Posted by Tom Talbott

President John Curran opened the meeting by welcoming 49 members, 2 visiting Rotarians and 4 guests. He invited PP Russ Burleigh to provide us with the Invocation. With the Super Bowl on the horizon, Russ gave us a history of the event. The first two years, 1967-68, the game was called the AFL-NFL Championship. In 1969 it took on the name Super Bowl, and it was a landmark game. The underdog NY Jets came out on top of the Baltimore Colts, backed by the words of Jets QB Joe Namath, who had guaranteed victory.  The Pledge of Allegiance was followed by Gracie Johnston leading the way on the singing of ‘God Bless America.’  

PP Laura Young (photo at right) reported on the “New Members Meeting” held on Jan 11. This was a chance to hear from new members on how they were acclimating to the club. Good news is that all noted that they felt very welcomed, and that so far, Rotary was proving to be more than they had expected – in a good way. Lot of appreciation for our strong speakers program. There is still some nervousness just before the weekly meeting when they first arrive...... in a roomful of new people, wondering where to sit, etc. So a reminder for all of us to reach out to invite a new member to sit with you for lunch, and get a chance to know them better.

President John welcomed Tim Cronin (photo at left), Coordinator, and Nanette Dyer Blake (photo at right), Community Outreach and Development Specialist from the Portland Public Schools “Make It Happen!” (MIH!) program to speak with us. MIH Is an academic and college readiness program, designed to help multilingual students in grades 9-12 create stronger academic profiles, that improves their ability to be accepted into college and getting financial aid. The program challenges the students to take more challenging classes, be involved in the community, to find jobs and other roles that improve their personal and professional development. Coordinators work with students to improve standardized test scores, and writing competitive college applications. MIH! Is always looking for adult volunteers who can be an academic coach, working to help the students in a wide variety of ways. Volunteers would commit to 1-2 hours per week per semester. Interested? Reach out to Nanette at 842-4657,

Paul Tully reported that we have $5,000 from the Veterans' Lunch to provide to Veterans support groups, but no specific requests have been made to date. If you have a suggestion, please contact Charie Frair:

Mike Fortunato teamed up with past Portland Rotarian Mark Rajotte, who put together an idea to have a pasta dinner to support federal employees who have been affected by the government shutdown. Members of the Coast Guard, TSA, DEA (and others) would be served at the Italian Heritage Center (IHC) in Portland, Saturday Jan 26th, 3-5pm. No speeches, nothing political, just a way of saying we appreciate you and you are not forgotten during this crisis. This is coming together quickly. We will need your help hosting these families at the dinner. 

Donations to help fund food gift cards are needed. The IHC is also involved and will have their members participating. We had a show of many hands for donating $50, so please, if you volunteered to do this, please send it in! You can send a check made out to the Rotary Club of Portland and give the check to Elise or mail to: P.O. Box 1755, Portland, ME 04104.  

Mike Fortunato and PP Kris Rosado (photo at left) jointly announced a planning meeting for the Maine Outdoor Challenge (MOC) – Tuesday Jan 29, noon, at the Portland Boys and Girls Club. Lunch will be served. Fact – the MOC is our major fundraiser, netting the club north of $25k annually. Kris and Mike have been at the forefront on making this event happen for a long time, and have more than earned the right to ask others to step into their leadership-sized shoes.  Seize the day!  Also, Kris noted that now is the time to be reaching out to businesses for sponsorships for the 2019 MOC. No need to wait for Kris to ask you – just go make it happen!   Yes – info sheets will be coming so you have the materials. Same goes for teams – we need more. Capacity is 45 – last year we had 40. It’s all profit at that point, so let’s not leave money on the table. LL Bean charges us for 45! 

Community Service Chair, Gracie Johnston (photo at right) had two reminders: First, volunteers are needed at Preble Street on Wednesday, Jan 23rd, 3:30pm. Be sure you sign in when you arrive; second, on Thursday, Jan 24th at 6:00 pm, our Rotary Club will host “How To Recognize and Respond to an Opiod/Heroin Overdose” at the Dana Center, part of Maine Med at 22 Bramhall Street. Seating is limited, so register at ASAP or contact Jan Chapman: or call 408-582. (Parking is available on Bramhall Street or in the Maine Medical parking lot on Chadwick Street.)

1st VP Ellen Niewoehner touted the upcoming Sweetheart Auction to be held at our Feb 8th meeting at the Italian Heritage Center. We need items! Did you get something recently that doesn’t do it for you, but might be treasure to someone else? Donate it! It’s fun! Forms are available, so get them in soon.

WE NEED SOME BIG-TICKET ITEMS, also for a live auction! Email Loretta at with your donation items ASAP and she will complete the donor form for you. (Again....see separate article this issue about the auction.) Please let us know ahead of time if and what you plan to donate, so we can prepare the necessary paperwork. Please don't walk into the meeting on Feb. 8th bringing a donation. It creates unneeded chaos.  

Need some luck? Talk to Linda Varrell! (Photo at left: Linda and Jerry Angier) Normally we get down to 10 or fewer cards in our weekly raffle before someone wins, but Linda deftly pulled the Queen of Hearts from almost the full deck to take down the prize of $326. Linda kindly donated that back to the club. Thank you, Linda.