Posted by Tom Talbott
President John Curran ushered in our meeting at the Clarion by welcoming 45 members and 14 guests; Julie L‘Heureux (photo at right) gave recognition to National Nurses Week with quotes from Florence Nightingale; Rob Chatfield led us In the Pledge; and Gracie Johnston started us off in the right key for "God Bless America." President John listed off the members celebrating May birthdays and Rotary anniversaries.

The theme for the day was Youth Service, and it started with a very youthful presentation by 2nd and 3rd graders from the Lyseth School. Portland Rotary has purchased and provided  2100 books to the school, and many of our members have volunteered their time to go to the school for reading sessions. Coordinator Sylvie Montello introduced the students, who read “Thank You” notes to our Club, including one in Spanish. Jane Hodgkins, a kindergarten teacher at the school recognized PP Laura Young as their “most important reader,” and told us of how Laura once came to school in the “Josh the Otter” costume to read and teach about water safety.  The presentation concluded with a classroom video, a rousing patriotic rendition of “You’re A Grand Old Flag” sung by the students, and a special surprise gift bag for our Rotarian reading volunteers.

(Photo at right: Dave Putnam, Marza Sylva and Kevin Stilphen.)
Dave Putnam welcomed Kevin Stilphen, Director for PATHS (Portland Arts& Technology High School), and our Youth Service Award recipient, Marza Sylva. Calling her a true inspiration to all students, Kevin noted it would take too long to detail all of her activities, but briefly described her counseling work with kids, and her trip to Rwanda to reduce racial tensions. Marza announced that the donation from our Club would go to “ Life Song For Orphans,” a worldwide orphan support program, and told us a little about her experience with her brother both of whom were adopted in 2008 from Ethiopia. Our scholarship check to her of $1000 will go to help her attend college in Minnesota.

President John took a moment to recognize Bill Ross, who oversees our RYLA program. There are 9 students in the Rotary Youth Leadership Award program this year, and we’ll hear more about it from Bill soon! Next John pointed out that PP Dick Hall knows how to get things done – fast. When the call went out to find housing for our short –term foreign exchange student, the tight time frame didn’t bode well, but Dick made it happen. When a second student came up, Dick again saved the day, less than 24 hours later. Last tip of the hat went to Jan Chapman, leader of the Youth Services Committee, who has done an outstanding job this year. Great work by three busy Rotarians!

Before the applause was over, PP Dick Hall was up to the podium with an update on the Rotary Foundation. Our club goal for the year is $17K. We are currently at $13,433. There are pledges that have been made by club members that will take us over the top, but Dick asked all members who did pledge, to please make those contributions by the end of this month, which is the end of the Rotary fiscal year. With no meeting next week – please mail your check as soon as you can!

The weekly raffle was conducted by Dick Giles (photo at right: Dick Giles and President John Curran), and to his surprise, his name was picked out of the holding vessel. Dick noted that “if” he found the Queen of Hearts, he would donate the winnings, but alas, the Five of Hearts just doesn’t pay, so the pot thickens.

Rotarians In the News” made its way to Rotary International, with a story on the District 7780 Recovery Initiative Committee’s seminars on Opioids. It’s an important article that underlines the fact that virtually all of us have either have personally experienced, or directly know someone who has dealt with the dangers of Opioids. The article opens with an emotional account of PP Ben Lowry and his son.    We are encouraging more members to take the training program and learn how you can help prevent or intercede in the event of an overdose.

Terri St. Angelo (photo at left) demonstrated how easy it is to ask for a gift certificate for the Maine Outdoor Challenge auction: a little praise to the vendor, add in some excitement for the MOC, and ask them to help us out! Time is of the essence – please make those requests right away. We really need to build it up!