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1.19.17 – Luncheon Notes

SPOKES Notes written by Shannon Kolarik

Thursday was our annual meeting for Rotary International and, needless to say, it was an information-filled day!

Jackie Taylor kicked off the meeting with an update on the charities foundation and all the wonderful ways we give back using this fund. Currently, we are over a third of the way to our $20,000 goal for 2016-17!

James Eliassen followed with an overview of projects we’ve been involved in recently as part of our community engagement including Habitat for Humanity and Ronald McDonald House. We’ll be doing a drive for the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans and taking donations at our meetings the next few weeks.

Bill Buchanan and Jamie Crosby talked about Interact and are looking for ideas of places to bring students and new experiences for Thursdays that they are not at Rotary luncheons. They also would like to know if you’re interested in getting involved in Interact. They’ve had a successful [long] run with the program and are ready to pass the torch to someone who is passionate about these students and the positive impact the Interact program has on them.

Matt Hylant and Paula Jastifer shared some new initiatives their team is working on to increase membership and Rotary involvement such as a display board at our lunches to highlight “What’s New” and a PR campaign through social Media.

Jim White reiterated some of the themes that his committee focuses on when organizing our speakers: Business, Economics, Community, Communications, and Education; he also encouraged members to submit keynote speakers to their committee.

Chelsea Dubey, Joshua Conran, and Beth Pasikowski shared their passion for the Youth Exchange Program and how important it is for us as Rotary members to be a host family for these children. (It is!) Our most recent exchange student, Paula, is back in Chile and doing well. She has a boyfriend and starts University next year. Our next student is coming in August!

JoAnn Abraham shared an update for the Service Above Self Award Dinner honoring Rick DeVos. Be sure to get signed up!

Derek Aten, Neil Marchand and Mark Johnson are our Service Above Selfie Contest advocates! You can participate now through March 1st by volunteering at a local organization, taking a “selfie”, and sharing on social media. Use hashtags #sasgr or #rotarygr

John Crosby shared some community service activities that STRIVE participates in and encouraged us to get to know these students and help make a difference in their lives. Since its 1998 inception, the program has awarded $250,000 in scholarships. That’s incredible! The STRIVE luncheon is scheduled for May 11th.

Bob Stark, the committee for the RI Foundation, stressed the importance of paying our Rotary dues (the ones that are expected of us when we sign up). We have 6 months to raise $14,000 so that game changers like Jon Hankins and his wife can go on a clean water trip to Nicaragua to remove arsenic from their water. (Yikes!) If you need help getting signed up for Rotary Direct, please contact our lovely Executive Director, Dawn Smith.

Whew, we made it! Lots of exciting things happening with Rotary International. We couldn’t do it without our service-driven Rotarians. Thank you for all that you do!

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