Make up questions:

1 – How much did Ward pay for his happy fine?

2 – What was attached to Gabe’s pants (like Velcro)?

3 – Where were the founders of the Kevin Guest House from?

Members in attendance were ________.

Chris led us in the Pledge of Allegiance and Paul led us in the Four-way test.  Gabe had noticed that our guest speaker and the Rotarian that sits on the board for this particular charity were sitting alone, so he moved his family over there to join them.  When he commented about that, it became obvious that most of the members in the room would be paying a fine for this.  The Prez then welcomed Pamela C. from the Kevin Guest House and Ted Purvis (Rotarian that sits on the board).  Gabe also welcomed his very cute kids, Anna Christina and Anthony, as well as his beautiful wife, Kim.  The Maddalena family was enjoying their mid-winter break, and so we were delighted to have them with us.

Next, Gabe reminded us about the Mix and Mingle that we’re hosting at Westwood on April 18th.  Cindy is making arrangements with Westwood for the food, which will be $25 per person according to Dan.  They are working out the details as to exactly what that price includes.

The Prez then mentioned that we need to set a date in March for the recruiting event over cocktails that we’ve been talking about.  He hoped that each of us would come and bring a friend or two that wanted to learn more about Rotary and perhaps join our club.  Cindy asked if we should have it on a Thursday instead of our regular weekly meeting.  People seemed to agree with that thought and the dates of March 21st and 28th were kicked around until a decision was made.  As soon as we made that decision, Mike spoke up and suggested we consider doing it in June.  He suggested that the nicer weather might help and that it might be better to spread out some of the club activities that must seem to be so plentiful right now.  Carolyn suggested that we try for the first Thursday in June.

Paul interrupted and asked if he could interrupt.  He did this so that he could point out Gabe’s oversight from the guest introductions at the start of the meeting.  Paul was referring to the fact that our club had two (somewhat) new members in attendance, and Gabe hadn’t recognized them at the start of the meeting.  Paul continued, taking the opportunity to introduce Rob Banas before Carolyn introduced Eva Roll.  Mike said that we’d schedule classification talks for them soon and the members in attendance applauded.

Gabe then invited Rob and Eva up to receive their membership pins and stuff.  Paul took some time getting everybody posed just right for the photos he was taking as he instructed Isadore to present the pins.  After a few moments of posing for candid photos, Gabe said some nice words and we once again clapped for the “newbies.”  All we needed to complete the scene was to hear the obligatory happy fines from each new member, and thanks to Rob, we were not going to be (totally) disappointed when the fines were cranked up a few minutes later.

The Prez Elect then announced this year’s “Wines of the World” event, which will be held on March 1st.  Mike admitted that his Dad “made him” make this announcement on behalf of the Buffalo Club and said that this year he will not be volunteering for the event.  Instead he will be enjoying the evening (and the wine) even more than usual.  Tickets are $50 and Mike would be very happy to sell a pair to you.  Others in the room agreed that this is a terrific event, and it will once again be held at Kleinhan’s.

This year’s Prez then told us that the Cheektowaga club had graciously re-scheduled their club’s Mix and Mingle so as not to compete with ours.

Professor Phil was nowhere to be found, so we moved on to the fines just as John walked into the room.  Mike exclaimed that there would only be a handful of fines, but that he’d collect lots of money.

John, of course, barely reached his seat before he had to reach for his wallet.  He was clipped for being tardy and also for not wearing his pin and nametag.

Jerry volunteered to brandish the fines collection bowl and stepped in as M.S.L.

Mike then revealed his plan to maximize today’s earnings per fine when he fined all of the members in the room that were not sitting at a table with a guest.  This en mass infraction was exacerbated by the fact that our guests were sitting alone until our gregarious leader moved his whole family to make them feel at home.  The members in attendance felt shame, and yet, they still grumbled under their collective breath at the fine-master.  There was only one table in the room where guests were seated, so Jerry circled the other three tables and filled up his bucket!

Gabe paid a fine for failing to welcome our newest members, per Paul.

Mike paid an ambiguous fine.  He wasn’t sure if he was happy or sad about last night’s President Elect training.  They were only given one ten minute break in the four hour session, which is criminal.  “I’d like to say that I didn’t take a nap,” was the comment that told us our next leader is the kind of guy that can turn a negative into a positive.  Mike is looking forward to the next training session in Toronto and will set the navigation system up on his fancy electric car so that he can nap on the way there.

Paul fined Mike another buck for complaining.

Cindy paid a happy fine for her recent family vacation in Michigan.  They just got back and had a wonderful time.

Ward paid a happy fine for each new member.

Liz paid a happy fine and announced the E-club’s newest member.  They now have fifteen and just need five more to become an officially chartered club!

Rob paid the obligatory “new guy” fine and thanked Paul for sponsoring him.

Paul paid a happy proud Papa fine to announce that his youngest daughter had secured gainful employment in the Big Apple.  If she can make it there…

Isadore paid a happy fine in anticipation of his trip to Disneyworld in Florida and thanked Chris for covering him next week.

Carolyn paid a happy fine because she’s been receiving lots of emails for meeting make ups.

Mike was reminded about Gerry’s new gig, which will preclude him from attending most of our club’s meetings and from writing the In Gear.  He asked if anybody wanted to take over for Chris, who was written this darn rag for three years now.  Crickets were heard as silence fell over the room, and fines were closed.  Perhaps Mike will be able to rely on a rotation of members to get it done.

Gabe reminded us to put the club’s first annual golf outing into our calendars.  Gabe’s going to meet with the Westwood folks very soon to put the contract together, which will solidify the date with our deposit.  Carolyn asked if we could have a meeting with Paula from the American Cancer Society and Gabe noted that we would need to make sure people show up.  (Last time we met with her, just a couple of us attended.)  They settled on Monday the 25th , 4pm at Carolyn’s house.  Gabe said that he’d check with Paula, as his son was very sweetly attached (like Velcro) to his pantleg.

Chris then announced that the address for Habitat had changed to 64 North Parade St.  They will meet there this Saturday morning at nine to volunteer for the day.  The next dates for Habitat volunteering are March 30th and April 27th , then we will be done until we resume in the Fall.

Gabe reminded us that the next board meeting will be held on March 13th and the venue is to be determined.  Of course, the Mix and Mingle will be held at Westwood on April 18th.   The golf outing will be here on May 20th, and we’re back at Westwood again for the installation dinner on June 27th.  A shadowy smile broke across Gabe’s visage.

Then, with all club business handled, we broke for lunch.

After lunch (kinda), visiting Rotarian, Ted Purvis got up to begin the presentation for the Kevin Guest House.  First, he thanked us and explained that we must always remember to fine Pravin, especially when he uses tax season as his excuse for not show up for meetings.  Then, Ted also acknowledged Paul, who had been a sitting board member for the Kevin Guest House a few years ago and still volunteers for their annual golf outing fundraiser.   Ted is currently a board member for the house, and he is in his last year of board service.  We also learned that the Kevin Guest House mission is very dear to Ted, as he experienced the difficulties of dealing with a seriously ill loved one when he was in high school and his mother was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer.  He remembered the joy that it would bring to his mom whenever her sister from Utica would visit, and he knows about the importance of bringing family together at a time when they are most needed.

Ted then introduced us to Pam, who is the Development Specialist for the Kevin Guest House.  She thanked us for the opportunity to speak and commented that Gabe had almost spelled her last name correctly.  (Gabe is braver than I am, as I will not attempt to spell it here for you.)  Her job is to help the house raise money, and they have a special awareness challenge because, even though they are located in downtown Buffalo, the people they serve come from areas all around us to for their hospital care.  They provide a place for a patient’s family to stay when they are admitted to the hospital for extended care and certain diagnoses and they live far away.

The Kevin Guest House was actually founded by a wealthy family from Sharon, PA.  The Guest family had eight kids, and in 1970 their youngest son, Kevin, was diagnosed with Leukemia.  That event changed their lives dramatically, as they had to travel back and forth from Sharon to Roswell Park to be with Kevin during his treatments.  They also noticed that other families were dealing with these issues and most of them did not have the means to be able to afford hotels and such, so they bought the house on Ellicott for those families in need of its use.  They worked with Roswell to identify the families that would stay there and, in doing so, created the very first hospital hospitality house in the country.  Of course, this amazing gesture of generosity to strangers was a tribute to their son, who unfortunately succumbed to Leukemia when he was just 13 years old.

These days, the Guest family is still very active with the Kevin Guest House.  The parents passed away, but Kevin’s brothers and sisters still support the house and come to their events each year.  And now they also have two more buildings next door to the original house – some featuring apartments that are amenable to bone marrow patients that need 100 days to stay in a place where they will not become infected.  They are right in the middle of the growing medical campus downtown, but Pam once again commented that they do not served Buffalonians, so they are hoping to raise awareness for their mission.  At any moment in time they always need donations as well as volunteers and clubs to served dinners and work their events.

Cindy asked if the club’s feed the patient’s families, and Pam said that they sometimes do so.  Other times they prepare the meals ahead of time.

Pam was reminded to mention their annual Octoberfest, which is a “friend raising” event in the summer at the Hatch at the Erie Basin Marina.  They serve German food, feature German music and beer, and they get about 300 people.  Another event that we were invited to is the Blues and Brews event.  Last year they had about 600 people in attendance and this year it’s being held on March 22nd.  Chicago Jack Civiletto will be performing and it goes from 6-10pm for $40 per ticket.

Liz asked if the club could sell stuff there to help them raise money, and Pam said that might be possible.  Gabe’s wife Kim asked if they only serve families of patients with cancer, and Pam said that was not the case.  Patients that received surgeries or that have other long term care needs are also considered.  Cindy commented that she had friends from Watertown – a couple that both happened to be diagnosed with cancer at the same time.  She said that the Kevin Guest house gave them great support and made it possible for them to be together with their family through their ordeal.

Paul added that the Kevin Guest House is another “local gem.”  He said that they need hands on volunteers like we offer to Habitat for Humanity.  The “Affair of the Heart” event is their best one each year.  It’s a dress up event that recognizes their supporters and the Guest family members come in for it.  It’s held at the Mary Seton room in Kleinhan’s and they have a big basket raffle, live auction etc.

Liz asked if they take Canadian families, and Pam said that they do.  They’ve even had a family from Spain stay with them.

Finally, it was time for the weekly drawing, and Isadore looked genuinely surprised this week when his name was not drawn.  (His was drawn a couple times in a row recently.)  Instead, it was Bill’s ticket, but he unfortunately did not pull the joker out of the deck, and the money carries over.  Gabe said that the winner’s share is now about $500.