In waiting for spring, the Chief Gardener, affectionately known as “Carrot Top”, planted some cold crops. Not long after she did that, we get 90 degree days! As soon as Mother Nature settles down, hopefully around June 1st, we can call on our volunteers to plant the other 21 raised planting beds in the Community Food Collaborative garden.
Kevin Filchak spoke with us for the second time bringing us up to date on what the Town of Sturbridge is currently working on. Kevin serves as the Town’s Economic Development & Tourism Coordinator. In his role, Kevin hosts a number of meetings to get in touch with businesses and the citizens to learn what they’d like to see happen in Sturbridge. Committees are formed on different topics that work to improve the town. A Sturbridge Business Breakfast, Business Classes, Business Advocacy Group, Develop the Route 15 Corridor committee are just a few activities taking place. It was learned from the Special Events committee that we need new and more events. This committee recently implemented a Farmers Market starting June 24 to September 30 on the Common and the Rick Hoyt Half Marathon is scheduled for September 9th. Adult use marijuana and makerspace are still being discussed. Kevin does a great job in keeping everyone informed on what’s happening. He creates a monthly Business Newsletter and a monthly Event Newsletter. Both of these can be found on the town website at www.town.sturbridge.ma.us/businesses/news/may-business-newsletter and www.town.sturbridge.ma.us/visitors/news/may-event-newsletter. If you’d like to get involved in your favorite topic, please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
There’s a lot involved prior to buying your ‘dream home’. Robert Andrade, a Certified Home Inspector with Pillar To Post Professional Home Inspections, shared a great deal of valuable information with us, much of which we didn’t know. For those who have owned their home a long time, many new safeguards have been put in place to help the potential home buyer (or seller) know what he’s buying (or selling) and not get surprises once it’s too late. Massachusetts has many more inspection requirements than our neighboring states. Electrical, water damage, termites, ants, building rot, unstable foundations, radon, furnace, damaged or worn out roof, – just to name a few issues covered by Robert’s credentials. More sophisticated equipment is used now during inspections such as infrared cameras and drones. While it may cost you to have an inspection, it’s money well spent.
This excerpt is a weekly email blast from The Citizen Chronicle listing the 5 top stories of the week and a “Did You Know” fact. Below is the “fact” in the blast of April 22, 2018.
This report is not totally accurate, but close. The cities of Stourbridge and Sturbridge are not sister cities, however, the two Rotary Clubs in these cities are Sister Clubs. We have been twinned with the Stourbridge Rotary Club since 1988 and the clubs have visited each other nine times over the years and continue to exchange their Club Bulletins each month. It’s their turn to visit us and we are hoping it will be this year!
Tantasqua students helped out again this morning. This time, the girls lacrosse team, several members of the boys lacrosse team, coaches, several parents and CFC members worked to fill 24 garden bed frames with fresh loam. They worked hard, laughed, joked around, ate snacks and still managed to finish this giant task in only 90 minutes. Incredible! Tons of thanks go out to these students for helping to give the new Community Food Collaborative garden a kickstart. Besides the Tantasqua carpentry students building all the frames and the lacrosse students filling them up, the CFC is so lucky and appreciative to have their support.
Thank you to the Tantasqua Carpentry Students for building our garden planters. They look amazing. The students worked through the cold, rain and snow to have the planters built and installed before the kickoff party. They went the extra mile in setting them up level and spaced out exactly as planned. This is a great group and they deserve all the credit in the world.
A Volunteer Kickoff Reception was held at the Sturbridge Federated Church. About 40 people attended and watched a PowerPoint presentation running in the background. After talking with the attendees about our plans for the garden, Len spoke about the JP II Food Pantry and the need for fresh vegetables. All were then invited to walk over to the garden where they could see the garden site.
Dr. Gani Abazi visited the Club and gave us a broad overview of his life, his education and his growth into a key figure in the Kosovo recovery. In 2012 the Rotary Foundation awarded the Sturbridge Club a $35,000 grant to equip the Plastic Surgery Department of the University Clinical Center of Kosovo (UCCK) with surgical instruments to perform delicate reconstructive hand surgery. UCCK is a teaching hospital in Prishtina, the capital city of Kosovo, which serves the entire country of 2 million people. It is generally recognized that Kosovo is the poorest country in Europe, so there is much need for support by other countries.
Gani, a previous recipient of the Rotary Foundation’s Ambassadorial Scholarship and native of Kosovo, planned with the Prishtina-Dardania and Sturbridge Rotary Clubs, a project that would deliver both manual and powered surgical tools to UCCK. The project expanded to eventually include seven Rotary clubs in four countries.
Gani stressed Klaus’ key contributions to his growth and how influential Klaus’ efforts were not only with the Kosovo Project but also in his career. The Sturbridge Club is now in phase II of the Kosovo Project which is estimated to take two years to complete. Gani and Klaus continue to be driving forces in this project.
District Governor Karin Gaffney, Assistant Governor Tony Gasbarro, and incoming Assistant Governor Lynn Duffy-O’Shea attended our meeting to honor Lorraine Herbert with recognition as a Rotary Service Hero 2018. Lorraine has been a member of Rotary since 1992 and is a Paul Harris Fellow multiple times supporting the Rotary Foundation, and has been the Club’s treasurer for 15 years. She willfully volunteers to work on projects, serves on committees that set Club direction and is an inspiration for her “can do” attitude. DG Karin presented Lorraine with a tee shirt sporting the Service Hero insignia. In keeping with this year’s Rotary motto of “Making a Difference” and next year’s motto of “Be the Inspiration”, DG Gaffney has been recognizing those individuals in the District who have exemplified the true meaning of both mottos. Congratulations Lorraine!
MA State Senator Anne Gobi attended the meeting to give a broad overview of the tasks on which she is currently working. She also discussed the issues being worked on by State and local governments such as education, health, transportation as well as farming. She encouraged us to keep current on all issues and to contact her with our thoughts and suggestions. Feedback from her constituents is very important in helping her cast her votes.
Andrew Houle from Tantasqua spoke with us briefly about his experience while attending RYLA last year. The Club had sponsored Andrew’s attendance at the three-day leadership event. This year Andrew is returning to RYLA in June. After being selected by the District RYLA Committee, Andrew will be volunteering as a Group Facilitator.
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.