Harpoon for October 3, 2018

The Star Spangled Banner opened our meeting. Dennis Powers inspired us with readings from an essay about educating children in poverty by Cynthia “Mama J” Johnson, the lead middle school principal in the Kansas City Public Schools. Parts of that inspiration:
“Children who come from generations of poverty or those who find themselves there because of life’s circumstances still dream, have hopes, and want to achieve.
“If high expectations and hope are accepted, children will be prepared to be successful in school, life, college, and career. If children are cared for and believed in, they will learn to be resilient.

“Poverty cannot be used as an excuse to educate students ineffectively.”

Don Duquette prefaced his song selections honoring our meeting speaker, Bonnie Billups, Peace Neighborhood Director, by observing that peace is positive, and calling our attention to the M Campaign for Kindness. He then introduced our first song, “Let There Be Peace On Earth”. Before we tuned up, Accompanist Tom Strode asked us to substitute “Sister” for “Brother”, as appropriate. Half of us (or more!) did. The second song was “The Sunny Side of the Street”.

President Greg thanked the usual suspects and announced birthdays. Guests and one Visiting Rotarian were greeted.

President Greg backtracked one week to explain that Kati Bauer is donating all profits from the sale of her mix-and-match, whimsical jewelry to our endowment. He also noted that Christmas is coming.

Social Committee invited all of us to Rotary Happy Hour on Wednesday, October 10 at The Session Room, 3685 Jackson Road, 5:00 – 7:00 pm. We will be honoring our New Members and their spouses, plus a transfer from Battle Creek and returning Member Beth Nissen.

President Greg directed our attention to the article in the District Newsletter about STRIVE.

Printed directories are available from John White for $10.00.

John Simpkins gave a glowing report on the Golf and Tennis Outing. The Board’s $45,000.00 goal was exceeded by at least another $1000.00. John did not want to wait for the final tally to recognize the great work of his committee:

Dave Keosaisn and Ingrid Sheldon: Web based registration – a great help getting people registered and on the way to the great lunch

Joe Diederich: Prizes for Golfers – beautiful big flat screen TVs, handsome glass statues for golfers, plus underwriting the golf shirts for all volunteers that gave the whole event a more polished look


Missy Sterichez: Volunteers – a HUGE job
Roy More: Cocktails Cassie Dawes: Silent Auction
Steve Schram: Master of Ceremonies
Norman Herbert: Corporate Sponsors

And Travis Pointe, for generous contributions of time, and keeping costs in line with last year.
John closed announcing September 9 as next year’s Golf and Tennis Outing date, inviting us all to the debriefing meeting on Wednesday, October 17, at 11:00. Any ideas about this year’s event are welcome.


President Greg concluded the business meeting announcing that the County Board of Commissioners Issued a proclamation naming October 24, 2018 as World Polio Day in Washtenaw County. Commissioner Michelle Deatrick will be at our meeting on October 24 to present the Proclamation to our Membership.

Notes from the Program

Barbara Niess-May introduced our Speaker with a short recap of his history with Peace Neighborhood Center, noting how important the Center has been collaborating with SAFEHouse over the years.

Bonnie Billups is the Executive Director of Peace Neighborhood Center. He told us about his personal

journey to Peace Neighborhood and his lifelong passion for serving youth. His family moved from St. Louis to Pittsfield in 1968 searching for a better education and life style. Bonnie attended Pittsfield Elementary where Sue Buetler was his Sixth Grade Teacher, and he endured his first crush, Linda. He told us of his first encounter with Rose Martin, the first and still revered Director of Peace Neighborhood Center, on a camping trip when he was age ten.

Then he got serious without losing any of his engaging style. He told about the origins of Peace Neighborhood Center when public housing was built on North Maple Road, then on the outskirts of Ann Arbor, in 1971. As long time mothers and new resident mothers walked kids to and from school they found common interests. Coffee klatches became Kitchen Cabinet, and, with support from Trinity Lutheran Church and Zion Lutheran Church, became the Peace Neighborhood Center in 1971.

With great happiness and pride, Bonnie told several stories of young people who have benefited from the many programs of the Center. The projects and programs of the Center respond to emerging needs in the community, projects that break the cycle of poverty. The key to success is staying with youth in the programs, coaching, encouraging, challenging, and supporting kids as they grow to young adulthood. A current emphasis is on the opioid crisis, and too much technology! He identified LISTENING as the most needed skill in our current national life.

Notes by Agnes Reading