Make up questions:

1 – Which club member apparently had never heard of ducks before this meeting?

2 – Why did Ward cut a check from the club for $1750 to the R.I. Annual Fund?

3 – Why is Liz sending money to the Indian River Rocks Rotary Club?

Members in attendance were Ward, Phil, Isadore, Gerard, Sally, Chris, Richard, Elizabeth, Gabriele, Cynthia, George, Pravin, Michael, Jorge, Carolyn, Jim, and honorary member Bill.

The bell rang a bit late, and Chris led us in the Pledge of Allegiance.  Ward led us in the Four-way test and the members in attendance settled into their chairs.

Gabe then called for the introduction of our guests, and Mike introduced our guest speakers, Cora and John Van Laar from the Rotary Club of Collingwood/South Georgian Bay.

The Prez then thanked us for the success of the wine tasting event.  Dick acknowledged Sally’s track record of success over the years, stating that we’ve averaged $5500 - $6000 raised over the past ten plus years.  This year we raised just under $6k, depending on the credit card fees that we will be charged.  The baskets were also great this year and we had about 70 of them.

Gabe then called upon Professor Phil, who immediately sprang out of his chair and began asking everybody how they were doing.  He approached our guests and asked them where they were from.  Cora stated that she currently resides in Ontario, Canada, but formerly had grown up and lived in the Phillipines.

Fortunately, Phil did not continue to question our guests, and instead he turned to Pravin to ask him if he had ever mated.  Understandably, Pravin was not quite prepared for this question and he had a difficult time understanding it.  Phil re-worded his query and asked Pravin if he had any children.  Pravin said that he had and Cindy and Dick also answered in the affirmative.  Mike said that he had mated, but hadn’t yet had any kids.

Liz walked in at this awkward moment, and Phil then proceeded to ask Gerry if he liked ducks.  Gerry said that he considered them to be delicious.  Phil asked Isadore if he liked ducks and Isadore responded by repeating the question, “Ducks?”

“Birds with wings,” explained Phil, as if there were no other birds on the planet that also had wings.  He then continued with the questioning, and asked the members about what a female duck does when she is ready to mate.

George knew that these fertile females spread themselves out on the water to signal their receptivity to the male ducks.  Phil then commented that he had seen a PBS special about ducks and learned about their mating habits.  He noticed that all of the ducks in the TV show looked, walked, and talked like ducks.  However, he was not so sure about the state of NY and its behavior when it is awarding contracts.  (That one flew over my head like a migrating mallard!)

Gabe then turned the floor over to Ward for the treasurer’s report, which included a look at our accounts at the end of October, and also a look at the annual budget.  We had two large expenses in October.  The first was a payment of $1750 to the R.I. Annual Fund, which means we now have met our obligation for the year for each member.  This is the second payment of that amount for a total of $3500 paid to the Annual Fund.  We also wrote a check to District 7090 for our dues in the amount of $1554, leaving us with a balance of $5571 at the end of the month.  Ward noted that we will be paying for the entertainment books soon and eventually we’ll have a 50/50 payout, so our balance minus these outstanding expenses is about $4000.

Ward cautioned that we have, so far, only collected payments for the sale of 72 entertainment books, and Ken ordered 190 of them.  Of course, we can send some of them back, but he’s already received an invoice for the 190 books.  All members are required to bring in their money and any unsold books to the club meeting on 11/29.  Please sell as many books as you can until then and remember to have a full accounting of the books you are responsible for.  If we sell at least 100 books, we will have raised $1450 for charity, which is very doable.  Pravin noted that he has 40 books out on consignment that he must collect money for and get the unsold books back, or he’ll be responsible for the payment of the unreturned books.

Mike was then given the floor to dole out the weekly fines, and he explained what M.S.L. stands for to our guests.  He also bragged (jokingly) that we don’t really need to sell any more books because he was about to collect enough money to cover our costs.

Ward was fined for having to leave early and also for cutting in line.

Isadore was fined for standing during the treasurer’s report.

Liz was fined for being late.

Gabe was fined because he didn’t order his meal until about 12:20 and he was five minutes late with the opening bell.

Pravin and Mike were fined because neither wanted to be “stuck” at the table where the board meeting previously was held.

Carolyn was fined because she left money with Isadore, but gave him no instructions.

Gerry was fined for talking to our guests during the first 15 minutes of the board meeting.

George was fined for confusing the board members when he actually voted in favor of something during the meeting.

Gerry was fined for scratching his back by rubbing up against the door at the room entrance.  Gerry attributed his bazaar behavior to the cat that he originally learned it from.

Sally and Cindy were fined for sitting at the start of the Pledge of Allegiance.

Gerry was fined for asking Chris about his opinion regarding the succession movement in Texas at the end of the Pledge.  Gerry took the opportunity to offer his thoughts on this topic for the benefit (?) of the members in attendance.

Pravin and Jorge were fined for talking after the Four-way Test.

Pravin was fined for struggling to understand Professor Phil’s question about mating.

Carolyn was fined for failing to wear a Rotary pin.

Jim paid a sad fine for having to leave early and a happy fine for his upcoming trip home for Thanksgiving.

Gerry stood up (with a napkin tucked into his belt) to issue a couple of floor fines.  First, he fined Isadore because the box of name tags was all mixed up.  Then he fined Phil for the erroneous assumption that Gerry had a one dollar bill in his wallet.

Mike finally got around to paying his fine and Gerry fined him again for being a slow payer.

Ward paid a happy fine because he drove to Ottawa to visit with his parents and sister.  It was the first time he had seen his mother in five years, the first he’d seen his dad in two years, and the first time he’s seen his sister in seven years.  Next, he paid a happy fine for his wife Diane’s birthday and the ladies in the room urged him to not reveal her age.  Finally, Ward paid happy fines for the birthdays of his sister and his daughter, Amanda.

Cindy paid a happy fine because her “baby,” Jeff, had been named the outstanding lineman for his football team and selected to the WNY All-Star team.

Dick paid a fine to recognize Chris for his leadership with our hand’s on volunteering for Habitat for Humanity.  Williamsville East sent over 20 kids to join us this past Saturday!

Gabe fined all those that that didn’t volunteer for Habitat.

Liz paid a sad fine to remember her cat, which had died recently at almost 23 years old.

Carolyn paid a happy fine because Jim and his girlfriend Rebecca had won a basket at the wine tasting and adopted a cat from Tabby Town.  She also paid a happy fine for John’s health and another for the record number of baskets we had at the wine tasting.

Sally paid a happy fine to thank us for our hard work on the wine tasting.

Jim paid a happy fine for his girlfriend’s birthday.

Liz paid a happy fine because she had another dollar to spend.

Pravin was invited to pay a happy fine because Mike was able to re-arrange the speaker schedule to accommodate today’s guests, Cora and John Van Laar.

And fines were closed.

Carolyn then took the floor to explain the Warm Clothing Project for Children program for the benefit of the “new people.”  We purchase new boots, coats, and other warm clothing items for anonymous kids in need at the Amherst Youth Center.  This year we have 23 kids to buy for, and Carolyn passed around a list and corresponding request sheets for each one of them.  Members that chose to buy gifts for these kids were instructed to take the information sheets with us to shop for the items, and then bring back the unwrapped gifts with the gift receipts to the next meeting on 11/29.  Some people also purchase a toy for their kid so they have something to play with on Christmas day.  Liz wondered why we don’t wrap the gifts, and it’s because the parents do it after they check out the gifts.

Liz then read from an email that she received from the Indian River Rocks Rotary Club, the club that’s sponsoring the Super Bowl raffle that we are participating in.  The drawing is going to be held on December 2nd, so please sell the tickets you have and bring the money, ticket stubs, and any unsold tickets to the meeting on 11/29.  Liz will send in the money and tickets for the drawing.  Carolyn took some tickets to sell.

Gabe then gave us some reminders from the agenda:

•    The foundation dinner will be held tomorrow (11/16) at Salvatore’s.

•    The district Christmas party will be held on 11/30 in Batavia.

•    The club will be hosting our annual Christmas party for the patients at ECMC on 12/6.  Sally reminded us that we’ll start bringing the patients in at 5:30.  At 6pm we’ll serve pizza, pop, and ice cream.  Phil announced that Santa won’t be able to make it this year.  However, the North Pole is sending a representative.  If you can’t be there, please bring your wrapped gifts, marked by gender of the recipient, to the meeting on 11/29.

•    Our club’s holiday meeting will be held at noon on 12/27 at Westwood.  John Olsen will be providing the music.  Cindy will have a sign-up sheet after Thanksgiving.  Family members and significant others are encouraged and invited to attend.

•    Paul Harris nominations are due by 12/31.

•    The Paul Harris awards dinner will be held on 2/13 in Hamilton.

Pravin then introduced our guest speakers, Cora and John Van Laar.  The married couple are both Rotarians from the Collingswood South Georgian Bay club, and John is a past club president and former district governor.  Cora is a past president from the Cebu Guadalupe club in the Philippines.  Both now work full time in support of the “Back to School” program they founded and District 3860 in the Philippines.

Cora ran the slide show while John told the very compelling story about how they came together and founded the Back to School program in the Philippines.

In 2005 John visited the Philippines for the first time, which is comprised of 7200 islands.  Cora took him to a Rotary meeting one morning at 8am, and this is where John witnessed the evidence of some local programs that really stuck in his mind.  In fact, he was so overwhelmed with the poverty there that he decided to go to the local city dump to see things for himself.

There he found people living and foraging among the garbage.  He described the awful smell and the spongy softness of the ground.  Cardboard shacks were set up where these terribly unfortunate people lived and he saw three girls there laughing.  The girls were so happy because a local company had disposed of a load of spoiled hot dogs, and this represented a terrific new source of food for the girls and their families.  The girls’ father had recently died, so their mother sent them to the dump to forage for food.  They were laughing because they knew that they could eat something that day.

John knew that he had to do something and that he had to tell this story to other Rotarians.  He told us that it was this moment when he became a “real Rotarian.”  He went home, tapped into his Rotary network, and began applying for matching grants.  This is how their program got started, which began as a feeding program for malnourished kids.

Soon after, the dump closed, and things got even worst for the people they were trying to help.  It became even more difficult for the poverty stricken to find food.  He said that 44% of Philippinos live on less than $1 per day.  Fifty percent live on less than $2 a day.  Many of the kids don’t go to school because they simply can’t afford clothing.  And those that don’t go to school have no hope for their future, leaving many of them to sniff glue to relieve their hunger, which eventually lands them in prison.  Others follow the only career path that is available to them – they become terrorists.  John noted that, “Terrorists are not born.  They are made by you and me.”  It’s up to us to feed them and educate them so that they have better choices available.

Of course, education is the solution, and this is why the program evolved and became more focused on getting those poor kids back to school.  The Back to School program is now championed by the Rotary Club of Collingswood SGB and it’s grown dramatically to include a list of 18 sponsor clubs.  Yet they still need more help because there are so many other kids that they are not reaching.

Some of the kids in the program become Rotary Scholars and they also become mentors for the kids.  This helps tremendously, as the scholars are so grateful that they are happy to help others and become great examples of how to escape the cycle of poverty.  He had an example of a young man that came through the program and is now teaching technology to other poor kids.  Another example of their success included 200 alumni of the Alternative Learning System that are now working for Lear Industries.  Each of them came through the first computer learning center on the island of Jao, which includes internet access - an incredible achievement on this remote island for the Back to School program.

John wrapped up his presentation and invited our club to become a sponsor of the Back to School program.  He stated that it costs just $50 per year to educate a child there.  (By comparison, it costs each club member more than that to participate in the Warm Clothing Program for Kids – another great program.)

Finally, the fish bowl was presented to John and he drew Jim’s ticket.  Unfortunately, Jim did not draw the winning card, and the money carries over.