REPORTS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS
From Jon Dwyer, District Rotary Foundation Chair
5160 Foundation Day is happening soon:
Saturday January 25, 2020; 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM.
Pioneer High School, 1400 Pioneer Ave, Woodland, Ca 95776
Register NOW for Rotary Foundation Day
not forward this email - the Register NOW link above can only be used by you to
register yourself and your partner/guest.
Clubs that are planning on applying for a District or Global Grant for the 2020
– 2021 Rotary Year at least one person from the Club must attend for the
Grants Mgt Training session on this day. This is the only time that the
training will be offered.
District Rotarians are also invited to learn more about the opportunities made
available by The Rotary Foundation.
will cover in detail areas such as Donor Recognition, District Grants, Global
Grants, and Club Qualification. Special sessions will be conducted for
Area Foundation Ambassadors and Club Foundation Chairs, and prospective grantee
Dwyer, District Rotary Foundation Chair 2020 – 2023
It is NOT
too early to be planning to attend the Rotary International Convention in
Honolulu Hawaii June 6-10, 2020! And, this is not something that can wait.
While in Hamburg, Rotarians will get to register for next year's Convention in
Honolulu, and now you can too.
for the Honolulu 2020 Rotary Convention will open on June 1, 2019.
everywhere can take advantage of this lowest rate at www.riconvention.org. To assist
Rotarians in registering, attached is a description of how to complete
registration for Honolulu 2020. Please note that you must have a My Rotary
account to register, and that is easy to do with the instructions attached to
this message. I've also attached a chart that shows pricing. This is the
lowest, folks! I think I've attached enough info to help you to take advantage
District Governor 2019-2020
Rotary International District 5160
who you think you can interest in becoming a member, to meetings. Your dinner and your guest’s dinner will be
paid for by the Club. In the meantime please invite Durham business owners and/or
managers to one of our meetings.
was the Christmas Party. As noted above,
President Steve opened the meeting/party.
Thanks to Kristen Cargile for this group
Unfortunately, the Durham High School
Jazz Band could not perform due to an illness in their director’s family. So we move on to
Larry Bradley leading us in Christmas Carols.
This was followed by Ravi Saip’s gift exchange which was a lot of fun, with the
stealing of gifts that had been picked by others.
thought that using his gift would prevent it being stolen, but Jim Patterson,
yes, Jim Patterson stole
what was left of it anyway.
Thanks to Kristen Cargile for this
Must Be Present to Win Drawing:
Ten Years Ago
The Christmas Party December 2009
From Rotary International
Hoops on the Hudson
In Yonkers, New York, a new basketball court four years in the
making provides valuable life lessons to the community’s kids — and its adults
hear the miracle before you see it. Shouts, laughter, the “thump!” “ping!” of
bouncing basketballs colliding with a chain-link fence. The pounding of running
feet, the shrill peal of whistles, the cries of encouragement.
Ping! Thump! Ping!
then do you glimpse the court, the long rectangle of brilliant blue and orange
— the colors of the NBA’s New York Knicks — at Morningside Avenue and High Street
in Yonkers, New York. Its surface glimmers like sheet cake in the bright sun.
finally, the kids: short, tall, skinny, plump. They wear glasses and pigtails,
silver-mesh headbands and multicolored T-shirts. They joke and smile as they
run up and down the immaculate court, its regulation length bracketed at each
end with an NBA-quality breakaway backboard. It’s as if they had been playing
here their entire childhood.
four years ago, the possibility that this picture-book basketball court might one
day exist in a corner of Yonkers must have seemed as remote as the spires of
downtown Manhattan, visible through the early summer haze some 15 miles south.
Even a few months ago, the basketball court here at John Barton Memorial Park
was a buckled concrete mess of cracks and pebbles and broken glass, splotched
with clumps of sprouting grass and littered with discarded drug paraphernalia.
During downpours, the rain would pool into a small lake, which left a coating
of dirt and debris as it dried.
court had been deteriorating for decades, and it might have moldered decades
more had it not been for the efforts of Peter Spano. A member of the Rotary
Club of Yonkers-East Yonkers, Spano dreamed of turning this neighborhood
eyesore into a source of civic pride. He imagined a flawless new court where
children and adults could play pickup games, but he also envisioned how that
court might serve as a staging ground for basketball clinics and anti-bullying
sessions. In short, as Spano explained one afternoon at a branch of the New
York Sports Club, the court could provide opportunities “to teach life lessons
through basketball” — which is, after a fashion, an abridged rendition of
Spano’s own life.
Spano chose basketball as the means to implement his dream should have come as
no surprise to those who know him. (Nor was his choice of Knicks team colors
for the Yonkers basketball court: He has been a hardcore fan of the franchise
since the 1990s when the Knicks were led by Hall of Fame center Patrick Ewing.)
Growing up in Yonkers, Spano attended Archbishop Stepinac, a Catholic high
school for boys in nearby White Plains. Though he played three years on the
school’s soccer team, basketball was his true love. He almost certainly would
have been a star in that sport, too, except that the school wouldn’t let him
play: Spano had a beard, which ran counter to team rules, and he refused to
shave it. He still has the beard.
to his principles “helped develop my character,” Spano says today, but it
slammed the door on any chance of playing basketball in college. He played in
semipro and summer leagues for a few years until injuries kept him from
progressing further. But along the way he learned to respect the lessons in
leadership and teamwork that the game taught him. “I’ve been coached by some of
my favorite players,” says Spano, who conducts basketball clinics and other
events for kids at the New York Sports Club. “And I get to help coach some of
their children and cousins and brothers.”
lessons Spano learned on the basketball court he saw reflected in what he
learned about Rotary. He first heard about the organization through the Steven
Spielberg film Catch Me If
You Can, in which one of the main characters is a member of the
club in New Rochelle, a community on Long Island Sound that’s about 10 miles
east of the Hudson River city of Yonkers. Spano joined the Yonkers-East Yonkers
club in early 2015 as he was beginning to move forward on his plan to build the
city a new basketball court. “I really love Rotary and what it stands for, and
how many great things Rotarians do across the country and around the world,” he
says. “We had a gentleman from Liberia join our club many years ago. We were
able to help him build a school [in Monrovia] and sent a school bus there with
some books and clothing.”
sometimes a Rotary club’s focus is purely local, as Spano learned when he began
looking for people and organizations to help him make his dream court a
reality. “I see a lot of exciting things for the future of the youth through
Rotary,” he says. “They are a great partner to have with these types of
projects. I was lucky enough to interest them in what we were looking to do for
Yonkers-East Yonkers club came on board in 2015; it provided a reliable source
of man- and womanpower, as well as financial resources. The club contributed
$5,000 toward the project, and a partnership with the Rotary Club of Yeocheon, Korea, led to an additional $16,000 in District
Designated Funds (from Districts 3610 in Korea and 7230 in New York and
Bermuda) and a $23,500 global grant from The Rotary Foundation. The Police
Athletic League of Yonkers, the Yonkers YMCA, the WorldVentures
Foundation (which assists children globally), and Sport Court, which builds
outdoor basketball courts, also contributed to the project.
most significant partner outside Rotary was another member of basketball’s Hall
of Fame: Nancy Lieberman. A New York native and three-time All-American at Old
Dominion University, “Lady Magic,” as she’s known, played and coached in the
Women’s National Basketball Association, helped the U.S. women’s team win a
silver medal at the Montreal Olympics in 1976, and became the first woman to
play on a professional men’s team: the Springfield Fame in Massachusetts — and
later, the Washington Generals, the perennial punching bag of the Harlem
Globetrotters. In addition, she did a stint as an assistant coach with the
NBA’s Sacramento Kings, and in 2018 she was named coach of the year in the
BIG3, a three-on-three league of former NBA and international players.
Through her Nancy Lieberman
Charities, she also worked to ensure that economically disadvantaged kids got
educational and athletic opportunities, a goal she accomplished through
basketball camps and clinics, college scholarships, and a program right in
Peter Spano’s wheelhouse: Dream Courts. Lieberman and her foundation have built
more than 75 basketball courts in underserved communities across the United
States. After consulting with Spano, she agreed to help install a Dream Court
in Yonkers — to the tune of $10,000. Nothing but net.
Early reviews of the new
court were laudatory: “Good hoops,” said one young player. “I wish I could come
here more often.”
credit: Fiona Aboud
Spano explained, the court could provide opportunities “to teach life lessons
the funding took shape, Rotarians began looking for a spot for the court. “Our
concern was that it be put in an area that needed economic development,” says
Alix Schnee, the 2017-18 president of the Yonkers-East Yonkers club. “The other
thing was that we had to work with the city government to see if we could find
a park that the city would work with us in developing.”
approached the mayor of Yonkers, Mike Spano (no relation), and the city’s parks
department. City officials settled on a suitable location in an economically
challenged part of Yonkers, John Barton Memorial Park, a place badly in need of
repair yet big enough to accommodate a regulation-size basketball court. Once
all the permits were obtained, workers tore up the old concrete surface and
replaced it with a durable layer of impact-resistant polypropylene tiles. (The
perforated surface allows water and dirt to drain through the flooring system.)
After the orange and blue surface was put in place, workers installed the
NBA-quality backboards, as well as two long wooden benches for players and
bleachers for spectators.
February, city officials, Rotarians, and other Yonkersites
gathered at the court for the official ribbon cutting. Lieberman, who attended
the ceremony, singled out Spano for special praise. “You had a vision for this,
you were determined, you weren’t going to let anybody steal your dream,” she
said. “You fought for this court — and here it is.”
building the court fulfilled only half of Spano’s dream. Like Lieberman, he and
his fellow Rotarians envision sports as an arena that can do more than impart
lessons about slam dunks and fast breaks. To that end, they launched a six-week
session that paired Dream Court basketball clinics with anti-bullying lessons.
sixth and final session takes place on a cloudless day in late June. Beyond
Barton Park, a midrise tenement of dun-colored brick overlooks a monochromatic
street studded with row houses clad in shabby clapboard. A group of Rotary
volunteers, including Schnee, Sundra Lee-Ingemanson, and Barbara Hanna, arrive early to set up a
registration table, bring in the first wave of snacks and bottled water, and,
later, distribute Rotary T-shirts to the kids. At the start, only a few
children take to the court, but within minutes, five become 10, then 20, then
in long shorts, red compression sleeves, and an oversize white T-shirt
stenciled with the words “Hoops Against Hate,” Spano patiently walks the kids
through a series of drills designed to foster teamwork. “Three passes and a
shot,” he instructs. At first, the drill has mixed success — “Do you ever pass
the ball?” one teen complains to another, who only shrugs and laughs — but
slowly the kids catch on. A footwork drill, in which boys and girls step in and out of a rope ladder, has better success.
Some of the kids place their feet carefully between the rungs, while others
tap-dance back and forth in a rapid-fire blur.
each session, Spano has arranged for a guest to talk about bullying. Today’s
speaker is Tim Hodges, first deputy chief of the Yonkers Police Department and
a member of the Yonkers-East Yonkers club. Perched on the bleachers and eating
pizza, the kids listen as Hodges, wearing his dress-white police commander’s
shirt and his shield, explains how he once dealt with a bully — his former
superior, who had different ideas about policing. “He was my boss, and he was
really mean to me because I didn’t like to write tickets and I didn’t like to
arrest people,” Hodges says. “I would rather play basketball with them or
stickball or do fun stuff.
“So he got really mad at me,” Hodges continues. “He said,
‘You’re never going to amount to anything on this job.’ So
I went home, and I was really upset. I didn’t realize it then, but he was
bullying me. And I was an adult!”
than keep those feelings bottled up, Hodges looked elsewhere for help. “What I
learned is that if someone is treating you bad, you go to the person you have
confidence in,” he says, seated alongside the kids. “Everybody has someone they
have confidence in, right?” For Hodges, even as a grown-up, that person was his
advice? Ignore the person. If he makes fun of you, walk away from him. It worked, Hodges tells the kids. Today, he’s the boss of the
guy who once bullied him.
with Spano and many of the other volunteers gathered at the court, Hodges
understands how Rotary’s emphasis on Service Above Self influences his daily
job as much as it does this afternoon’s courtside session. After his
conversation with the kids, he stresses how important it is for police officers
“to get along with everyone in the community, which we didn’t do years ago. We
made so many mistakes; we thought we could arrest ourselves out of problems.
Now, we’ve changed our whole concept.”
unlike his former boss, Hodges has different advice for his fellow officers.
“Go play with the kids,” he tells them. “Play with them in the streets.” That
shift from an adversarial mentality seems to be working, he says, and he offers
some statistics as proof. Shootings, he says, are at historic lows in Yonkers.
“Ten years ago, we were averaging about 60 a year. We are now at 16 — and
hopefully, this year we go even lower.”
takes a special pleasure in joining other members of the Yonkers community for
today’s session on the new court. The global grant from Rotary, he
acknowledges, was “an amazing thing for them to do. It just helps, me being a
public servant and now being involved as a Rotarian. It adds a little more
credence to everything.”
Rotarian Tim Hodges, first
deputy chief of the Yonkers Police Department, speaks from experience on ways
to deal with bullies.
credit: Fiona Aboud
I learned is that if someone is treating you bad, you go to the person you have
are ample anti-bullying teaching moments on this Saturday — kids
trash-talking, pointing, and laughing when someone misses a shot. Spano and the
volunteer coaches counteract the negative energy simply through encouraging
everyone, no matter his or her skill level. “We want to teach kids that they
should fight for what they believe in,” Spano says. “But you can do that
without picking on another child, without trying to make yourself feel superior
by making someone else feel inferior.”
the day’s activities wind down, Debra Hogue, who lives nearby, expresses her
gratitude for the program. Standing on a tree-shaded hill overlooking the
court, she says that she brought her three grandchildren to each of the six
sessions. “It’s great because they get to know more kids — and everybody got
along. It looks nice, too,” she adds. “I love it. I love it!”
recalls how at an earlier session she hadn’t paid attention to that day’s
speaker. But Isiah, her eight-year-old grandson, “took in every word.” He even
wrote a paper about the speech for a school project. “I was really surprised,”
Hogue says as she points out her grandson, a boy in a red shirt darting back
and forth on the pristine court, shooting layups, grabbing rebounds, and
laughing with friends.
participant, 14-year-old Omar Jallow, takes a break
after several pickup games. “I’m really liking this program,” he says. “I
actually underestimated it. I was skeptical about the anti-bullying,” but now
he admits he has learned from the speakers. What he really loves, of course, is
the court itself. “Good hoops,” he says with a grin. “I wish I could come here
more often, but my dad has to drive me here.”
early afternoon when the program ends. Spano fist-bumps with the kids, some of
whom stay to play a little longer. He explains how he hopes to build several
more courts, one for each of Yonkers’ six districts. For now, however, as the
“thump!” “ping!” of bouncing balls echoes from the beautiful court blossoming
like a blue and orange flower, Spano and the kids seem plenty thrilled with the
Bryan Smith, senior writer
at Chicago magazine,
is the author of The Breakaway: The Inside Story of the Wirtz
Family Business and the Chicago Blackhawks.
• This story originally
appeared in the November 2019 issue of The Rotarian
International web site is:
District 5160 is:
The Durham Rotary
Club site is:
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The deadline for the Rowel 6:30
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