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05.19.16 – Luncheon Notes

SPOKES Notes written by Nick Kroeze

On this gorgeous STRIVE day we were welcomed to the “double-wide” on the 10th floor as we hosted many, many guests.  President Derek extended a warm welcome and then Kevin Paul invited us to sing “America the Beautiful” a capella and senza parole—which the Club handled extremely well!  Mark Potter provided the invocation as we prepared to enjoy a tasty tortellini con pollo impanato frito.

Shannon Kolarik was invited up to introduce our two non-STRIVE guests and then we had the honor to hear Tom Bylenga present our newest member to the Club—Mark Brant, president of First Community Bank.  Mark shared a bit about his past connections with Rotary and his eagerness to engage in the activities and community of our Club.  Welcome Mark!

John Crosby and Amanda Williams came forward to introduce today’s STRIVE program.  John noted the mission, history, and scope of service provided by the program and its mentors, acknowledging and thanking parents, guardians, family, friends, sponsors and Rotarians for their important parts in the lives of these students.  Amanda noted that the school counselors would receive a gift and then introduced Union High School principal Karl Nelson as today’s speaker.

Karl expressed his own words of thanks to those involved in the STRIVE program.  He noted how relationships and opportunities, paired together, lead to wonderful outcomes—a true characteristic of STRIVE.  Karl is a strong advocate of “being all-in with mind and heart” in engaging any important work and he sees this evidenced in the commitment all involved with STRIVE exhibit.  He is sensitive to the challenges young people face in navigating high school, college choices and adult responsibilities and encourages us to come alongside these teens whenever, wherever and however we can to be a supportive community around them.

Karl has found inspiration in the thoughts of others like Marcus Aurelius, Katherine Gephart, and Wayne Dyer, who all point out the importance of engaging life and each other well.  He especially appreciates the perspective shared by Daymond John of ABC’s Shark Tank:  “The initial investment is in a person, not in a product.”  Karl elaborated on that thought and concluded his talk by observing how, today, we have a whole roomful of worthy people, deserving of our care, encouragement and help—and it was time to celebrate them!

The balance of today’s meeting was given over to a very inspirational (to put it mildly) recognition of Juniors and Seniors from Ottawa Hills High School and Union High School.  Mentors and STRIVE Seniors shared reflections on their months together, highlighting the personal as well as academic impact experienced through the mentor-mentee relationship.  It is safe to say we all left the luncheon grateful for Rotary’s part in a program with such deep-meaning impact and for those who have of themselves to serve others as mentors.  John and Amanda announced the STRIVE for Excellence awards ($1000 each) given out according to three of the four program requirements:  Altruism—Jackelin Diaz, UHS; Attendance—Augiona Hill, UHS; Attitude—Warda Abdullahi Mohammed, OHHS.  With this the meeting came to an end upon President Derek’s sound ringing of the Rotary Bell.


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