President David opened the meeting at 12:35 pm and noted the impact on attendance by today’s total closure of the MetroRail system.  He then introduced members of the DC Rotaract Club who would run the meeting.
 
Acting President Peter Danjczek, Rotaract Club Services Chair, asked for the silencing of cell phones and led in the Pledge of Allegiance.  He introduced Rotaract Vice-President Ruxanda Renita to present the Words of Inspiration.
 
Ruxanda started by saying Rotary itself is inspirational, and  eloquently proceeded both to praise what we do in Rotary and to challenge us to live up to our roles.
 
Rotaract Secretary Silvia Fuselli acted as our Club Secretary and introduced the following visitors:
 
Visitor
Host or Rotary Affiliation
Work
Her Excellency Oliver “Olive” Wonekha
Uganda Club
Ugandan Ambassador to the U.S.
Ylva Aller
Härnösand, Sweden Club
 
Terry Anderson
Bob Schott
Exec VP, Plan Sponsor Consultants
Clayton Harris
Ken Brown
HiTek Consulting
 
Ylva Aller also presented us with a flag from the Härnösand, Sweden club.
 
Rotaract Member Darien Salehy, as acting Sergeant at Arms, recognized the following birthday celebrants:
 
Past District Governor (PDG) Larry Margolis - Mar 13.  PDG Larry joined the club in 1974.  He has held numerous offices and holds the classification Judiciary: Court of Federal Claims.  He was sponsored by Herman Arens.
 
Renee McPhatter - Mar 14. Sponsored by Kathy Ward in 2012, Renee’s classification is Education: Government & Community Affairs.
 
Ken Kimbrough - Mar 15. Our Sergeant-at-Arms is celebrating his birthday in California. PP Rob Warne sponsored him in 2007.  Ken’s classification is Real Estate: Advisory Services.  He is off traveling in California today.
 
J.W. Arnold - Mar 19. Now an honorary member of the Club, PP J.W. joined Rotary in 2002.  He was sponsored by Cynthia Schultz.  His classification is Association: Public Relations.
 
William Arzt - Mar 19. Bill joined us in 1997.  He was sponsored by Club Treasurer Gene Massey and his classification is Consulting: Marketing.
 
Rotaract President Josue Lopez Calderon asked how many were familiar with Rotaract and, seeing just about all raised their hands, went on to share information about the DC Club.  They have a membership that is widely diverse in national backgrounds, educational focus, and occupations.  They participate heavily with us in the DC Schools clean-up day, Walter Reed Bingo, the Salvation Army Grate Patrol, and have helped in other ways.  Their own projects have included a Thanksgiving dinner for internationals who have never experienced the holiday, supporting Bread for the City’s Food Pantry,  filling shoeboxes with surprise gifts for underserved children abroad for Christmas, starting  a microloan program with Kiva, and connecting with Rotaract clubs in Mexico, Bahrain, and Sweden. The club is also doing a lot of different things to use social media to get the word out about what they do and to attract new members.
 
President David expressed concern that only he and Past President Jennifer from our club are scheduled to attend the District Conference, April 8-10 in Baltimore.  He noted that after this Friday (March 18) room prices will increase by 200% (from the current $129/night rate.)   Several club members indicated they had not seen information on the conference.  [DG Ken Solow has sent several emails to all district Rotarians, including one on March 11. Check your In Box! Registration for those with hotel rooms are: Friday-Sunday  $208, not including room; Friday-Saturday or Saturday-Sunday registration is $183. Registration for those not staying in the hotel:  $250 for Saturday, with conference programming, Saturday lunch, educational sessions and dinner banquet; a la carte for Friday night poolside party ($53) and Sunday breakfast ($25).


 Lisa McCurdy presented a quick summary of plans for our big fundraiser, the DC Duck Race on April 30.
 
 
President David (far left) and speaker John Ashmen (2nd from right) with DC Rotaract Club members.
 
PROGRAM
 
President David introduced John Ashmen, President of the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions, which is comprised of approximately 300 missions located across North America. John was brought in to lead the organization to bring it, as they said, from the 19th to the 21st century.  He often works to take advantage of “state of the art,” and to be “up to date.”  More importantly, he is a person who walks the talk.
 
John Ashmen told a bit about his family and his coming from a large ranch in Colorado, and then described the work of the Association. 
 
In many missions for the disadvantaged you have people who know how to do housing for them, or feeding, on health care, and they often have church experience, but they do not have training in rescue missions, designed to turn peoples’ lives around.  They also do not have experience in business, or experience in partnering with others. The association helps them gain those skills. As one result, he was able to take 50 heads of missions to meet with top HUD officials to find ways they could work together to deal with homelessness.
 
There are all sorts of poverty—financial, physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.  Rescue missions in the association try to deal with all.   They have come a long way since missions were focused on “3 hots and a cot” and “soup, soap, and salvation,” where one had to sit through a hell-fire sermon before getting food.
 
The problems are real and immediate. In the past few decades changes in treatment of the mentally ill has led to  giving them medication and sending them out, with maybe 30% going home and 70% to the streets.   Various government sources estimate the numbers of homeless to be between 500,000 and 640,000, but based on information from missions, the number would seem above one million.
 
Rescue missions focus on the hungry, the homeless, and the abused to meet their human needs.  These are people who, like luggage, have been mislabeled (told they were worthless, troubled, incompetent, lazy), misdirected (led down the wrong path), or mishandled (abused by a husband, father, uncle, neighbor).  In many cases they need to have an idea of what they and their lives should look like.  What is healthy?  We try to help them get on their feet, to get their GED’s, to get homes and jobs.  And we are there to help them with their spiritual needs, for them to find their rightful owner.
 
The most heartbreaking experiences are not the sad stories so many have to tell, but the experiences of not having enough capacity to help them. And we need to have nicer facilities.  As Elton Trueblood once said, pious shoddy is still shoddy.
 
One of the bright spots is the generation coming up.  They are more committed to making a difference.
 
Q&A’S
 
Q: There are a lot of religious groups in our country.  What do you do with them?  How do you deal with a Muslim, or Hindu, who is not interested in your Christianity?
A:  Our goal is to welcome all and to treat all.  More than teaching Christianity, we are about living Christianity, following Christ’s statement that, “inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” We house people, feed them, tend to their medical needs and educational needs, and do whatever we can do for them.  We do have a message to share, but our classes are optional. People do not need to attend those classes to get our care.
 
Q: Do you have non-Christian missions within your association?
A: No. We are specifically Gospel rescue missions.
 
Q: What do you mean by “spiritual poverty?”
A:  People need centering in their lives.  They get food, they get help, they get GED’s, and they even get advice on how to live in society (as Susan Sarandon does teaching women how to deal with social situations) but they also need something more that matters in life—friends, community, and faith.
 
Acting President Peter presented John Ashmen with a certificate stating that we would be planting a tree in his honor for speaking to us.
 
Max Salas won the small pot of $30, but did not win the large pot.
 
Acting President Peter thanked Rotaract President Josue Lopez Calderon for working at the Hospitality Desk; Rotaract member Evan Beal for being a Greeter; and Rotaract member Jayson Browder for staffing the Raffle. President David announced next week’s program will be a Club Assembly.
 
Acting Sergeant-at-Arms Darien Salehy sounded the bell, as the meeting adjourned at 1:30 pm.