Why is Rotary So Pushy?

If you’re like me, you sometimes get tired of reading about or hearing about the Rotary International Convention and the District 6380 conference. In the February 2016 Rotarian, for example, there’s a full-page ad for this year’s convention and a short article on souvenir shopping in Seoul. Sometimes, I think, “Why don’t they just give it a rest?”
The organizers of these events aren’t trying to annoy you. The reason that these events are so heavily promoted is because the organizers want to share their experience of Rotary with you and other Rotarians. Rotary is very meaningful to them, and they want us to feel that way, too. They put a lot of effort into these events so that the attendees will be inspired to do great things.
As anyone who has attended a Rotary International convention will attest, it is indeed an inspiring experience. I attended the Los Angeles RI Convention in 2008 and enjoyed it immensely. I met many great Rotarians from all over the world, learned about incredible service and fellowship opportunities, and came home truly “Rotarized.”
All this publicity doesn’t mean that you should feel obligated to attend an RI convention or district conference, though. We all must choose how involved with Rotary that we want to be. You do what you can and let the rest go. It all depends on how “Rotarized” you want to be.
Having said that, I’m sorry to say, I haven’t yet been to a District 6380 conference. For one reason or another, I haven’t carved out the time in my schedule or the funds from my budget to attend one. I am, however, thinking about attending this year’s district conference, which is being held on May 13 – 15, 2016 at the John D. Bradley Conference Center in Chatham, Ontario. Go to http://www.rotary6380conference.info/ for more info.
The next RI Convention to be held in the U.S. will be the 2017 convention in Atlanta, GA. I am already planning to attend this convention. My sister, Brenda, now lives in Atlanta and has joined a Rotary club down there. I’ll not only enjoy the convention, but also get to enjoy it with my sister.

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Sundaes in the Park, the celebratory event officially declaring a dedicated space for the new Universal Access Playground in Gallup Park, was a large success.  The outdoor dedication of a large outdoor sign to announce the location and artist conception of the playground was revealed Sunday August 9th  to a supportive and welcoming audience.

A2SO GroupIMG_6155

Over 125 attended the special event, including Mayor Christopher Taylor and a host of City of Ann Arbor council members, Washtenaw county officials and Center for Independent Living staff and clients.  The event featured live performance from the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra Brass Quintet and remarks from speakers representing the Rotary Club of Ann Arbor, the lead community partner on the project, in partnership with the City of Ann Arbor Parks and Recreation Services. The Rotary Club of Ann Arbor celebrates its 100-year anniversary in 2016 and has chosen to commemorate the milestone with a Centennial Playground Project at Gallup Park.

Kerry Lugauer Taylor SarkarGroup (1)

Attendees at the celebration included Rotary Club of Ann Arbor Rotarians and their family members, along with our club supported Rotoractors and Interactors units. Club President Ashish Sarkar welcomed the public and city administration officials.   Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor, who made remarks on behalf of the city’s involvement in collaborating with Rotary Club of Ann Arbor, praised the project’s objectives for creating an environment for inclusiveness, which fosters social interaction, and learning for all in a playful environment.  The large dedication sign now posted in the park was unveiled to the public with the help of Mayor Taylor and RCAA President Ashish Sarkar and Centennial Committee Chairperson Bernie Luguaer. The project is expected to break ground in 2016 and has a fundraising goal approaching one million dollars. Individual and corporate donations to support the project are being received via a secure online donation form at http://www.annarborrotary.org/news-events/rotary-centennial-playground.

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Having fun should be part of your Rotary experience

At the recent District 6380 Membership Summit, one of the recurring themes was that clubs that had fun were the clubs that were most likely to be successful and thriving. One of the keynote speakers talked about how he was able to revive a club by putting a new emphasis on having fun. Not only did he rev up the club’s service projects, he also scheduled happy hours and other social events. The result was more members and a club that was no longer heading towards oblivion.

Fortunately, that’s not a problem with our club. We have a lot of fun at our meetings, and we have many good opportunities to socialize with other Rotary Club members. We have our own happy hours, and the Social Committee (maybe we should change the name of this committee to the Fun Committee) regularly schedules events. And, lest we forget, we have a bowling team that’s all about having fun on the lanes.

My point in bringing this up is to emphasize that having fun should be part of your Rotary experience. Take advantage of the opportunities that our club has to offer. Doing something fun actually enhances the service aspects our club, by “building goodwill and better friendships.” Better friendships, in turn, help us work together on service projects. So, in a way, having fun helps us serve the community better. It’s almost a requirement that Rotarians have fun!

One such opportunity for fun/service is coming up on Sunday, August 9, from 3 pm to 5 pm, in the northeast area of the park—where the Centennial Playground is going to be. That’s when Sundae in the Park take place. Brass band music, kids’ games and delicious ice cream are all part of the day. We will also unveil the sign that announces the coming playground. This is more than just a Rotary event—please invite friends and family to join us.

I hope to see you there.

 ice cream

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What Can Rotary Do for World Peace?

Rotarians think big. Who else could have conceived of eradicating polio and then the commitment to actually do it? Who could imagine 35 years ago that we’d be so close to doing it today?

The question then is what should Rotary tackle next? Why world peace, of course! What other project seems so unattainable, and what other group could muster the resources and the commitment to achieve it?

Rotary has had a long history promoting world peace:

  • At the 1921 RI convention in Edinburgh, Scotland, Rotarians unanimously agreed to incorporate peacemaking into Rotary’s constitution and by-laws with these words,

“The advancement of international understanding, goodwill, and peace through a world of fellowship of business and professional persons united in the ideal of service.”

  • In 1940, Rotarians again made a significant contribution to peacemaking at their convention in Havana, Cuba by adopting a resolution calling for “freedom, justice, truth, sanctity of the pledged word, and respect for human rights.” This resolution became the framework for the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
  • In April 1945, Rotary was involved in the finalizing of the United Nations charter in San Francisco. Rotary provided 11 official observers to the US delegation alone – only one other organization had more than three.
  • In 1996, a committee was formed to develop the concept of an educational center, institute, or university dedicated to Paul Harris as a way of commemorating the 50th anniversary of his death in 1947.
  • In 1999, the RI Trustees approved the plan to partner with universities to establish the Rotary Centers for International Studies in Peace and Conflict Resolution. The Rotary Peace Centers committee considered more than 100 universities and selected seven based on criteria such as geographic diversity, superior faculty and an established two year master’s degree program with a core curriculum in international relations, peace, and conflict resolution.
  • In the U.S., two neighboring universities—Duke and the University of North Carolina have established the Duke-UNC Rotary Peace Center (rotarypeacecenternc.org). This is the only Rotary Peace Center in North America.

These efforts continue today under the banner of the Rotary Action Group for Peace. It was formed in 2012 to allow Rotarians interested in provide a network for Rotarians interested in world peace issues and to provide resources for the peace and conflict resolution work of Rotarians around the globe. One of the activities of the Rotary Action Group for Peace is the sponsorship of conferences and symposia. A peace symposium was held in conjunction with the RI Convention in Sao Paulo, Brazil this year. Next year, a Rotary World Peace Conference will be held in Southern California.

These are big undertakings, but our new president, Ashish Sarkar, also thinks big. He is proposing that we host a world peace conference here in Ann Arbor in 2017. It would be our contribution to the world peace effort.

We will, of course, need many hands to make this work. If you are interested in working on this project, please contact either Ashish or me. If there is enough interest in pursuing this, we can then arrange to meet and begin discussing the project in more detail.

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Don’t Miss Out: Join a Rotary Fellowship

Service may be our first priority in Rotary, but fellowship and fun is a close second. That being the case, if you’re not a member of one of Rotary’s international fellowships, you’re missing out.

Rotary Fellowships are groups of Rotarians who share a common interest in recreational activities, sports, hobbies, or professions. Fellowships must have an international scope, with active members in at least three countries, and membership is open to Rotarians, spouses of Rotarians, and Rotaractors. Most charge a modest membership fee.

There are fellowships for bikers (both motorized and human-powered), wine lovers, doctors, flyers, horseback riders, and even amateur radio operators (my favorite!) You’ll find a complete list on the RI website.

Fellowships are a great way to connect with Rotarians outside our club and outside our district. Most fellowships publish newsletters and sponsor activities in their area of interest. For example, the Rotarians on Amateur Radio (ROAR) publish a quarterly newsletter and hold a number of weekly “nets” that allow members to talk to one another on the air.

Also, every February, ROAR holds a special operating event to spread the word about our End Polio Now campaign. We use special callsigns and talk to other radio amateurs about the program and send them to the website for more information. Here in Ann Arbor, we hold this event at WA2HOM, the amateur radio station at the Hands-On Museum. Stations from Europe and Australia also participated in this event.
Another fellowship that I recently joined is Rotary Means Business. In effect, it’s a Rotarian LinkedIn. This group publishes a directory of members, in which members can advertise their products and services, and provides a way for Rotarians to make business connections with one another. Membership in Rotary Means Business is only $10/year.

If you haven’t yet joined a Rotary Fellowship, I would encourage you to do so. They can certainly help you make the most of your Rotary experience. To find out more, you can download the Rotary Fellowships flyer or send an e-mail to rotaryfellowships@rotary.org

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The Thrift Shop was awarded the Distinguished Service Award from the Rotary Club of Ann Arbor

Dear Thrift Shop Members,
The Thrift Shop was awarded the Distinguished Service Award from the Rotary Club of Ann Arbor today at their meeting.  It was a surprise that was carried out with the help of Anne Glendon and Nishta Bhatia.  This was the first time this award has been given to an organization and they thought so highly of the Thrift Shop and our mission that we were their first!  “The Distinguished Service Award presented to the women of the Ann Arbor Thrift Shop who have exemplified ‘Service Above Self’ for eight decades.  In providing emergency aid to those in need, they have improved the quality of life for all members of the community.”  I can’t tell you how proud I am of all of the women who serve and have served this organization.  It was a lovely tribute and they played our Thrift Shop YouTube video which brought the house down.  Congratulations for a job well done ladies!  I have attached a picture of the award.  If you know a Rotarian, please let them know how honored we are to have been the recipient of this wonderful award.

Debbie Bourque

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Ann Arbor Rotary Club Member Spotlight: JOYCE M. HUNTER







Several months ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Hunter over coffee to learn more about our fellow Rotarian and what experiences and talents she brings to our membership. Please enjoy excerpts of our conversation, on topics such as her experience in the Ann Arbor Public Schools, her opinion on the recent search for Superintendent, the LINKS program and especially, the African American Cultural and Historical Museum of Washtenaw County.


Quick Facts:

  • Retired in 2012 after 37 years as an educator and Assistant Superintendent the AAPS
  • Program Chair of the Achievement Gap Initiative for The Ann Arbor Links program.
  • President of the African American Cultural and Historical Museum of Washtenaw County
  • Currently serving Rotary in the STRIVE committee



(This interview took place in May, 2013)



What is The Links Program?


The LINKS is a civic and social organization; we have about 12,000 members as well as 47 chapters within the United States and outside the US.  Our program consists of International and National Trends.  One of our National Trends is the Achievement Gap.


Our National Officers  asked all chapters a year  ago to host at least one  community forum on the Achievement Gap; the achievement gap  between African Americans and Caucasians. I was selected to serve as the Program Chair for the Ann Arbor Chapter.  The purpose of the forums was to get the community engaged in a conversations about the Achievement Gap.  The Ann Arbor Club held three forums because we wanted to not just have one conversation but multiple conversations with the goal of developing a Community Plan.  The Links are partnering with Kettering Foundation which is a research organization on this issue.


 I was really interested in doing this from the community’s side. The schools definitely have their role, but I always thought there was something the community could be doing as well to support achievement.


Click here to read an article discussing programs put on by The Links



What are you focusing on now?


One component is centered around literacy.  We have identified a K-12 reading list, and we are going to develop a summer reading program. Our plan is to do this through the community centers. We have three community centers in a2, a couple in Ypsilanti, and we’re going to meet with them and tell them about what we’d like to see happen. We’ve identified how we’re going to track the book that the students have read because we want to get the data. The whole idea is to encourage reading during the summer. So the plan is to give each student a book of their choice at the end and whichever community center has the largest number of students participating the Links are going to give them a collection of books for their library.


What other projects are you working on with The Links?


We also have formed a partnership with Princeton Review, so we’re going to do testing strategy sessions in the fall and in the winter. We did a trial run during the second semester of last year, and now we’ve identified the dates when we’re going to be doing two sessions in the fall. It’s not going to be as extensive as someone paying $500, but there will be tests, with results and strategies.


What challenges are you facing?


I’m trying to form partnerships where it really can carry on [the work]. Sometimes you do things where you get a big grant, and when the grant is gone it’s gone. So we’re partnering with the AADL, the YDL, because they’re there, and the books are there, and the testing is already there. There will be a cost for us to buy a selection of books, to use the space for testing, but I want to be sure that there are things in place for it to carry on.


Click here to visit the Ann Arbor Chapter of the Links Program



Our Rotary Club was honored to hear you speak last year about the African American Cultural and Historical Museum of Washtenaw County and the Underground Railroad Tours. Tell us about your work there.


When we first started working on this, around 1993-94, we got our 501(C)3 and we became a museum. Even though we didn’t have a permanent site, we begin having programs and exhibits.   We called ourselves “A Museum Without Walls.” The whole idea was to really start to expand and get out beyond our immediate community and let more and more people know we were doing this work.

As we started this work, Rita and Peter Heydon of the Mosaic Foundation started to follow us. There was an article in the paper, and we got this letter in the mail from this man who we did not know. He said that they had seen the article and they thought it was great that we were doing this.

Click here to find out more about the Mosaic Foundation.

We finally met Mr. Heydon several years later.  In 2008, we received a call saying that he had found a building, a site for us, and he wanted to meet with us. He’d hired an architect. So we met at the architects’ office, Mitchell and Mouat, on 4th Ave.  And that’s when he told us. We didn’t have a clue that he’d been looking all these years.

So he got the house and hired the architects. I knew Dick Mitchell because he had done some work for the school system, and he’s a great guy. He and the Heydons are obviously wonderful!


Click here to see Mitchell & Mouat’s profile on Archiplanet.org


[At the meeting] they had drawings, they talked about what we needed to do, and they had this plan laid out. We had to go to city council to get the zoning and so that was like an 8 month to a year process. We had to go and go back, and [the project] was approved.



Tell us about the house?


Right now they’re working on the building on the outside.  They’re restoring the original windows. [The Polhemus House was moved from 411 E Washington St, where it was built in 1848, through downtown and over the Broadway bridge to a new home at 1528 Pontiac Trail.]

Click here to view photos and information about 1528 Pontiac Trail.

I always tell the story that we didn’t have a clue that Mr. and Mrs. Heydon were trying to find a site for us. So I was driving to church one Sunday (it’s on the same side of town as my church, Bethel AME) and I remember I couldn’t go my route because they had this big house they were moving, and I was so annoyed! I was just annoyed that it was interrupting my day.

When they called and I realized it was that house I couldn’t believe it! I don’t think I’ve ever told Mr. Heydon how annoyed I was!



What are your financial goals for the Museum?


[Mr. Heydon] paid for the house and the architect, but he wanted us to have monies in place for some of the items that need to happen, to take care of it. Our first goal was to reach a $100,000 which we’ve done recently.

Click here to see how you can support the AACHM

Our next goal is to start raising money for our archival collection. That’s going to be the next big piece of it. It’s just really exciting when you think about the fact of doing something on this scale. And we have no paid staff, all volunteers. I’ve  been trying to work on getting funding to maybe get a part time person to do some of the work and I’ve applied for a couple of grants. Grant writing is not easy! You do all that work and then when you don’t get it you feel disappointed.



Maybe this is an area where your Rotary connections could help?


Maybe there’s somebody that has a person they can loan, or share or, really give some help since we’re all volunteers.  It would really be great to have an Administrative Assistant  or Executive Director  so they could take some of the things they could take off our plate.  In addition, some assistance with identifying and writing grants.


We’ve never let not having a permanent site stop us from having a program. We’ve had lots of programs over the years, so many. More recently we started a series called Focus on the Arts. We wanted to highlight talent in the community but do it on more of a small scale.


Click here to read about past Focus on the Arts events and like the AACHM page on Facebook.



Switching gears to get your personal opinion of the search for AAAPS Superintendent?


I haven’t talked to anybody but what I’ve heard is that they really want to get somebody that knows the community and is connected to the community; I think that’s important. 

I just value the fact that I’ve know different people in the community from all walks of life because I started as a teacher, then a building administrator, then as assistant superintendent and I’ve served a number of  different advisory committees. I was on the Chamber board at one time as well as other boards. I just think that’s really important. When you have a job at one place and live in another place, to me there’s a disconnect. That’s just my opinion.

When I am out someplace and I see somebody I know, I can stop to have a conversation at the Farmer’s Market or different places, I just value that. Or students that I’ve had in the area that are now working and they see you;  like I was at St. Joe’s and I had someone call my name. It was a former student and she was talking about the value she had gotten from her time with me – those kinds of things are just invaluable.


Thank you Ms. Hunter for your work and influence in our Club!

We look forward to the Underground Railroad tour and learning more about the work that Ms. Hunter has set in motion over the past decade with the African American Cultural and Historical Museum.



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