Jay's Rotary Jam
As I complete this month’s column, Thanksgiving is but a few days away, a time once again when we focus on family. Almost 400 members of our Rotary family gathered together at Mayfair Farms for the annual District 7470 Presidents’ - Foundation Ball. The event celebrates both current year presidents and the Rotary Foundation, this year marking its 100th anniversary. To my recollection, it was one of the best attended in recent years and as I understand it, many were later registrants. Perhaps the last minute surge was due to many wanting a bit of relief and enjoyment after the contentious election period? In any case, there were high spirits at Mayfair Farms and there was at least one gate crasher, a certain “vixen” who crashed the party for the first time in a certain club’s history.” (Details below!)
For the Rotary Foundation, there was an additional bit of good news. Did you know that it has received the highest possible score from Charity Navigator, an independent evaluator of charities in the U.S.? The Rotary Foundation earned the maximum 100 points for financial health, accountability and transparency. The ratings reflect how efficiently Charity Navigator believes the Foundation will use donations, how well it has sustained programs and services, and its level of commitment to good governance and openness. In the previous rating, the Foundation had received 97 points. This is an additional fact to keep in mind when making your end of year charitable donations.
Lastly, and most importantly, November is also a time to thank our greater family of veterans who have sacrificed so much, so that we can enjoy the holidays with our loved ones and friends. Many district clubs actively participated in efforts to aid veterans in need, or to simply say two simple words which mean volumes: “Thank you.” Our family of Veterans was also in the forefront of many clubs activities in November. Madison Rotary sent a team to participate in the construction of a home that will be occupied by a veteran in conjunction with Habitat for Humanity. Denville collected over 100 pounds of candy for the troops overseas. Pequannock Valley hosted a veteran’s lunch that saw well over 130 participants and later that evening contributed over $11,700 to the Friends and Family for Freedom veterans and families aid organization. The Caldwell’s made a $1,000 donation to “Welcome Them Home” an effort championed by DG Margit Rahill to help veterans return to their own housing. All a way of saying, “Thank you.”
The South Orange “Rotary Express” edited by Gregory LaMorte, reports that they heard a program from a member of the Salvation Army who offered them an opportunity to help their neighbors. South Orange Rotary will collect food on "Giving Days" set for December 16 and 17 at the South Orange Public Library and also toys, clothes, blankets and gift cards to benefit the people that the Salvation Army serves – the homeless, the poor as well as working poor, the children and senior citizens.
Denville “Spoke” editor Janet Navvaro wrote that they were able to send out over 100 lbs. of candy for our troops through Operation Gratitude. Now that’s a sweet thought! They enjoyed a program that explored the mysteries of ‘Luck” by who else, a representative of the NJ Lottery. The secret of having a winner’s attitude was explored. And on the subject of a positive attitude, The Denville Spoke published a short illuminating essay on winter by their club president which I thought bears inclusion here.
“This past Saturday we fell back into Standard Time, essentially gaining an hour and embracing the dark winter ahead. “Winter is Coming” to quote the meme from Game of Thrones. During Daylight Savings we are busy enjoying the summer but, sometimes we just don’t know when to slow down. I love the return to Standard Time as the early darkness presents a natural end to the day and we can just relax and not feel obligated to keep doing something because it is still light out.
As the days get shorter and the nights get colder and darker, it would be wise to embrace the Norwegian concept of “Kos” pronounced ‘koos” (Koselig – “kooseleg”). Some might say this word translates to cozy or coziness, but it is a much larger concept than the three simple letters would imply. It is more a state of mind. Instead of complaining about the cold, it is a lot easier to make the best of winter. Kos can mean sipping a cocktail or cup tea by candlelight, wrapping oneself in a blanket and watching TV, meeting up with friends for a long walk on a cool day or dinner in a cozy restaurant. Kos is giving you a “cozy time-out”.
There is nothing positive about being negative about winter. Work to live a koselig life. Light candles, host a dinner party, and don’t be afraid to brave the cold, get outside and look to clear winter skies and stars above. Winter is coming, but so is “Kos” time and that can be a wonderful thing!” Rita Ambrosi
The Rockaway’s “Hub Pub” edited by Rodney Seifert, focused on their continuing effort to fight hunger in their communities though their avid support of the Rockaway Food Closet. Since 1984, the Food Closet has been an invaluable resource for residents, serving over 130 families in Rockaway Borough and Rockaway Township. Members of the Rockaway Rotary Club collected frozen turkeys, bags of groceries, and cash donations to help Rockaway families who are struggling to pay their bills and are unable to stretch their budgets far enough to purchase the traditional Thanksgiving items. They recently presented a check for $2,500 representing proceeds from various club fundraisers. In addition, due to the time and efforts of the Rockaway Rotary Club and the generosity of club members, the staff and students from the Rockaway Borough Schools and Divine Mercy Academy, and Rockaway area residents, many needy families will be able to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner this year.
The Rockaway’s has a new member, Richard Matthews, Business Administrator, Rockaway Borough School District. Election of officers is for 2017-2018 is on their agenda as are plans for their annual Holiday Party at The Exchange.
Wallkill Valley’s bulletin editor Mary Ann Seeko indicates that the club is buying children’s Christmas presents – an annual gift giving to the children in the local schools. She added, “Don’t forget to get a tag!”
Morristown’s Donna Orr reported that their exchange student Hannah was looking forward to meeting new Rotarians and having dinner or doing something fun with members during Saturdays and Sundays in December! Morristown also conducted their ‘Sid Luckey Thanksgiving Food Drive’ and their collective efforts resulted in a $675 donation and 12 bags of food. Morristown is also finishing up on the Dictionary Program. They are also beginning plans for this year’s Taste of Morristown. Two new members are on the agenda, Jennifer Amaya and Andrew Manganiello, a past member of the Goshen, NY Rotary Club. Welcome to Rotary and District 7470!
Madison Rotary E- Bulletin, by PDG Barry Kroll tells of the club welcoming back former members George Hayman, Radika Lucthman and Nadine Vitro. In honor of Veterans, Madison Rotary had a team participate in the construction of a home in conjunction with Habitat for Humanity that will be occupied by a veteran.
On Thursday, November 3, District 7470 held a Hunger 3.6 Project "Kickoff" meeting for the food packing event scheduled for Saturday, March 19, 2017. This year, the Madison Rotary Club has invited the entire District to participate at Drew to "assemble" nutritious one-pot meals that the project directors can donate to soup kitchens, food pantries and other charities. The meals come in three varieties: macaroni and cheese, macaroni with tomato basil sauce, and rice and beans. Each package once assembled has six servings when cooked.
Madison welcomed two new members as well, Tanya Van Order and Beat Barbian. The Rotary Club of Madison annual 50/50 Fundraiser is underway. In its 33nd year, this project accounts for the major portion of funds which will be distributed at the Club’s Annual Charitable Distribution Luncheon in May 2017. They also instituted a member-friendly policy of billing members only for the meetings they attend, but increased dues by $40.00 annually, to $240 and the lunch meeting charge will increase by $2.00 (from $15.00 to $17.00). The breakfast meeting charge will remain at $7.00. How does this compare with your club?
Hanover Rotary’s “Whip”, written by Ken Lemanowicz noted that with the renovation of the Marriott, they will meet at the Brookside Diner starting December 15. As in most other clubs, they into the process of nominating next year’s officers. They are also planning for their upcoming Casino Night Holiday party. An interesting program covered the Whippany Fire District, which is a separate taxing entity that raises funds and buys the trucks, has four men and one secretary paid through the district. They run the business end of the fire department and work hard to keep the volunteer system, the Whippany Fire Company strong.
Morris Plains Rotary’s “Early Riser”, edited by Sean Kelly also reports on their food drive, one which contributes to Interfaith Food Pantry’s Thanksgiving basket program. Newark Rotarian and District Governor Elect John Wilson, President and CEO of Independent College Fund of New Jersey reviewed the history of higher education in N. J., which began in the 18th century before the colonies became a nation. Princeton, then known as the College of New Jersey, was founded in 1746 and Rutgers, then known as Queen’s College, was founded in 1766.Today there are six sectors of higher education in NJ. They are senior research institutes, state colleges, community colleges, independent colleges, religious colleges, and proprietary colleges. All together there are over 60 higher education institutions serving over 400,000 students just here in NJ!
Morris Plains also heard a presentation by Roots & Wings, an organization that provides young adults who age out of the foster care system in New Jersey with safe housing, educational support, counseling, and life skills in order to empower them toward self-sufficiency. Holiday Breakfast with Santa is in the works.
Welcome New Members! Mary Beth Kane and Kevin Seidel were inducted, both work at the new senior living center being built h in Morris Plains, Arbor Terrace.
The Caldwell’s “Nairator”, edited by Tom Cocchiola related that “As citizens, Rotarians have a duty to vote; Rotarians also have a responsibility to prevent politics from creeping into meetings and discussions. Thankfully, their meetings have stayed above the political fray, a good policy and practice.
Several members, Jason, Erin, Jonny, Samantha, Captain America, and Laura teamed up for the Big Brothers/Big Sisters “Bowl for Kids Sake” fundraiser last Saturday: reportedly a worthy Caldwell steam for a very worthwhile cause. Jonny, Erin, and Laura also met up with Kevin to participate in the North Caldwell Zombie 5K Run/Walk. Funds raised at this event benefited the Nick Tanelli Soccer Foundation, a 501(c)(3) that offers scholarships to local students.
After the success of the 25th Annual Street Fair was successful, their Willing Hearts consignment shop’s volunteers have been doing landmark business in their renovated shop, the club has made some significant donations, and members seem energetic, upbeat, and positive. Much remains to be done in the remaining 8-months and Caldwell Rotarians are clearly ready, willing, and able to make this another banner year.
The Caldwell’s has a separate fund, known as “The Endowment” a 501(c)(3) charitable fund established in 1999. The club provided initial funding and was then able to make annual contributions to build a capital fund based primarily on revenue from their resale center, Willing Hearts. “The Endowment” awards grants for projects that have been approved by the Rotary Club of the Caldwell’s (RCC) board. “The Endowment” is a powerful asset that enables the RCC to fund relatively large projects above and beyond annual club budgets. They have recently made several large donations from the endowment.
The Caldwell’s also approved a $1000 donation to support an Eagle Scouts project that supports US troops serving overseas and a $1000 donation for the “Welcome Them Home” program championed by DG Margit Rahill,
The most recent edition of the Nairator reported that the Caldwell Rotarians are certainly serious and hard-working, but demonstrated at the President’s – Foundation Ball that they can party hard as well. “Paula,” one of the four self- designated club “vixens,” crashed the party for the first time in club history.”Editor Tom added that it was “An awesome night with a great group of friends!”
Branchville’s “Mountain Air” written by Jeff Hatch also indicated a Christmas Party, but on January 5th or 12th! Their Chili Open is set for January 28th and they are working on the “Gift of Warmth” coat drive. They heard from District Governor Margit Rahill, who shared the news of the district during her official visit. Nearby districts have shrunk below the ‘magic number’ of 1,100 members, so Rotary International will reduce Districts from 5 to 3. The district just south of us District 7510, will have its 39 clubs and about 1000 members absorbed into our District 7470 in 2019.
Branchville also heard from Deborah Pedersen, the Branchville Commander of the American Legion on programs and initiatives to meet the needs of veterans here and in NJ. Deborah, who has been in the Army Reserves for 26 years, told of one deployment in Africa where her Djibouti Rotary brought deaf children from a remote village to town where 50 of them left with hearing aids. She sees a strong alignment of purpose between the American Legion and Rotary. Then State Legion Commander Roger Gengaro explained the 4 pillars of the American Legion: Children & Youth, including baseball leagues and transplants for children in need; Americanism, including Boys & Girls State and patriotism contests; National Security including advocating for MIA’s, and Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation.
Nutley’s “Nutshell” by Tom McCrohan noted had a moment of silence in honor of Nancy Gruelich who passed earlier in the month. They sang "Happy Birthday" to Bob Peters on his 70th birthday and presented him with a cake. One program was on Camp Merry Heart. Director Kim Minerleyand Mary Simpson who has been associated with the camp for over 30 years,explained the history of Camp Merry Heart and its programs, including the off season uses such as renting it out. Campers cannot "age out" and they have had campers range from age 6 to 94. They have both a permanent and seasonal staff. Many of their staff are recruited from Europe because it offers the counselors an opportunity to tour the USA. New Member Neal Conlan was inducted. Welcome Neal! Neal had been a prior member. Walt circulated cards and notes from Nutley's third graders who had received their dictionaries a few weeks ago.
Pequannock Valley’s “PV Views” by yours truly, highlighted many events and activities of the month including the induction of their 7th new member of the year, Ivett Tejada. Welcome Ivett! On the evening of November 9th, 40 PV Rotarians and guests joined almost 500 in honoring our veterans at the Friends and Families for Freedom dinner where they presented a check for over $11,700, making a total of $25, 000 contributed over the past two years to help injured veterans and their families during their healing and recovery.
But earlier that day was an even more special event that touched many lives personally, their annual PV Rotary Veterans’ Lunch that saw over 130 participants treated to lunch and recognition. Each veteran stands and gives their name and branch of service, as well as other details if they wish, and each receives an individual round of applause. Organizer Paul Darmofalski said in part, “One of my most enjoyable veterans lunches... It’s very touching to see the proud veterans stand up and announce their service to our Great Country. We had 5-7 WW2 veterans along with two wheelchair-bound veterans who made the effort to attend. Held at the Lincoln Park American Legion Post, the ShopRite/Wakefern /Hallmark contributions were a great addition this year.” Bet the best comments came from Rotarians about their veterans guests “My Uncle had tears in his eyes— that’s how meaningful a time it was for him and he asked that I thank all who did the work to make it such a special event.” Another said, “It was great to see those proud Americans stand tall and proud for the branch of service that they gave so much for. Sitting next to my friend who comes every year and cries every year that we care to do this. I am always moved. “
During the month just ending, when we both count our blessings and take time to honor our veterans and their Service Above Self, I don’t think I could write any better ending that that!
Remember, if you don't see your club mentioned here; please make sure that I receive a copy of your bulletin, press releases or meeting agendas. email@example.com If you do not have an email version, please contact me for my mailing address for printed material. See you here next month!
Reminder: Gift of Life’s Super Bowl Raffle - Don’t forget that tickets make great stocking stuffers, and hopefully the winner, if a family member, will include you as their guest! The raffle includes 2 tickets to Super Bowl LI in Houston, 2 round trip airline tickets from a NYC airport, 3 nights and 4 days in nearby hotel. Drawing will be held 1/12/17. Raffle ticket price $10 per ticket. Remember what the funds raised are being used for!