The meeting was called to order at 12:30 pm by President Jennifer Hara who then led members in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
Words of Inspiration were offered by Buz Gorman who spoke about Enthusiasm (with much enthusiasm in his voice). He told the story of going to a Rotary Club meeting with his father when he was 12 years old. The guest speaker was a 90-year-old nun who talked about her figurine collection—not a topic that would remotely interest a 12-year-old boy. Yet the nun was so enthusiastic that Buz was captivated by her talk. So be enthusiastic in all you do and say because the feeling is contagious!
 
Once he finished delivering his words of inspiration, President Jennifer awarded Buz his Blue Badge.
 
Next, Secretary Haleh Vaziri introduced guests and visiting Rotarians: 
  • Gloria Almeyda, Senior Program Coordinator at Georgetown University, Clara Montanez's guest
  • Terry Baugh, President of Kidsave, Pat Cunningham's guest
  • Marilyn Cruz, President of the DC Rotaract Club
  • Diego Grajales, guest of Memo Grajales
  • Michael Harper, owner of Imperial Investments, Abrahem Helal's guest
  • Fred Lawrence, Vice President of Economics and International Affairs at the International Petroleum Association of America, Clara Montanez's guest
  • Levi Leatherberry from the DC Rotaract Club
  • Kenneth Puvak, Expert Appointment at the Peace Corps, Tom Kern's guest
  • Rugiato Rehman, Assistant Vice President and Business Banker at Suntrust Bank, Deraux Branch's guest
  • Ambassador of Uganda to the United States Olive Wonekha, guest of Heather Jaffan
  • Akindele Hickling, architect and founder of Ackee Studios Ltd., visiting and bringing us a banner from Jamaica's Kingston Rotary Club
President Jennifer welcomed member Russell George, remarking that she was glad to see him at lunch after a long time. She, along with other selected Rotarians, then turned to announcements about upcoming events and club business:
  • The Rotary Leadership Institute is offering a training session in Rockville, Maryland on Saturday, February 7. For more information and registration, go to our district’s website, www.rotary7620.org.
  • Planning for the Career Fair is underway. Event Chair Donnie Shaw is working with the DC Public School System to secure a suitable venue and date which will most likely be during the first week of March. Please stay tuned for further details to come.
  • Past President Howard Davis reminded everyone about the availability of two Parklawn Cemetery plots in Rockville for sale by our club’s Foundation.
  • Past President David Klaus made a final appeal for members to contribute to our club’s Foundation during the fund drive to end on January 31. He recounted how in 2010 then-Vice President Howard Davis began planning for our Centennial Project, requesting funds from the Board of Directors to build a home for a DC family in need. The Board was able to approve Howard’s request due to the availability of funds from our Foundation. David noted that our club’s 125th anniversary will be in 2036, underscoring that donations to our Foundation made now will enable us to accumulate the funds necessary to finance a significant service project to mark that occasion.
  • Past President Larry Margolis gave us an update on the iPad Tutoring Project. Working with fourth-grade students at the Inspired Teaching Demonstration Public Charter School on 200 Douglas Street, NE. Rotarians volunteer to visit the school twice a month. The students teach our volunteers how to use the iPad, and the volunteers tutor the fourth-graders in mathematics.
  • President Jennifer again thanked Nancy Riker and Monica Smith for helping to clean our club’s office last fall. During their clean-up efforts, they came across some interesting books which were displayed on a table next to the buffet. Please feel free to look at and take those books you like.
  • President Jennifer thanked members who assisted in making our club’s post-holiday party on Saturday, January 24 at the Congressional Country Club a success: Andy Cook, Doris Margolis, Gene Massey, Lisa McCurdy, Ed O’Brien and Rotaractor Levi Leatherberry. Courtesy of Diego Grajales and his camera, President Jennifer shared some photos from the party and very entertaining video footage of David Klaus dancing like a rock star!
Nancy Riker approached the podium for her Not-So-New-Member Talk but first declared that she had a great time at the post-holiday party and deemed Valentin Solis the evening’s best dancer. Nancy told us that she has four kids and eight grandchildren. She keeps busy with cultural, service and professional activities. She sings with the Takoma Park Singers and volunteers at a hospice and with Campus Kitchen doing food recovery to help feed those in need. Nancy, now certified Reiki practitioner, began her professional life as a nurse. After more than two decades in nursing, she left to launch a business in the hospitality industry. When she retired, she sold the business to her partner. Nancy was persuaded by her friend Bill Dent to join our club. A proud Rotarian, she enjoys being part of a community dedicated to service.
 
In the excitement surrounding the presentation of Sargent-at-Arms Buz Gorman’s Blue Badge, he and President Jennifer almost forgot about the announcement of birthdays. Buz congratulated these members born this week:
  • Dick Pyle on January 26 – Sponsored by David Hamod when he joined our club in 2003, Dick is Past President of the Austin, Texas Rotary Club. His classification is government service-Peace Corps.
  • Don Marx on January 30 – Joining our club in 2003 with Max Salas as his sponsor, Past President Don’s classification is consulting-management and technology.
  • Elizabeth Delo on January 31 – A member of our club since 2005, sponsored by Katherine Delo Gregg, Elizabeth’s classification is investment management.
Attention shifted to our guest speaker as Gene Massey introduced the CEO and President of the International Eye Foundation, Victoria Sheffield. Among the many honors and awards Ms. Sheffield has received, Gene noted that she was given the rank of Dame by Queen Elizabeth II in The Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem and appointed to the Hospital’s Board of Directors in 2009
 
An expert on blindness prevention around the globe, Ms. Sheffield began her remarks by praising the role played by Rotary International in ridding the world of polio. Using Powerpoint slides, she detailed how the International Eye Foundation has enhanced the capacity of healthcare professionals in such corners of the world as Guatemala, Haiti and Malawi to treat eye diseases and prevent sight loss. Among the Foundation’s priorities working in Third World countries have been training medical staff, reducing Vitamin A deficiency and increasing access to antibiotic and other medications.
 
Ms. Sheffield’s 40 years of experience working in this field clearly impressed Rotarians who asked her questions about the treatment of illnesses that once resulted in blindness and the economic impact of her work in the countries targeted by the International Eye Foundation.
President Jennifer presented Victoria Sheffield with our “Trees for the Capital” certificate e and then turned to our raffle ticket drawing. Max Salas was the happy winner of the small pot valued at $100 and he generously donated his prize to our club Foundation’s fund drive. Because Max did not select that ace of spades from our deck of cards, the large pot of $2,098 will keep growing.
 
As our gathering came to a close, President Jennifer thanked Balraj Gupta and Stu Shalloway for staffing the Hospitality Table.
Our guest speaker on February 4 will be Howard University President Dr. Wayne Frederick.
President Jennifer Hara adjourned the meeting at 1:30 pm