select from a wider range of choices. It is the first price increase the club has made in decades.

EAGLE SCOUT PROJECT — We have received a request for assistance from Justin Burdick, a member of Boy Scout Troop 522 in East Schodack. He said he will be making outdoor benches that will be available for public use at the Church of St. Mary in Clinton Heights (163 Columbia Turnpike, Rensselaer), and is looking for donations of money and/or materials. Terry said the board will consider the request since traditionally we have been supportive of Eagle projects.

Screen shot 2015-09-11 at 3.06.33 PMPROGRAM AND SUMMER PLANNING — Debbie Rodriguez reported that all after-dinner program slots have been filled for May and June. Terry said we now should be thinking about our summer-casual schedule when we switch from formal dinner meetings to member-hosted cookouts, field trips (baseball game and picnic, summer theater, etc.) and the like on Thursdays through July and August. One outing under consideration is a chartered bus trip to the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome on a Sunday to take in the air show.

RONALD McDONALD HOUSE DINNER — Terry reported that Bill Dowd is heading up the SRC contingent that will be preparing dinner for families lodging at the Albany facility on Thursday, May 12. Also signed up to help are April Dowd, Debbie Rodriguez, Mike Dewey, Melissa Bill, Peter Brown, and Debbie Brown.

Screen shot 2016-01-08 at 1.49.38 PMSHELTERBOX — Bill Dowd, our club’s ShelterBox Liaison, has posted on our club website information on the current needs of the aid organization. He noted that although our club recently made a $5,000 contribution that will pay for five boxes, we can always donate more as individuals or as a club to help meet ongoing needs around the world. In addition to relief efforts already active in several parts of the world, earthquakes in Japan and Ecuador in the past 10 days have added to the strain on ShelterBox’s resources.

NEXT MEETING: 6:15 p.m. Thursday, May 5. The speaker will be LuAnn McCormick, executive director for the Capital Region chapter of Girls On the Run. The training program’s mission statement: “We inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running.”



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.

Meeting of 4/14/16: ‘Sierra Leone’

Screen shot 2015-05-22 at 12.44.07 PMMeeting at Quigley’s Restaurant
593 Columbia Turnpike
East Greenbush, NY
April 14, 2016

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”

Speaker Julia Goodwin.
Speaker Julia Goodwin.

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.

A sampling of carved and fabric handicrafts Julia purchased in Africa.
A sampling of carved and fabric handicrafts Julia purchased in Africa.

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.

Screen shot 2016-04-15 at 10.12.27 AM


Socializing Old TimeSOCIAL 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.

Screen shot 2016-04-15 at 10.15.05 AMCLEAN 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 ( 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 JugPOCKET 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.

Screen shot 2016-04-15 at 10.31.49 AMSCIENCE 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.

Come on in!


Meeting of 4/7/16: ‘2nd annual Trivia Test’

Screen shot 2015-05-22 at 12.44.07 PMMeeting at Quigley’s Restaurant
593 Columbia Turnpike
East Greenbush, NY
April 7, 2016

Members Attending (21): Terry Brewer, Debbie Rodriguez, Murray Forth, Pat Bailey, Bill Dowd, Jim Leyhane, April Dowd, Peter Brown, Debbie Brown, Dick Drumm, Ron Annis, Melissa Bill, Dean Calamaras, Marko Koshykar, Andy Leyhane, Charlie Foote, Stewart Wagner, Roberto Martinez, David Taylor, Ray Hannan, Julius Frankel.

Guests (5): Maggie Forth, Jeremy Forth, Michaela Rossetti, Mark Rossetti, Karen Rossetti.

PROGRAM: “The 2nd annual Great North American Whizbang Trivia Test”

Jim Leyhane shows off his first-place prize awarded by quizmaster Bill Dowd.
Jim Leyhane shows off his first-place prize awarded by quizmaster Bill Dowd.

Bill Dowd, who initiated the event last year, presided as quizmaster and presented a wide range of questions in five categories:

• movies
• uncommon words
• sports
• astronomy
• food and drink

Questions ranged from difficult to a bit easier to simple. All enjoyed the challenge. In a very tight competition, Jim Leyhane emerged as the winner, followed by Marko Kosyhkar, and Terry Brewer. Each received a prize. Jim, incidentally, finished third last year in the inaugural event.

Here’s a montage of what went on.


Trivia Montage


BIRTHDAY — President Terry Brewer opened the meeting by wishing Jim Leyhane a happy birthday, and an impromptu round of “The Happy Birthday Song” ensued.

Michaela Rosetti, seen here with her parents Mr. and Mrs. Mark Rosetti, is our latest Youth Exchange student.
Michaela Rosetti, seen here with her parents Mark and Karen, is our latest Youth Exchange student. She will study in Italy.

YOUTH EXCHANGE — We were introduced to Michaela Rossetti, a senior at Maple Hill High School, who the club is sponsoring for a year’s study in Italy. Michaela, who was accompanied by her parents, said she is deferring the start of her college studies at Niagara University by a year to participate in the exchange program. She said she applied because she had heard very good things from acquaintances who had spent a year abroad under the Rotary program, and was happy that she got Italy, her first choice, although she does not yet know which city she’ll call her temporary home.  The club will be working with Maple Hill in the next school year to help host a student from abroad. … A.J. Amato reminded members of the document shredding day he’ll be holding on Saturday, April 30, at his place of business. A small donation will be requested from anyone using the service, with proceeds going toward funding our Youth Exchange efforts. The address is 4 Springhurst Drive, Suite 212, East Greenbush.

Terry reported on the breakfast service a club contingent performed at the Ronald McDonald House in Albany on April 2 (photos here). He, Betty Brewer, Geoff Brewer, Andy Leyhane, Murray Forth, and Shannon Romanowski participated. He said it was a quick and easy process, beginning at 7 a.m. and ending at about 9.

BUSINESS EXPO — Terry reported that of all the tables at the “2nd annual Business Expo” held by the Capital Region Rotary Club, only one was from a Rotary club — ours. Brochures and other information were distributed. Debbie Brown said she received some positive comments about the club from attendees at the event, held at the Radisson Hotel on Wolf Road in Colonie on Tuesday


MEMBERSHIP — We welcomed Julius Frankel back to the fold after a long absence. Julius has been attending dinner meetings for several weeks, and has submitted his application for reinstatement. That raises the number of members accepted into the club in this 2015-16 Rotary Year to 15. Also recognized were recently-inducted Rotarians Marko Koshykar and Andy Leyhane, who have been regulars at our monthly breakfast meetings.

SOCIAL EVENTS — The next member-hosted “Rotary Home Cooking” dinner will be at the Dowd residence on Saturday, April 16. Reservations are full. … A social mixer co-hosted by Roberto Martinez and Jim Leyhane will be held at Roberto’s residence from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 23. The intent is to allow new and old Rotary members to get to know each other better. Although this is not a dinner event, attendees are asked to bring an appetizer serving six. Drinks and dessert will be provided. RSVPs are requested no later than April 15 with Roberto or Jim.

Screen shot 2016-04-08 at 10.19.33 AMDISTRICT CONFERENCE — The annual District 7190 event, this year titled “Mystery In the Woods,” is scheduled for May 13-15 at the High Peaks Resort in Lake Placid (details here). Terry said he hopes to present two special awards at that event — to Bill and April Dowd and to Murray Forth for their overall continuing work on behalf of the club and its programs and practices. He urged members to consider attending at least part of the conference. Charlie Foote, who said he has been to a number of such conferences, joined in by saying he found the events very worthwhile and that fellow members should consider attending.

FREE TICKETS — A reminder was issued that new member Becky Raymond has offered a pair of free tickets to a fundraiser for the Freedom From Fistula Foundation  (go here for a look at her recent presentation to the club on the topic) to be held on Tuesday, April 12, at the Hamilton Union Presbyterian Church on Route 20 in Guilderland, opposite the library. Anyone wishing to attend should contact Becky or Terry Brewer ASAP.

GRANTS TRAINING — Five members will be attending the annual District Grants Training Workshop at Skidmore College this Saturday. Any club that hopes to apply for a project grant in the next Rotary year must have at least two members attend this year’s training.

Effective on May 5, the price for our weekly dinners will go from $15 to $18 per person, the first increase in at least two decades. The higher price will give us access to a more varied menu selection.

Screen shot 2015-12-04 at 1.30.31 PMOFFICERS URGENTLY NEEDED — Bill Dowd reminded everyone that we are in need of three members, old or new, to step up to fill three club offices for the coming Rotary Years: a president-elect, a vice president, and an at-large board member. As of today, there has been virtually zero response. He noted that in addition to posting a request, and details about the offices, on the club’s website and Facebook page, he sent an email to every member. We face a May deadline set by our club bylaws to come up with a slate of officers. Please contact Bill or one of the other Nominating Committee members, Murray Forth and Jim Leyhane, ASAP if interested.

NEXT MEETING: 6:15 p.m. Thursday, April 14, at Quigley’s.

Meeting of 3/31/16: ‘Musical Therapy’

Screen shot 2015-05-22 at 12.44.07 PMMeeting at Quigley’s Restaurant
593 Columbia Turnpike
East Greenbush, NY
March 31, 2016

Members Attending (18): Terry Brewer, Debbie Rodriguez, Murray Forth, Pat Bailey, Bill Dowd, Jim Leyhane, April Dowd, Peter Brown, Debbie Brown, Dick Drumm, Ron Annis, Roberto Martinez, Shannon Romanowski, Becky Raymond, Dean Calamaras, Rommel Tolentino, Ray Hannan, Stewart Wagner.

Guests (3): Sharon Wheeler, Jennifer Kilinski, Julius Frankel.

PROGRAM: “Musical Therapy”

Musical therapists Sharon Wheeler and Jennifer Kilinski explain their field.
Musical therapists Sharon Wheeler and Jennifer Kilinski explain their field.
Collage illustrates therapy through the ages,
A collage illustrates therapy through the ages.

Roberto Martinez introduced Sharon Wheeler and Jennifer Kilinski from Albany Medical Center’s medical therapy staff and the singing group Triskele.

Sharon explained that musical therapy, which began greatly expanding in the 20th Century to help troubled soldiers returning from war, today has reached a level that offers accredited college programs leading to degrees and certification in the field. Both speakers work with children and adults, and Sharon does some work in the East Greenbush School District as well. They also visit various facilities to assist in different ways.

A mini-xylophone used in therapy.
A lollipop drum used in therapy.
A lollipop drum used in therapy.

Musical therapists are required to read music, perform voice, play an instrument — in their cases flute and trumpet, and all are required to play guitar as well because of its portability. As they explained, there is a profound difference between music as pure entertainment for patients and musical therapy with specific goals being targeted.

Playing and listening to music affects several areas of the brain. Therapy is used in everything from correctional facilities for behavior modification to neonatal intensive care units for soothing effects, respiratory training, etc. In between are therapies designed for use at Alzheimer’s centers, mental health centers and hospitals, special needs classrooms, and hospice.

They explained that the theory of musical therapy dates back centuries, and included a drawing of a 17th Century session in a montage that illustrated different types of therapy. And, they spoke about the techniques they use in different settings, including drum playing, use of rattles, a tambourine, and lollipop drums. They distributed instruments to several members and provided a demonstration of what they might do with patients to encourage participation, release frustrations, and create rhythms that help in mobility and communication.


WELCOME BACK — President Terry Brewer welcomed back Jim Leyhane after heart surgery. Jim expressed his thanks to all who provided meals for he and his family during his recuperation at home. The club also sent Jim a fruit basket.

Screen shot 2016-04-02 at 3.56.42 PMBUSINESS EXPO — Terry said we will be staffing a table at the 3rd annual Business Expo put on by the Capital Region Rotary Club at the Radisson Hotel on Wolf Road, Colonie, on April 5. We will be distributing club flyers, the hospital stay brochure, and other Rotary items. Peter Brown extended the gratitude to Community Care Physicians of he, Jim, and Roberto for its strong  support of the brochure they created. Copies are available on the club website.

PUBLIC RELATIONS — Bill Dowd, lead of the PR Committee, reported a very strong public presence in March. Among items he cited were publication of photos and stories about the club in the Times Union, Our Towne Magazine, and the District 7190 Toolbox, and several mentions on Our Towne’s Facebook page. In addition, we had more than 700 views on the club website and in excess of 1,100 on  the club Facebook page.

Screen shot 2016-04-01 at 11.30.47 AMOFFICERS NEEDED — Bill Dowd, speaking for the Nominating Committee that includes Murray Forth and Jim Leyhane, reminded attendees that he had sent a letter via email to all club members and prospective members, outlining the club’s needs for the 2016-17 Rotary Year. He stressed in his letter, a copy of which is available on the club website that we are seeking a President-elect, Vice President, and At-Large board member to help share the load with the same small core of members who do most of the organizing and execution of club projects and activities all the time.

RONALD McDONALD HOUSE — A contingent from the club will be preparing breakfast for families staying at the Ronald McDonald House in Albany on Saturday: Terry, Geoff and Betty Brewer, Shannon Romanowski, Murray Forth, and Andy Leyhane. On Thursday, May 12, another contingent from the club will be preparing dinner there.

Screen shot 2016-02-02 at 7.25.37 PMSOCIAL EVENTS — April and Bill Dowd are hosting a sold-out “Rotary Home Cooking Series” dinner at their residence at 6 p.m. Saturday, April 16. Roberto and Jim are co-hosting a social mixer at 5 p.m. Saturday, April 23, at Roberto’s residence to help new and “old” Rotary members and their significant others get better acquainted. Attendees are asked to bring an appetizer. Beverages will be provided. This is not a dinner event.

GRANTS TRAINING — Terry, Debbie Rodriguez, Ron and Monika Annis will represent the club at a District Grants Training Workshop at 1 p.m. Saturday, April 9, at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs.

DINNER PRICE HIKE — For the first time in memory, we will be paying more for our Thursday dinners, beginning sometime in April. As discussed at several club meetings, the price will go from $15 to $18, which we expect to provide us with many more entree choices.

DISTRICT MEETING — The annual event is scheduled for May 13-16 in Lake Placid. For details and registration information, go to the District link on our club’s website under “Recommended Rotary Links.” Members are urged to consider attending, especially if they have never attended such an event before.

FREEDOM FROM FISTULA FOUNDATION — Incoming new member Becky Raymond, who recently gave us a presentation on the maternal health program in Malawi, Africa, said her Returned Peace Corps Volunteers organization will provide two complimentary tickets to an April 12 fundraiser for the foundation. It will be held at Hamilton Union Presbyterian Church, located on Western Avenue (Route 20) opposite the Guilderland Public Library.

Screen shot 2016-04-01 at 11.38.51 AMSHREDDING DAY — A reminder that A.J. Amato is holding his office’s annual document shredding day, open to the public, on Saturday, April 30. He will ask for donations, which will go toward the club’s youth programs. His office is located at 4 Springhurst Drive, Suite 212, in East Greenbush.

DINNER PROGRAMS — Program coordinator Debbie Rodriguez reminded people with program dates assigned for May and June need to get details to her ASAP. Anyone who has forgotten their program date assignment can be reminded by checking the chart on the club website’s “Events Calendar” page.

Screen shot 2015-05-25 at 2.48.41 PMNEXT MEETING: After being fortified by a dinner of Chicken Parm, we’ll hold the “2nd annual Great North American Whizbang Trivia Test on Thursday, April 7, at Quigley’s. Prizes will be awarded. Guests will be welcome.

(A hint: The categories will include movies, sports, astronomy, uncommon words, and food and drink. So, now you know.)


Meeting of 3/17/16: ‘A ShelterBox Update’

Screen shot 2015-05-22 at 12.44.07 PMMeeting at Quigley’s Restaurant
593 Columbia Turnpike
East Greenbush, NY
March 17, 2016

Members Attending (14): Terry Brewer, Debbie Rodriguez, Murray Forth, Pat Bailey, Bill Dowd, April Dowd, Peter Brown, Debbie Brown, Dick Drumm, Roberto Martinez, Dean Calamaras, Doris Calamaras, Ron Annis, A.J. Amato.

Guests (3): Jack Faddegon, Nancy Faddegon, Monika Annis.

PROGRAM: “A ShelterBox Update”



Terry Brewer accepts the first ShelterBox "Hero" pennant in District 7190 from program coordinators Nancy and Jack Faddegon.
Terry Brewer accepts the first District 7190 ShelterBox “Hero” pennant from program coordinators Nancy and Jack Faddegon. The club also was awarded a pennant from the national coordinators in January 2015 for its ongoing support of ShelterBox.                                                                                                                                              (THIS PHOTO SUBSEQUENTLY WAS PUBLISHED IN THE 3/21/16 EDITION OF THE TIMES UNION.)

Murray Forth introduced Jack and Nancy Faddegon, the owners of Faddegon’s Nursery in Latham and the coordinators of District 7190’s ShelterBox efforts since 2007.

Jack noted that he didn’t have to go into the rudiments of how ShelterBox works because Southern Rensselaer County has long been a strong financial supporter of the effort and obviously knows a lot about it. Instead, he said he and Nancy would concentrate on updates and modifications in equipment distributed, some of the current efforts, and other information about the program.

ShelterBox, which says “Our mission is to deliver humanitarian relief in the form of equipment and materials that bring shelter, warmth, and dignity to people affected by natural and other disasters worldwide,” was started as an unofficial program by Rotarians in England in 2000. In 2012, it became Rotary International’s first “project partner.” Thus, it has grown from one club’s adopted project to become the largest Rotary cub project in the 100+ year history of the organization.

As part of their presentation, Jack and Nancy showed a short video of the first-ever delivery of ShelterBoxes to Russia. There, Rotarians were much involved in delivering the boxes with their own cars and trucks. The video also showed deliveries of relief aid to refugees from ISIS terrorism on the Syria-Jordan border,  again with assistance and guidance from a local Rotary club.

They displayed what is included in each box, noting that equipment is designed to last at least six months although in practice they have lasted for years. In some areas, such as earthquake-devastated Haiti, the 10-person tents that are an essential part of each ShelterBox were used for as long as three years.

The contents of the boxes are sometimes tailored to particular geography, weather, and even customs. An example of the latter is the replacement of sleeping bags with blankets in some Middle Eastern spots because the sleeping bags looked too much like body bags and people would not use them.

Essentially, a ShelterBox contains the tent, a cook stove, ground sheets and blankets, water purification devices, basic tools, activity packs for children whose schools were destroyed, mosquito netting or scarves and mittens as the situation requires, and “Lumin Aid,” a solar-powered light in a soft pouch. The boxes are stored in eight distribution points around the world for quick response, allowing ShelterBox to often be the first to respond to a disaster.

Because Rotary is an NGO (non government organization), no national symbols are on the boxes, only the Rotary logo. Total weight of each box is limited to 120 pounds because of shipping restrictions and portability needs. Part of the $1,000 cost of each box pays for shipping, but the actual delivery, training, and work is done by unpaid Rotary volunteers.

The Faddegons announced a new effort in District 7190, that of awarding “ShelterBox Hero” pennants to clubs that contribute $3,000 or more each year. They presented the first such pennant to our club, which just delivered $5,000 to the program. (For the record, SRC received a similar pennant from ShelterBox’s national coordinator in January 2015 during the “Rotary Day at the United Nations.”)

They also announced that ShelterBox is broadening its volunteer program to include a “Rotary Club Liaison.” That person will receive box deployment updates and have access to pertinent relief information to share with club members. Bill Dowd was appointed our club’s liaison by general club agreement.

ShelterBox Info309

Here’s a look inside a typical ShelterBox. Click on the image to enlarge it.


HEALTH UPDATES — Roberto Martinez reported that Jim Leyhane is recuperating nicely after cardiac surgery, and that club members have been providing dinners for him and members of his family who are keeping him company. He suggested anyone scheduled to provide meals call Jim on his cellphone the night before or morning-of to check on his daily status and needs. … He also reported that Stewart Wagner’s wife, Lois, is in Albany Medical Center and is expected to spend several more days there.

Golfer Robots BoxedINDOOR GOLF RESULTS — Murray Forth reported that our latest indoor simulator golf tournament at Burden Lake Country Club
netted $2,200 dollars for the club treasury. He thanked all who volunteered, played, and sponsored, and he received the thanks of the members present for his ongoing work organizing the tournaments.

ROTARY HOME COOKING SERIES — The next event in the member-hosted series will be held this Saturday at Pat Bailey’s residence. It’s a sellout. After that, Bill and April Dowd will host a dinner on April 16. They have one seat remaining.

Screen shot 2016-03-04 at 12.08.30 PMNEW MEMBER NETWORKING — Roberto and Jim will co-host a mixer at Roberto’s residence on Saturday, April 23, for our newest members (plus spouses or significant others) to mix with veteran members (plus spouses or significant others). Since most of the new members attend only our monthly breakfast meetings, this event will provide an opportunity to get better acquainted. Each member is asked to bring an hors d’oeuvres. Drinks, etc., will be provided.

RONALD McDONALD HOUSE COOKING — Debbie Rodriguez still is recruiting volunteers to cook two meals at the Ronald McDonald House complex in Albany — a breakfast on Saturday, April 2, and a dinner on Thursday, May 12. If interested in helping out, contact Debbie ASAP.

Screen shot 2016-02-26 at 4.45.35 PMEASTER BASKETS FOR CATE’S KIDS — Bill Dowd reported that our support of  Circles of Mercy’s annual drive to provide baskets for needy children ages 2 to 12 resulted in an increase in baskets of 150%, from 20 last year to 50 this year. An extra-strong effort by students and faculty at John Sawchuk’s  Columbia High School helped pad the number. Bill noted that all three venues assembling baskets — CHS, Len Leonidas’s Cub Scouts, and Shannon Romanowski’s Greenbush YMCA — utilized kids helping kids, “something we hope will instill in them a spirit of giving they can carry throughout their lives.”

SHREDDING DAY / YOUTH EXCHANGE — A.J. Amato sponsors an annual document-shredding day for members of the community at his East Greenbush office. While it has been a free event, he said this year he will ask for a small donation from participants in the April 30 event that will go to our club’s Youth Exchange program. A.J., who is our club’s Youth Exchange Officer, also said he has been assured by Maple Hill High School officials that there will be no problem lining up host families for our upcoming exchange student(s).

MAPLE HILL VISIT — Terry arrived late because he had been making a presentation about our club to the Schodack Central School District Board of Education. Her said many people in that district are aware and supportive of our efforts, which include scholarships, RYLA training, and many other efforts over the years.

Screen shot 2015-09-11 at 3.06.33 PMEVENTS SCHEDULE — Debbie Rodriguez reported that the District 7190 Grants Training Workshop is scheduled for Saturday, April 9, at Skidmore College. A club needs at least two people to participate each year to be eligible for grant applications. … The Blue Star Mothers’ annual Blue Jeans Ball also is scheduled for April 9, and Debbie is trying to get enough people to attend to purchase a table.  … The 2nd annual Business Expo run by the Capital Region Rotary Club will be held on Tuesday, April 5, at the Radisson Hotel on Wolf Road in Colonie. Our club will have a table there, and Terry invited the Faddegons to share it as a way of publicizing ShelterBox.

NEXT MEETING: 6:15 p.m. Thursday, March 24, at Quigley’s. Maple Hill High School students we have sponsored in the RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Awards) program this year will share their experiences with us.

Meeting of 3/10/16: ‘Fistula Care In Malawi’

Screen shot 2015-05-22 at 12.44.07 PMMeeting at Quigley’s Restaurant
593 Columbia Turnpike
East Greenbush, NY
February 25, 2016

Members Attending (16): Terry Brewer, Debbie Rodriguez, Murray Forth, Pat Bailey, Bill Dowd, Roberto Martinez, Peter Brown, Debbie Brown, Dick Drumm, Dean Calamaras, Doris Calamaras, David Taylor, Ray Hannan, Melissa Bill, Len Leonidas, Ron Annis.

Guests (6): Rebecca Raymond, Mike Strangle, Collen Dundas, Lorenzo Murray, Willie Widby, Monica Annis.

PROGRAM: “Fistula Care in Malawi, Africa”

Speaker Becky Raymond with colleague Colleen Dundas at the controls.

Debbie Rodriguez introduced a former colleague, Rebecca (Becky) Raymond. Becky retired from the NYS Department of Health in 2013, then volunteered with the Peace Corps to work on maternal health issues in the tiny African nation of Malawi. She was accompanied by Colleen Dundas, who lived in Malawi for two years as a health care volunteer. Both are members of the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCV) of Northeastern  New York.

Becky’s presentation, titled “Life Regained — Freedom from Fistula,” described the enormous problem of obstetrical fistulas in Malawai, the poorest nation in Africa.

An obstetrical fistula is a hole between the vagina and rectum or bladder that is caused by prolonged obstructed labor, leaving a woman incontinent of urine or feces or both. During such prolonged difficulty, the labor produces contractions that push the baby’s head against the mother’s pelvic bone. The soft tissues between the baby’s head and the pelvic bone are compressed and do not receive adequate blood flow, so the delicate tissue dies.

Women in impoverished areas of Africa who go untreated usually are abandoned by their husbands and ostracized by their community because of their smell and constant leaking. However, Becky said, with the proper surgical intervention they can resume normal lives.

The Freedom From Fistula Foundation, an organization founded in Scotland and financially supported by Rotarians there, is working to correct the problem in Malawi. Becky said progress is being made and deaths have been reduced by about half throughout sub-Saharan Africa. In addition to providing surgical care, the foundation helps train midwives, helps affected young women learn about proper hygiene and family planning, help some become “patient ambassadors” who spread the word throughout their mostly-rural communities about the medical care available, and even provides literacy and occupational training.

Some women who “graduate” from the fistula repairs and classroom training are given what is referred to as a “B Box,” a kit containing a solar panel and a small electrical charging device. Cellphones are popular in Malawi, but places to recharge them are scarce. Using the B Box, a young woman can collect a small amount of money by providing a charging station and, thus, having a small but steady income to help support herself.

A few other facts Becky shared: Only about one in every 50 Malawian women living with fistula gets treatment; 42% of women in poor countries deliver without the assistance of a midwife or doctor; fistula treatment costs $400 to $600 per case which, while inexpensive by our standards, is well beyond the reach of most Malawian women.

The RPCV will hold a “Freedom From Fistula Event” fundraiser from 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, April 12, at Hamilton Union Presbyterian Church, 2291 Western Avenue, Guilderland. Tickets for the event, which will include a speaker and film from the foundation, along with food and a silent auction, are $30 and available online. Proceeds will go to the Freedom From Fistula Foundation.

President Terry Brewer asked Becky for details on the foundation’s financial practices. She said the Peace Corps group had asked for and examined three years’ worth of foundation records to ascertain how much donated money goes to direct services to women. Virtually everything does, she said, unlike many other NGOS (non-governmental organizations) that spend copiuos amounts on administration and overhead.

Terry said he will discuss with members an SRC donation, probably setting a goal of $5,000. He also noted that we might try partnering with another club to obtain a Rotary grant to help fund the foundation’s work. Becky and Colleen expressed their gratitude.

Screen shot 2016-03-11 at 12.01.08 PM
Tiny Malawi is shown in circled areas.


Screen shot 2016-03-11 at 12.17.48 PMROTARY EXPO — Lorenzo Murray, a member of the Capital Region Rotary Club, was among the evening’s visitors. He spoke briefly about his club’s upcoming “3rd annual Business & Service Expo,” set for 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 5, at the Raddison Hotel, 205 Wolf Road, Colonie. The business-to-business networking event is open to the public. Details are available online. (Lorenzo, a member of the District 7190 Membership Committee, said the SRC club is the talk of the district because of its success in attracting many new members.)

CLUB WEBSITE — Terry spoke about Bill Dowd’s continuing excellent work on our website and again urged all members to make a practice of regularly checking the site to stay up to date on local, district, and global Rotary news.

RONALD McDONALD HOUSE — Debbie Rodriguez is firming up volunteer teams to prepare two meals at the family services complex in Albany, a breakfast in April and a dinner in May. See Debbie if you would like to assist.

DR. JIM UPDATE — Roberto Martinez, who has been keeping members updated via e-mail on Jim Leyhane’s cardiac surgery this week, said he last spoken with Jim just an hour before the meeting. He has been moved to a regular room at Albany Med, and may be discharged over the weekend. Terry circulated a schedule for people to provide meals for Jim during his recuperation at home. Because he usually will have family members with him, meals should be enough for three or four people.

THE LION KING — Doris Calamaras reported that there are only a few $20 balcony seats left for the Thursday, April 14, performance of the musical at Proctors in Schenectady. Center-section seats on the main floor still are available at prices ranging from $60 to $120.

INDOOR GOLF — The “Early Spring Simulator Golf Tournament” scheduled for this Saturday at Burden Lake Country Club has two team slots still available. Contact Murray Forth if interested.

THANK-YOU NOTE — Murray read a letter from Boy Scout Troop 41 thanking the club and some individual members for again underwriting camping expenses for troop members.

SRC Breakfast Chef logoROTARY HOME COOKING — Next in the member-hosted series is at Pat Bailey’s residence on Saturday, March 19, then April 16 at the Dowd residence. In addition, a social mixer to help veteran and new members get to know each other better will be held at Roberto Martinez’s residence in April.

SHELTERBOX SUPPORT — Terry said all clubs received an e-mail from District Governor Milan Jackson asking that they make every effort to underwrite one ShelterBox this year at a cost of $1,000. Terry said he responded that our club was buying five (5) boxes this year. Murray this week delivered our donation to Jack and Nancy Faddegon, the district coordinators for ShelterBox.

NEXT MEETINGS: We have both breakfast and dinner sessions scheduled for Thursday, March 17. Breakfast will begin at 7 a.m. at the Greenbush YMCA, and dinner at 6:15 p.m. at Quigley’s.

Meeting of 3/3/16: ‘Tiffany Treasures of Troy’

Screen shot 2015-05-22 at 12.44.07 PMMeeting at Quigley’s Restaurant
593 Columbia Turnpike
East Greenbush, NY
February 25, 2016

Members Attending (19): Terry Brewer, Debbie Rodriguez, Murray Forth, Pat Bailey, Bill Dowd, Jim Leyhane, Charlie Foote, April Dowd, Peter Brown, Debbie Brown, Shannon Romanowski, Ray Hannan, Roberto Martinez, Dick Drumm, Stewart Wagner, John Sawchuk, Len Leonidas, Doris Calamaras, Dean Calamaras.

Guests (1): P. Thomas Carroll.

PROGRAM: “Tiffany Treasures of Troy”

Historian P. Thomas Carroll describes Tiffany installations in Troy.
Historian P. Thomas Carroll describes Tiffany installations in Troy.

Pat Bailey introduced P. Thomas Carroll, Ph.D, the noted historian and lecturer who several years ago presented a program on the Industrial Age in Troy to the club. This time around, Tom, who currently is the senior historian of the Hudson Mohawk Industrial Gateway, concentrated on the large numbers of Tiffany glass creations in Troy.

Tom quoted several experts who had made reference to the number of glass works — windows, lampshades, chandeliers, etc. — created by the famed Louis Comfort Tiffany studios of Manhattan. For example, the late Bill Cummings, who was one of the leading experts in Tiffany works, referred to Troy as being home to “the mother lode of Tiffany windows.”

Most of the Tiffany work locally is housed in St. Paul’s, St. John’s, and St. Joseph’s churches, as well as in the Troy Public Library, and the Gardner Earl Chapel at Oakwood Cemetery.

Tom explained that although many of the windows are referred to as “stained glass,” they are not. They are paint on glass, using glass as the “canvas.” Louis Tiffany, who was part of the famous jewelry company Tiffany, developed a technique for “painting” with pieces of glass, soldering them in place, and maintained a huge inventory of all types of glass.

At one time, Tiffany purchased glass from an Indiana company called Kokomo Opalescent Glass, which still is in business. We were shown a video of the fascinating and intricate hands-on process that company uses to create sheets of glass for use throughout the world.

Tiff 2b
Several of the types of glass Tiffany used.
The "Assumption of the Blessed Virgin" window in St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church in Troy.
The “Assumption of the Blessed Virgin” window in St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church in Troy.
A Tiffany chandelier.
A Tiffany chandelier.


INDOOR GOLF — The “Early Spring Simulator Golf Tourney” is set for Saturday, March 12, at the Burden Lake Country Club. Contact Murray Forth if you would like to volunteer or play. There still is room in some time slots.

ROTARY HOME COOKING — The second such dinner in the series was a sold-out success at the Forth residence on February 27. Next up is March 18 at Pat Bailey’s residence (sold out), then April 16 at the Dowd residence (one seat left).

SRC Breakfast Chef logoRONALD McDONALD HOUSE – Event coordinator Debbie Rodriguez will circulate a signup sheet for volunteers to cook at the residential complex in Albany. On Thursday, May 12, we will be cooking dinner, and on Saturday, April 2, another group will be cooking breakfast there. Volunteers should contact Debbie for scheduling. The dinner shift prepping will begin at 3 p.m., breakfast prepping at 7 a.m.

SHELTERBOX DONATIONS – Treasurer Murray Forth will be delivering checks totaling $5,000 from individual members and the club to Jack and Nancy Faddegon, district coordinators of the ShelterBox emergency relief program. That donation will pay for five boxes.

Screen shot 2016-02-26 at 4.45.35 PMEASTER BASKET PROJECT –
Coordinator Bill Dowd reported that we’re on track to contribute 35 finished Easter baskets for the annual drive by Circles of Mercy to serve needy children ages 2 to 12. Basket items (see earlier postings for a “wish list”) must be dropped off no later than March 10. Finished baskets must be delivered to Circles of Mercy no later than Friday, March 18.

Member suggestions are being solicited as part of an inquiry into changing the price and choices for our Thursday dinner meetings. Quigley’s owner John Walsh said an increase from the current $15 to $18 per person would greatly increase the possibilities. A final decision will be made in the near future.

ROTARY BUSINESS EXPO – President Terry Brewer said representatives of this Rotary-inspired business-to-business event will visit the club on March 10 to explain and answer questions about the effort.

ANNUAL GOALS – Terry said he will be working with the aid of Bill Dowd and Debbie Rodriguez to update the club’s annual goals-and-projects online information that must be submitted to RI.

RI DIRECTOR’S VISIT – A reminder that Jennifer Jones, one of the 20 directors globally working with Rotary International, will be the speaker at a March 16 luncheon at the Doubletree Inn by Hilton in Schenectady. It is open to all Rotarians by reservation. Check the website for details on reserving a seat.

Screen shot 2016-03-04 at 9.24.20 AMBY-LAWS VOTE – A set of three proposed changes to the club by-laws that had been distributed to all members on February 18 was approved without dissent. They involve approval of the monthly breakfast meetings as “official,” institution of specific numbers to constitute meeting quorums, and approval of a three-tiered dues structure for new members.

THEATER DATES – Doris Calamaras reported on the possibility of attending as a group a performance of “The Lion King” at Proctors in Schenectady on Thursday, April 14. Ticket prices range from $20 to $130 (see separate posting). The deadline for calling Doris at 477-4694 if you plan to attend is next Wednesday (March 9).

NEXT MEETING: 6:15 p.m. Thursday at Quigley’s. Becky Raymond, a frequent visitor to the club since her return from working in Malawi, will present a talk on maternal health care in Africa.

Meeting of 2/25/16: ‘Veterans’ Benefits’

Screen shot 2015-05-22 at 12.44.07 PMMeeting at Quigley’s Restaurant
593 Columbia Turnpike
East Greenbush, NY
February 25, 2016

Attending (14): Terry Brewer, Debbie Rodriguez, Murray Forth, Pat Bailey, Bill Dowd, Jim Leyhane, Geoff Brewer, Dick Drumm, Melissa Bill, Dean Calamaras, Doris Calamaras, David Taylor, Ray Hannan, Charlie Foote.

Guests (3): Speakers Harry Candee and Mark Sollohub; Rebecca Raymond.


Speakers Harry Candee (left) and Mark Sollohub
Speakers Harry Candee (left) and Mark Sollohub

Club member David Taylor introduced Harry Candee and Mark Sollohub of the New York State Division of Veterans Affairs.

Harry is the regional supervisor of the veterans benefits advisory department, and Mark heads the Rensselaer County office. Both men are Rensselaer County residents. Each is a veteran of military service — Harry serving 20 years, Mark nearly nine. Mark was a recipient of a Rotary Scholarship when he was a high schooler.

They outlined a variety of benefits programs for U.S. military veterans and their widows or widowers, as well as, in some instances, their school-age children. Harry emphasized that the Division is attempting to more broadly disseminate information to potential recipients and/or their families who might not be fully informed of the possibilities. That lack of information may be especially true in Rensselaer County where the post Mark now holds was vacant for an extended time.

Harry said veterans services can be obtained at no cost by calling 626-5680 to schedule an appointment for information and advocacy. He and Mark also explained the need for proper documentation of service, medical diagnoses, and other papers, and noted the amount of information also available online.

Harry also explained compensation/disability, qualifications for a pension for both veterans and surviving spouses, income restrictions, which medical expenses and assets are considered in developing an individual financial profile for eligibility, and how compensation is calculated. Some of their other topics included availability of burial and funeral expense coverage, dependent indemnity compensation, the New York State Blind Annuity, and Veterans Property Tax Exemptions as allowed by various communities.


Melissa Bill is inducted as a new Rotarian by Board member Jim Leyhane.
Melissa Bill is inducted as a new Rotarian by Board member Jim Leyhane.

INDUCTION — Melissa Bill, who was unable to participate in the recent formal group induction of new members, was inducted tonight by Board Member Jim Leyhane, and welcomed by President Terry Brewer and the rest of the members in attendance. Jim outlined the range of activities in Rotary, and Terry explained some of our hyper-local efforts to Melissa and to our guests. Melissa, who has been attending our meetings and social activities since last summer, is a First Niagara Bank branch manager.

Golfer Robots BoxedINDOOR GOLF EVENT — A reminder that our next indoor simulator golf event will be held on Saturday, March 12, at Burden Lake Country Club, Teams still are needed to fill out the 12-team field. Advance registration with Murray Forth is preferred. Details are available on the flyers that have been distributed several times to all members, and posted on our club website and Facebook page.

HOME COOKING & SOCIALIZING — Just a few seats remain for three member-hosted Saturday dinners in the “Rotary Home Cooking Series” — the February 27 sauerbraten dinner at the Forth residence, the March 19 French dinner at the Bailey residence, and the April 16 wines-and-small-plates dinner at the Dowd residence. … In addition, Roberto Martinez and Jim Leyhane are co-hosting a members’ social evening at Roberto’s residence on Saturday, April 23, to serve as a mixer for veteran and new members of the club, plus spouses and significant others. The price of admission is an hors d’oeuvre. Drinks and desserts will be provided.

RONALD McDONALD HOUSE — Debbie Rodriguez is coordinating our efforts to cook meals for families staying at the Ronald McDonald House complex in Albany while receiving medical care at Albany Medical Center. On Thursday, May 12, rather than holding our usual meeting at Quigley’s, a group of SRC members will be cooking dinner in Albany. On Saturday, April 2, another group will be cooking breakfast. Volunteers should contact Debbie for scheduling. The dinner shift prepping will begin at 3:30 in the afternoon, the breakfast prepping at 7 a.m.

Screen shot 2016-02-12 at 3.37.09 PMEASTER BASKET DRIVE — Bill Dowd reported that support for this annual event, called “Easter Baskets for Cate’s Kids,” organized by the  Circles of Mercy family-aid organization is so strong we will be donating at least 35 baskets, rather than the 20 initially pledged. Columbia High School will provide 17 baskets, the SRC Club 14, and the Greenbush YMCA 4. Dropoff deadline for completed baskets is Friday, March 18, at Circles of Mercy. Donations for the Club baskets may be dropped off at the Y, where they will be kept separate from the Y’s own donated items. Len Leonidas and his Cub Scouts will pick up those Club donations and assemble them for delivery.

THANK-YOU NOTE — The club received a thank-you card from the Felt family of Rensselaer, who we adopted for Christmas. Through the generosity of our members, we were able to supply the family of five (with one more on the way) with an extensive collection of clothing, personal grooming items, toys, learning materials, household goods, and the like.

SHELTER BOXES — With the addition of recent significant donations from some individual members, our SRC Club will be donating $5,000 to cover the purchase of five (5) Shelter Boxes this year. Jack and Nancy Faddegon, the District 7190 Shelter Box coordinators, will present a program to the club in the near future, aimed especially at letting newer members see first-hand what the far-reaching disaster relief project is about.

MENU OPTIONS — Debbie Rodriguez is discussing possible expansion of the menu with John Walsh of Quigley’s. She passed around a request for input from members as to menu choices, and plans to get back to us with pricing and menu possibilities. Terry noted that our price has held steady at $15 for years even though food prices have risen. So, he said, it will be a matter of willingness to increase that price to allow more food options, or hold to it and continue getting whatever $15 will buy.

Screen shot 2016-02-26 at 2.24.15 PM BY-LAWS VOTE — All members have been sent proposed changes in the Club By-Laws in time for a vote to be held at the March 3 meeting. The proposals, recommended for adoption by the Board, would formalize a tiered dues structure for new members, make the monthly breakfast meeting official club sessions for reporting and attendance purposes, and specify the precise number of attendees needed to create a quorum at meetings, rather than continue using a percentage of membership which winds up with less than whole numbers. The proposals also have been posted on the club website.

ROTARY BUSINESS EXPO — The annual “Rotary Business Expo,” sponsored by the Capital Region Club, is scheduled for Tuesday, April 5. It is a business-to-business event with a Rotary twist.

RI DIRECTOR TO VISIT — Rotary International Director Jennifer Jones of Windsor, Ontario, will be the speaker at a Rotary lunch in Schenectady on March 16. Registration link and other details are on the club website.

PROJECT MALAWI — The response to a call for donations of clean, used, unlabeled medicine containers for the African nation of Malawi was overwhelming, according to Doris Calamaras who brought the need to our attention. More than 2 million containers were collected throughout the U.S., more than Malawi needs, so some of the containers will be donated elsewhere.

NEXT MEETING: 6:15 p.m. Thursday, March 3, at Quigley’s. Noted historian P. Thomas Carroll will deliver a presentation on “The Tiffany Windows of Troy.”