SPUR — JULY 2015

July was a great month for the Enfield Rotary Club. We inaugurated a new President (and heard his inaugural address later in the month), met at the Accessible Playground to celebrate its 3rd Anniversary and listened to presentations by a couple of our newest Rotarians.

The Dog Days of Summer began on July 1st with a visit from Enfield Police Officer Mike Colantuono and his K-9 partner, Ranger. Ah, the joys of raising a child! We're happy to have this great police team on duty, but Officer Colantuono has his hands full handling and training a young pup with a lot of energy and youthful enthusiasm.

Interesting back story: Officer Colantuono was a police officer in the Bronx for six years and, as he puts it, "saw it all." When he was on vacation, he met a young lady who just happened to work at LEGO in Enfield. The job opening at Enfield PD came along at just the right time. The Colantounos are raising a family and a K-9 partner.

Is Enfield a big change from the Bronx? Throw some murder, thefts, domestic violence and a lot of drugs into the pot and we have the same problems. . . just on a smaller scale. 

Joe's History Mystery: Do you know what the acronym ZIP as in ZIP Code stands for? How many ZIP Codes are there? Who's the father of the ZIP Code?

On July 8, Amy Morales and Erin Grimes explained what was going on at two Family Resource Centers in Enfield. There's one at Enfield St. School that is funded by the State Dept. of Education and Town. The second (which used to be at Hazardville Memorial School) is now located at the former Stowe Elementary School (that recently served as the Safety Academy). This one depends on fundraising, which was kick-started by a grant from the LEGO Foundation. LEGO has challenged the FRC to match their grant of $100K. The Stowe Center has a GoFundMe page and sponsors periodic fundraisers (see NOTE below). The centers provide not only day and after-school activities for some 350 children (half of whom come from families that are struggling to make ends meet), but also offer many parenting education classes and family activities as well. 

NOTE: The Stowe Family Resource Center is sponsoring a fundraiser at Sonny's Place in Somers on Monday, August 24. For a donation of $20 you get pizza and soda for dinner as well as tickets for the zip-line, bounce house, mini-golf, etc., valued at $60. Tickets will be on sale at the event.

Our Club Assembly/Business Meeting on the 15th was in the hands of Vice President Greg Stokes. Most of our fellow Rotarians must have been on vacation because there was a pretty small turnout. We know that Greg doesn't rush through invocations, but he sure steps on the gas when it comes to parliamentary procedure. I blinked and the meeting was over. No one complained, though, because it was such a nice day. 

Friday the 17th brought our Rotary breakfast at the Country Diner. We were joined by former member Jordan Chatis as well as current but departing member Ed Sharpless. No ladies graced the gathering; and gentleman Sean Stevens took care of the entire tab while we were all busy eating.

NEWS: Ed and Lois Sharpless have relocated to Washington, NJ. Ed was riding his bike a week ago, hit a bad patch of road and crashed. He broke his collar bone and clavicle. He's recuperating. I think he just wanted to avoid unpacking and let Lois do all the work.

Many Rotarians could be found golfing or lending their support to charity tournaments at Twin Hills Country Club for the Asnuntuck Community College Foundation on July 13 and The Network on July 20. For the first time ever (at least in my foggy recollection), we're going to have three teams in the District 7890 tournament on August 3rd. I guess when the club President golfs, everyone golfs. He's even invited us to take a few divots out of Crestview Country Club on August 6th. 

On July 22, we were treated to New Rotarian Talks by Eric Moody from the Holiday Inn and Jeff Tingley from Sparkle Services. 

Eric had some great hospitality business stories. For example, Hillary Clinton once used his office for a newspaper interview during the New Hampshire primaries. Of course, using his office entailed bomb-sniffing dogs and lots of Secret Service people. He has been working in hospitality for the past 38 years and very seriously enjoys being in Enfield. The New Hampshire property was probably the most interesting because the state kicks off everyone's presidential campaigns with the first-in-the-nation primaries every four years.

Jeff was next. I was pretty much the only Rotarian in the room who hasn't had either a business or personal connection in helping Jeff start, run and build his commercial cleaning business. He had a very long list of people who mentored, guided and sometimes had to push him in the right direction. The fact that he and his wife just celebrated the 30th Anniversary of Sparkle Services earlier this year is a testament to the impact many Rotarians have had on his life. He has always been impressed with the community projects and generosity of the Rotary Club and has wanted to join us for many years.

We'll be having more New Rotarian Talks in the coming weeks. I don't know about you, but these are always the best programs. Every once in awhile, we'll throw in an "Old Rotarian Talk" too. 

July 29th brought our meeting at the Accessible Playground. Library Director and former Rotarian Henry Dutcher stopped by for two minutes to say hello, but was up to his eyeballs in library activities, department meetings and problems. Henry is going to be retiring in September; there hasn't been an announcement yet about finding his replacement.

A number of people helped with logistics for bringing lunch to the playground, including President Nick, Derek Meade, Gail Albetski, Kate Garvey and Mike H; Eric at the Holiday Inn donated water, soda and ice. Please let me know if I've left someone off this list.

Our new President finally got his opportunity to tell us what his plans are for the 2015-16 Rotary year, who's serving as directors and committee chairs and a little bit about himself. Nick has been a member since 1990. He was sponsored by Lou Mager, who was our Superintendent of Schools at the time. He has been involved in the Rotary Classic Girls' Basketball Tournament as a co-chair with brother-in-law Ed Palomba for many years (Scott Kaupin is going to step in to take his place this year) and is among that group of Rotarians you'll see at virtually every pancake breakfast, wine tasting, Cinco K Mayo Road Race, etc. He has served as Secretary and was named a Paul Harris Fellow in 2007. 

Among his goals are: 

1) Increase membership by 20 percent (8 members). That's a tall order, but he encouraged everyone to invite prospective members to meetings or special events. Chris Casey and Derek Meade are heading up a Membership Committee and will be coming up with some ideas for increasing our numbers. We currently have 46 active members; when Nick joined the club 25 years ago, we had more than 70 members.

2) Nick would like to see our average Foundation contribution increase from $40 to $100. Our club has always been generous in this area, with 100 percent of our members participating in annual support.

3) Member engagement and involvement in committees. Nick has passed out lists of committees and there are plenty from which to choose. Every member (we few, we happy few. . .) needs to be involved in at least one but preferably 2 or 3 committees. That will make it easier for those who have been stumbling along (like yours truly) trying to do too many things and leaving too many bases uncovered (like an unnamed baseball team). Please look the list over and declare your committee preferences to Nick and Cindy (this year's Secretary).

4) Fun/Fellowship. Rotary After 5 and Rotary Breakfasts will continue, and Nick would like to see some social gatherings at Rotarian's houses. He and Lisa will be opening their home on School Street to Rotarians and friends on August 21st. Milt suggested tieing in a collection (school supplies/backpacks; food; etc.) or fundraiser of some sort to these social events. The September 17 Wine Tasting will be a great opportunity for fellowship as well as inviting prospective members. Golfing at Crestview in August will be another fun activity; Nick encouraged someone/anyone to come forward to resurrect the Greater Lesser Enfield Rotary Open Closed Fun Golf Tournament that was organized by John Adams many years ago at Grassmere. He also invited ideas and suggestions for any and all "fun" activities.

5) Attendance is running about 50 percent. Nick would like to see that get back up into the 75 percent range. Enough said.

6) PR: Rotary never gets enough. Volunteers are needed for the PR committee to help get photos and press releases out to the traditional media and posted on social media sites online. Mike Helechu and Greg Stokes are co-chairs. 

Nick thanked all of his officers and committee chairs for saying "Yes" when he asked them to serve. (Some of us older Rotarians remember the days when "No" wasn't even in a Rotarian's vocabulary.)

We've got a busy year ahead of us that holds a great deal of potential. Nick will reiterate some of his goals and discuss the things we need to do to remain successful at upcoming meetings. 

As he has already communicated, upcoming August programs/events will include:

Aug 5: New Rotarian Talks

Aug 6: Golf at Crestview

Aug 12: District Governor Kyong Wilson

Aug 19: Annual Enfield Rotary Memorial Scholarship Foundation Luncheon (get to know some of Enfield's best and brightest). Scholarships will be awarded in memory of three Rotarians we lost last year: Herb Foy, Fran Padrevita and Charlie Nirenberg.

Aug 21: Fellowship at the Deni residence

Aug 24: (New Date) AMBER ALERT at the Warehouse Pt. Library 4-7 p.m. Please let Mike Helechu know if you can assist.

Aug 26: Club Assembly / Business Meeting

Hope you enjoyed this Highlight Reel for July. Club communications would be better served, however, with weekly SPUR newsletters. We need a few good writers who would be willing to take notes at meetings, perhaps one every other month, one month's worth, or some combination. Please let me know if you would like to help out. Thank you.

Guest Editor: Mike Helechu