Rotary Club of Amherst
Amherst, New York, USA
 

In Gear 4/11/13

 
 
 

Make up questions:

1 – Why will there be no lunch meeting on Thursday the 18th?

2 – Which member’s life was threatened by another member?  (not really)

3 –What does the acronym POTUS stand for?

Members in attendance were Katie, Jerry, Phil, Isadore, Chris, Dick, Liz, Gabe, Cindy, George, John, Mike, Eva, Rob, and honorary member Bill.

George led us in the Pledge of Allegiance, and Chris led the Four-way Test before Gabe welcomed our Mike Bryant, our guest speaker from BAND Against Bullying.

The Prez reminded us that our Mix and Mingle would be held next week, so we will not have a lunch meeting on Thursday the 18th.  Instead of that, each member should attend the Mix and Mingle that we’re hosting at Westwood at 6pm.  Gabe said that we needed a few volunteers and Chris and George volunteered to work the registration for our members and guests.  Mike asked if there was somebody better than George to do it.  George threatened Mike’s well-being in no uncertain terms.

Moving right along, Gabe asked for a few more volunteers to sell 50/50 tickets.  Eva and Liz stepped up and we’ll have one working at the registration table while the other circulates and sells tickets to the crowd.  By 6:30 pm the various club Presidents will begin telling us all about what is going on with their clubs.  Gabe will talk about our golf tournament and after he’s done the buffet will start at about 7pm.  Cindy asked if there were a sign-up sheet and there was none.  Gabe went around the room to get an estimate.

Dick joined us as Gabe again reminded us that there would be no lunch meeting next week due to the Mix and Mingle on 4/18 at 6pm.

The cost for the buffet dinner at the Mix and Mingle is $25 and we are not making any money on that.  So it’s important that we push the 50/50 tickets and promote the golf outing to our guests.  Liz asked for a flyer that we could post and Gabe said that he’d email it to us all.  The Depew/Lancaster, Cheektowaga, Williamsville, and Amherst South clubs were invited and Gabe had estimates from each.  We will give our count to Westwood on Monday.  Gabe asked if there were any members that could show up at 5pm to help get the room set up.  He wasn’t sure whether or not we needed the credit card swiper machine and noted that nobody had paid up – so everybody would be paying the door with no exceptions.  George asked if we would be wearing badges.  Gabe said that we would and we should also get some name tag sticker things for our guests.

Gabe noted that Carolyn wasn’t present, so he told us that she was looking for candidates for our annual scholarship for a Williamsville East senior.

Next, he looked around the room for John Olsen, but couldn’t find him.  So Gabe told us that the Amherst Symphony was having a concert this Sunday and we were in need of a representative from the club to present our $500 donation.  Gabe said that John was going to be on site for a different purpose that evening, so we needed a volunteer.  Katie and Rob both said that they might be able to do it, depending on the time when the check would be presented.  Gabe said that he would find out.

Rob then made an announcement to promote a free presentation for veterans to be held at Westwood on Saturday the 20th at 11:30 am.  He recalled that we only had a few members in attendance when the guys from Dignity Memorials spoke to the club, and now they were giving this seminar for vets and their final arrangements, and there would also be free food for those in attendance.  Rob passed out some flyers for the event.

The Prez then called upon Professor Phil to address the members in attendance.  He began by asking how everybody was doing and especially “Dr. Hitzges.”  Dick said that he was doing OK.  Phil continued to circle the room and asked George if he could hear him talking.  When he got to Jerry, Phil asked him to repeat what Jerry said to him earlier.  So Jerry repeated himself, saying it was nice to see Phil and that there was a void in last week’s meeting.  With his ego sufficiently boosted, Phil then asked our guest speaker if he knew Phil, and Mike said that he did.  Even so, Phil asked Prez to Be Mike if he would tell guest speaker Mike about Phil’s other side.  So Mike was forced to tell Mike that Phil was a well-known author and professor.  Somewhere, the corpse of Herbert J. Taylor, the author of the Four-way Test, was spinning in his grave.

Finally, Phil got to the part where he asks us a question, and he wanted to know more about the accuser of Joel Osteen.  Mr. Osteen had been accused of abandoning Christianity when he prayed so blatantly for material wealth for him and his followers.  Phil wanted to know what John Tribbel, the man that made that accusation, did for a living.  The correct answer was “close enough” and I believe that Mike got credit – Mr. Tribbel is a free-lance writer.  Phil closed out by saying that, whether he was pious or not, Mr. Olsteen takes in millions of dollars.  “If that doesn’t make him born again, then I don’t know what does!”

Phil stayed standing to act as Mike’s M.S.L., and we were spared the explanation.  Mike began by fining Dick for being late, and Dick also paid a happy fine, though I unfortunately didn’t record the reason for it.

President Maddalena was fined for the confusion regarding the Mix and Mingle in the meeting agenda.  He had it scheduled for “March-April 18” and reached into his pocket to pay for the typo.

Rob was fined for mistakenly thinking that his veteran’s event was in conflict with the club’s golf outing.  He didn’t realize that his own event was in April, so apparently this illness is contagious, and Rob caught it from Gabe.  He also paid a buck.

Mike noticed that John Olsen slipped into the room unnoticed, and fined him for being late.

Mike then asked us all to pay a buck if we had not shaken his hand at the start of the meeting.  Rob was the only one to admit and pay up, though Mike seemed to think there might be a couple more in the room.

Mike fined himself for the comment about finding a better person than George to handle the registration for our upcoming Mix and Mingle.

George was fined for saying that Mike was, “Going to die.”  Mike wondered if George had ever attended a Rotary funeral before.  George was also fined for commenting that his wife would not be attending if he could help it.

Phil was fined for calling George, Gerry.

Mike then asked for fines from the floor and Jerry paid a happy fine for his anniversary tomorrow.

Isadore paid a happy fine because his five year-old had successfully earned her yellow belt in tae kwon do.

Liz paid a happy fine because she had heard a rumor that it would be 65° this weekend.

Chris paid a happy fine to remind those in attendance that, with the nice weather, there would be more pedestrians and skateboarders and bikers out on the road, and to ask us all to look out for them.

Katie paid a fine, apparently because she didn’t wish to be perceived as cheap.  I am afraid that I didn’t catch the entire fine or perhaps the back story on that one.

Eva paid a happy fine because she really appreciates how nice and welcoming Rob is to her, and fines were closed.

Gabe then gave us some great news, saying that we have already secured over $10k in sponsorships for the golf tournament.  Liz handed out a spreadsheet showing the budget and Gabe said that we might reach over $11k when all is said and done.  The members in the room applauded, as Gabe thanked everybody, especially Liz and Carolyn for all of their hard work.  Liz really organized the whole thing and created the documents to make it a successful effort.  Carolyn (and John) almost single handedly secured the sponsorships that we needed to reach our goal.  All of the sponsor information is due to the printer as of yesterday, but according to Gabe we can still take new sponsorships in – they just won’t be in the program or signage.  We do have other ways to promote our sponsors, so we can still make it good for them if they come in late.

Liz recommended that each member visit a club near us to promote the golf outing during one of their regular meetings.  She asked if tomorrow (4/12) could be the final deadline for inclusion in the print materials.  She also announced that there would be t-shirts for our event volunteers with the Rotary logo on them.  It will likely cost each volunteer $10 per shirt, which means we will only lose $2 each (we pay $12 for each shirt).  Gabe estimated that we need a total of 33 volunteers, plus those that will be from the American Cancer Society, to pull it off.

Katie mentioned that she heard somebody talking about looking for our golf outing information, but not being able to find it in the Amherst Bee.  We decided not to advertise there, but Katie thought we might want to reconsider if we find that we don’t have enough golfers.  Gabe said that he’s going to find out if we can get a free listing in the Bee since it is a charity event.  He also challenged each member to find a foursome for the tournament, which would help us reach our goal.  Isadore asked if he could see an updated sponsor list.  Gabe had that information on the back of his notes and he read the updated list of sponsors to us.

Liz took the floor to talk about the E-club presentations.  Last week they learned about water and solar energy projects in Peru, and a Rotary air miles program is sending young “engineers without borders” down there to install solar panels and water systems.  If anybody has any United Airlines miles that they would like to donate to Rotary, please email the receipts to Liz so that she can convert them into airline tickets for the engineers heading to Peru.  She also reported that Rotary International came in second place in another air miles contest and received a donation of 2.5 million miles.  We should be hearing about how we might access those miles soon.  She recommended that Katie be on the lookout for information to obtain her tickets to Tanzania.

After lunch, Gabe read through the calendar reminders at the bottom of the meeting agenda.  April 18th, Mix and Mingle.  April 27th, Habitat for Humanity.  May 4th, District Assembly in Niagara Falls.  May 20th, golf outing.  June 27th, Installation dinner.  Also, if you would like to go to the Rotary Leadership Institute, tomorrow (4/12) is the deadline.  Gabe sent an email out this morning.  Finally, the Prez gave us one last reminder that there will be no lunch meeting at Westwood on 4/18.

Then, with all club business handled, Gabe introduced us to Mike Bryant, our guest speaker from BAND Against Bullying.  He was another one of those very impressive people that have held fascinating jobs, and another one that should have given me his resume so that I could attempt to give him credit for his achievements.  I do remember that he was a former Secret Service Agent that has protected a number of presidents, and that he currently works for M&T Bank.

Mike began his talk, as most of them do, by thanking us for the opportunity to speak.  He was making his 6th talk to a Rotary Club in the past 6 weeks, which he pointed out was “not by chance.”  Larry Coon had brought him into the Rotary circle after hearing about the BAND Against Bullying initiative while working with one of his partner schools.

Mike asked us if we knew who the POTUS was when the Secret Service was founded.  Not so surprisingly, this caused Phil to have to jump in and ask Mike if he were taking over his quiz master territory.  Jerry answered correctly when he said, “Lincoln.”  It was in 1865 when the country was going through what was called the “Reconstruction,” and there was a terrible crisis with counterfeit money.  Half of all of the money in circulation was “funny money,” and the Secret Service was formed specifically to conduct financial investigations related to that crisis.  You could sense the great respect that Mike had for his predecessors when he told us that there were only ten Secret Service operatives for the whole country, and they cleaned up that terrible mess in about a year.  The Secret Service was not tasked with protecting the President until 1902, which was after the assassinations of Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley.

Mike then explained a bit about how the BAND Against Bullying initiative came together.  He is a board member for the Association of Missing and Exploited Children’s Organizations.  He is an employee of M&T Bank, which is a huge supporter of the community.  And he is also associated with UB, though I unfortunately didn’t catch the details of that connection.  With all of the resources at his fingertips, he said that it was pretty easy to recruit schools to do what they are already doing (music and arts) and come up with a 5 minute act about bullying that they could perform on stage in a competition.  He was also successful at recruiting celebrity partners like Janet Snyder and Fred Jackson.

So now 10 schools will be performing and the ticket price is $10.  Each participating school is selling the tickets.  All of the money raised in the first year will be put into the account of a 501c3 that was formed when they received grants from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to institute an anti-bullying program in schools.  The schools are also being told that they must create these anti-bullying programs by the state, though they are not being told how to do it or receiving any funding.  In fact, as we know all too well, the budgets in our schools are actually being cut at the same time the state is mandating that all bullying incidents be recorded and each problem fixed.

John voiced some skepticism about the program as he remembered an anti-drug program that he felt had the opposite of its intended effect.  Instead of curbing the desire for these dangerous substances, the program actually glorified and promoted drug use.  He was concerned about the political motivation behind the state’s mandates and said that the program would be more effective is they would focus on teaching the kids what to do when/if they are ever bullied.  The use of the politically correct term, “dignity” was also not sitting well with John.

Mike replied respectfully, saying that he was by no means an expert.  However, he did recognize the value of having the kids “dialogue” about the issue, which he felt his program would achieve.  He gave us an example of a student with body odor, and told us how word travels so quickly around school with social media and text messaging etc.  The entire school can be “in on it” in an hour, whereas, in the old days it would take much longer and the discussion about the poor kid would stop when the school day ends.  Now the hurtful conversation is kept alive all evening and through the following days with the electronic communications that kids now have access to.

John still believes that the schools are being asked to do too much besides academics, as if they are the only institution that touches the kids and they should solve every problem for every student.

Phil added that he was bullied as a kid, and now he teaches.  He tells kids to be nice to the nerds because someday they might be working for one of them.  He also spoke out to Tim Russert once on this subject and asserted that it’s the parents responsibility to deter bullying, not the schools.  He said that Mike’s program is a good thing because it will raise awareness for the problem in schools.

Finally, with Mike’s presentation concluded and no further questions to be answered, Gabe thanked him for his talk.  Isadore presented Mike with the fish bowl, and he pulled out Jerry’s ticket.  Unfortunately, Jerry didn’t draw the joker from the deck, and the money carries over – about $1100!