Posted by Ben Lowry

Our meeting of November 16th fell on the day of the first snowstorm of the season, so attendance was fairly sparse at The Clarion, with 30 members attending. The Clarion put out a beautiful spread for us, much to the delight of members such as Past President Don Zillman, who seems ready to load up for his next big road race. (see photo at right).

PP Russ Burleigh presented a very thoughtful invocation, telling a story that began when he was just 9 years old. His grandmother relayed the memory of hearing the news that “the president has been shot,” referring to the assassination of President Lincoln in April of 1865. Ninety-eight years later, Russ was working in Dallas and he and some of his co-workers excitedly watched as Air Force One came in on final approach over the parking lot of The Dallas Symphony office, close enough so that they could see the rivets on the wings. Twenty minutes later, the same group of office mates joyously watched as the motorcade whizzed by, with President and Jackie Kennedy waving to the excited crowds that had lined the route heading into the city. Within a half hour, Russ and his office mates were stunned by the announcement on the radio: “The president has been shot.”  His mind raced back to his grandmother uttering those same words. This Thursday, as we enjoy cherished time with loved ones around a Thanksgiving feast, take a moment to remember where you were on November 22, 1963, when the face and hope of our nation was lost and Camelot came crumbling down.  

PP Roxane Cole led our group in the pledge and PP Laura Young guided us through our National Anthem.

President John announced that our own Bob Clark received a prestigious award at the Day One dinner last week and that the award was presented by Rotarian Ralph Hendrix.

Terri St. Angelo gave an early update on the very successful Veteran’s Luncheon on November 9th at The Holiday Inn. While the two event leaders, Paul Tully and Charlie Frair, took some much-deserved time off, Terri headed to the podium to give us a few statistics: we served 217 veterans, 31 of their family members, 71 non-Rotarians, with 14 sponsors and 336 total attendees. With 77 volunteers, this event has now become one of the most recognized and powerful veteran events in all of New England. The final tallies on fund-raising, etc. will trickle in over the next few weeks, but suffice it to say that The Portland Rotary Club should be very, very proud of this accomplishment. 

President John recognized Charlie and Paul for their fantastic leadership of the event. Also recognized were the Rotarians who started the Vets lunch 4 years ago - PP Peter Goffin and Mike Fortunato.

The District 7780 Recovery Initiative Committee on the opioid crisis is now picking up steam.  With a very well attended educational meeting in Wells last week, Jan Chapman was pleased to provide a brief background on the goals of this group, which has now attracted attention from Rotary International. Simply put, the goals are twofold:  to save lives and to reduce the stigma of SUD (substance use disorder). With roughly 50 Rotarians and concerned citizens attending the meeting at York County Community College to receive training on the use of Naloxone (or Narcan), the drug that can aid in reversing the effects of an overdose, we can feel good about the beginning steps of this most imperative initiative. And, with another 16 students (this writer included) set to graduate from our second Rotary-sponsored “Recovery Coach Academy,” we are now set to really make a difference in this ongoing crisis that has affected so many families in Maine and beyond. Please speak with Jan, Bruce Moore, Gracie Johnston, Jesse Harvey or myself if you’d like to join in this most important work. And mark your calendars for November 29th, when the movie “Recovery Boys” will be shown at 4:45 at the Portland Museum of Art. (See separate article this issue)

PP Dick Hall was proud to offer a Paul Harris Fellowship Award to PP Bowen Depke, who proudly accepted his PHF+1 pin (with a sapphire!) on behalf of his ‘Circle of Five.’  These circles, along with sustaining members who pledge $100 per year, are the lifeblood of our club’s giving to this most important arm of Rotary.  Please consider a gift or pledge as the year winds down.


Matt Tassey offered up $1267 to any Rotarian who could just get through two simple steps:  have your name pulled from the can and then merely select the Queen of Hearts from a dwindling deck of cards.  Well, Justin Lamontagne was able to get through the first of these steps but, when facing just eleven cards, we could see that his hand began to tremble and sweat quickly formed on his brow. He closed his eyes and, for a split second, he saw the unbridled joy on his children’s faces as they opened a thousand dollars in extra Christmas gifts. The image of squeals and warm hugs warmed Justin as he reached out.....but then, like the slap of the winter wind, reality hit and he held up the Three of Hearts. Justin, with a small tear running down his left cheek, went back and took his seat, satisfied with his chance at glory.