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.
Paul Harris Fellows
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.
Pauline White, Mary O’Coin (center), President Dave Zonia.
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.
Len Lazure (Food Pantry)
Pauline, Len Lazure (Food Pantry), Lisa Meunier (Burgess)
School nurse, Robin Metcalf, Peter, Lisa Meunier (Burgess), Pauline, Bob, Austin
Robin Metcalf and Austin
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.
L to R: Jim, Anne, Michael, Klaus, Carl, Charles
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!
Past President Otto presenting a Rotary mug to Postmaster Jennifer.
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.
PP Otto pulls the winning ticket stub from a tub of 1,000 tickets sold.
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.
Lisa Meunier, Burgess School nurse.
Bill Pioppi (L) with President David.
L to R: Bill, Lisa, President David.
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 afternoon ticket crew: L to R is Otto, Peter, Carl and Bob W.
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!
Kayla and Andrew with Past-President Otto.
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.
Friendship greetings were exchanged with our Sister Club in Stourbridge, England again this year via skype. The two Clubs have been twinned since 1988 and always exchanged greetings via snail mail but have since gone high-tech. The Mayor of Dudley and the President of the Stourbridge Rotary Club are shown in front of the laptop in the UK and Chair of the Selectmen in Sturbridge, Mary Blanchard was with Sturbridge Rotary Club President David Zonia in front of a laptop. Each read a proclamation and exchanged friendship greetings.
The meeting concluded with a toast of health to each Club.
Mayor David Tyler (L) and Stourbridge Rotary Club President Dr. Tony Blackman.
Shown below is the Civic Group. Back row (L-R) Alderman Fred Hunt, Mayor of Dudley as well as Councillor David Tyler, President Tony Blackman.
Front row (L-R) Alderman Jack Edmonds, The Mayoress of Dudley Mrs. Barbara Tyler, Mrs. Anne Blackman.
The Harvest Festival drew a very large crowd to visit vendor booths selling their wares, eating food from various food trucks, voting at the annual Publick House Scarecrow Contest and of course, the Sturbridge Rotary booth selling tickets to win $1,000 worth of lottery tickets. The Lottery Basket Fundraiser is held every fall with only 1,000 tickets being sold. Tickets are $10 each and proceeds support our scholarship program at the local high school. Each year the Club awards a total of $6,000 to several seniors pursuing a college degree. During the festival, 200 tickets were sold by 12 Rotarians working shifts. The most tickets were sold by one member’s big, fluffy dog who came to help. The dog drew lots of kids to pet him and a captive audience of parents who happily bought tickets.
Paul, Peter, Otto on duty.
District Governor Karin Gaffney, accompanied by Assistant Governor Tony Gasbarro and his wife Michelle Gasbarro, paid their official visit to Sturbridge Rotary. DG Karin outlined her three initiatives for the year: Clubs should do more (1) service which in turn will raise (2) awareness. By doing the first two initiatives, (3) membership will follow due to everyone learning and seeing what Rotary does and is all about. Her presentation was very inspiring and motivating!
While attending the meeting, Sturbridge Rotary asked DG Karin to sign the Club’s application to start a Rotary Community Corps (RCC) of Sturbridge and Southbridge (representing Sturbridge Rotary and Southbridge Rotary). This Corps will be an almost independent Club of local volunteers, mostly non-Rotarians, but still under the supervision of the Sturbridge and Southbridge Clubs. The Corps’ primary project will be called the “Community Food Collaborative” (CFC). However, the Corps may also undertake other projects they choose to do. President Dave and DG Karin are each shown signing the application. Shown holding a picture of the CFC logo is PDG Klaus Hachfeld who initiated the application. A “history making” event for Sturbridge Rotary which now joins only two other clubs in District 7910 as having a Rotary Community Corps.
When all ‘business’ was taken care of, President Dave presented both DG Karin and AG Tony with gifts from the Club.
Sturbridge Rotary is pleased to announce that Basil “Bill” Michaeles has been inducted into the Club membership. Bill resides in Sturbridge and is the retired president of California Fruit Company. Bill is well known in the greater community and brings years of management experience to the organization which will be put to good use in the Club’s activities. Welcome Bill!
President Dave, Bill M., Bill L., PDG Klaus.
Dr. Philip Sandler, the District Polio Chair, reviewed the history of polio and the PolioPlus Program. Rotary launched its PolioPlus program in 1985. It was the first initiative to tackle global polio eradication. Rotary’s advocacy efforts played a role in decisions made by donor governments and in 1988, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative was formed. This organization is a public-private partnership including Rotary, the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and governments of the world. Rotary’s focus is advocacy, fundraising, volunteer recruitment and awareness-building. After all these years, three countries remain with cases of polio. It has been an on-going battle, much of which relates to social and political beliefs. While the battle is being won, the Global Initiative will continue to monitor outbreaks and work tirelessly to eliminate them.
Dr. Sandler being presented a Sturbridge Rotary mug by President Dave.
The Dinner Dance was an overwhelming success. A fall decorating theme made the dining room at Cohasse Country Club sparkle. Hors d’oeuvres were plentiful and the meal with three choices on the buffet was excellent. Dancing was lively with lots of guests mingling and truly having fun. Raffle baskets and a 50/50 raffle were offered. The highlight of the evening was the check presentation to the Rev. Kenneth Cardinale, the new pastor at the Saint John Paul II Parish who oversees the Saint John Paul II Food Pantry. Rev. Cardinale spoke about the ever increasing need for food at the Pantry. The numbers of families fed each month from Southbridge and Sturbridge have grown dramatically and our check for $3,000 will certainly help to stock the Pantry shelves. This year was the 4th Annual Dinner Dance with proceeds to benefit the Panty. We are proud to say that to date, we have contributed over $12,000 toward this worthy cause.
Robert (Bob) Anthony, President of the Rotary Club of Wellesley, discussed a new RI initiative in addressing mental health and wellness and measuring significant improvement in knowledge, help seeking and attitude. This initiative is currently underway in the USA, Puerto Rico and India. Statistics so far reveal significant improvement in students who have been through this program and as a result, the program is spreading rapidly. Bob is looking for help from other Clubs in bringing the initiative into our local communities and to help its international success.
Bob (Left) with President Dave