President John rang the Rotary bell, and the crowded Anderson Room rose at once to belt out “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Then Joanne Pierson bounded to the podium to deliver a fabulous Inspiration. “Please be seated, Rotarians,” she began. For some reason a tradition has arisen at our meetings whereby Rotarians react to the way the invoker invites them to sit, or not. Joanne’s invitation, and its inflection, was reminiscent of a teacher settling down an overheated class of first graders. Indeed, your reporter felt as if he’d been caught pulling Polly’s ponytail, with a face covered with cream cheese.
“I hope you give yourselves the gift of time to read the Rotarian magazine” Joanne continued. “It really shows what’s right in the world.” She then read a poem of her own, titled “Ordinary to Extraordinary.” A few excerpts: “Inspired by The Rotarian, January 2018, I thought, ‘What does being a Rotarian mean?’ Joining forces with 1.2 million others, in over 200 countries, we’ve sisters and brothers. Six pillars, Rotary International designed to better the Earth, we strive so that all can experience their worth.” After enumerating the 6 — Promoting peace; Fighting disease; Providing clean water; Saving mothers and children; Supporting education; Growing local economies – she concluded thusly: “I thought about listing folks from our Club who have done good deeds, but there lies the rub. Too many to mention, and that is the Truth, who are doing good service, helping veterans to youth. So, take a moment and insert your name here and together we’ll create an extraordinary year.” The ovation given by her listeners followed her all the way back to her table. Bravo, Joanne Marttila Pierson!
As Joanne was performing double duty that day, she remained to lead us in song. At the piano, maestro Tom Strode was ready. It would be only one song, Frank Loesser’s “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” Written in 1944 as a call and response duet for his wife Lynn Garland, the song would guarantee the couples’ attendance at A-list parties on both coasts for years. Sold by Loesser to MGM in 1948 for inclusion in the film “Neptune’s Daughter,” Garland was furious at the loss of “our song…I felt as betrayed as if I’d caught him in bed with another woman.” For Rotary’s version, Joanne insisted on the traditional call-response/mouse-wolf structure. Members and guests, to their credit, accomplished this feat with minimal attrition and quite a dose of élan: “…My neighbors might think (Baby, it’s bad out there!), Say! What’s in this drink? (No cabs to be had out there.)….”
Bringing us back from ear muffs and fireside martinis, Paul Smith updated us on the Ghana school project: “Ian Bund generously challenged us to donate, and that he would match that up to $2,500. I’m happy to say, this has been extended. $1,200 is still needed, so please consider donating.” Thank you, Ian and Paul!
John then asked future president, Rosemarie Rowney, to describe the recent IHPC meeting. A video would accompany Rosemarie’s presentation. “From Ghana to Bangladesh,” she began. “Bangladesh was once a part of India. It is a small country, about the size of Wisconsin, but is heavily populated.” She described the country’s particular vulnerabilities: “its proximity to Myanmar,” and its long, tortuously indented coastline. “This is a country where many people suffer injuries from car accidents and drowning – there’s a lot of water. Our goal is to provide doctors and nurses to this village.” Rosemarie then highlighted a major factor in any Rotary overseas project: “You have to have a strong [local] Rotary club when you do an intervention. We did. We are making a difference in local, national, and international efforts.” Bravo, Rosemarie.
Returning to the podium, John imparted the unhappy news that Carolyn Grawi would be leaving the Club. Carolyn, a major factor in the realization of the Universal Access Playground, has accepted a position with a disability advocacy organization in Pensacola, Florida. She will be heartily missed. Au revoir, Carolyn.
Amy Kilbourne then came up to announce, “We’re going to do something new – flash surveys.” As a modification to the annual long-form Club survey, Amy encouraged members to reply quickly to the “one or two survey questions,” which will appear perhaps on a monthly basis. Receipt of completed surveys in the old style has been a problem. The new, short format is expected to generate a more copious response.
Social Committee chair Susan Smith-Gray reported on a favorite event: “January 25th is Wine, Women & Song. I hope to see you all at Kerrytown Concert Hall. This is a fun, fun evening. Please come, and bring someone!” Hors d’oeuvres will be served at 7:30 p.m., and the performance begins at eight. Cost — $25. A great event to bring a friend interested in joining Rotary.
Three stellar students from Father Gabriel Richard School were honored by the assembly. Laura Thomas introduced them – Claire McNally (interest: research biology), Laura Roelant (teaching, “so as to shape a next generation”) and Andrew Putlock (Naval Academy or Air Force Academy). “As Rotarians we believe in performing well in our careers AND in our families and communities,” Laura began. “When you are settling into your first jobs, consider joining Rotary!”
Following up on the emphasis on youth, John announced that a Huron High student from Czechoslovakia is in need of a host family. “Please contact Mary Jean Raab if you are interested in hosting this student,” urged John.
Speaker: Next, Cynthia Wilbanks gave a great introduction to our speaker: Marianne Udow-Phillips, Executive Director, Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation, University of Michigan. Describing Ms. Udow-Phillips’s “profound dedication to healthcare,” and distinguished career, Cynthia remarked, “Marianne is an alumna of the University of Michigan School of Public Health, and, happily for me, is a friend and colleague. It is my pleasure to introduce to you Marianne Udow-Phillips.” Hearty applause greeted our speaker, whose topic, “Successfully Moving Research to Policy,” promised to pique the audience’s interest.
Ms. Udow-Phillips immediately pointed out the age-old problem inherent in U.S. ‘healthcare’ – “a market good or a social good? We have always been conflicted on the goals.” Her mission, however, seems clear: “to connect UM researchers with [industry].” She affirmed that a root cause of the problem is that researchers and businesspeople come at healthcare from different directions. She, her colleagues, and her organization, CHRT, provide the meeting ground where both sides can be understood. Formed from the sale of M-Care to Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan in 2006, CHRT “is hosted by the UM and is a 501(c) 3. All our employees are UM, but we have our own board. M-Care did a lot of research to inform us about healthcare.” The combination with BC/BS, she asserts, enables the company “to offer and implement programs people experience on a day-to-day basis.” Indeed, one problem, up to now, has been that “we’ve had policy not informed by evidence.” One wrench in the relationship between scientists and businesspeople/investors has been different priorities – “Researchers were writing for publication in journals, for [UM] tenure; business wanted to apply research to real-world situations. BC/BS developed a program to inform researchers about how policy (and business) works. It’s a four-month program to see if they can speak the same language.” This is accomplished, Udow-Phillips explains, through a fellowship program at CHRT: “The fellowship is bipartisan and bicameral. In fact, it’s one of the few things that gives me confidence in the future.” As she underscored, the process “is about relationship-building.”
John warmly thanked our speaker amid loud applause. Then he reminded us of JET: “Join leaders, Exchange ideas, Take action!”
OTHER NOTES OF INTEREST
District 6380 Newsletter for January:
This month’s edition includes a front page article by DG Barry Fraser citing items of interest at the midpoint of his term. Subsequent pages tell us about the upcoming District Conference (May 3-6) and the RI Convention in Toronto (June 23-28) and introduce us to Karen Gabrys of the Ypsi Club. She will be the District Governor after Jane McManus and Sparky Leonard. Pages 3 and 4 are devoted to membership topics. Rhonda Pancyzk, District Membership Chair, is inviting all interested Rotarians to a multi-district Membership Seminar on Saturday, January 27 in Lansing. She also has a page devoted to her Membership Halftime Report. An obituary for John Barfield and an article by our Past President Maurita Holland on Jim Irwin’s Rotary song are on page 5. She is promoting it widely. The article includes a link to play it on YouTube. The rest of the newsletter is articles highlighting the activities and events of various clubs throughout the district. Read it all for yourself by clicking here.
Fundraisers at other Rotary Clubs:
On the afternoon of Sunday, February 18, the Ann Arbor North and Milan Clubs will join together to host a family-friendly fundraiser at Revel & Roll on South Industrial Blvd. Proceeds will benefit Fisher House Michigan. Bowling, arcade games, silent auction and pizza with be featured. Click here for details
The Rotary Club of Ann Arbor West will be hosting its annual International Day on Saturday, March 10. Their website doesn’t list the event yet but you can mark your calendars now.
Are you missing something?
A pink canvas bag with a floral tweed hat was left behind in the Anderson Room last Wednesday. It’s in the Lost and Found behind the information desk. Contact John White or Dave Williams if you need help.
Weekly Meeting Statistics:
A total of 123 Rotarians welcomed in 2018 at the first meeting of the new year. It was the best turnout since last year at this time. We also had one visiting Rotarian (Heather Feldkamp of Saline) and 13 guests, including our three Jr. Rotarians and their well-wishers. In advance of the lunch, a total of 38 members gathered in meetings of five committees; Community Allocations, International Humanitarian Projects, Membership, Rotary Fights Hunger and STRIVE. Also reported was the meeting of Public Image committees on January 9 (four Rotarians) and the Golf and Tennis Outing on October 25, 2017 (eight Rotarians). Note from John White: “In reviewing the attendance sheets, I remember seeing five Rotarians and two guests whose attendance was not recorded. Please remember to sign in on the orange sheets (twice if attending an adjoining committee meeting) and register your guests. It helps in our meal planning and other projections. Thanks!”
Makeup Cards for Roving Rotarians:
President John (Traverse City on October 24, 2017). He said he carried his makeup card a long time before remembering to submit it.