Notes from September 1, 2021 Rotary Club of Ann Arbor Meeting
The September 1, 2021 Rotary meeting was called to order by President Susan at 12:30 PM. Tom Strode began the meeting by playing “God Bless America.”
Dennis Power’s inspirational message included several quotes from Robert F. Kennedy, “Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total; of all those acts will be written the history of this generation.” Robert Kennedy cautioned: “First is the danger of futility; the belief there is nothing one man or one woman can do against the enormous array of the world’s ills — against misery and ignorance, injustice and violence.” He emphasized “It is not enough to understand or see clearly; the future will be shaped by those willing to commit their minds and their bodies to the task.” Dennis stated that these quotes seem particularly suited to our speaker’s talk, today, “Breakfast at St. Andrews.”
Our musical selection today was a nod to the beginning of University of Michigan football, back after two years. Ingrid Sheldon chose a rousing video of the University of Michigan Marching Band and “Michigan Victors.” Go Blue!
President Susan announced that today is the start of Education and Literacy month for Rotary International. Each month there is a different theme. There were “thank-you’s” for everyone that makes our meeting work. There were 2 birthdays.
Dawn Johnson talked about the process of being a meeting inspirational speaker. Mary Steffek Blaske has been the coordinator for inspirational speakers for the past seven years. Dawn and Mary invite you to give an inspirational selection at the beginning of a meeting. Doing this can be a powerful way to connect and reconnect with members of the Club. Dawn said that these messages can make an impact on one or many. Each inspiration should be about 2 minutes long, non-denominational and not political. It can come from a poem, a speech, a book passage, a landmark date. Often, they relate to the meeting’s speaker.
Greg Stejskal gave a Golf and Tennis Outing update. The committee held a meeting yesterday to go over the details. There are concerns regarding the COVID Delta variant. The committee is taking all precautions for the outdoor portion, the dinner and the silent auction. They ask that everyone be vaccinated for the safety of everyone. The dining room is allowing for some social distancing. Masks will be available. The event can handle more people for the dinner. There will be a good silent auction and an excellent speaker, Jack Harbaugh. Lastly, there is still room for more golfers. If you are not able to attend, donations are encouraged for local and international grants that we do every year.
Tom Millard told us about another Adopt-A-Highway event on October 2. Last spring when our Rotary Club cleaned the highway, we collected 61 bags of trash including the most amazing, bizarre items. On October 2, we will meet from 9 -11:30 in groups of 4. The time commitment on the highway will be under 90 minutes. The walk will be less than one city block long.
President Susan took us through a few things that have been happening behind the scenes:
Earlier this summer, there was a temporary closure of the Universal Access Playground. Some of the rubber surfacing was damaging and is being replaced. The City of Ann Arbor is keeping an eye on the playground and is completing maintenance as needed.
For the first time, Rotary International is having a World River Day on September 26. Brenda Tipton, our District 6308 Governor, has asked all clubs in our district to have a river cleanup on that day. Dawn Johnson, Board member, has volunteered to follow-up on this and will contact the Huron River Watershed and soon be able to tell us about the project and how we can help. This is part of the 7th area of focus for Rotary on the environment.
Some Canadian clubs are doing a “Pints for Polio” project. Currently, polio is all but gone except for two countries. Board member and co-owner of Ashley’s, Roy More, is going to partner with the brewery, Dragonmead, to have a fun happy hour in October. Ashley’s has agreed to donate $1 per pour during that week, which will be match by 50% by Rotary International and 2 times by the Gates Foundation. This means each pour will be worth $4.50 for polio eradication.
The Michigan Union cannot have us back in person until early October.
Our speaker – Morgan Battle, Executive Director, Breakfast at St. Andrews Episcopal Church
The speaker was introduced by Dennis Powers.
In October 1982, the founders of this program opted to combat hunger every day of the year for everyone that showed up. The program is based on volunteer help which hasn’t missed a single meal over the years including the last 19 months of the pandemic.
In February 2020, right before everything shut down, the breakfast program held their most successful fundraiser ever at the Michigan Theater. The amazing Mavis Staples performed and $20,000 was raised.
In March 2020, things became very serious, the program moved away from the traditional buffet meal and used disposable dishes and utensils. On March 16, the doors opened at 8:00 AM and had about 85 people come in. Many phones started going off – the Governor just shut down in-person dining. Many of the people there lost their jobs at that moment. In a matter of just 23 hours, the program was completely restructured.
The program switched to breakfast bars, cereal, yogurt, hard boiled eggs, anything that could be part of carryout breakfast. Before the pandemic, there had been 900 volunteers. All but 24 were not able to participate after the shutdown. There were 24 volunteers left, 2 people from 12 households. During the entire spring and summer of 2020, they worked with those 24 volunteers with a few subs.
In the summer of 2020, the program received several 1000 GM masks and face shields for the volunteers. There were renovations of the facility including a hand washing sink in the entryway. As winter came on, it was apparent that cold breakfasts didn’t work for the people receiving breakfast. The program contracted with several local restaurants to provide hot breakfast sandwiches. But then, when meal recipients were having to eat out in the cold or not able to get to the church as all, the program began to deliver meals to housing facilities. To date, most meals are still being delivered. The goal is to be back inside St. Andrews Church by October 1.
Breakfast at St. Andrews has been a stand-alone non-profit for the past 15 years. The program was started by St. Andrews and is still located there but the organization now pays St. Andrews for the space. Often the food is rescued from local restaurants. One half of the food comes from Food Gatherers.
The next fundraiser will be at the Michigan Theater on February 22, 2022.
The meeting closed with this quote from President Susan:
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” – Teddy Roosevelt
The meeting was adjourned at 1:22 PM.
Notes by Carol Senneff
Photography by Fred Beutler