Author: Lawrence Schofer

October 10, 2018 – Artwell

In an expansion of the club’s work with the Parkway Northwest High School for Peace and Social Justice, club is sponsoring a project presented by Artwell. Artwell “engages young people in reflection and creative expression to discover and honor their strengths and those of others.”

 

The Reverend Susan Teegen, executive director of Artwell, presented ideas regarding the importance of arts for the development of children’s capacities. “Arts” includes not just plastic arts, but also poetry, drumming, and other forms of creative endeavors. The results of many of these projects were shown on slides, including both pictures and poems.

 

She maintains that we are all born with “creative genius”, and students who experience art education are three times more likely to graduate from high school, to vote, and to participate positively in other areas of life.

 

Donations help provide supplies, workshops, and teaching artists to nearly 1000 students all over Philadelphia. Another project includes sending art supply kits home with children for summer activity. For more information on the various activities, visit www.theartwell.org.

 

The organization currently has 10 staff members and 25 teaching artists. Most of the work is done in grades K-12, but there is also a leadership council that includes people up to the age of 24. Funding is provided by local foundations and a few other donors.

September 26, 2018 – Mt. Airy USA

 

Mt. Airy USA is an organization devoted to upgrading and developing both small businesses and residences in Mt. Airy and adjacent areas. Aggie Edwards is a specialist in working with small business owners to develop an entrepreneurial approach to business.

 

The object is to find tools helping individuals to run their own businesses, with such programs as cooperation with the Community College of Philadelphia in its training sessions on “Power up Your Business”.

 

Aggie is a specialist in making contacts and giving advice to small business owners and prospective owners on how to proceed. She is especially interested in working with people who want to be their own boss. To that end, she gave a summary of her own career in working independently while maintaining contacts with larger organizations (e.g., Avon products).

September 19, 2018 – International Institute for Peace through Tourism

IIPT – International Institute for Peace through Tourism

presentation by president Louis D’Amore

Tourism generates directly and indirectly about 10% of jobs around the world. Louis D‘Am founded the organization in 1986 in order to promote the development of sustainable tourism.

 

The group is interested in promoting a “higher purpose“ of tourism.

Much of the work involves in establishing peace parks around the world; currently there are about 450, with the aim of having 2000 by the year 2020. In many cases local Rotary clubs are sponsors of these parks.

Club meeting, September 12, 2018 – Urban Resources Development Corporation

Joe Waldo presented the work of the Urban Resources Development  Corporation. This group was founded in 1995, and is now sponsored by 12 religious congregations devoted to community stabilization in Northwest Philadelphia.

 

Initially, the group was involved in housing rehabilitation. It purchased and renovated over 30 homes, with a focus on “the first abandoned house” in a block. Prevention of that first deterioration is a way of preventing the deterioration of the rest of the block. Home prices in Germantown have begun to rise, and now the organization spends only about 10% of its resources on this program.

 

The major focus of the organization is now assisting low income, elderly homeowners with home repair. The group identifies and manages contractors and helps provide low interest loans through Univest bank. Currently, about one house every 10 days gets this work done on the outside of the house, and there are now 52 families on a waiting list.

 

Rotary could get involved in this by sending individual volunteers, contributing to a specific project, or in many other inventive ways. The URDC receives no governmental funds; all financing is done through foundations and individual contributions.

August 29, 2018 – Education Law Center

Deborah Gordon Klehr, executive director of the Education Law Center, explained the work of her group that is dedicated to ensuring access to a quality public education in the state of Pennsylvania. There are 3 major strategies:

  • access to quality public education for all children in Pennsylvania
  • dismantling the school to prison pipeline (this means reducing punishment that is meted out to children who are too young or who are discriminated against in various senses)
  • fight for fair funding for all school districts in the state.

The center, which is funded by foundation grants and individual contributions, receives many comments and complaints about issues in the schools. The center looks for patterns that it considers inappropriate in the schools, and works to provide remedies. Although the group does go to court if necessary, the preference is to solve issues by discussion and by emphasizing policies that are mandated by existing laws.

 

Further information can be found on the website of the group at www.elc-pa.org

August 15, 2018 – Beds for Kids

Becky Sednak, executive director of One House at a Time, describe the work of her organization, and in particular its focus on “beds for kids”.

 

Initially working with furniture for the formerly homeless, this organization for the past 17 years has focused on providing children a bed of their own. Originally, the group provided a box spring, mattress, a sheet set, and a blanket. This led to a discussion of the bedbug problem, and steel frame beds have been now substituted for the box spring. In addition, the Temperapedic mattress company has agreed to supply high quality mattresses free, with the organization paying only for transportation.

 

More recently the group has added pillows, mattress encasement, stuffed animals to choose from, and educational materials. In conjunction with a professor from St. Joseph’s University, the group has found that children with their own bed sleep 30 minutes more per night.

 

Their healthy sleep habits initiative now includes toothbrushes, brushing instructions, and books as alternative to using electronic materials at home. The academic study has led the group to emphasize several sleep education messages: in bed before 9 PM; no caffeine (e.g., iced tea); and no electronics in the bedroom.

 

The need for such beds in the greater Philadelphia area is approximately 6000 beds per year. Currently, the group can supply 2000 to their clients, who are found through the social service agencies of the area.

August 1, 2018 – Business meeting

August 1, 2018 – business meeting

  1. Rebecca Anwar presented a slideshow on her medical trip to the interior of Guyana in 2018.
  2. A preliminary financial review of the lobster pot suggests net income of approximately $6000. Club members noted their appreciation for the work by Rebecca Anwar, the rest of the planning committee, and the many volunteers who worked on the project.

3. Larry Schofer again presented his proposal to change the amount of the reserve fund held by the club foundation. A final vote could not be taken because of lack of a quorum. The issue will be taken up again at the business meeting in September.

July 11, 2018 – business meeting

Business meeting, July 11, 2018

 

1. Officers for the coming year were elected

President – Les Rosenwinkel

President-elect – Larry Schofer

Vice president – Larry Daniels

Treasurer – Ed Naumes

Secretary – Marie Lachat

 

2. Chestnut Hill Rotary club foundation

board members ex-officio: President Les Rosenwinkel, President-elect Larry Schofer, past president Chris Spolsky

Two representatives to the Chestnut Hill Rotary foundation were elected for a two-year term

Frank Hollick

Megan McCrea

 

Continuing on for the second year of a two-year term

Tim Ziegler

Allison Corboy

 

3. Chris Spolsky and Elliot Schwartz reported their impressions of the Rotary International convention in Toronto.

 

4. Rebecca Anwar reported on the progress of the lobster pot. She encouraged all members to sell tickets and to sign up for some tasks on the day of the event, July 28.

 

5. Chris Spolsky reviewed the activities of the past year

a) a new website was created for the club – now active at Chestnut Hill Rotary.org

The site includes a calendar of future meetings and minutes from previous meetings.

b) we sponsored our first jazz fest. This required a significant effort by the organizing committee. We made a small amount for the foundation, and we acquired a lot of experience should we wish to repeat the program. We also saw that it is possible to raise a significant amount of money in sponsorships.

Sponsored our annual lobster pot.

c) we worked with the Parkway High School for Peace and Social Justice on several projects:

joined the school advisory council

set up the first part of a peace garden

provided judges for their annual senior project presentations

sponsored 4 students at RYLA (Rotary Young Leadership Assembly)

helped prepare the organization of an Interact club, which is supposed to start in the coming school year

d) Distributed dictionaries to all third-graders in three local elementary schools

e) provided volunteer readers at Jenks school on a weekly basis

f) established a relationship with PAR recycling (training for released convicts) – electronics recycling drive each month

g) Pergola in Chestnut Hill/Mount Airy – performed several maintenance sessions on the pergola garden

h) participated in the Rotary international campaign to plant one tree for every member – we exceeded our quota by planting more than 50 trees

i) Pathways program for homeless families – paid the fees for high school equivalent examinations; provided Christmas presents for several families

j) significantly improved our public relations effort for the club – we now see most of our meetings described in advance in the Chestnut Hill Local

k) changed the setup in the provision of breakfasts – we still provide breakfast, but by using volunteers we were able to reduce club dues by 20% for the coming year

l) provided continuing support on an individual basis for the family of Phil Tankel

 

International programs

a) Hope children’s home in Guyana – continued our support

b) continued support for Shelter Box

c) continued support for Light Up Gambia

d) continued support for the habitat program of the Yerba Linda Rotary club

e) sponsored a special fund drive among our members for the benefit of Rotaplast

f) gave support to the Paoli-Berwyn Rotary club for the establishment of a commercial goat dairy in Gambia

 

5. The club presented a small gift to Chris Spolsky in appreciation for her work this year as president (and for her activity in many committees).

June 20, 2018 – Pachamama Alliance

Yasmin Goodman, report on the Pachamama Alliance.

The hope of the Pachamama Alliance is to work with the local tribes to preserve their culture and the environment against the inroads of outside sources, in particular oil exploration companies. The mission of the alliance is “to empower indigenous people of the Amazon rainforest to preserve their lands and culture and, using insights gained from that work, to educate and inspire individuals everywhere to bring forth a thriving, just and sustainable world.”

 

The alliance strives to educate the indigenous people so that they may control the tools that they need to protect themselves and their lands and culture.

 

Yasmin also reported on a project entitled the “Jungle mama’s program”, an attempt to help the local women learn about safe birthing practices.

 

Yasmin testified that her trip to the Ecuadorian Andean highlands was indeed a life-changing experience for her.

June 13, 2018 – Philadelphia Interfaith Hospitality Network

Rachel Falcove, executive director of Philadelphia Interfaith Hospitality Network

This organization, serving homeless and formally homeless families in Northwest and Northeast Philadelphia, is part of a network entitled “Family Promise”. Rachel Falcove became executive director of the local group 17 years ago.

PHIN is often considered as an organization whose major activity is to provide shelter for homeless families, but it has embarked on new directions because of the lack of affordable rental housing in the Philadelphia area. It can take up to a year to find housing for families in shelters, which is a very expensive and inefficient system.

Rachel pointed out that the problem of affordable housing is not confined to the unemployed or the currently homeless. This is also a major problem for working families, who often have problems paying the rent and maintaining a job.

Many families have problems because of a past eviction notice, whether actually carried out or not, and because of gender specific and density specific housing rules imposed by the federal government.

PHIN has developed a program of the “shallow rent” subsidy, meaning a few hundred dollars a month to help working families find a decent place to live and to stay in the neighborhood where they have contacts. The organization also in some cases leases and apartment, and then subleases to tenants at a reasonable figure. In some cases the agency holds the earned income credit that some families receive, because it annual credit of this size showing up in a bank account would affect support on a long-term basis.

PHIN is also working with other groups to establish a “tiny house community”, an intentional community for single-parent households. The small prefabricated houses are intended to create permanent housing at affordable prices for needy families.

The Philadelphia Interfaith Hospitality Network depends on community support for all its activities. It has more than 1500 volunteers from 56 congregations, 9 universities, and 2 seminaries.