Make up questions:

1 – Who was endorsed by the club President to be appointed as the next Pope?

2 – Which member (or members for bonus credit) will be sitting next to Jim at the next club meeting?

3 – Who never stopped to eat his lunch because the club just has so much stuff going on?

Members in attendance were ___?___.  EDITOR’S NOTE – I sincerely apologize for not having the meeting attendance in this week’s In Gear.  This now makes it two weeks in a row.  I will do better in the future, I promise.

Gabe called the meeting to order and Chris was asked to lead us in the Four-Way Test.  Another member preceded him with the Pledge of Allegiance, but Chris was covering as Sgt. at Arms for the day and had to stay at the check in table to process the lunch orders for a couple of stragglers at the bell.  He wasn’t able to keep notes for the first few minutes of the meeting, and we were off to a roaring start when he also harassed visiting Rotarian, Shelly Schratz for the cost of lunch, even though she was a guest of the club here with us for Vive la Casa.

Gabe presented a big fake check in the amount of $2000 to Shelly, representing the donation that we made to Vive.  Paul moved Katie from her seat in order to make a nice photo against the club logo/banner as a background (see below).  He then counted to three in Vietnamese and asked to see if anybody knew what he was saying.  Shelly graciously thanked the club and told us about her connections to Vive.  She said that she really likes to be involved in the community, and she visited their facility two years ago with her church.  She didn’t know much about them, but asked one of the Vive sisters if the people there needed jobs.  When the sister said that they do need jobs, Shelly confirmed that they were also documented, and then hired a young man on the spot.  She described him as having, “hair out to here,” and said that she was overwhelmed by his desire to work.  He virtually begged her for a job, so she hired him as a dishwasher, and he is now like a part of their family.  Originally, this man came here from Africa on a scholarship and studied in St. Louis.  He plays an instrument with the Amherst Symphony, and he is now converted to Christianity from Islam.  The religious conversion alienated this man from his family, and Shelly said that they disowned him.  Having lost his connections to home and now living in a foreign land virtually alone, he suddenly became homeless when he was told that he could no longer stay with his extended family.  So he came to Vive for nine months, and is now living on his own in an apartment.  Last year he celebrated Christmas with Shelly and her family and she described his heart-toughing enthusiasm at giving modest presents to members of her family.  For Shelly, he presented a special pink box with a string of pearls that he had previously purchased in Jordan.  She had tears in her eyes as she told us that he purchased the gift without knowing who its recipient would be, but he was sure that there would be a very special person in his life that he would want to give this gift to soon.  Gabe thanked her for all of her community service and the charities that she is involved with and the members in the room applauded.

Paul took the floor as Ward came in.  Paul continued, telling us about Paul Harris Fellowship.  He has earned four of them himself and also has the earned the ability to award one of them to a person whose life embodies the spirit of Rotary.  He then congratulated Liz for receiving her first Paul Harris Fellowship for her donations to the Rotary International Foundation, immediately followed by her second, which Paul awarded to her for her leadership and the “enormous amount of work” she’s done with the district E-club.  Liz accepted the award in the form of a pin that I believe is not yet as fancy as it will be.  She acknowledged the award and was excited to announce that the E-club now has its fifteenth member, bringing it closer to its charter when it has twenty.  Cindy took a few photos with Liz and the members in attendance again applauded.

Gabe then called on Professor Phil, who sprang out of his seat and circled the room.  He asked Shelly how she knows him and then he asked her if she knew that he was a professor and best-selling author.  He had been gone two weeks on hiatus and complained that Gabe didn’t even call to see if he was OK.  Phil asked Paul to tell the room what he had sent to the Professor, and Paul admitted that the subject matter was “inane stuff.”  Phil then presented and read us a testimonial letter from his publisher as George walked in.  Chris started to rise and take George’s money, but Gabe covered him.

Phil’s quiz question was about the bishop in Los Angeles that people do not want to vote in the papal search because of the recent scandal he was involved in.  A couple people had incorrect answers, but the question went to Phil when he stumped the room.  The answer was Robert Finn.  Cindy’s phone rang rather loudly so she quickly answered it.  Gabe asked Phil if he had considered accepting an appointment to be the next Pope and offered his endorsement for the conclave.

The Prez then called upon Ward to execute the weekly fines session.  He quickly fined Paul for fining him when Paul was not the fine master.

George and Jon were fined for being late, and Ward also fessed up to being tardy, though he technically beat the bell.

Katie paid a happy fine for her new high-tech phone.  It’s a Windows 8 tile-style / touch-screen gadget!

Paul paid a happy fine because Katie had taken over for Chris as our Facebook master.  She posted some great shots of the house that the club worked on over the weekend.  Cheers to that!

Sally paid for not wearing her pin.  Ward didn’t have his name tag on.

Katie paid another happy fine, as her Kili was the best puppy in school!

Jon paid a happy fine in tribute to Paul and Liz for their combined six Paul Harris Fellowships!

Liz paid a few fines.  The first was for securing the fifteenth (soon to be charter) member of the E-club.  The second was to than Paul for bestowing the Paul Harris Fellowship to her.  The third was for the wine that somebody had purchased.

Cindy paid a fine for talking to our guest and visiting Rotarian, Shelly from Bing’s and Vive la Casa.

Jim offered a fine in anticipation of his absence next week.

George paid a happy fine for his impending trip to Florida.  He’ll be enjoying the Sunshine State with his bride for the next couple weeks.

And with that, fines were closed and lunch was served.  Yet Gabe kept talking and working his way through the day’s packed agenda.  (That would continue to be the case for Gabe until the meeting’s closing bell.)

George then gave us an update regarding the club’s upcoming recruiting cocktail party.  He reminded us that the purpose is to find new members, and each member is expected to bring a guest(s) that they would propose for membership.  George thinks that there is the potential to find a half dozen new members this way if we all do our part.  He checked with the East Aurora club and learned that they pay for some inexpensive appetizers and the first drink.  Each member brings their guest(s) to the bar to “buy” them that first one on the club.  After that, they are on their own.  We’re also going to need to have people there that can “talk the talk” in regards to Rotary, perhaps even make a presentation.  Phil sent a text message and Cindy couldn’t hear what George was saying.  George tried to remember the other stuff he wanted to say.  Cindy suggested that we collect photos and have them arranged to show our recruits all of the great stuff we do.  George was interested in setting a date for March, but Jerry let him know that we had decided during the previous meeting to push it back to June.  Gabe remembered Mike’s idea to do some recruiting at our golf outing.  Liz offered to make a table top display if she can get her hands on our photos.  Katie suggested that we should not make our guests/recruits purchase any of their own drinks, because we are, after all, asking them to do something pretty significant.  Gabe noted that Westwood already puts out appetizers during happy hour, and we might be able to afford the drinks because of that.  Liz suggested that we put a Rotary video on continuous loop on the TV.  Jerry noted that this event should be considered our weekly meeting and members could pay what they normally pay for lunch to help defer costs.  Ward noted that our club has two past DGs and other resources to draw on when inviting our guests.

Moving to the next topic, Liz and Gabe (mostly Liz) had prepared some great documents in preparation for our golf outing.  Their (conservative) projections showed us that sponsorship sales will be the key to our success, and we should expect to raise $5500 as our minimum goal.  Of course, the participation of all members is the thing that will make that possible.  Liz also prepared a sponsor solicitation letter and requested that each member submit contact names and addresses for each of our sponsor prospects.  The lowest level of sponsorship is just $100, which includes a lawn sign at the greens and a program listing.  There will be no charge for lunch for our volunteers.  Katie asked if we had a vendor in mind for promotional items and recommended Greg’s friend.  Liz mentioned that she works with a vendor in Grand Island, but we could take competitive bids.  Finally, we looked at the sheets for club members that give us options for participating in the event.  It’s hoped that each member will participate in at least two items from this sheet.  Liz asked Cindy if she’d be the chair for our basket auction, and Cindy said that she wasn’t sure if her calendar would allow.  If she’s able to, she will.  Gabe said that his staff could assemble baskets.  Liz asked Katie to keep a sponsor tracking spreadsheet and she agreed.  Each member is asked to bring her/his list of sponsor prospects to next week’s meeting.  Think of the car dealers you’ve worked with and other companies that you support.

Our famished leader then introduced Kevin, err, umm.  Larry!  Larry Coon is the President of the Kenmore club, and he was with us today to talk about RYLA and introduce Carly Snyder, who had been through the program in 2011.  Larry told the story about how he met her and was so impressed at the way she handled his standard waitress harassment.  Carly was an excellent server, and at the end of the meal Larry told her that he was disappointed.  Of course, he wasn’t disappointed at all, but poor Carly was so eager to make it better.  Finally, his wife prompted him to ask her to apply for RYLA, as she was a freshman studying Chemical Engineering at UB.  She did, and she was accepted, and Larry introduced her to us as we applauded.

Carly said that she went to RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Awards) at Fredonia SUNY after she completed her sophomore year.  She knew that it would look good on her resume, and frankly, Larry had made a lot of promises to her about how great an experience it would be.  Carly said that he was 100% right about that and it’s a great way for young people to get a chance to work on their leadership skills.  She also candidly admitted that her generation generally doesn’t like to work that hard and that sometimes people of similar personalities clash, so RYLA was an excellent opportunity for many reasons.  She learned about working with others and conflict management after they had a big argument on day three of the week.  By the end of the week, they were all best friends and they continue to stay in touch.  She also learned about what she lacks as a leader, noticing how aggressive she can get.  They had an exercise where they had to move across a field as a team without touching the ground.  She had to learn to keep her mouth shut and let others take the lead at times.  I think she was quite a mature young lady to be able to admit her shortcomings in front of strangers.  She also learned about networking, as she met a person there that would later offer her the job she accepted for after her graduation.  She’s also now a member of the Buffalo Rotaract Club and said that her generation doesn’t hear enough about Rotary.

Larry then talked to us about the responsibilities of a club for sponsoring a RYLA student.  It pretty much boils down to identifying a great student that’s 19-25 and then getting their application and fee in on time.  The early bird deadline for this year is April 6th and the application fee is $600.  It goes up to $700 on May 10th and Larry warned us that, by that time, it might already be filled up.  Pravin wanted to know if Rotarian family members can attend.  Larry said that was absolutely allowed, and he is a second generation Rotarian that attended in 1980.  His father sent him the application, and he thanks him to this day.  This year RYLA will be held locally at Fredonia, June 9th – June 15th.  More information can be found online at, including all of the documents the club needs to submit an applicant.  Paul commented that Slapshot is a very similar program, but for kids up to age 18.  They wisely keep the two groups separated.  Jon noted that we used to send 1-2 students per year and three of his kids went to RYLA.  They all had a, “fantastic experience.”

Gabe encouraged us to get the info out to potential candidates and see if we could find one by the early deadline on April 6th.  Then we wrapped up the meeting, and I unfortunately did not record the name of the member whose ticket was drawn.  However, unfortunately they did not pull the joker out of the deck, and the money carries over.