Posted by John Marr
President Amy Chipman took advantage of a well-disciplined, but somewhat sparse, group of Rotarians and called the meeting to order, right on time. Perhaps it was the sparkling clear sunshine accompanied by seasonably comfortable weather that lured a few members to play hooky and take advantage of the wonders of the Maine outdoors. Unfortunately, there were far too many empty chairs than the interesting program, satisfying meal, and superb fellowship should have attracted. We have a healthy numerical roster, but the numbers lose their luster when the troops are called to muster! Please, do your part and show up and take part in making Rotary a magnificent reality. Remember, if you aren’t at the meeting and engaging in all the wonderful things the Club does, the number is just that. Furthermore, let’s not forget that we have to give a guarantee to the facility and if we don’t have a sufficient number of attendee tickets sold, we lose money that can be better spent on community services.

Those in attendance learned that Mr Charlie “Always-Ready-to-Help” Frair just celebrated another birthday and the number only expanded his sense of humor and he inspired us to take heart in the benefits of aging as put forth by poet John Barrows. Following our humorous inspiration we were led by PP Dick Hall in a sincere recitation of “The Pledge of Allegiance.”  We rounded out the “hat trick” by following PP Russ Burleigh in singing “America The Beautiful.” With our customary honorary recognitions tended to, President Amy advised that the books authored by our prior speaker were in and available to be picked up. An amazing woman, a phenomenal accomplishment, and a story worth keeping and passing along.

President Amy read us a letter of gratitude from Katie Fox thanking the Club for the help and support we provided.

PP Bowen Depke conducted the raffle and Jon Young had the chance to pluck the Queen of Hearts and take home $1292, but he, evidently, liked the energy the funds generate, so he just slipped out the six of spades and called it a day. The pot for the raffle continues to grow, so show up at the next meeting, buy plenty of tickets and enjoy the comradery of Portland Rotary.

“Service Above Self” is our motto and PP John Curran was busy getting things ready for our International efforts, helping in the Dominican Republic and this year we have a special program going to India to help them build a health clinic.

John Thompson (photo at right) spoke to the group about his recent visit with the young men in the Cedar Unit of the Long Creek Youth Development Center. John told us the joy he got by listening to the stories the kids have to tell and to expound on the satisfaction they get when a bunch of Rotarians take the time to come and bring them snack food (this week it was pizza, chocolate milk, cookies and munchies) and sit in on a few rounds of BINGO. One of the kids told John he's always amazed that these adults come in and never try to judge them…..only sit, talk, listen and play a few games.

John’s story of outreach was followed by Gracie Johnson reminding us that the Maine community of people in need is sizable and if you are free this Wednesday, January 22, between 3:30 – 6:30, please come to the kitchen at Preble Street and help to feed the many needy families that are within our midst and should not be ignored nor ever mistreated as outcasts. These are our neighbors who are struggling just to make it from one day to another, so don’t treat them with scorn when you can treat them to a wholesome hot meal that will satisfy their hunger and your sense accomplishment.

(Photo L-R: PP Kris Rosado, Phil Everett, Rebecca Everett and Mike Fortunato.)
A highlight of any Rotary meeting is when we can call forth the spirit, meaning and mission of our founder Paul Harris. The huge success of our Club’s Maine Outdoor Challenge is often associated with the hard work of PP Kris Rosado and Mike Fortunato, who gives the Energizer Bunny shortness of breath trying to keep up. However, they would be among the first to tell you that they had a supporting cast that created miracles. One of those, in the shadows miracle workers was former Portland member Phil Everett, who got his employer at the Oxford Casino to donate generously. In recognition, the Portland Rotary Club bestowed a Paul Harris Fellowship Award to Phil while his wife Rebecca looked on by his side. It was another wonderful day of Rotary and all the reason you need to make sure that you show up at the next Rotary meeting.