Hello fellow Rotarians! I am pleased to share what happened during our 12 November meeting.


President Jennifer Hara called us to order at 12:30 PM, leading members in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. She then invited Board member Ross Grantham to provide words of inspiration. He offered a loving tribute to his sister Diane, taken from this world by cancer—a woman who lived life serving others in her small New Zealand town. While in hospice care, she kept selected books at her bedside, including one that featured a prayer by Australian spiritualist Stephanie Dowrick which Diane read daily and Ross shared with us:


May I be fully alive to all that this day brings.

May I bring courage and hope to whatever is asked of me.

May I find generosity in my heart for those who need it.

May I listen with care.

May I receive graciously.

May I find thanksgiving for the precious gift of my existence.

May I walk in appreciation through our awesome world.

May I touch the present moment with gladness.

As members sat down, I introduced guests and Rotarians from other clubs joining us for lunch:

  • Andrew Clark, financial advisor at Morgan Stanley, invited by Abrahem Helal;
  • Dr. Laura Khor, expert on counterterrorism, Abe Helal’s guest;
  • Pete Larson, Executive Vice President of Transwestern, Abe Helal’s guest;
  • Elizabeth Perla, student at Loyola University Maryland, Abe Helal’s guest;
  • Pat Cunningham, realtor at Coldwell Banker, invited by Dr. Sam Hancock;
  • Bob Davis, President of Ecosolv, Bill Dent’s guest;
  • Alicia Fougere, Manager of Business Development at the Washington Center, Marjorie Scott’s guest;
  • Paloma Rivera-Vilceus and Jean LeRoy Vilceus, both at Yellow Tail LLC and invited by Wilhelmina Bratton; and
  • Marilyn Cruz, President of the DC Rotaract Club.

As Seargent-at-Arms Buz Gorman had no birthdays to announce this week, President Jennifer took the microphone to highlight club news and upcoming activities. First, she pointed out that Quentin Wodon has discussed our club’s tutoring of DC’s Stanton Elementary School students in his blog, recommending that members check it out, http://rotarianeconomist.com/. From my perch as your humble secretary, I wholeheartedly agree and will indulge in a bit of editorializing: I have made point of reading Quentin’s blog because it features thoughtful pieces on our club’s community and international service activities and is an excellent source on all things Rotary!

President Jennifer then reminded us that the next Walter Reed Bingo Night will be on Thursday, 20 November; volunteers must register to participate by Friday, 14 November, completing a new security form available on our club’s website to be submitted to Shelly Williams. (Please note that this deadline has already passed.) And speaking of our nation’s heroes, President Jennifer acknowledged that Tuesday, 11 November was Veteran’s Day and asked Rotarians who have served in the U.S. armed forces to stand and be recognized. We thank these ladies and gentlemen for rising to the occasion when their country called on them!

As President Jennifer explained, she spent the evening of Veteran’s Day at the Rotary Red Line Happy Hour hosted by the Dupont Club at the Bier Barron (1523 22nd Street, NW). A portion of the event’s proceeds went to the Dupont Club’s first international service project—the effort to build a footbridge in Murehwa, Zimbabwe across the Shavanhowe River in partnership with the Rotary Club of Harare City. (For information on this project, visit www.dupontrotary.com/footbridge_project.html.)  Our club will host one of these quarterly Red Line happy hours most likely in the spring.

President Jennifer called on Membership Committee Chairs Abrahem Helal and Monica Smith to brief us on our club’s progress with recruitment. In their first “Membership Minute,” they anticipated the formal roll-out of a mentorship program aimed at recruiting and retaining members. Membership retention is particularly challenging in DC because many city residents are transient, they have three other Rotary clubs as well as a myriad of groups and associations from which to choose, and our club’s dues are not inexpensive. Consequently, Monica and Abe urged each of us to aim for recruiting one member and to befriend a new Rotarian so that s/he feels increasingly invested and engaged in our club.

Next, Cherry Baumbusch came to the podium to ask members to make the Rotary International Foundation their “charity of choice,” as she has done. Cherry is a Paul Harris Society member—an individual who contributes at least $1,000 each year to the Annual Fund, Polio Plus or approved global grants. In an enthusiastic exposition of the Foundation’s good works, she emphasized the multiplication effect of supporting Rotary International; when funds flow to RI, our club receives matching grants to implement projects, which in turn attracts assistance from other stakeholders.

Before turning to the week’s speaker, President Jennifer introduced Marta Pentassagulia who gave her new-member talk. Complete with a powerpoint presentation featuring photographs and a comic strip, Marta described her family as “typically Italian-Mexican-Vietnamese” and  declared that Washington, DC is the perfect city for them because it is “the capital of the world.” She recounted how Erminia Scarcella persuaded her to become a member of our club. For Marta, doing so was her answer to the question, “What can we do here?” As she concluded, joining our club means belonging to the community and realizing that “what you do” is not as significant as “what you give.”

Dr. Alice Fuisz—A Prescription for Patient-centered Care

President Jennifer asked Arrel Olano to introduce our speaker—his colleague Dr. Alice Fuisz, Governor of the DC Chapter of the American College of Physicians (ACP). Keeping his remarks “short and sweet,” Arrel assured Membership Committee Chairs Abe and Monica that he has invited Dr. Fuisz to join our club.

As she took the microphone, Dr. Fuisz set a timer to ensure that she did not speak for more than her allotted time. She started by briefly describing the ACP. The second-largest physicians’ group in the United States after the American Medical Association, the ACP’s membership encompasses 141,000 internists, internal medicine sub-specialists as well as medical residents, fellows and students.

A general internist herself, Dr. Fuisz focused her presentation on how a patient may forge a partnership with her/his physician to receive the most personalized and effective care. She advised us to be advocates for our own healthcare by taking various steps when we visit our doctors—among the most important are:

  • Prepare in advance for the appointment. Know why you are visiting the doctor and have your agenda ready.
  • Define your priorities—no more than three per doctor’s visit to ensure that they are addressed.
  • Share your goals with the doctor at the beginning of your visit.
  • Bring a list of questions for the doctor.
  • Maintain a list of both prescription and over-the-counter medicines you are taking so that you are not fumbling through your purse for your pillbox or racking your cluttered mind to remember while at the doctor’s office.

Dr. Fuisz also stressed the importance of sharing one’s personal beliefs and preferences when seeing a doctor because these may affect the regiment prescribed. The benefits to the patient of creating the kind of partnership she outlined include better preventive care screening and chronic disease management, better post-hospital outcomes and a greater likelihood of following medical advice and prescriptions.

When her timer sounded, Dr. Fuisz ended her presentation to take questions. Rotarians sought her advice about how to: evaluate their doctors’ care, ensure a physician spends sufficient time with a patient and contend with the apparent shortage of general practitioners. As she responded to these concerns, the healthcare professionals among our club’s members added their views about the time and financial constraints confronting physicians and patients. Dr. Fuisz’s prescription for patient-centered care inspired the spirited discussion which ensued, continuing even after our lunch meeting formally ended.

Adjourned Until Next Week

President Jennifer presented our “Trees for the Capital” certificate to Dr. Alice Fuisz while Rotarians eagerly awaited news of who purchased the lucky raffle ticket from Cherry Baumbusch. The winning numbers belonged to Gail Hamill who claimed the small pot of $73. Yet the suspense and the large pot at $1,402 will keep growing as the ace of spades remains within a diminishing deck of cards.

Our appreciation goes to Greeter Tyisha Cottman and to Johnny Allem and Stu Shalloway for welcoming our guests at the Hospitality Table.

On 19 November, we will hold our annual joint meeting with the Kiwanis Club, and our guest speaker will be attorney Mary McClymont, President of the Public Welfare Foundation.

President Jennifer adjourned the meeting at 1:30 PM … And then I put down my pen—until next week!