Christina Beesley, Director of Recovery Services at Harrington Hospital, presented the huge problem of Opioid Abuse in the Southbridge / Sturbridge area. She started by noting that Opiate overdose is the # 1 cause of accidental death in Massachusetts and Harrington Recovery Services is battling this through education, treatment and therapy. This past year over 1,000 patients utilized these Recovery Services at Harrington. Christina also discussed the use of NARCAN in an opioid overdose.
Ms. Beesley reviewed Spectrum Health Systems in Westborough and how Harrington Recovery Services utilizes those services. Christina closed her presentation by reviewing couples and family services for families whose family member has an Opioid Abuse situation. This resulted in lots of questions.
The Sturbridge Rotary Club has partnered with the Southbridge Rotary Club to create a local community garden. Both Clubs subsequently formed the Rotary Community Corps of Sturbridge & Southbridge (RCC). The RCC is an organization that encourages all volunteers, whether or not they are Rotarians, to work on projects in their local communities. The RCC’s first project is the creation of the “Community Food Collaborative” (CFC) located in Sturbridge.
The Mission Statement of the Community Food Collaborative is to help foster a greater sense of community by involving neighbors, volunteer organizations, as well as mentoring local youth. Throughout each growing season, nutritious organic vegetables will be grown and donated to the Saint John Paul II Food Pantry, which serves families in need in both Southbridge and Sturbridge.
One objective of Sturbridge Rotary has been to help feed the less fortunate and have been doing so for a number of years with an annual dedicated fundraiser for the Saint John Paul II Food Pantry. Southbridge Rotary has held similar fundraisers. Therefore, it was a logical transition for both Clubs to add another level of support for the Food Pantry.
After researching and visiting four available sites for the garden, the site chosen is on Maple Street behind the Sturbridge Town Hall. The garden plot is owned by the Sturbridge Federated Church, that gave permission for the RCC to use it for this purpose. Several years ago, it had been a garden for the members of the Church. The garden already as a fence, raised beds, and a tool shed. Rotarians cleared the weeds last fall and after further prep work, planting will begin this spring.
The RCC’s current partners for the garden project are the Rotary Clubs of Sturbridge and Southbridge, Joseph Coan Landscape Architecture, Sturbridge Federated Church Men’s Group and the St. John Paul II Food Pantry. We’d love to have more partners help us with this project as well as many volunteers. The RCC is a volunteer driven organization and needs your help. We encourage local companies, organizations, schools, seniors, social groups and community volunteers to join in this effort.
Visit the Community Food Collaborative Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/cfcgardens/ to learn more about the project, see photos as the project continues, and sign up to volunteer. If you are not physically able to help in the garden, you can still help by donating funds and/or new or used garden tools. With lots of volunteers, we’ll need lots of tools. There’s also a form on the Facebook page for donations of funds or tools.
Let’s make the Community Food Collaborative a great community project focused on local hunger relief by growing fresh, organic vegetables. Volunteers of all ages working together, getting to know each other, having fun and feeling good about what we’re doing to help, is what this project is all about.
If you would like to volunteer at the Community Food Collaborative garden, please join us for a kick-off celebration for volunteers followed by a tour of the garden site on Wednesday, April 11 from 4-6 pm at the Sturbridge Federated Church fellowship hall.
Sturbridge Rotary Club recently donated $5,000 to The Friends of the Joshua Hyde Public Library in Sturbridge. These funds will be used to support children’s and youth programs at the library. The library was thrilled with our donation because in this era of fiscal belt tightening, many of the programs the library offers would not exist without outside funding provided by the Friends.
Some of the many children and youth programs offered include story times, ELF (Early Literacy & Fun), crafts and supplies, school vacation week programs and the Summer Reading Program. The Friends also recently started a Summer Young Adult program that includes reading, technology programs and other fun activities.
The donation is a logical fit for Sturbridge Rotary because we fund other educational programs for local youth. We award scholarships each year to local senior students pursuing a college degree, as well as leadership training for several high school sophomores. We’re looking forward to hearing about the success of the children’s and youth programs at the library.
Board member, Robert White, presented the check to Children’s Librarian, Pat Lalli (center) and to Donna Englander, Friends president (right).
Rotary had the pleasure of hosting Sturbridge Fire Chief John Grasso. John has been Chief in Sturbridge just over a year. John’s presentation mentioned that the number of fires in Sturbridge is down which is mainly attributed to fire safety education. However, the number of EMS services is growing. Club members were then given an overview of the Opioid Crisis which is a hot topic everywhere and the crisis continues to escalate. Firemen as well as policemen are equipped with Narcan kits, which is an intranasal spray used to reverse the effect of an opioid overdose. The Narcan works in 2-3 minutes but the cost of the kits is skyrocketing. While it’s wonderful to have the Narcan, it doesn’t necessarily prevent the individual from overdosing again. The crisis needs to be addressed with prevention through education and stopping the sale of the drug distribution. It may sound easy when it’s said, but both aspects of prevention are very lengthy and costly. Sturbridge is fortunate at this time to have had very few episodes of an opioid overdose and those we have had were not residents of our community.
On the lighter side, members heard stories about the antics of Halligan, the department’s new 11-month old Dalmatian puppy. Our thanks to Chief Grasso and all the firefighters in the department who work hard to keep us safe.
We had a very enlightening meeting thanks to a visit from Steve Jones D’Agostino of the Nashoba Rotary Club. Steve is one of the Rotary representatives from District 7910 to visit Moca, Puerto Rico to view the devastation after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico on September 20. Steve is helping the District seek donations for the Hurricane Relief Drive. He spoke about the depressing living conditions, especially without having power or water, and for many, loss of their housing, furnishings and supplies. While FEMA and the military are helping, it will be many, many years before Moca and four other areas that were severely damaged, return to normal. And normal for these people wasn’t much even before the hurricane. Rotary is doing what it can to help the people of Moca and donations of any amount will certainly help.
Each year around President’s Day, we honor the past-president of our Club by engraving his name and year of service on the President’s Plaque. The plaque hangs in the room where we meet each week. Congratulations to Past-President Otto Prohaska for all his hard work during his presidency of 2016-2017. We are proud to add your name with all the previous past-presidents who have contributed so much to the Sturbridge Club. Being president isn’t an easy task, as many will attest, but Otto kept us focused and moving forward. And don’t forget all his emails!!! Happy President’s Day, Otto.
It was a great Valentine Day celebration at our Rotary meeting with each lady being greeted with a long stem red rose and a box of chocolates from President Dave who was dressed in a dashing red Valentine blazer! We all exchanged Valentine wishes with each other over a glass of bubbly. The specially ordered meal from the Publick House was excellent and the dessert pedestal displayed outstanding Valentine delights which were quickly consumed. The entertainment by vocalist Tammy Casavant had lots of accompaniment as we quietly sang along with her. As an added bonus, all those present who are Paul Harris Fellows (PHF) posed for a photo. A very large group for a Club its size. All in all, it was a relaxed and memorable evening of fellowship and pride as Rotarians, spouses and guests celebrated the Day, and proud that as a group, we work together to accomplish good for the local and greater communities.
Mary O’Coin, Executive Director of the United Way of Southbridge, Sturbridge and Charlton, attended the Club meeting. She brought the members up-to-date on each agency United Way supports and the agency’s purpose. There is a wide variety of needed services provided to the Tri-Community area by these agencies. We also played a little trivia about UWSSC and not quite sure we got a passing grade – but we learned a great deal! Besides volunteering each year during Day of Caring, Rotary also gave Mary a check for $250 to help support the much-needed work of UWSSC.
Peter Kosciusko spoke with us about Reconciliation House, Inc. (RHI) which is a sober living community for men. The MA certified House is located in Webster, MA and has been in operation for one and a half years. RHI provides housing for up to six men in recovery who have completed the Substance Treatment Opportunity Program (STOP) at the Worcester County House of Correction, a 6 to 9-month intensive substance abuse rehabilitation program. The House has a live-in manager to provide guidance and to ensure residents comply with the House requirements including paying for their room. RHI is a non-profit corporation and a ministry of the Church of the Reconciliation, the Episcopal Church. The Church also helps seek work opportunities for the graduates of the program.
It was a busy week for Rotary members as we helped with the distribution of food, turkey vouchers, toys and gift cards for which Rotary donated funds. All of these items were added to other gifts donated by school families and community members. Rotary worked with Lisa Meunier, school nurse at Burgess, who identified 41 Burgess families (impacting 150 individuals) going through difficult times this Christmas. The John Paul II Food Pantry delivered the 41 boxes of food on Tuesday and the rest of the items donated were added to the boxes. On Thursday, Rotarians and Burgess staff members helped deliver the boxes to the cars of the recipients. To witness the thankfulness of the recipients was very rewarding as well as emotional for us. While we have given this donation previously, this was our first year with hands-on delivery of the food, cards and gifts. Our efforts were openly appreciated and it gave us a much closer look at the impact of our humanitarian work as Rotarians. We went home cold and tired but with a smile on our faces and a feeling of great satisfaction.
Sturbridge Rotary recently inducted three new members from Old Sturbridge Village (OSV). The Village is the third Corporate Membership to join Sturbridge Rotary since Rotary International introduced the Corporate Membership category. The three new members installed are Jim Donahue, President and CEO; Anne McBride, Director of Development; and Michael Arnum, Director of Marketing and Public Relations.
OSV depicts life in an early 19th-century rural Village, featuring costumed historians, antique buildings, water-powered mills and a working farm. The Village plays a vital role in preserving early American history and has been an iconic New England destination since 1946.
The induction ceremony was led by both Past District Governors Carl Kaliszewski and Klaus Hachfeld and the new members’ sponsor, Charles Battersby. Past-President Otto Prohaska welcomed the new members to Rotary as we all look forward to continuing our mission locally, regionally and internationally.
Sturbridge Postmaster Jennifer Drago spoke with us about the structure of the postal system, the updates and challenges faced system-wide as well as locally by all post offices. She also shared a few delivery tips. Want your Sturbridge mail to be delivered the next day? Put it in the Sturbridge mail slot inside the post office versus in the outside box. Contents of the outside box go to Boston to be cancelled, then to Shrewsbury to be sorted, and back to Sturbridge to be delivered. When all was said, we all agreed that Sturbridge gets excellent service with minimum complaints! Congratulations Jennifer and we’re glad you’re at the helm of the Sturbridge Post Office. Thanks for all your hard work!
The winning ticket was drawn at the Rotary meeting last night for the Lottery Basket with $1,000 worth of lottery tickets. The winning ticket number is 730 and was purchased by a gentleman from Spencer, MA. He has been invited to an upcoming meeting so we can meet him. Congratulations #730 winner!
Our thanks go to each and every person who bought a ticket for this fundraiser. We can’t do this without your support. The proceeds from this fundraiser go primarily to fund the $6,000 in scholarships that Sturbridge Rotary awards to Tantasqua Regional High School seniors who are pursuing a college education. To date, Sturbridge Rotary has donated over $194,000 for local scholarships.
Sturbridge Rotary President David Zonia is shown presenting the Annual Thanksgiving Day trophy to Tantasqua’s head coach Jon Hargis after the game against the Shepherd Hill Rams. Presenting the trophy to the winning team has been a tradition of Sturbridge Rotary for the last six years, however, this is the first year that the trophy was presented right after the game was played. This is also the first time Tantasqua has won since 2008. The trophy will be engraved with Tantasqua’s name and the game score of 32 to 15. Tantasqua will hold the trophy for a year and return it to be presented to the winner next year. Congratulations to Jon and his team of Warriors!
Dino Tata returned to the Club to continue his fascinating discussions about the origin of the Solar System. While the Solar System today is very orderly, 4.5 billion years ago it was chaos, with millions of pieces of dust, gas and water floating around and perhaps 100 planets. They constantly crashed into each other, forming the planets we have today. Jupiter formed near the Sun and was being dragged into it by the debris and gravity. As Jupiter cleared its path, and Saturn came along it was able to head outward and was thereby saved from a fiery death. Passing through the asteroid belt it sent thousands of asteroids to the inner system, creating constant impacts with earth and making it unfit for human development. The debris left behind formed the earth and mars. Further out they pushed Neptune and Uranus to their present location and the solar system is now stable.
Jupiter’s makeup resembles the sun and many think it was meant to be a sun but did not gather enough material to become one. Jupiter is 1000X larger than earth and earth could fit in it 1,300X. The great red spot is a storm that has been blowing for over 300 years and earth could fit into it twice. Due to its gases leaking out into space Jupiter is getting smaller every year by fractions of an inch. Its day is 9.9 hours long and its year is 11.86 earth years long.
Dino is a NASA Space Exploration Ambassador and gives numerous presentations throughout the greater communities. It’s always a pleasure to hear from his wealth of knowledge on this subject.
It was a second reunion as Sturbridge Rotary welcomed back two guests, Lisa Meunier, Burgess School nurse, and Bill Pioppi, representing the St. John Paul II Food Pantry. Lisa and Bill were introduced last year at a Rotary meeting and have been working together ever since in Lisa’s caring and humanitarian endeavors to help students and families in need in the Sturbridge area. Rotary presented a check to Lisa to help her work in providing clothing, household needs, and even housing for families going through difficult times. The money will also help Lisa provide toys at Christmas for the children in need. Bill was also given a check to provide 35 holiday meals to the families identified by Lisa. Working together to help students and families going through hardship by providing the proper resources is a win for everyone.
Sales are going great for tickets on a chance to win a basket of $1,000 worth of lottery tickets. Just think of all the fun you would have scratching all those tickets and adding up how much you have won!!!! We sold LOTS of tickets at the Tantasqua Craft Fair this weekend. The proceeds from these ticket sales support the $6,000 in scholarships that we award to Tantasqua students each year.
Didn’t buy your ticket yet? Better get going before you miss out. We’ll be selling tickets at Sturbridge Walmart from 10 to 4pm on Saturday, November 18. See you there…
The two students we sponsored to attend RYLA training in June spoke with us about their experiences. Kayla Archambault and Andrew Houle, both sophomores at Tantasqua Regional High School, were very impressed with the content of the 3-day training weekend held at Fitchburg State University. They spoke about several of the exercises in which all 190 attendees participated. One exercise in particular was how students in school and employees in the workplace seem driven to be the best and to get ahead no matter who they “run over” to achieve what they want. Along the way we seem to have lost the value of mutual support, collaboration, attention to and respect for others – all of which would make us all more productive which would benefit a common goal. Our drive to excel at technology has also diminished our personal interaction skills.
Kayla and Andrew gave an impressive presentation and both have committed to serving as facilitators at the RYLA training session next year. We are confident these two students will have a bright and successful future!
One of Sturbridge Rotary’s initiatives is to help eliminate hunger. For that reason the Sturbridge Rotary Club decided in 2008 to provide Thanksgiving Food Baskets to the needy through the Catholic Charities Food Share Program of Southbridge. By 2015, the number of families requesting a turkey and grocery certificate had increased to over 400 families and Food Share found they do not have the funds to continue this special Thanksgiving program, nor do they have the volunteers. Fortunately, eight local churches came together to form the Tri-Community Church Collaborative. Consequently, Sturbridge Rotary continued to donate funds to the Church Collaborative to help purchase the turkeys.
2017 is the 10th year that Sturbridge Rotary Club has participated in this worthwhile cause. To date we have contributed over $2,900 to pre-screened families in the towns of Sturbridge, Southbridge and Charlton to enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner.
If you would like to help the Tri-Community Church Collaborative, please send your donations made out to Charlton Baptist Church with Tri-Community Church Collaborative (or just “TCCC”) in the memo area. Mail your check to Catherine Chernisky – Chairperson, 150 Elm Street, Southbridge, MA 01550.
Shown accepting the check is (L to R) Pam Bruder, Rotary President Dave Zonia, and Catherine Chernisky.