Salaam fellow Rotarians! I am happy to be back after visiting my family in Detroit. With pen in hand, I can report what transpired during our 20 August gathering.

President Jennifer Hara called the meeting to order at 12:30 PM, leading members in the Pledge of Allegiance. She invited Valentin Solis to offer words of inspiration; he shared an excerpt of his favorite passage from the First Book of Corinthians, reminding us that we have nothing without love in our lives. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.”

 

Then, at Jennifer’s request, I introduced guests and Rotarians visiting from other clubs. We welcomed:

  • John Goodwyn, President of Ellis Wyatt Communications and formerly a member of Alabama’s Birmingham-Sunrise Rotary Club, joining me for lunch;
  • Diego Grajales, accompanying his father Guillermo;
  • Karine Baudet, intern at the Voice of America and Glynis Long’s guest from Paris, France; and
  • Silvia Fuselli, research intern at the Brookings Institution and Erminia Scarcella’s guest from Bologna, Italy.

Glynis asked me to share an announcement about Karine who is applying to graduate schools in the United States and Canada. She needs a tutor to help prepare for the reading section of the TOEFL. If you are interested in assisting Karine, please call Glynis at 410-814-1531.

President Jennifer turned to Sargent-at-Arms Buz Gorman to congratulate the only Rotarian celebrating a birthday: Our resident journalist and publisher of the Current newspapers Davis Kennedy, born on 21 August, joined our club in 2003 sponsored by Marilynn Mendell. Another auspicious occasion Buz noted was President Elect David Treadwell’s and his wife Charlotte’s 49th wedding anniversary. Buz along with other marrieds and singles will be tapping David on the shoulder for advice!

Returning to the podium, President Jennifer had announcements to share and called on other Rotarians for information about upcoming events:

  • She thanked everyone for their patience during the University Club’s renovations, reminding us that we will meet in the first-floor dining room again on 27 August.
  • She expressed gratitude to Lisa McCurdy for leading the Signature Fundraiser Committee in surveying Rotarians, to those 30 members who have volunteered to join this committee and to those who participated in the survey. Rotarians may anticipate survey results and planning meetings in the next few weeks.
  • President Jennifer offered remarkable news to great applause: In a conversation with her sponsor Yukio Tada, she learned that the Tokyo Rotary Club has decided to admit women members!
  • Howard Davis explained how members benefit from the Rotary Foundation of Washington, DC. As Foundation President, he announced donations from two members through their estate planning. Howard asked Past President Greig Cummings to remember his friend Harry Clarkson who generously left $50,000 to the Foundation.  And as Howard noted, Jim Magee’s estate donation to our Foundation through his estate planning was $200,000.
  • Still at the microphone, Howard turned our attention to DC Public School Beautification Day at Stanton Elementary School on Saturday, 23 August. (Please note that this activity has already taken place.)
  • Paula Delo invited members to the next Dine Around on Thursday, 25 September at Corduroy on 1122 9th Street, NW. Details will be forthcoming on the website.
  • Clara Montanez informed members of Rotary Day at the United Nations on Saturday, 1 November. The event will feature presentations from senior UN staff and Rotary leaders as well as panel discussions. Clara asked those interested in this event to confer with her as soon as possible. She wants to start coordinating logistics for the New York trip to ensure that attendees will be back in time for the District Foundation Dinner on Sunday, 2 November—more on that event to come.
  • Myrna Charles encouraged Rotarians to attend the Red Reception for the Measles & Rubella Initiative, a program aimed at eliminating these diseases by 2020. The event will take place at the Turkish Embassy on Tuesday, 9 September. Please talk to her for details.

Shannon Steene—Professional and Personal Intersect in the Non-profit Arena

Glen O’Gilvie introduced his colleague and friend Shannon Steene, Vice President of Member Engagement at Lutheran Services in America (LSA), to discuss the contributions of non-profit organizations in the United States as well as the role of those choosing careers in this sector vis-à-vis their communities.

In his position with one of the largest social services networks in the country, Mr. Steene interacts with the chief executive officers of more than 300 non-profit organizations tackling such diverse issues as disaster relief, education, healthcare, homelessness, hunger and veterans’ needs. Prior to joining LSA, he was the executive director of Good Shepherd Housing, a homeless prevention provider in Virginia. His professional experience thus enables him to examine the non-profit sector and philanthropy from a macro perspective, across the continuum of care, while taking a micro view of how organizations address specific problems.

Mr. Steene eschewed the use of PowerPoint for his presentation in favor of what he called “Rotary Point.” Handing four numbered envelopes to Rotarian volunteers, he asked them to take turns reading what was written on the cards inside, and then he elaborated on each theme:

  1. “It never entered my mind” – Growing up in rural, predominantly Norwegian and Lutheran Minnesota as the son of a barber father and church secretary mother, Mr. Steene always took pride in his upbringing, did not think of his family as poor and never anticipated that he would pursue a career in non-profit administration. He emphasized that his career has been rooted in his personal family experience and that pursuing his particular profession has inspired deep personal reflection.
  2. “The Goldie Locks syndrome” – Mr. Steene underscored the differences in non-profit organizations’ sizes and budgets—from a large outfit like Whitman Walker Health, caring for those with HIV/AIDS, to the much smaller Critical Exposure, empowering youths through photography.
  3. “Batter up” – Non-profit organizations are managed and staffed by “people stepping up every day” to meet needs that government does not and perhaps should not fulfill. As Mr. Steene remarked, these organizations are what Alexis de Tocqueville referred to as the “associations” of civil society.
  4. “Who are the people in your neighborhood?” – Mr. Steene urged Rotarians to take note of who is doing non-profit work—tending to the community‘s needs. He closed citing children’s show host, Mr. Rogers: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”

Mr. Steene’s remarks inspired Rotarians to query him about best practices in the non-profit sector, collaboration between different organizations towards common goals, the measurement of outcomes and the future of philanthropy.

Adjourned Until Next Week

After President Jennifer presented Shannon Steene our “Trees for the Capital” certificate, members waited to hear who purchased the winning raffle ticket from Johnny Allem. Yet the suspense was for naught as serial winner Ken Kimbrough claimed the small pot of $38. The large pot of $748 eluded him and will continue growing.

Thank you to Greeter Christian Lungarotti and to Balraj Gupta and Stu Shalloway for welcoming visitors at the Hospitality Table.

On 27 August, Rotarians will hear from speaker Ambassador Tatiana Gfoeller, an advisor on foreign policy to the U.S. Army.

President Jennifer adjourned the meeting at 1:30 PM … And then I put down my pen for Valentin Solis to pick up as he graciously volunteered to write the next Meeting in Review. I will be back from my screen to yours in September!