John F. Germ
Rotary District 5160 Governor:
Durham Rotary President:
April 11th, 2017
The 2017 Harvest Festival will be held on September 17, 2017
2017 Calendar for Durham Rotary
North Valley District Assembly at
Chico Campus of Butte College
George Laver, Assistant General Manager of the Chico Heat
Harvest Festival Committee Meeting at 7:00am at Italian Cottage on Skyway.
Dina Zaphris, President & Founder In Situ
Rise Against Hunger (formerly Stop Hunger Now) boxing of meals at Durham H.S. Boxing starts at 9:00 am but arrive around 8:30 am to assist in getting organized.
Hot Dog picnic at Durham Park
Bruce Norlie, his new garage and his vintage automobiles
President Ravi Saip opened the meeting. He asked Arne Gustafson, Assistant District Governor to lead the pledge, which he did. President Ravi then asked Larry Bradley to lead us in a song. In view of tonight’s program he led us in “Take Me Out To The Ball Game”. Jim Patterson then gave the invocation.
Ravi, with the assistance of Jen Liu, showed two video clips. The first was about providing clean water in Peru by use of filters provided by the Rotary Foundation. The Second was of the bridge climb with flags from around the world done at the last Rotary International convention in support of Polio eradication.
Glenn Pulliam reported on his attendance, with several other members at the District Conference held last Saturday in Chico. He noted that it concentrated on membership and planning.
April 19th: Harvest Festival Committee Meeting at 7:00am at Italian Cottage on Skyway.
April 25th: Jim Kirks will present Dina Zaphris, founder of In Situ Foundation. She will present a program on Dogs Saving Lives by Early Detection of Cancer.
April 29th: Rise Against Hunger (formerly Stop Hunger Now) boxing of meals at Durham H.S. Boxing starts at 9:00 am but arrive around 8:30 am to assist in getting organized.
May 9th: Daryl Polk - TBA
May 16th: Hot Dog picnic at Durham Park
May 23rd: Jen Liu - Bruce Norlie, his new garage
and his vintage automobiles.
- Bruce Norlie, his new garage and his vintage automobiles.
June 13th: Club Assembly with Ravi reviewing his year.
June 27th: Demotion Party by Mike Wacker.
If a Tuesday is not listed above, there is no meeting that week.
VISITING ROTARIANS & GUESTS
Steve Plume introduced George Laver, Assistant General Manager of the Chico Heat, who was here to present our program for the night.
Jim Patterson introduced Arne Gustafson, Assistant District Governor and member of the Orland Club.
Larry Bradley introduced Steven Heithecker, who is being inducted tonight, and his wife, Karen.
The next meeting will be April 25th. Jim Kirks will present Dina Zaphris, founder of In Situ Foundation. She will present a program on Dogs Saving Lives by Early Detection of Cancer.
HARVEST FESTIVAL COMMITTEE MEETING
It was determined at the Board meeting that we will proceed with the Harvest Festival this year. The first committee meeting will be on Wednesday, April 19th at 7:00 am at the Skyway Italian Cottage.
REPORTS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS
Roy Ellis will be conducting scholarship interviews on May 1, 2017 at 8:00 am. They will be at the High School. Anyone who wants to attend, please let Roy know.
The packaging meals for hungry kids will take place on April 29, 2017. The packaging of meals will begin at 9:00 am, but please arrive between 8:00 and 8:30 am to assist in getting organized. Lunch will follow.
Celebrate with us in Atlanta
It's just a few months until we'll be together at the Rotary Convention in Atlanta - 11-14 June - celebrating The Rotary Foundation's 100th anniversary, networking with old and new friends, and enriching our Rotary experience. If you haven't registered yet, there's still time, and you can save if you register by 31 March. If you've already registered, be sure to invite your Rotary friends.
The Host Organization Committee has planned several exciting events to enhance your stay in Atlanta. For the kickoff event, on the evening of Saturday, 10 June, the dress code is casual, as you'll sit under the stars in Centennial Olympic Park and be entertained by first-class bluegrass music. Grammy Award-winning performer Ricky Skaggs will get everyone up on their feet clapping and dancing to the fiddle and mandolin, and cloggers will perform in their country style. Food and drinks will be available from food trucks and beverage carts stationed at strategic locations. We're anticipating a packed event, so purchase your tickets early!
From Monday through Wednesday, 12-14 June, you can choose from more than 100 breakout sessions on a wide variety of topics. Here's a sneak peek at topics being developed for Atlanta:
Be sure to check the website regularly for more program highlights.
Bring guests, who you think you can interest in becoming a member, to meetings. We will be having a visit from the District Governor or an Assistant District Governor to assist us with membership. In the meantime please invite Durham business owners and/or managers to one of our meeting.
Larry Bradley, with the assistance of Assistant District Governor, Arne Gustafson, inducted Steven Heithecker, as a new member of Durham Rotary. Steven was here with his wife Karen.
Jim Patterson volunteered that his grandson, Grant, who had been selected as a alternate Camp Royal student, was now going, following in the footsteps of many of Jim’s children and grandchildren. He contributed $10. I
Mary Sakuma the last meeting attending a 50th anniversary of a program that trains college graduates with a rural migrant background to work as teacher assistants in migrant impacted summer schools. If I got it right it is called the California Mini-Corps Program.
Daryl Polk volunteered that he was having his 36th wedding anniversary this month. He contributed $36.
Must Be Present To Win
Norm Larson was not present to win this drawing.
Jim Kirks presented George Laver, Assistant General Manager of the Chico Heat, who spoke to us about the team and the current league they play in. It is one of about 12 summer collegiate wood bat baseball leagues. The Chico Heat are in the Great West League “GWL” (see the photo below). Essentially their players come from college baseball teams, who haven’t been drafted but whose coaches think need more play during the summers.
Of the member leagues shown to the right the Cape Code league is the most desired as the pro teams draft from it. Apparently a player’s coach may assign a play to a particular team that agrees to take him. However, another team may request the player and if it is a team, such as the Cape Cod league, which increases the odds of getting drafted by a major team, the player may agree to go.
Ryan Hyland Andrew Chudzinski
This explosion was close – much closer than the others that had rattled the village on the outskirts of Homs, Syria, where Sultanah Alchehade lived with her four young children. This one hit the school next door, blasting out one of the walls of their house.
Alchehade grabbed the children and ran into the night and the choking smoke and dust. A neighbor helped her carry her three-year-old twin boys, Mounzer and Kaiss; another drove the pickup truck they all clambered into. Over the next several days, as bombs continued to fall, the family – including daughters Kawthar, age six, and Roukia, a baby – took refuge in a nearby forest, sleeping under the trees as Sultanah tried to figure out their next move.
In neighboring Lebanon, Sultanah’s husband, Mazen, frantically tried to contact his wife. For years, Mazen had shuttled back and forth across the border every few weeks to do construction work on high-rise buildings in Beirut. While the jobs provided an income for his family, he says, the separation was hard. But their situation had just gotten much harder.
With the Syrian civil war now engulfing his village, Mazen couldn’t return. And it would be four months before his wife and children could cross into Lebanon.
Eventually, the family was reunited. They were alive. But they were refugees, seeking asylum in any country that would take them, hoping to get far away from the violence that had driven them, along with millions of other Syrians, into foreign lands.
The Alchehade family registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the agency responsible for resettling Syrian refugees, and waited. They were still in Lebanon nearly three years later.
Meanwhile, 8,000 kilometers away, Rotarians in the small town of Amherst, Nova Scotia, were watching images of Syrian refugees on television and looking for ways to help.
The Alchehade children love singing the alphabet song, which they quickly learned from English tutors.
Mazen Alchehade, who works for a landscaping company, walks his 6-year-old daughter, Kawthar, to her bus stop before school.
Mazen and Sultanah Alchehade are building a new life for their children in Nova Scotia after being forced to flee their home during Syria’s violent civil war. More than 11 million people have been displaced since the conflict began in 2011.
Sultanah Alchehade and her husband, Mazan, wanted to live in a smaller community like they did in Syria so they chose Amherst instead of Toronto or Montreal.
The Alchehade children enjoy playing in the snow.
In September 2015, members of the Rotary Club of Amherst were thinking about their next international project. Over the years, the group has helped build and equip a school in South Africa, provided educational materials to students in the Bahamas, and raised funds for disaster-stricken areas around the world, but their thoughts turned to Syria as the plight of refugees dominated the news.
“We as Rotarians couldn’t ignore what we were watching each and every day,” says Ron Wilson, a semiretired civil engineer. “Families dying while making their journey to Europe or other places. Families desperately trying to flee war and, sadly, their homes. The heart-wrenching images were the impetus for our club to do something.”
Ann Sharpe had joined Rotary specifically to get involved with projects to help refugees. In May 2014, she had attended the wedding of some friends in Turkey, which has taken in nearly 3 million Syrian refugees since 2011, more than any other country. While in Istanbul, Sharpe saw refugee children on the streets begging for food or money.
“I felt so guilty because I couldn’t do anything. It really touched me in a way that I never felt before,” Sharpe says. “We are fortunate that we don’t see those types of things in Canada. For me, Rotary was the best way to do something about this.”
In November 2015, Canada’s newly elected Liberal government began welcoming Syrian refugees in larger numbers. The country pledged to grant asylum to 25,000 refugees by the end of February 2016. By February 2017, the total had surpassed 40,000.
Bill Casey, a Liberal member of Parliament for Cumberland-Colchester district and an Amherst resident, endorses the move. The country’s willingness to accept refugees, he says, will lead to a multicultural renaissance in communities and neighborhoods across Nova Scotia.
“We’re excited to have exposure to a new culture because there hasn’t been much immigration here in Nova Scotia for the last 100 years,” Casey says. “When Syrians come to Canada, many start a business. I think opening our doors to refugees will be something we can be proud of and learn from.”
At Sharpe’s first Rotary club meeting, members started to put together a plan to bring a Syrian family to Amherst. Her enthusiasm about the initiative led the international committee to make her a co-chair of the refugee project that night.
There was a logistical benefit to working with the churches: Both are sponsorship agreement holders, meaning they signed an agreement with the government to bring refugee families into the country – something that would take the Amherst club two years to obtain. In return, the club handled administrative tasks, communicated with the Canadian government, and led fundraising efforts. It also donated $5,000 in seed money to get the project off the ground.
“Because of the organization that Rotary offered, it was a no-brainer for us to partner with them,” says Frank Allen, a member of the Holy Family congregation and of the project’s steering committee. “This took such a weight off us; we were able to concentrate on other parts of the project. It was a gift.”
Sharpe says the club members did their due diligence but didn’t overthink things.
“Just take a leap of faith and do it,” she advises clubs considering a similar project. “If we had thought it through too hard, we might have convinced ourselves not to move forward. But we all knew we were doing this for the right reasons.”
The Canadian government administers the Blended Visa Office-Referred Program, which matches refugees identified by the UNHCR with private sponsors. The program provides up to six months of financial support, while private sponsors provide another six months’ worth of funding as well as up to a year of social support, including translation services, language training, and employment counseling.
Within a few months, the partnership between the Rotary club and the two churches raised enough funds to sponsor one family – a minimum of $27,000 per family is needed, the government estimates – and they filed the paperwork to be matched with a family. The group raised more than $72,000.
The Canadian government and the UNHCR conduct an intense vetting process for refugees being considered for potential resettlement in the country. It includes biometric and fingerprint checks, health assessments, document verification, and several in-person interviews.
But successfully integrating a refugee family into a community takes more than paperwork and tests; it hinges on the community’s acceptance. The Amherst group held a public meeting in November 2015 at a local school to inform residents about the project, answer questions, and gauge opinions.
“There was zero resistance,” says Sharpe. “We didn’t know what to expect. There were many people in the country wondering if there was a security issue with bringing in refugees from Syria. I can honestly say I can’t believe how much the community embraced the project. They came out with donations, in-kind support, furniture, and anything we asked of them.”
With the Amherst community firmly behind them, the club welcomed its first Syrian family, the Latifs, in January 2016. The success motivated the group to work on bringing over a second family.
In August of that year, the Alchehade family boarded a plane for Canada to become group’s second family. Their long journey to a new home had ended. Their journey into a new life was just beginning.
Amherst is a sleepy Canadian town of about 9,000 that lies on the eastern boundary of the picturesque Tantramar Marshes, one of the largest salt marshes on the Atlantic coast. The streets surrounding its five-block-long main thoroughfare are lined with ornate Victorian homes. The nearest fast-food and grocery chains are two miles away.
Rotary member Ann Sharpe helps Kawthar navigate the ice rink during the family’s first experience with ice skating, a national pastime of Canada.
While many Syrian refugees prefer to settle in Toronto or Montreal where there are more resources and jobs, the Alchehades wanted a smaller community, like the one where they had lived in Syria. There, they had land where they grew almonds and olives, and raised cows, goats, and sheep.
The family arrived in Amherst with what they could carry. Most of the furnishings in their new home, a two-bedroom apartment in a modest house on a street that dead-ends at the marshes, are donated.
The four children are energetic and open with one another and the Rotary members who visit.
They love playing in the snow and singing the alphabet song, which they quickly learned from English tutors who regularly visit their home. They sing it while watching TV, while playing outside, when guests come over.
The Rotary club helped connect Mazen with a job at Fundy Landscaping, which does stonework and builds retaining walls and decks. There, he is using the skills he learned doing construction in Lebanon.
“He does great work,” says business owner Peter Michels. “I don’t need to tell him anything twice. Everything we ask him to do, he runs with it. His skills and work ethic are very impressive.”
Michels, whose parents immigrated to Canada after World War II, says he sees a little of himself in Mazen and his family.
Each week, Sultanah and her three youngest children visit Maggie’s Place, a family resource center in town that provides social and educational programs to parents and their kids. There, the Alchehades get a chance to interact with other families in the area, a crucial step to their integration into the community.
“Everything you had is completely gone,” he says. “Trying to start a new life in a place where you don’t know if you’re going to be accepted or if you’re going to be rejected. I try to see things through his eyes. That’s probably what my family went through – hoping that when they came to this country, there would be somebody to help them.”
The town has rallied behind the refugee families, with teachers volunteering to tutor the kids and dentists offering free care. Mazen has earned his driver’s license, and Sultanah has joined other mothers in the community for cooking classes, even leading a class on preparing Syrian dishes.
The kids are learning to ice skate, Canada’s national pastime. These are small steps in the long process of integration that the club hopes will help them find their place in Canadian society. “We want them to be able to help improve this community and the country,” says Wilson.
The Alchehades don’t know if they will ever return to Syria. But right now, Canada is their home. This is where they want to see their children grow up.
While Mazen still struggles with English, he has no trouble finding the words to describe his dream for his children: “I want them to be pioneers.”
The Rotary International web site is: www.rotary.org
District 5160 is: www.rotary5160.org
The Durham Rotary Club site is: www.durhamrotary.org
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