AT&T Donates $10,000 to Devon Rotary Club’s Trust

Left to Right: CT State Representative James Maroney, Kelly Wade Bettuchi of AT&T, Dr. Jason Jenkins, Rotary President, and CT Senator Gayle Slossberg – Photo by Greyson Schwing

The Devon Rotary Club‘s Trust received a generous donation of $10,000 from Kelly Wade Bettuchi of AT&T last week.

The Devon Rotary Trust  is a 501 (c) (3) recognized charitable foundation trust of the Devon Rotary Club that makes community grants and scholarships annually.

The club just passed the $1 million mark in gifts to the community (read more here) as they generously support; Literacy Center of Milford, Beth El Shelter, Boys and Girls Club and Bridges Mentoring program to name just a few. They also award about $20,000 per year in scholarships to Milford students from their club foundation.

District Governor Rick’s – Mid Year District 7980 Report

Rotary District 7980 2013-14 Theme

Rotary District 7980 2013-14 Theme

Here we are at the 1/2 point in the Rotary year; six months behind us and six months to go. Time certainly does fly while we’re having fun and I have been having a blast in this role.

I’d like to take this time to bring all D7980 Rotarians up to speed on where things are within our district.

East Hampton Rotary adding new members

East Hampton Rotary adding new members

Membership: It’s no secret that maintaining (and growing) Club membership is a top priority this year for the majority of our Rotary Clubs. Our district has suffered a 10-year decline in membership that has seen us drop approximately 530 Net Rotarians during the past 10 years. The district hasn’t a single ‘positive’ membership growth year in the past 10 years but this year all of our district leaders and club presidents have dedicated themselves to turning this ship around.

As of the 1/2 way point in the year I am happy to report that we are up by 21 Net Members since July 1st. We have added 120 Rotarians while losing 99 Rotarians. This membership news is very encouraging as what it really means is that our clubs are starting to grow again. Finishing the year in positive territory would be an incredible accomplishment.

Public Relations / Public Image: Many of our Rotary Clubs are very good at getting the word out about what they do while others struggle to do so. Clubs use various methods for their public facing messaging including:

  • Websites – about 48 (80%) of our 61 Clubs maintain a websiteTrumbull Rotary Website
  • Social Media – about 52 (85%) of our 61 Clubs use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Blogs for messaging in some fashion.
  •  Brochures – over 30 (50%) of our 61 Clubs have a brochure which they handout to prospective members that describes what they do and what they are all about.
  • Press – about 35 (57%) of our 61 Clubs manage to get press coverage in the local papers on a regular basis.
  • Signage – many of our Clubs leverage roadsigns (Rotary meets here), signs on dedicated projects, and signs at meeting locations to advertise their presence in the community.

The challenge of maintaining an effective public facing Club presence is compounded by the multiple media outlets that our contacts frequent, which forces us to ‘be everywhere’. Helping Clubs to create greater public awareness for themselves is a primary goal for this year and our team will continue to work with Clubs to achieve the greatest community visibility possible.

Did you know what many of our Rotary Clubs do within their communities?

  • Norwich Rotary distributing Dictionaries

    Norwich Rotary distributing Dictionaries

    Dictionary Projects – 75% of our Clubs (that’s about 45 of them) distribute an average of 360 dictionaries to Connecticut 3rd Graders for a total just north of 16,000 books.

  • Food Drives – 70% of the Clubs in our District (42 of them) participate in or run Food Drives to help out people in need within their communities. About 1/2 of the Clubs are involved with the Liberty Bank Food Drive while the other 1/2 run Club based drives. All told, our Rotary Clubs raise well over $250,000 in money and food products for people in need right here in Connecticut.

    Coats for Kids

    Orange Rotary Coats for Kids

  • Keeping Our Neighbors Warm – well over a dozen of our Clubs either run programs where they give away thousands of winter coats to kids at schools and/or they arrange for ways for family members in need to obtain new clothing. Some of our Clubs focus heavily on providing  fuel assistance to those in need by either providing financial assistance or by having fuel deliveries arranged.
  • East Haven Rotary Thanksgiving

    East Haven Rotary serving Thanksgiving meals

    Serving Meals  – many of our Clubs take a ‘hands-on’ approach by actively participating at community soup kitchens, serving Thanksgiving dinners, serving Senior luncheons/dinners, running recognition luncheons for Veterans, making food baskets for families in need and delivering meals to ‘shut-ins’.

  • Amber Alert Registrations – 21 of our D7980 Rotary Clubs are actively engaged in taking photos of children and entering their information into an encrypted nationwide database for the Amber Alert Safe Child ID program.
  • Milford Rotary awarding scholarships

    Milford Rotary awarding scholarships

    Scholarships – Our Rotary Clubs are especially good at giving back and helping young people in variety of ways and the vast majority of our Clubs provide some sort of scholarship program. Scholarships programs vary based on the Club and awards can range from several hundred dollars to well over thirty thousand dollars.

  • Youth Engagement – The vast majority of our progressive Rotary Club leaders recognize the importance of engaging and connecting young people to Rotary and they work hard to do so by sponsoring and supporting student participation in district-wide youth services programs like Rotaract, Interact, RYLA, Advanced RYLA and Youth Exchange. Programs for young people allow Rotarians the opportunity to ‘pay it forward’ in ways that have tremendous positive impact on future generations.

    Middletown Rotary One Book

    Middletown Rotary One Book

  • Literacy – Some of our Rotary Clubs are focused heavily on improving literacy by creating Rotary Library Corners, running book drives and book sales, by leading town-wide ‘One Book’ programs and forging strong partnerships with school systems, Colleges and Universities within their communities.

Of course the above says nothing about the fabulous and the many unique community projects like Habitat for Heroes, playgrounds, pavilions, smoke detectors for seniors and the many more which our Rotary Clubs do.

Did you know what many of our Rotary Clubs do around the world?Rotary Globe

  • The Rotary Foundation – Our Rotarian’s continue to generously support the Rotary Foundation as 47 of our 61 Rotary Clubs have contributed over $130,000 to the Rotary Foundation since July 1st. Contributions have been made to the Annual Fund, the Permanent Fund, the Endowment Fund and Polio Plus.

    Moore Oklahoma tornado

    Moore Oklahoma tornado

  • Oklahoma Tornado Humanitarian Relief – About 20 of our Rotary Clubs have raised just over $12k to provide assistance to those who were affected by a series of deadly tornadoes that hit Moore OK and Oklahoma City in May of this year.
  • ShelterBox volunteers packing aid for the Philippines

    ShelterBox  aid

    Philippines Typhoon Relief Effort – 20 Rotary Clubs and 22 Individuals have contributed over $27k to provide assistance in the form of Shelter Boxes for those who have been affected by Typhoon Haiyan. These contributions will allow us to send 27 Shelter Boxes to those in need; 16 have been sent already with the balance going out within the next few weeks.

  • Classroom in Utange School

    Classroom in Mombassa School

    Mombassa Kenya Project – 18 of our Rotary Clubs have expressed preliminary interest in participating in this Global Grant project for school a complex in Mombassa Kenya of 8 buildings that  needs just about everything: Electric power to all buildings, a well pump and new water storage tank, new functioning toilets for students and staff, new roofs, desks, a library, a computer lab, cooking facilities, etc.

Still other Clubs do many unique International projects such as clean water projects, well projects, first aid in India, dengue fever project, Gift of Life, building schools in Zimbabwe, dental clinics, Haitian Health foundation, playground projects and the South Asia Water initiative to name just a few.

I know that this was a long post but thankfully you didn’t have to sit through a speech covering all of this.

There is much to do still in the remaining six months of this Rotary year and I look forward to working with each of you in achieving your goals.

Thank You,

Rick Bassett

Chester Rotary Club hosts their Annual Recognition Dinner

The Chester Rotary Club held their annual recognition dinner at the Camp Hazen this past Tuesday night where they recognized dozens of community leaders and provided substantial financial support to over a dozen organizations in their community.

The Chester Rotary Club has 22 members who are all actively engaged. The Club does an amazing amount of ambitious events for a Rotary Club their size including; The 4th of July Annual Road Race, Longest Running Lobsterfest in the District and Womanless Beauty Contest. Earlier readers of Chester blog postings may recall that Chester Rotary is the home of PFC = Performance, Fun and Cohesion. Their Rotarians work hard, raise a considerable amount of money and then do an amazing amount of good in their community and the world, all while having fun. They do so as a cohesive group that enjoys each others’ company.

The dinner event was attended by about 100 people who had the pleasure of watching each of the Club members recognize the following groups:

  • Motley Scholarships
  • Shoreline Soup Kitchen
  • Chester Parks and Rec
  • Tri-Town Youth Services
  • Bikes for Kids
  • Chester Backpack Program
  • Early Chilhood Council
  • Camp Hazen
  • Chester Parks & Rec
  • Chester Hose Company
  • Barzilian American Youth Cultural Exchange
  • Boy Scout Troop 13
  • Chester Food Pantry
  • Community Fund

The Club also presented 2 Paul Harris awards; including one to Rotarian Susan Wright and Paul Indorf was recognized by the District for joining the Paul Harris Society and his generous support of The Rotary Foundation. President Ron Woodward gave a moving story which included typical amazing things that Susan Wright does on a daily basis and cleverly ended each anecdote with ‘the she always does the right thing, the Susan Wright thing’.

Ledyard Rotary Club hosts successful Prospective Member ‘Meet and Greet’

Ledyard Club Meet & Greet shot by Mark Patnode

Ledyard Club Meet & Greet shot by Mark Patnode

So what happens when you put 20-25 Rotarians, plus their spouses and partners with 15 prospective Rotarians in an eclectic shop in Gales Ferry with some interesting conversation, good wine and delicious food? Well if you are the Ledyard Rotary Club then you are looking at 7 solid leads for new members.

The Ledyard Rotary Club hosted a ‘Meet & Greet’ event last night that was designed to attract new members into their Rotary Club as well as to create awareness for all of the important things that they do in their community.

The event, which was held at the Seasonal Home of Gales Ferry was very well attended by Rotarians, spouses, partners and about 15 prospective members and when the night was over 7 of the invitees expressed strong interest in becoming Rotarians.

As you can imagine President Carol Christiansen and the other members of the Ledyard Connecticut Rotary Club are extremely pleased with how well the night went and are looking forward to having the new class of 2013 begin attending their weekly breakfast meetings as guests.

The 7 interested prospective members aren’t just warm bodies; they are past Rotarians, Friends of Ledyard Rotarians or Business Associates of Ledyard Rotarians that were invited.

I am honored to have been invited to this evening and am looking forward to doing an induction or two in the near future.

The Ledyard Rotary Club meets on Thursday mornings at Groton Inn & Suites – 99 Goldstar Highway (Route 184) – Groton, CT. Always a great way to start a Thursday.

Council of Presidents held in Stratford Connecticut on 10/3/2013

We held the Annual Council of Presidents (CoP) at the Oronoque Country Club in Stratford CT this past Thursday in front of  a crowd of about 65 people. The Council of Presidents program is designed for Rotary Club Presidents to interact with District Leaders and other Club Presidents on issues which may affect their clubs and to get exposed to creative ideas that are being deployed in other Rotary Clubs.

The CoP event, which has historically been run as an all day Saturday event, was held for 3 hours on a weeknight last week. Our continuing shift away Saturday events was well received by sitting President’s and Assistant Governors.

We covered the following topics:

  • Revamping the Club Awards
  • Upcoming Club Foundation Program (‘All Boots on the Ground‘)
  • Leadership Succession Readiness & Preparing for PETS by DGE Mukund Nori
  • Membership Retention by Brad Howard
  • Public Image – Is the Public Facing image that your club is putting out matching the desire to attract younger members?
  • Fundraising – creative and successful events being held by Clubs around our District

We were incredibly fortunate to have Brad Howard come in from California to address our crowd on the importance of Membership Retention through Engagement. It was also a special treat to have Rev. Mark Kiyimba, Unitarian Universalist minister from Kampala, Uganda join us as a visiting Rotarian.

With 3 months under our Leadership belts we will still have a lot to do in our Clubs and the District over the next 9 months so that we can hand them off to our successors in better condition than when we arrived.

Photos: Thank you to Laima Nori for contributing many of the photos above.