Notes by Ed Hoffman; Photos by Fred Beutler
Maestro Tom Strode treated the assembly to a lovely prelude, until President John struck the Rotary bell. Over a hundred Rotarians, Rotaractors, and guests launched into a beautiful rendition of our national anthem. Aaron Boylan then walked the few steps to the podium to deliver the day’s Inspiration. Aaron, brandishing his usual generous smile, opened with a quote that many, no doubt, memorized on the spot: “A coach at Duke once said, ‘we make rules so we don’t have to make decisions…The most important rules aren’t law.’” Then, alluding to the forthcoming recap of the Rotaract service trips, he admitted “I love Fred Rogers [much clapping and ‘hear, hears’]. My heroes are those who see a problem, and do something about it.” Hear, hear, Aaron!
John then asked Past President Bob Buchanan to come forward. “President John and fellow Rotarians,” Bob began solemnly, “I remember our Jerry Prescott.” An abbreviated text of Bob’s words commemorating our friend and past president follow:
“First, Jerry was a family man. He married Lorna Ball, his companion for 61 glorious years. [They] raised four lovely children…all of whom are living outstanding lives.”
“A church man, Jerry was a faithful usher and Ordained Ruling Elder at First Presbyterian….A Michigan man, [Jerry received] both his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Michigan. Jerry and Lorna held season football tickets through last season.”
“A business man, Jerry owned Michigan Sundries, a confectionary distributor, then founded Distributor Concepts – here, in cooperation with IBM, he innovated the application of bar code readers for inventory control…As a result Jerry was inducted into the Candy Industry Hall of Fame.”
“A community servant…he served Washtenaw United Way for years….”
“An author, Jerry wrote and published three books: Deadly Sweet in Ann Arbor, Invisible Intrigue, and Mackinaw Maize, a mystery set on Mackinaw Island…He was a sportsman; a superb golfer and tennis player….”
“[He] joined our Club in 1982, served as President (2000-2001, so was the first president of this century…a Paul Harris Fellow [and] received our highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award followed by our Emeritus Award. For years Jerry chaired our Social Committee.”
And Bob’s gracious summation – “Jerry would seldom talk about himself, rather was far more interested in others…I would arrive at Rotary having had a terrible morning at work but Jerry would greet me with a warm, heartfelt ‘Hi, Bob,’ which would make all my troubles disappear…A life well-lived. Good job, Jerry.”
Rotary Rotaractor Service Trips:
Andrew Sohn came to the podium next. “It is my pleasure to welcome our Rotaract clubs. I’d like to recognize our fabulous leader, Joanne Pierson! [Big ovation] Andrew then introduced the Rotaractors present: Samuel, Caitlin, Chrissy, Britney, Ophelia, Abby, Michael, Savanna, and Peter. Each came up and said a few words about their career goals as well as the influence of Rotaract on their lives. It was all very impressive. Andrew continued: “Rotaract president, Sam Osminkowski, will speak about the domestic and international service trips.”
Sam narrated a photo and video presentation titled, “50 Years of Rotaract.” Before asking various team members to highlight the trips, Sam urged Rotarians to ‘rent a Rotaractor’ for house and yard work. Peter described the domestic trip to New Orleans: “Nine of us went there to perform wetland conservation,” he began. He then shared a truly disturbing fact — “Louisiana loses a tremendous amount of land to the sea every year. We worked primarily in the lower Ninth Ward, which was [devastated] by Katrina.” Partnering with local Common Ground Wetland Restoration, the Rotaractors planted buttonbush, cypress, green ash, and California bulrush. “For fun we took a ghost tour,” Peter noted as well as describing going to cafes.
Abby, who will be Rotaract president next year, introduced highlights of the international trip: “Fifteen of us went to El Porvenir, Honduras, where we worked on a playground to restore it.” Fellow student Michael added, “It was pretty broken down…We worked with contactors, tore down [rotten] structures and replaced the wood.” Later, resting with his team near the playground, Michael received the unasked-for reward – “We got to see the school children using it, a safe play environment. We were happy to see them enjoying it.” Abby then described the building of a bano – a combination shower-bathroom facility. “The people were so thankful to have a [working] bano. We also built an outdoor space at an elementary school.” A shaded open air extension to the school building, the space delighted the young students, though it required “laying a cement slab, erecting walls, and roofing the open space,” Abby noted. In addition, the Rotaractors landscaped the area around the structure, planting bushes and installing a walkway, in part to prevent flooding during rainy season.
In conclusion, the assembly were shown an outstanding video of the Rotaractors working and enjoying time off at a beach and a waterfall-fed pond. It’s safe to say that everyone in the audience envied the fruits of their dedication. The end of the video said it all – “Thank you, Rotary!”
There will be a Rotaract pot-luck dinner April 14. As Sam asserted, “All Rotarians are welcome!”
John asked PP Ashish Sarkar to come to the podium. Ashish immediately turned to the students and asked them, “What is one thing you have brought back from your service trips.” The answers: ‘To build community relations; an appreciation for concrete mixing machines; all meshed together very well, forming permanent friendships; enhanced perspectives on the world; the Katrina aftermath is still ever-present; hearing from people what theyneeded; and a truly shocking fact – Louisiana is losing an acre every 30 minutes.
Joanne returned to announce that Abby is president-elect, and that “I’m going to be stepping down, but Andrew Sohn and Bev Seiford will be Committee chair and [deputy] chair, respectively.” Unanimous appreciation was expressed by the assembly to the Rotaractors and club leadership by thunderous applause.
As Bob Buchanan said earlier, “Good job!”
Song: The irrepressible Jim Irwin (donning his sharp Augusta National shirt) accompanied
by Tom Strode led us in singing “April Showers” and “When the Red, Red Robin…” “Golf’s coming,” Jim declared to our general relief, “and fishing, too.”
Ashish then returned to the podium to welcome Mr. Makarand Phadke and his wife, who are visiting from Pune Metro, in India. Mr. Phadke is president-elect of the Pun Metro Rotary Club. He spoke of his Club: “We were established only in 1996, so we are very young but are able to contribute to the Rotary ecosystem[Note: a term we will hear again, used by Ann Arbor members.]. We do a lot of service projects, but we also have a lot of fun!” He then informed us that the Pune Metro club is now engaged in international projects, such as “improving schools in Nigeria.” In India, his fellow Rotarians have built a bund, a kind of earthen dike, to catch rainwater for channeling into fields “that would otherwise dry up after the monsoons.”
Touch-A-Truck: Will occur Saturday, May 12, from 9:00-noon, at Ypsilanti Community High School on Packard Road. As John queried the assembly, “Can you tell the difference between a garbage truck and a fire truck? What if you can’t see?” He asked Norma Sarkar to come up and describe the event. With her perennial enthusiasm, Norma highlighted what Touch-A-Truck means to the children and their parents who attend, a fun-filled morning that also informs the adults about healthy child care techniques and resources. She also mentioned the recent Michigan education requirements – “for children to be able to read proficiently by third grade before progressing to fourth grade.” Volunteers are needed for balloon ‘preparation’ as well as being greeters. Please contact Committee chair Norman Herbert if you can help out. It really isa lot of fun.
Kati Bauer also informed us that, “a goal of 2018 is for every Rotarian to plant a tree. That said, Scott Nelson is leading an effort to plant 100 trees [for] the District Conference the first week in May.” Members will be approached to contribute $60 for a ‘tree tag’ before the meetings on April 18, 25, and May 2. You will be able to “personalize each tag…which is a wonderful way to honor a loved one.”
JET: Join leaders; Exchange ideas; Take action
by John White