Posted by Erik Jorgensen
President Amy Chipman opened the meeting with a remembrance of John Houghton, who died this past week following what had appeared to be a successful surgical procedure. John was 46-year member of Rotary, and his kindness, sense of humor and towering stature will be missed by all of us. He was remembered for his leadership role as a “Meals on Wheels” volunteer, but beyond that had been involved in all sorts of service projects and social aspects of our club. A long-time member of the tennis league, his extraordinary wingspan made him a great danger at the net. John was a true gentleman. A memorial service is scheduled for Sunday, December 9 at 3PM at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Cape Elizabeth.

Remember:   Friday, Dec. 13, Rotary will be convening at the Merrill Auditorium for the “Magic of Christmas” concert at 2pm. This requires pre-registration, so if you don’t already have a ticket, you’ll have a week off from Rotary.

PP Tom Talbott offered the invocation, which included a disquisition on the nature of snow.  Among the take-home messages: with snow, your lawn looks….just as good as your neighbor’s lawn!

In the weekly raffle draw, President Amy won the chance to draw for more than $1,000. Members were ready to dismiss the whole thing as rigged, but Amy proved that despite her lofty position, she was no better at drawing in the raffle than the rest of us. The pot continues to grow!

It’s mitten season again! PP Russ Burleigh presented the 11th year of mittens for kids made by his indefatigable partner, Joan Steinberg. He recounted the story of her amazing knitting work, and at a point in the past, instead of a Paul Harris Fellow, she got a “Ball of Hairs Pillow” in recognition of her work. To create these mittens requires about 4 hours per pair. She knit 120 pairs this year for three Portland elementary schools. You can do the math if you wish to really understand what this contribution means. 

Dick Giles spoke about the new Dominican Republic solar lights initiative. The ongoing water project there continues, with a goal of at least 3000 residents benefiting from clean water when it’s complete. But today, Dick was talking about lights as well as water – all the houses are lit by kerosene lights, which are costly and dangerous. $6 buys an LED solar light, which charges by day and lights a home all night. Lots of people stepped up to contribute funds to purchase those.

Gracie Johnston spoke about the St Vincent de Paul’s Thanksgiving Dinner that was held on 11/27. This year we had a big crowd of Rotarians serving 124 meals, plus sandwich bags for the next meal and extensive contributions of food that participants could take home for later. All went well. This was our 19th year.

Mike Fortunato took the podium to talk about a student at the Long Creek Youth Development Center who is about to be released, and who needs EVERYTHING for his first apartment. The young man has discovered a passion for learning and has dived deeply into academics. Call Mike if you have anything to help him get onto his feet.