Rotary Club of Amherst
Amherst, New York, USA
 

In Gear 11/29/12

 
 
 
Make up questions:

1 – Why on Earth would there be a round of applause for Paul at the start of this meeting?

2 – Which two members had their cell phones ringing during the meeting?

3 – Why was there no lunch meeting held on 12/6?

Members in attendance were Katie, Ward, Phil, Isadore, Gerry, Sally, Chris, Liz, Gabe, Paul, Cindy, George, Pravin, Mike, Jorge, Ken, Carolyn, Jerry, Jim, and honorary member Bill.

Chris led us in the Pledge of Allegiance and Mike led us in the Four-way test.  For some reason, there was also a round of applause for Paul.

Gabe then welcomed Eva to the meeting as a guest of the club.  She stated once again that she intends to become a member and admitted that she misplaced our club’s application.

The Prez then announced that we’d have no lunch meeting next week because we’d be hosting the Christmas party for the patients at ECMC that night.  Liz wondered if we would be carpooling.  Cindy offered to pick people up in her minivan, though there is plenty of parking and security in the lot at ECMC.  Sally took the floor and said that we’d meet on the fifth floor and begin bringing patients to the party area at 5:30.  At 6pm we will start serving pizza and then sing carols after that.  That will be followed by cookies and ice cream, a visit from Santa’s representative, and finally our gifts to the patients.  Please remember to bring (at least) one gift per gender and to mark the wrapped gifts for a lady or gentleman (or either) so that we can accurately distribute them at the party.

Jorge quietly entered the room.

Gabe then told us that any/all unsold entertainment books must be returned to the club by 12/15.  Ken needs to collect the money and the unsold books so that we can wrap this thing up.  Ward sent in a check for 100 books so far and announced that we get to keep two books at no cost, which can be used as gifts or to sell at 100% profit.  So far we’ve earned a profit (to be donated) of $1350, and there is more money streaming in, making it a successful fund raiser.  Jorge commented that people were asking about the deck of cards with restaurant offers, but some members noted that there are far more “deals” in the entertainment books than there are in the restaurant cards.  We can also bring the money and any unsold books to the ECMC party and give them to Ken.

We were reminded to turn our money and all unsold tickets for the Super Bowl raffle to Liz.  Liz noted that the e-club will cut the check to pay for our tickets and she’ll work it out with Ward.  Liz had a table set up to tally up the proceeds of the raffle.

Gabe then read from an email from Shelly Schratz about her annual efforts to feed needy kids.  Pravin remembered that she does it ever year during the holidays and she welcomes our support.

Carolyn noticed all of the gifts we’d purchased for the Warm Clothing Project and said that she’d be delivering them today.  They are no longer going to the location on Harlem Rd.  Instead they are now in the old Pepsi Center.  Carolyn thanked us for our support of the project and asked for our help loading her vehicle when the meeting ended.  Ward said that he had misplaced the blue slip of paper and he still needs to go get his gifts.  Carolyn had the info, and Ken was in the same boat as Ward.  The two of them were each going to deliver their gifts to the old Pepsi Center.

Gabe then announced that the Depew/Lancaster club was hosting a Mix and Mingle on January 16th at the Forestview Restaurant on Transit Rd in Depew.  The dinner starts at 6pm and they will not have a guest speaker.  The cost is $25 per person and spouses and friends are welcome.  Gabe read the menu to us and it sounded great.  Our own Mix and Mingle will be held in April at Westwood.

Gerry suddenly wondered out loud, asking, “What about his thing?” as he motioned toward Paul.  Poor Gerry was at a loss for words, but that didn’t stop him from speaking up, I guess.  The members in attendance had some fun at Gerry’s expense, as you could imagine.  He was actually asking about the meeting at 1206 Hertel Avenue that Paul had proposed months ago.  Paul hadn’t yet had a chance to re-connect with the owners of the café.

Speaking of off-site meetings, Gabe reminded us that we’ll be visiting the Hope Lodge of the American Cancer Society on January 24.  Our weekly lunch meeting will be held there on that day and the Prez asked us to save the date while he waits for more details.  This will give us a chance to learn about the cause we’ll be supporting with our first ever golf tournament and they will help us execute the fundraiser.

Professor Phil then sprang from his chair and took the floor as he asked us all how we were doing.  He welcomed Paul back and asked him where he was, but most importantly, he asked Paul what he had told him before the meeting.  Paul said that he learned Professor Phil’s book had already been sold out, even on Kindle.  But Paul had not remembered the title of this second book, and it took a while to find a member that (almost) had it.  Gerry finally offered the title of the “Everything about Feet” book, and Phil followed up by asking Gerry if he (Gerry) was sexy.  Gerry said that he was sexy, and Cindy and George both also said that they were also sexy.  Apparently some people at People think that Channing Tatum is sexier, however, as they named the celebrity (?) to the title of sexiest man alive.  However, the quiz question was regarding the despot that a Chinese newspaper had covered as the sexiest when they took the satirical Onion story seriously.  Chris, Paul, and Carolyn knew that the answer was Kim Jong Un from North Korea.  Paul felt the need to explain to the members in attendance that the Onion was a satirical periodical.

Mike then took the floor to issue the weekly fines and instantly fined Carolyn and Sally for talking.

Mike welcomed Paul back, to which Paul replied, “Want a dollar?”  The answer was yes, but Paul was also fined for explaining what the Onion was.  Paul felt that it was necessary to explain and asked for a show of hands to see who already knew about the ironic nature of that publication.  Nearly every member in the room raised their hand and Paul paid up.

Jorge was fined for being late.

Jim was fined for talking.

Ward was fined for losing the blue information sheet from the Warm Clothing Project.  (Not sure why Ken was not also fined, but he should have been!)

Gerry was fined for asking about, “His thing.”

Mike looked for George and then fined him for NOT explaining what a Mix and Mingle is all about.  Mike also explained that George had previously been fined for always feeling the need to explain that.  Obviously, George is deemed fine-able any time that a Mix and Mingle is mentioned in a meeting.

Gerry was fined for not knowing what year it is.  This might become an advantage in a few weeks when the rest of us are still stuck writing “12” whenever we date a document.

Phil was fined for saying that Tatum was the, “Sexiest magazine alive.”

Liz was fined for her lack of both a Rotary pin and her name tag.

Sally and Ward were fined for not having their name tags on.

Katie offered to pay a wine fine.  Both Gerry and Paul had purchased wine.  Liz and the other wine drinkers also kicked in.

Ken fined Phil for welcoming Jerry to the club because that was old news.  He also fined all members that had not sold a single entertainment book.

Paul paid though he protested for the infraction because he was out of the country.  He also paid a happy fine because his daughter had been promoted to vice-president of her company after only being there a few months.  Finally, Paul paid (a happy fine for all of us) because he had to leave early.

Gabe and Ward paid a happy fine because Paul was back.

Katie paid a happy fine because all puppies but one had been adopted.

Isadore also paid a happy fine because Paul was back.

Gerry paid a fine because he brought Jerry into the club.

Ward paid a happy fine because Jerry was in the club.

Chris fined Isadore for a “reply to all” email infraction.

Carolyn paid a happy fine for her trip to NYC for Thanksgiving.

Paul paid a fine so that Mike would sit down and be quiet, and fines were closed.

Gabe then ran through the reminders on his agenda:

12/6 – No lunch meeting.  ECMC party begins at 5:30pm
12/27 – The club’s holiday lunch meeting at Westwood.
12/31 – Paul Harris nominations deadline.
1/16 – Mix and Mingle at Forestview Restaurant, hosted by the Depew/Lancaster club.
1/24 – Lunch meeting at Hope Lodge
2/13 – Paul Harris awards dinner.

Then we broke for lunch.

After receiving sustenance, we were treated to a couple of overdue classification talks.  First, Gabe introduced Pravin and Jerry quickly asked if we had an interpreter.  (Yes, please!)

Pravin took us back to the days of his youth in Africa.  He was born on a small island off the cost of East Africa, and I apologize for not capturing its name.  However, he described a small village that had no power or running water for us.  At age five, his mother moved them to a larger island so that little Pravin could attend school.

Fast forward to 1963, and Pravin moved once again for his education.  This time he came to the USA to attend school at Buffalo State on a scholarship.  At the time, his goal was to receive his education and then return home to Africa to be a teacher.  He reported that, when he arrived, he didn’t know how cold it would be in Buffalo.

After receiving his Bachelors, he went to Ohio State for his Masters in Educational Planning.  It was in Ohio that he “learned from the streets” and got involved in a few movements, like the campaign to elect Robert Kennedy.  Kennedy had been the commencement speaker when he graduated from Buff State and Pravin was obviously a big admirer of the young politician.  Pravin was asked if he was a hippie, and he reported proudly that he, in fact, was one - and about being harassed by the authorities.

In December of 1969 he graduated from Ohio State and returned to Tanzania to teach at a college there.  This is where he met his wife, as she was also teaching at the same school.  Tanzania is also where Pravin became a Rotarian in 1975, which happened to also be the same year that his father died and his mother moved to the USA.

In 1981 he was visiting his family in Buffalo, and that’s when he started a computer company with his brother.  The company they started took off, and a few years later, Pravin moved back to WNY to help run the business.  Ten years ago he retired from that same company.

Throughout his travels, Pravin remained a Rotarian.  He and Jerry ended up being instrumental in the formation of the Amherst East club in 1988.  And,as we know, he and Jerry (and Jorge too) eventually joined our club after the Amherst North club was dissolved.

He was the President of the Amherst North club in 1991 and has been involved in the district since 1992.  He was the District Governor in 2009-10, a six-time Paul Harris Fellow, and said that he is, “proud to be a Rotarian.”

Pravin received a nice round of applause and then Gabe introduced Jorge, another former Amherst North Rotarian.

Jorge began by noting the similarities between his story and Pravin’s.  Both grew up tiny villages in distant lands and later came to the USA for education.  Jorge was originally from Equador, and again I must apologize for not catching the proper name of town.  But he said that it was about 100 miles from the capitol.

When Jorge graduated from school there was political unrest that caused the government and all of the universities to close in Equador.  So in 1964 he came to the USA to live with his brother in Buffalo and continue his schooling.  So to learn the language, Jorge went to the International Institute and attended classes at night school at the same time.  Because he was a part-time student (and not full-time), he was drafted into the Army to serve two years.  In that time he was stationed in Georgia, Texas, West Point, and he also had a ten-month tour in Viet Nam.  After completing his military obligation, Jorge resumed his studies with the help of the G.I. Bill and resumed full-time classwork until he finished his degree in economics and business administration.

Upon his graduation, there was an opening in bio-medical research at UB, which Jorge thought would be a good job until he found something else – but he never left.  Instead he met his wife, got married, and made WNY his home for the next 40 years.  He worked at UB for 38 years until he retired two years ago.

Fifteen years ago he was sponsored by Norm Mattar and joined the Amherst North Rotary Club.  (Ward commented that he thought it might have been longer ago than that.)  Jorge served on various committees and projects and served as the club president.  He reported that, since the Amherst North club shut down last year, he is very happy to continue to serve his community and join us to continue as a Rotarian at Amherst East.  With that, Jorge concluded his talk and received a nice round of applause.

Gabe then commented that we’re fortunate to have the two gentlemen in our club, and to that Chris quipped, saying that we now finally have a couple of gentlemen in the club.  Gabe then thanked the sarcastic member for convincing his employer to purchase 25 bags of Rotary coffee to be used as corporate gifts.  Gabe then remarked that he had a couple of “old” bags (of coffee) that had past their expiration date, and he offered to sell them for $5 apiece.  Katie, Jorge, Liz, and Ken offered to buy them and Gabe said he’d bring them to the ECMC party on Thursday night.

Cindy answered her cell phone and walked over to the windows to talk to the caller.

We then commenced to have a club assembly, and Gabe began updating us regarding the board’s decisions.  First, the Prez announced that we received approval from the board to begin accepting corporate memberships on a trial basis.  Jerry had requested that Tom and Kelly from Classic Paint be allowed to join this way.  George, as he is wont to do, wondered if our club had been selected to begin accepting these corporate memberships.  Pravin said that we had not been selected to take part in this initiative.  This began a debate about whether or not we were allowed to do what the board had decided we would do.  As usual, I was not able to determine if anything had been determined.

Moving right along, Sally talked about the allocation of proceeds from our recent wine tasting fundraiser.  George noted that the club only makes recommendations for the foundation and does not determine which charities will receive our donation(s).  We raised about $6k, which is consistent with our club’s history of wine tastings.  Mike wondered if a list existed that would save us time determining which organizations would benefit.  Chris wondered why we would want to limit our consideration to just those that had already been considered in the past.  Liz said that tonight the E-club was hosting a talk about sleeping children around the world and an organization that distributes bedding kits for $35 each.  Sally noted that it has to be a local charity to be considered for a donation.  Once again, a debate followed, and once again, I am not sure if anything was determined.  If I had a guess, I would say that we’re leaning towards having George facilitate another discussion about the allocation of our wine tasting proceeds.

Pravin noted that we can apply for a grant of matching funds if we meet certain criteria and said that we should do something for the victims of super-storm Sandy.  Ward said that the Red Cross was spear-heading collection efforts for Sandy victims.  Cindy noted that John and Carolyn have done so much to make the wine tasting a success, and suggested that we should make a donation to the Red Cross because John is the local Chairman of the Board.  Ken wondered if we should support the efforts of the Staten Island club and Gabe noted that they had already delivered their donation for Sandy victims.

Jerry’s cell phone rang loudly and Ward ignored it to continue the discussion about the needs of the storm victims.  He noted that, because of the scale of the challenges left behind by the storm, the people in that area would need relief for many months to come.  Gerry made a motion to donate $2k to the Red Cross for Sandy relief (or to make a recommendation to the foundation board to do so), and the motion was seconded by Ward.  A unanimous vote followed to confirm our intentions to make this recommendation to the foundation board.  Pravin said that he also believes the district wil be doing something in the spring for the storm victims.

Our frequent guest, Eva, also offered her thoughts regarding the charities that will benefit from our wine tasting fundraiser.  She said that she had toured the Salvation Army after joining us as a guest a couple of months ago and hearing them address the club.  She was nearly moved to tears by her visit and encouraged us to make a donation to the Army to help some local people in desperate need.

Cindy reminded us that the club’s holiday meeting would be held at Westwood on December 27th.  This will be a family luncheon and she will be taking reservations soon.  We are invited to bring significant others and kids to this meeting and will have a special menu and activities for the kiddos.

Gabe reminded us that we would have no lunch meeting next week due to the ECMC party on that evening.  We will also be treated to another, “talk radio with Phil Casilio” at the meeting on 12/13.

Liz finished tallying up the Super Bowl raffle proceeds and announced that the club raised $165 out of a total of $560 in sales.  The E-club also will receive $165, and $230 will go to the raffle’s sponsor club in Florida.  Ken wondered how much tickets were for the raffle and purchased one.

Finally, the meeting was completed and Jim’s ticket was drawn from the fish bowl.  Unfortunately he was not able to pull the winning card out of the deck, and the money carries over.