Posted by Ben Lowry
President John Curran welcomed 46 members and 8 guests to last Friday’s meeting at the Jewish Community Alliance.
After an invocation presented by Dave Small, we pledged our allegiance to the (missing) American flag and PP Laura Young started us in singing a patriotic song.

Our support with the USM and MEMIC efforts to provide assistance to new Mainers paid off last week when, after a heartfelt presentation by PP Roxane Cole, our club donated $1100 from our youth service funds, which was combined with $1025 from direct member donations.  We watched our generosity double with a matching gift from MEMIC, providing USM’s innovative program with $4250 from Portland Rotary Club.

Megan Peabody, a fairly new member who has jumped in with both feet, provided us with a vocational service moment on Friday, telling us about her long family history and her upbringing with “service” as the family mantra. As a high school student, Megan helped raise funds for the Shelter Box and Polio-plus programs, leading to being selected as a youth exchange student, where she worked with Safe Passage for nine months. She has since dedicated her career and free time to helping it at Learning Works in Westbrook, at the Skillin Elementary School or at Lyseth School in Portland, Megan stated that “Rotary has changed my life.” It’s heartwarming to see a young person so involved!

Bob Clark (photo at right, speaking), after acknowledging his pending retirement from his leadership post at the Boy’s and Girl’s Clubs (and suggesting that this would leave him more time to give back to our club!), introduced two young people from the local “clubhouses,” who will be presenting before a panel in Augusta on May 7th, with one young person being selected from the state to perhaps be named “The National Youth of the Year.” Bob introduced Sara Dhalai (photo at right, on the far right) from the Riverton Clubhouse, who read excerpts from poems she has authored over the course of years, outlining her intimate feelings about a difficult, yet rewarding childhood. With the themes of love, memories, leadership and change pervasive in her works, she should already be seen as a strong young woman who has built a life upon which she can be very proud. Next up was the selected youth from the Portland Clubhouse, Louis Gaddas (photo at right, on far left), who began at the Boy’s Club as a very young boy, but now stood before us just weeks ahead of his high school graduation, the first in his family to ever reach such a plateau. Louis read the speech that he has prepared for Augusta, in which he digs deep into his heart with stories of his perseverance and strength. Thanks to Bob for everything he has done for our community and we look forward to his ongoing efforts within our club.

We had a visit from “Josh the Otter” on Friday. Donning the large mascot head was our own Marissa Fortier, who is working with the Michael Phelps Foundation to address the very serious issue of childhood drownings, the number one killer for children under age four in the United States. With the playful otter sharing a message of water safety, we can only hope that this little-known statistic can be greatly reduced. Our own PP Laura Young recently played out the role of Josh at Lyseth School, where she/he was apparently a huge hit!

If you are reading this newsletter prior to Wednesday evening (5/1), you still have time to get over to the Jewett Hall at SMCC for our educational session on the ongoing opioid crisis. At 5:30, after grabbing a slice of pizza, you can hear from our new District Attorney, Jonathan Sahrbeck, who has made this epidemic a huge priority. We’ll also hear from two folks in recovery, telling their own story of how substance use pulled them down and how recovery has changed their lives. Wrapping up the 90-minute program will be Zoe Brokos, who works thru the City of Portland in educating and instructing members of the public on the effects of various drugs and how to properly respond to an overdose. Narcan, which can save the life of an individual who is suffering an overdose, will be explained and anyone who wants one of the simple to use injectors will be given one on the way out the door. These types of programs are becoming more and more a part of our district-wide effort to educate the public and remove the stigma of those suffering from substance use disorder (SUD). This event is free and we would encourage people to bring friends as well as teen or college age children and grandchildren. (See separate article in this WJ issue.)

Joe Reagan spoke about our upcoming Maine Outdoor Challenge (MOC) and the need to sign up at least 17 more teams to this fun event, which is our biggest annual fundraiser. Please dig deep and ask some friends, co-workers or your boss if it would be possible to put together a team. And, as always, if you are out and about, please ask for gift certificates for our auction. For more information, contact Joe at:

(Photo L-R:  Tom Nickerson and PP John Marr.)
Our weekly raffle was led by Tom Nickerson, who asked our speaker to pull a name out of the holding vessel. PP John Marr’s name was drawn, but he failed to find the Queen of Hearts, allowing the pot to continue to grow.