Hello fellow Rotarians! I am pleased to detail what transpired during our 11 February meeting.
President Jennifer called us to order at 12:30 PM. After leading members in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, she called on Monica Smith to deliver words of inspiration.
A historian, Monica reminded us that Thomas Edison was born on 11 February 1847, explaining that his life teaches us lessons about individual achievement and team work. This most prolific American inventor, with 1,093 patents to his name, was a great self-promoter. Yet Edison did not work alone, creating a lab for research and development in Menlo Park, New Jersey to collaborate with hundreds of scientists, machinists, carpenters, glass workers and others during his career. Thanks to his Menlo Park and West Orange labs, which he dubbed “invention factories,” Edison should be better known for inventing the modern R&D lab. As Monica noted, Edison’s contemporary Andrew Carnegie declared that “Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision ... to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” Monica observed that we Rotarians resemble Edison and his team. By combining our abilities to work toward a common vision, we exemplify the power of collaboration to help our communities and change the world.
Next, President Jennifer asked that I introduce guests and Rotarians from other clubs joining us for lunch:
  • Ramon Barquin, President of Barquin International, Clara Montanez’s guest;
  • Dierdre Foley, guest of Irene Koerner;
  • Diego Grajales, invited by his father Memo;
  • Ahao Jiang, Research Assistant at American University’s Kogod School of Business;
  • Peter Kyle, Immediate Past Governor of District 7620;
  • Charlotte Lallement-Klaus, the lovely daughter of Past President David Klaus;
  • Jessica Menasce, a returning Rotary Scholar and President Jennifer Hara’s guest;
  • Cymphonee Nelson, student at Ballou High School, enrolled in Teens Run DC and accompanying our guest speaker, Dr. Ben Forman;
  • Ronald Page, intern for Congressman Tom Rice (R, SC) and a former Rotarian, invited by Past President Howard Davis;
  • Leon Seemann, COO of the Yeshiva of Greater Washington, Eric Fraint’s guest;
  • Jacinta Smith, Capacity-building Specialist for Teens Run DC, invited by Dr. Ben Forman;
  • Marcus Soriano from the DC Rotaract Club;
  • Lucy Tamberrino, Site Coordinator for Teens Run DC, accompanying Dr. Ben Forman; and
  • TaTa Zhorzholiani from the DC Rotaract Club.
As I sat down, Sargent-at-Arms Buz Gorman approached the podium to salute members celebrating birthdays this week:
  • Jack Jackson on 9 February – Joining our club in 1995, sponsored by Bill Simons, Jack works in human resources management for broadcast media. 
  • Christian Benjamin on 10 February – A member of our club since May 2014, sponsored by Lisa McCurdy, Christian’s classification is marketing-creative director.
  • Buz Gorman on 10 February – Our Sargent-at-Arms joined the club in 2012 sponsored by Abrahem Helal; his classification is associations-state banking regulators.
  • Cal French on 11 February – Sponsored by Ed Gleazer when he joined our club in 1980, Past President Cal (1993-1994) is Pastor Emeritus at the Community of Christ Church. Cal first became a Rotarian in 1965 as a member of Massachusetts’ Lexington Club and belonged to the Des Moines, Iowa Club before joining us in DC.
  • Russ Savage on 13 February – A member of our club since 2005, sponsored by Norm Coe, Russ’s classification is clergy-Unitarian.
Back at the microphone, President Jennifer, along with other selected members, announced upcoming events and club news:
  • Volunteers are needed for the Grate Patrol on Tuesday and Friday, 16 and 20 February, respectively. If you are available to lend a hand, please talk to John Jackson.
  • Andrew Clark informed us that planning for our club’s Career Fair is well underway. The event will take place on Tuesday, 10 March at Washington, DC’s Roosevelt Senior High School. More details are available on our club’s website.
  • Membership Committee Co-chair Monica Smith distributed a flyer on the “New Member Engagement Program” and encouraged Blue Badge Rotarians to volunteer as Guides to welcome those who have recently joined our club. Being a Guide entails befriending a Red Badge member, helping her/him through the tasks required to earn that coveted Blue Badge and ensuring that s/he feels welcome and engaged in our club. Please review the flyer and contact Monica if you are interested in serving as a Guide or are a Red Badge member who would like to have a Guide.
Speaking of that Red-to-Blue-Badge transition, Tom Kern completed the required tasks in seemingly record time! President Jennifer awarded Tom his Blue Badge.
Dr. Ben Forman, Founder of Teens Run DC—Running Together Towards Healthy Futures  
I had the pleasure of introducing our guest speaker Dr. Ben Forman, a clinical psychologist who is the founder and Executive Director of Teens Run DC. He came to us courtesy of Abrahem Helal who volunteers with Dr. Forman’s innovative organization but was unable to be at lunch.
Established in 2009, Teens Run DC’s mission is to foster the physical, emotional and social well-being of low-income, underserved youth through a mentoring, life skills-training and distance-running program. Dr. Forman and his colleagues at Teens Run DC dream of a world where every young person feels connected to a community devoted to the learning, growth and success of all its members.
As Dr. Forman recounted, during the program’s first year, he and the students and teachers whom he enrolled set as their goal to run the National Marathon. Training through early mornings and bad weather, their goal seemed impossible. Yet as everyone completed the National Marathon or Half Marathon, they were inspired! Since then, Teens Run DC has grown and evolved—adding mentors to offer students one-to-one support, formalizing its after-school program to hold practices twice a week at six DC high schools, expanding into middle schools and developing a life skills curriculum. 
Elaborating on why he created Teens Run DC, Dr. Forman identified and seeks to fulfill the needs of DC youths confronting poverty, community violence and pressures from home, school and peers. As statistics show, they are prone to high-risk behaviors, low graduation rates and obesity. Teens Run DC adopts a four-pronged approach to tackle these problems: (1) Mentoring decreases problematic behaviors, enhances social connectedness and increases academic success. (2) Social emotional learning programs diminish risk behaviors and contribute to academic success. (3) Connectedness to school and community correlates with long-term academic and occupational achievement, sound mental health and self-efficacy. (4) Physical activity reduces anxiety and depression while improving self-esteem and cognitive functioning. 
Dr. Forman has collaborated with public health researchers at the George Washington University to evaluate the effectiveness of Teens Run DC, learning that students who have participated in the program benefit from: boosted self-confidence, the ability to set and achieve goals, a sense of belonging to a wider community, positive and nurturing relationships, an increased sense of hope for the future and physical fitness.
Teens Run DC and its founder have earned recognition from local media outlets, the Catalogue for Philanthropy and the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. More significantly, Dr. Forman and his organization have generated infectious enthusiasm among their target constituency—youths who need to and should believe in themselves if they are to create physically healthy and emotionally caring communities that are sustainable well into the future.
Adjourned Until Next Week
President Jennifer awarded our “Trees for the Capital” certificate to Dr. Ben Forman. Meanwhile, members anxiously anticipated news of who held the lucky raffle ticket sold by Tim Hurd. When President Jennifer read the ticket drawn by Dr. Forman, Tony Cusack stood up to claim the small pot of $97. Yet the ace of spades eluded his grasp, despite from the diminishing deck of cards, leaving the large pot of $2,329 to increase even more!
Before President Jennifer thanked those Rotarians who supported our meeting, Executive Gretchen Kearney announced that Lynn Holec is chairing the Community Service Grants Committee which will meet on Wednesday, 25 February. For details and to volunteer for this committee, please talk to Lynn. At the request of the University Club’s management, Gretchen also reminded us to use the coat check downstairs rather the rack outside the Members Grille.
Our appreciation goes to Johnny Allem, Balraj Gupta and Stu Shalloway for welcoming visitors at the Hospitality Table.
On 18 February, we will hear from guest speaker Louise Babirak, author of the novel Shadow Children which deals with the subject of human trafficking.
President Jennifer adjourned the meeting at 1:30 PM … And then I put down my pen—until next week!