Posted by Bob Martin

Our January 4 meeting was a Club Assembly, dedicated to bringing everyone up-to-date with the extraordinary accomplishments of the Club, and introducing two new members.

Three guests joined the 51 club members for lunch: Richard L’Heureux, spouse of Juliana L’Heureux; Eduardo Oliveira (photo at left L-R: President John Curran and Eduardo Oliveira), a member of the Novo Hamburgo Rotaract Club in Brazil who is currently an intern at CIEE International headquarters in Portland; and, Dean Rock, a resident of Cumberland who is the provider of the 3H team’s prosthetic hands.


With Peter Moore conducting the weekly raffle, Jerry Angier had the opportunity to take home the raffle pot, but drew the wrong card.

President John thanked the members of the committees that serve to put on the meetings—Meeting Day, Program, Windjammer, and Public Relations. He also gave a special salute to the team who sponsored and managed the Veterans Appreciation Luncheon back on November 9, 2018.

President John shared the Treasurer’s Report, copies of which were distributed to the members, and highlighted the balanced budget for 2019 was possible due to an increase in dues. He also mentioned the difficulties the club had faced with not being able to meet the catering minimums imposed by the Holiday Inn and the Clarion earlier in the year. Our shift from the Holiday Inn and the negotiation of lower luncheon minimums helped keep our loss in this category from being higher. Projections show that the Club should break even at the end of the 2018-2019 fiscal year. 

PP Dick Hall, chair of the Rotary Foundation Committee, reported that the Club was on track to meet the goals of contributions of $17,000 to RI Foundation, and $15,000 to Polio Plus. He stated that 62 members of the Club had not made a pledge or contributed to the Foundation this year and he has sent an email encouraging them to participate.

The Club’s International Service Committee work was reported by four of its members:

Roger Fagan shared the progress of the Hearing division of the 3H (Hearing, Hands and H2O) Project and plans for its next trip to the Dominican Republic (DR), noting that several other clubs, including one from Alaska, will be joining in this project. He received a request for help from our partners in the Dominican Republic to help with one young girl who had a special hearing issue. Roger was able to diagnose her need, provide a hearing aid, and coach the caregivers in the DR on how to install the device so that she would not have to wait until the team arrived in their country to help her. 

Liz Fagan reported on the continuing progress of the hearing team’s work in Kosovo and announced that the Wakefield, Rhode Island Rotary Club would be managing this geography of the project this year. Liz has also recruited 12 audiologists and speech pathologists to visit Kosovo to work with the students and also gathered books and therapy materials. She was invited to make a presentation in Kosovo, but opted instead to gather the research data and shared it with the students she worked with last year so they could make the presentation instead. She called that a great learning experience for them.

David Small provided a presentation of pictures showing what life was like in the Dominican Republic bateyes, which are largely populated by Haitian immigrants, to demonstrate the impact of the water portion of the 3H project. Bateyes are the employer-owned villages of dwellings provided to the workers in the sugar cane fields, which are typically constructed of wood or cinderblock and have no electricity or water. While rain water is collected in barrels, there is no potable water provided in the homes. Workers cut a ton of sugar cane by hand per day with machetes, for which they receive $5.00. The bateyes have a church, school, and a commissary and there are water monitors who help teach people how to treat the water to make it safe since there are issues with intestinal diseases. Consequently, the water filters provided by the 3H team have become extremely sought-after since they considerably improve the resident’s quality of life. The 3H team will be providing a new design of filter this year, a six-piece plastic system that will be easier to install and maintain. David said that the 3H team decided to adopt a batey for concentrated work over time rather than spread a few installations over more areas. They will return to Batey 50 for the third year with lights, filters, school supplies, and will also work to install a large-scale system. “Thousands of people have been affected by our work,” David reported as he encouraged more Rotarians to participate. People are especially grateful to receive solar lights.

President John reported on the Hands portion, recognizing the work of Dean Rock who was present. John said that this year the team would be working with Centro de Protesis and Terapia Fisica instead of the hospital. This NGO has a dedicated staff, some of whom use artificial limbs. Dean Rock passed around an electronic version of his 3D device, which will be installed for the first time on the next trip. The team will travel out of Santo Domingo to Puerto Plata on the northern coast.

President John reported on the progress of the New Mainer Task Force, led by Max Chikuta, which has been working to find areas of potential collaboration with a number of organizations that have evolved to address issues affecting these people. The group reports that the biggest challenges are in the areas of mentoring and vocational guidance and will be working with “Make It Happen,” Learning Works, and the Immigrant Welcome Center, which is focusing particularly on entrepreneurial support. The group is also working to add a New Mainer Award that will provide a scholarship from Rotary at the University of Southern Maine. In addition, the task force is working in collaboration with the Music Committee to find funds to help the Deering High School Choral Group secure a new keyboard.

Gracie Johnston (photo at right) shared news from the Community Service Committee, noting that “community service is the life blood of our club.” She highlighted the club’s work with Preble Street (last Wednesday of every month); Thanksgiving dinner at St. Vincent de Paul where 110 meals were served this year; bell ringing to support the Salvation Army Christmas campaign; Thanksgiving dinner this year at the Portland Recovery Community Center; Maine Inside Out, the organization helping folks move from incarceration back into the community;  and Journey House Sober Living, which is part of the Opioid Recovery Task Force effort that includes Recovery Coach support and training in the use of Naloxone. Gracie reported that thanks to the effort led by Doreen Rockstrom, the club was able to secure 100 units of Naloxone at no cost. This amount would have cost $40,000, if obtained through purchase.

The work of the Youth Service Committee was reported by Jan Chapman (photo at left) who related the efforts with the Lyseth School Reading project, in partnership with Maine Law, where students in kindergarten through third grade are read to by volunteers and leave their session with a new book. The Committee also supports the Rotary Youth Leadership Award, which sends high school students to Camp Hines for leadership training. The goal is to send ten students this year. Other projects include a mentoring program at Portland High School and Deering High School, and the Rotary Youth Exchange that gives students in Portland schools, age 15 to 18, a chance to travel abroad.

Jan also presented information for the flyers distributed on each table describing “A Call to Action” for All District 7780 Rotarians and guests about recognizing and responding to Opiate/Heroin Overdose. The educational program will be held on Thursday, January 24, 2019 (snow date on February 21, 2019) from 6-7:30 pm in the Maine Medical Center Dana Auditorium, 22 Bramhall Street, in Portland.  (Parking is available on Bramhall Street or in the Maine Medical parking lot on Chadwick Street.) RSVP to Kennebunk Police Chief Bob MacKenzie: or call 207-604-1339.

PP Laura Young highlighted the work of the Membership Committee by inviting two sponsors, 1st VP Ellen Niewoehner and Tom Ranello, to introduce new members. Ellen introduced Mike Anderson, a ten-year veteran broker with Malone Commercial Brokers who lives in Gorham; and, Tom introduced Michelle DiSotto of Scarborough, who works with Goodwill Industries. Please be sure to welcome both new members to our club.

(Photo L-R: PP Laura Young, 1st VP Ellen Niewoehner, Mike Anderson, Michelle DiSotto, Tom Ranello and President John Curran.)