Summer is well underway, and temperatures - and humidity levels - are rising.  The heat and humidity did not stop the La Crescent Rotary Club from beginning the new Rotary year with a terrific celebration.  Our club members gathered at the Lions Club Pavilion at Old Hickory Park on Thursday, June 30, to enjoy an old-fashioned pot-luck supper.  Main dishes included a marvelous lasagna provided by outgoing President Joel Putnam, and pulled pork provided by incoming President John Farnen.  However, in true Rotary fashion, everyone pitched in and brought a "dish to pass," and the table was bountifully decked out with many side dishes and desserts.  "I cannot tell a lie" - I sampled too many of the desserts, and went back for seconds.  Yes, I had a favorite dessert, but unless you saw me sneaking back for more, you will have to guess which one I liked the best.  If anyone went away from this event hungry, they have only themselves to blame.  
Outgoing President Putnam sounded the bell for one last time, opening the meeting officially.  Thankfully, Leo Chaput knew that incoming President Farnen might be in need of some help, so he came prepared with the suitcase containing all that we need to conduct an official meeting - including the agenda of the meeting in outline, and to everyone's delight(?), laminated cards with the words to the traditional Rotary songs.  Our club sang the favorite song of Rotarian Frank van Lin, who drove his sporty apple-red Chevrolet Aveo to the event.   Frank, at age 101, added gusto to the singing of his favorite song, "A Helping Hand," which was sung to the tune of the Happy Wanderer.  Not do be outdone, Rotarian Leo Chaput chose his favorite song, "Home On the Range," and added special sound effects of his own.  The tradition of singing at Rotary meetings remains strong in our club, despite the lapse of a few years since we last dusted off the song sheets.  I am hoping to keep this tradition going during the coming year.  Our club did conduct some business at the Changeover Event, and a slate of officers for the coming year was presented.  The incoming officers were duly elected after a call for any last minute nominations.  Entertainment at the Changeover Event included corn hole toss game, and a story telling contest was conducted, which was fun for all.  
Our officers for the coming year include President John Farnen, Past President Joel Putnam, President Elect Time Britain, Secretary Teri Booth, Treasurer Bob Spencer, Youth Protection Officer Peter Congdon, and Board members Wayne Oliver, Monica Holman (both serving a second year of their two-year term), and Board members Mary Bubbers and Steve Holman (both beginning the first year of their two-year terms).
The speaker program for July has gotten off to a great start.  Wayne Bottner, MD, Director of Blood Banking Services at Gundersen Lutheran Health Center in La Crosse, himself a survivor of childhood polio, spoke about his experience with polio as a child, and some of the obstacles that he had to overcome to pursue a career in medicine that has been nothing less than stellar.  Dr. Bottner discussed "Ableism" and the subtle, and sometimes overt, prejudices that result from this common view of disabilities. A short video clip featuring a "Ted Talk" by Stella Young was part of Dr. Bottner's presentation.  I found myself reconsidering how I interact with all persons that I come in contact with.  Dr. Bottner pointed out that 50% of all persons over age 65 will have some sort of disability.  Disabling conditions can lead to prejudice and discrimination.  We can help to counteract this by making sure that our  club meetings are accessible to all.  There are also opportunities to reach out to persons with disabling conditions as new club members.  We must make certain that disabled persons can participate in our club activitiess as well.
The La Crosse Area Rotary Club Presidents held their monthly meeting via Zoom at 12 noon on July 8.  ADG Jessica Himmer and ADG Wayne Oliver both attended this meeting.  ADG Oliver spoke about the upcoming Avenues of Service event which will be held on August 16 at the La Crosse County Club.  The cost of attending this event will be $40 per person.  Our La Crescent club needs a volunteer to attend the planning meetings for the Avenues of Service dinner.  The next planning meeting will be held at the Gundersen Hotel and Suites First Floor Conference Room at 7:30 AM on July 26.  Presidents Jonathan McKenzie (La Crosse - East), Rolan Covert (Vally View), Ashley Santolin (La Crosse After Hours), Rob Palmberg (La Crosse Downtown), Chris McArdle-Rojo (Onalaska Hilltoppers), and Randy Mell (Caledonia) were all present for this Zoom meeting, and they presented the following information and ideas:  
  • Ashley Santolin reported that the La Crosse After Hours Club will be planning an excursion to the Loggers baseball game on July 14; they are sponsoring a Youth Exchange student from Japan; and they will have an Alpaca Family Farm excursion on September 17.
  • Jonathan McKenzie's Rotary East Club is planning some changes to its meeting schedule, which will include a monthly offsite activity.  Rotary East is searching for a new location for their meetings; they are currently meeting at Schmidty's, but may be moving to Piggy's Restaurant soon.
  • Chris McArdle-Rojo is planning an iFeed event on Saturday, November 5th.  There will be a number of groups who will be participating, and the meals that are packed will support refugees from the war in Ukraine.  The fee for packing teams has increased to $700 this year.
  • Rolan Covert is working to organize the Avenues of Service Event.  His club is also sponsoring Moon Tunes again this year, and this has been successful. Rolan reported that 500 pounds of recyclable material were collected after the last event.  
  • Randy Mell reported that Rotarian Ann Thompson was designated an Honorary Member.  The Caledonia Rotary is meeting at Elsie's on Main Street on the first and second Fridays of each month.  Caledonia holds a social event on the last Friday of each month.  The Caledonia Club has created a video which will be used to showcase their club on the local cable network. Caledonia Rotarians have been working to eliminate invasive species from Sprague Woods, and have obtained a grant to hire a local contractor to remove invasive plants from the lands adjacent to SpragueWoods.  Caledonia continues its involvement with the Cameroon project, and is interested in cooperating with the La Crescent Club on other possible international projects. 
  • John Farnen reported upcoming plans to volunteer at Country Boom. The Apple Blossom Bike Tour will take place on September 17, and is being sponsored in part by the La Crescent Rotary Club
“If you have the love of your fellow men in your hearts, my friends, you are a potential Rotarian.”
Paul Harris