Posted by John Marr

As the New England Patriots prepare for the Super Bowl, our club showed that we are in sync. President John Curran was in the DR with our 3H team, affording the first occasion of our 1st VP President Amy Chipman to take charge of the weekly meeting. She got the house in order, despite the bell being MIA. In standard tradition she commenced with a moment of inspiration/invocation.

Leave it to Charlie Frair to find a way to co-join the spirit and guidance of the venerable Doctor Martin Luther King and the moral fabric of the Rotary Creed. Charlie brought together the history, poetry and majesty of the voice of M.L.K. and the words and deeds of Rotary International.

1st VP Amy asked Paul T. Gore to sing forth without any instrumental accompaniment. P.T.G. summoned his immense pride, energy, and sincerity and led us in a grand performance of “God Bless America,” then Matt Wolcott led us in our “Pledge of Allegiance.

Our current 7780 District Governor, John LoBosco was recently diagnosed with a life threatening affliction which requires surgical intervention, to provide repair and recovery. The condition is of significant debilitation to require that John stay off his feet and utilize a wheel chair. Regardless of the limitations, the evening prior John tended to the duties of introducing the latest effort of the District to get out the message of opiate recovery to those seeking training in identification of the warning signs of an overdose and how to administer the life-saving medicine, Narcan (naloxone).  A card was signed and being sent to John, from his Portland Rotary friends, to buoy his spirits as he prepares for the procedure. We ask that all keep John in their thoughts and prayers.

PP Bill Blount, (photo at left with 1st VP Amy) obviously, enjoys breaking out in song even when he has to drag us who were born off-key along. There was hope that the new piano would be available but, alas, that’s to come soon. If you don’t have a piano, but you have passion and talent, you improvise when you can. Bill figured that everyone knew the words to “Oh, Suzanna” and needed little help, but he still needed to secure his spectacles in order to assure perfection of his rendition of Steven Foster’s 1848 song of longing love. He made it all the easier for us by first belting out the tune on his harmonica, helping us to get into tune, in the key of whatever may be.

Once a Rotarian, always a Rotarian, is the way to be and Mark Rajotte proved the point. Recognizing the plight of workers going without a government paycheck for the work they were doing, Mark knew that something must be done to lessen the sting, so he reached out to “ever ready” Mike Fortunato and suggested that the Rotary Club of Portland sponsor a dinner to help our friends in need. In just a little more than one week, the Mark and Mike (photo at right) duo pulled together a ziti luncheon at the Italian Heritage Center (one of the sponsors). Mark and PP Roxane Cole reached out to Hannaford and asked if they could help and got a contribution of $2,500 in gift cards, along with a $1,000 donation from the Cape Eliz-SoPo Rotary Club, as well as many donations from club members.  

The weekly raffle got off to a new deck this week, since Linda Varrell pulled the Queen of Hearts from the pack last week, only to donate the money back to the club. With Mike Fortunato conducting the raffle, this week Julie L’Heureux got a chance to find the queen in the new deck of 52, but decided to let the lady rest and the pot to grow by plucking the 5 of spades.

2nd VP Ellen Niewoehner (photo at right) and PP Loretta Rowe are coordinating the “Sweetheart Auction,” which will be held on February 8th at the Italian Heritage Center. Many items are needed and any assistance you can offer, running for gifts or setting up and delivering, will be appreciated. If you can be at the IHC at 10 AM that would be perfect. Bottom line, help is desperately needed, so just get there and give a hand. (See separate article this issue.)

Charlie Frair returned to the podium to remind us that we had a phenomenal Veteran’s Appreciation luncheon event and raised some significant funds to distribute to veteran related organizations. At this time there are two organizations in the running, but time is still available for others to solicit support from the club. If you know of a veterans organization that has a worthy outreach project, please, invite them to make application. Contact Charlie Frair or Paul Tully for additional details.

Ben Millick (photo at left) is teaming up with Green House to facilitate a program to help the newest, non-native, members of the Greater Portland community.  Many of the immigrants, similar to our forebearers, come with talent, energy and ideas looking to be part of the greatness of America.  They are often stymied by procedures, language barriers, and business basics as they try to bring dreams to reality. Ben and the group will offer 6 months of training and assistance through mentorships and instructions to our new neighbors. Contact Ben at: if you are willing to mentor or sponsor a core business presentation.

PP Roxane Cole is now a PHF x 6, while Mike Reed is a PHF x 7, as well as member of the the founders club donating $1000 a year to the Foundation. It was the honor of our District Governor Nominee to District 7780, PP Dick Hall, to introduce these newest awards to these most-worthy recipients. (Photo at right L-R: PP/DGN Dick Hall, Mike Reed and PP Roxane Cole.)

Gracie Johnston is doing a terrific job as our Community Service Chair and that is especially obvious when we help the needful who come to the Preble Street Food Kitchen for dinner. Gracie, along with Jesse Harvey, (photo at left) spoke of the latest dinner when we were able to offer fresh fruit as part of the meal. This is just another example of little things making a big difference in the lives of those unfortunate who experience food insecurity.