Greetings fellow Rotarians! I am pleased to share what transpired during our 29 October meeting—a lively club assembly held in a dining room decorated for a spooky Halloween with tables set up to represent each of our club’s service committees.


President Jennifer Hara called us to order at 12:30 PM, leading U.S. citizens in the Pledge of Allegiance. She invited Membership Committee Chair and Board member Abrahem Helal to provide words of inspiration. Abe reflected on the value of making commitments in life. He admitted that he had “commitment issues” upon leaving college as a young man, recalling the difficulty of committing to himself, to relationships and to the responsibilities entailed in leading a family business. However, the travails and triumphs of being an entrepreneur, advice from his loving father and his five-year Rotarian experience have taught him about the need to commit and the value of doing so: “I realize that no one is just going to hand me a degree, a lucrative contract, a career opportunity, shed extra weight or do my part in serving within my community. You have to get out there, commit to your purpose and earn it.” Abe’s words resonated among members because, as he affirmed, “Rotarians are a unique breed; we commit!”

As members enjoyed the treats of an Oktoberfest buffet, I introduced guests and Rotarians from other clubs joining us for lunch:

  • Raven Canty, sales representative for Reliable Churchill, guest of Donnie Shaw;
  • Marilyn Cruz, President of the DC Rotaract Club;
  • Diego Grajales, accompanying his father Guillermo;
  • Lynn Heinrichs, working in property and casualty insurance for State Farm, President Elect of Virginia’s McLean Rotary Club and Cherry Baumbusch’s guest;
  • Ralph Hanad, visiting from the Queenstown, New Zealand Rotary Club;
  • Terrance Lovelady, Associate Relationship Manager at PNC Wealth Management;
  • Kay Olive, Principal of Olive Strategies, also invited by Cherry Baumbusch; and
  • Jane O’Sullivan, Director of Programming and Training at the Peace Corps, visiting us with Dick Pyle.

President Jennifer asked Seargent-at-Arms Buz Gorman to congratulate Rotarians celebrating birthdays this week:

  • Nadia Saad on 29 October – Sponsored by Akiko Murai when she joined our club in 2011, the lovely Nadia’s classification is international development-environment.
  • Nobutoshi Hanai on 30 October – Becoming a member in 2012 sponsored by Koichi Imura, Nobutoshi works in heavy industry manufacturing.
  • Gladys Pemberton on 30 October – Honorary member and vibrant volunteer, Gladys joined our club in 2000 sponsored by Bob Shriner. Her classification is education.
  • Lisa McCurdy on 31 October – Our wonderful Halloween birthday girl became a member in 2012 sponsored by Abrahem Helal. Lisa is a lawyer who works on trusts and estates.

Another auspicious occasion noted by our Sargent-at-Arms was Steve Adkins’ ten-year anniversary as a member of our club. Cheers to another decade with us, Steve!

President Jennifer returned to the podium, calling on specific guests and members to highlight upcoming activities and club news:

  • Jane O’Sullivan, Dick Pyle’s guest, explained that Rotary International and the Peace Corps are collaborating on pilot projects related to clean water and sanitation in Togo under the auspices of the memorandum of understanding negotiated by RI Immediate Past President Ron Burton. Formerly a Rotarian in one of Chicago’s clubs and a Peace Corp volunteer, Ms. O’Sullivan underscored the goals shared by the two organizations and looks forward to keeping us posted on the progress of joint projects.
  • International Service Committee Member Ross Grantham informed members that Maria-Nelly Pavisich is drafting a proposal for a small grant in conjunction with Liberia’s Monrovia Rotary Club related to the effort to combat Ebola. As Ross emphasized, local Rotary Clubs in disease-affected communities have been better able to meet practical needs—for example, requests for buckets and chlorine—than local governments and aide agencies. The International Service Committee aims to work with African and other Rotary clubs to help quash the Ebola outbreak at its source and to tackle the epidemic’s consequences.
  • Glynis Long, just back from Turkey, detailed the progress made as the Breast Cancer Project’s Team 1 doctors visited Adana. After having its launch deferred eight times due to unforeseen events—an earthquake, civil war in neighboring Syria and domestic political strife—the project’s first phase succeeded beyond Glynis’ expectations in terms of the number of doctors and hospitals participating and patients helped. Team 2 will travel to Turkey in February 2015. Glynis’ persistence is reflected in her declaration: “Never give up!”
  • Ken Kimbrough, himself a Paul Harris Fellow several times over, appealed to members to contribute to the Rotary International Foundation. Without our contributions, our club will not be eligible for RI matching grants which enable us to implement service projects worldwide.
  • Speaking of support for the RI Foundation, Quentin Wodon received his eighth Paul Harris recognition. Not in attendance, Lisa Cohen was recognized for her fifth Paul Harris award.
  • Clara Montanez reminded everyone that members will be headed to New York City for Rotary International Day at the United Nations on Saturday, 1 November. The trip will include dinner in China Town on Friday evening, 31 October and a dinner cruise on Saturday after spending the day at the UN.
  • President Jennifer announced two events that will give us opportunities to meet Rotarians from other DC-based clubs: On Tuesday evening, 4 November, we will visit the Dupont Circle Club at Bistro Bistro. A happy hour club, the cost of attending a meeting is $10. (Please note that this event has already taken place.) On Wednesday evening, 5 November, we will join the Federal City Club in co-hosting a reception for DC’s Mayor-elect at City Hall. Our member Kenneth Brown is arranging a wine-tasting for the reception. More details are available about these events on our club’s website.
  • Past President Larry Margolis described our club’s iPad Project, tutoring students at the Inspired Charter Elementary School in reading and mathematics through the use of this technology. This project entails going to the school—located at 200 Douglas Street, NE—every other Wednesday from 9:30 to 10:30 AM. Seeking to enlist volunteers, Judge Larry assured Rotarians that they would “get as much as, if not more than, the students” from participating in this project.
  • Speaking on behalf of Shelly Williams who was called out of our meeting due to work, President Jennifer informed us that those participating in Walter Reed Bingo must complete a new security form. Details in this regard are available on our website.
  • President Jennifer also spoke on behalf of Don Messer about the progress made among students whom Rotarians have tutored at Stanton Elementary School. Don could not join us because he is recovering from a fall, but he reports that students’ math test scores have risen by 10 percent thanks to the dedication of tutors Myrna Charles, Lisa Cohen, Shaun English and Dan Mullin. Additionally, Dr. Sam Hancock is starting an adult literacy tutoring program through Stanton Elementary School.
  • Nancy Riker thanked volunteers for the Dictionary Project while noting that two schools still need Rotarians willing and available to visit their third graders. Please see Nancy if you wish to lend a helping hand.
  • President Jennifer thanked Trees for the Capital Committee Chair Bill Dent among other members who participated in the morning’s ceremonial planting at Farragut Square.

After these announcements, President Jennifer encouraged members to use the remainder our meeting to visit with each other and with the representatives of our club’s committees. Staffing the tables were the committees’ chair-men and -women eager to recruit members for service to our club, our local community and other countries. The most popular table was by far the one staffed by members of the Embassy Relations and Capital City Committees which are planning a trip to Rome in February 2015!

Adjourned Until Next Week

As President Jennifer prepared to adjourn our club assembly, Rotarians anxiously anticipated news of who bought the lucky raffle ticket from Past President Howard Davis. Alas, the news was anti-climactic because serial winner Ken Kimbrough claimed the small pot of $82 while the large pot of $1,221 will keep growing!

Our appreciation goes to Johnny Allem, Balraj Gupta and Stu Shalloway for welcoming visitors at the Hospitality Table. Thanks as well to Cherry Baumbusch and Peg Schoen for their artistry in decorating the dining room.

At our next meeting on 5 November, we will hear from guest speaker and master story teller Anne Thomas.

President Jennifer adjourned the meeting at 1:30 PM … And then I put down my pen—for Red Badge member Steve Liston to pick up as he has graciously volunteered to take notes during next week’s meeting, giving my scribbling right hand a break!