Mary Paige Lang-Clouse, Director of the Ethelbert B. Crawford Library was the guest speaker at our March 7th meeting. She brought us up to date on the newest programs available at the library and she also spoke about the upcoming project to make the library a major meeting place for the community by providing a landscaped park in the area adjacent to the library building. Mary Paige showed artist renderings and a short computer video of what the area will ultimately look like. You can keep up to date with email notifications from the library by signing up on the website at http://www.ebcrawfordlibrary.org/
Rotarians Doug Muller and Joe D'Abbraccio made a $500 donation to the Federation. Kathy was speechless.
The following discussion reviews the recent presentation of China City by Ms. Sherry Li. As part of the review, I have included some cursory research that I conducted, which may be helpful in providing you with some historical background as to how China City has evolved over the years.
On January 10, 2017, Sherry Li, the CEO of China City (also known as the Thompson Education Center), made an oral and slide presentation before the Monticello Rotary Club1. The proposed 575-acre development, called China City2, is on a parcel of land that is off Route 17, Exit 112, which borders Wild Turnpike in the Town of Thompson and extends to the town of Mamakating. China City will be an educational institution that offers college level courses to students primarily from China. It is expected that the student body will also include Americans, as well as non-Chinese foreign students.
China City will offer four majors: business; movie, media and arts; culinary; and nursing. Depending upon their majors and career goals, some students will matriculate for four years at the college, while other students will be at China City for only one year, while spending the other three years in China where they will graduate. Ms. Li indicated that China City has executed several letters of understanding. One is with Catskill Regional Hospital, regarding the nursing program; and another is with Phoenix, a Chinese media company that is educating 80,000 students. The college will grow in stages, and at its final phase will have a 2,500-student body.
The guest speaker at our December 6th meeting was Cindy Menges from Delaware River Solar, a new community solar energy company. Ms. Menges said that she's trying to spread the word about what her company does. She gave a slide presentation about the various types of renewable energy, why renewable energy is needed, and how Delaware River Solar fits into that picture in New York State.
“The United States depends heavily on Coal, oil, and natural gas...”, said Cindy, “These are finite resources”. Ms Menges stress that we need to develop other sources of renewable energy and solar is one of them. Governor Cuomo's Energy Initiative seeks to have 50% of the energy generated by New York State come from renewable sources by 2030. New York State is also providing incentives to businesses and homeowners who switch to renewable energy sources. It is also hoped that the shift to renewable energy will spur economic development.
Ms. Menges concluded her presentation by talking about solar energy options that are available to businesses and residences in Sullivan County through her company.
The guest speaker at our Nov. 29th meeting was Tony Poli from the Sullivan County ATV Association, a non-profit organization that holds ATV (4-Wheeler) trail run fundraising events twice a year throughout the woods of Sullivan County. The proceeds from their events benefit families with children with special needs.
Mr. Poli gave a very interesting account of how the Sullivan County ATV Association and its fundraising events started in 1999 at Mr. Willys restaurant with about 90 participants. It was so successful that people asked if it could be held again on an annual basis. The ATV trail Poker Run event has remained very popular over the years and is now held twice a year. Although the attendance at the events has dropped recently from its peak of over 700, the ATV trail events still draws 300 – 400 people. The Sullivan County ATV Association has given out over $240,000 to children with disabilities since it started.
Mr. Poli tried to explain how difficult it is to hold the ATV trail run events. “It’s a lot of hard work”, he said. New York State does not provide any places to use ATVs, so private owners are asked for the use of their properties. Tony is involved with contacting property owners for permission to go through their land, setting up contracts where necessary, clearing and cleaning the trails, as well as putting up and removing the signage along the trails for the events. He said that they’ve gotten pretty good at running the things, but most of all, he loves being out in the woods of Sullivan County. People come from all over the United States to participate in the ATV trail events.
Mr. Poli said that he wished more people in Sullivan County would realize what a wonderful and beautiful place they live in.
Angela Dutcher, Executive Director of the Literacy Volunteers of Sullivan County, was the guest speaker at our November 1st meeting. Ms. Dutcher has spoken at our club before and our club is a long-time supporter of her organization. She began her presentation by announcing that the Literacy Volunteers has embarked on a program to work with Ideal Snacks, a major employer in our area, to improve the literacy levels of their employees. The Literacy Volunteers is willing to work with any employer who wants assistance with tutoring ESL employees.
The Literacy Volunteers also has a program that helps Monticello High School student dropouts earn their GEDs. The graduation rate of Monticello high school is only 77%. Being a high school dropout is no guarantee of failure. Ms. Dutcher herself was a high school dropout, but she went and got her GED and then went on to college to get her degree.
The Literacy Volunteers works very closely with B.O.C.E.S. They are often called upon to help tutor B.O.C.E.S. students who are having difficulty with reading.
Most shocking is the continued high rate of illiteracy in Sullivan County and more specifically in the village of Monticello. The link between illiteracy and continued poverty is clear. Ms. Dutcher read a series of statistics that supported her statements. The median income for per capita in Sullivan County from 2010 – 2014 was approximately $25,000. In the village of Monticello is was $18,000.
The coming of the Casino to our area highlights the need to have a more literate workforce and people capable of being trained to do the jobs that will be available. Ms. Dutcher fears that many people in our area won't be qualified enough to get the jobs due to poor reading skills and a lack of education. She cited a similar circumstance that occurred when Walmart first came to our area.
The bottom line is that the Literacy Volunteers is a volunteer organization that wants to help people who want to learn to read in order to better themselves and create opportunities for a better life. The problem is... They desperately need volunteer tutors to help with their programs. Ms. Dutcher said that she could hold GED and ESL classes every day of the week, but she doesn't have enough volunteer tutors. Tutors are needed one to two days a week for 2 hours, to tutor a student. Tutor training is much easier now because the training is done online at the Literacy New York website, at your own convenience... and it's free.
During the discussion/Q & A period of the presentation president John Greenbaum suggested that perhaps senior citizens with time on their hands could be a source of tutors. Ms. Dutcher agreed and thanked him for the suggestion.
If you know anyone willing to become a tutor for the Literacy Volunteers of Sullivan County, please contact Ms. Dutcher at 845 -794-0017.. Please help.
District Governor Louis Turpin and Assistant District Governor Amador Laput visited our club on October 25, 2016.
AG Laput introduced the District Governor who is a retired architect and a very involved Rotarian. DG Turpin is the "Shelter Box" program's representative to Rotary, he is on numerous boards, and he works with Nobel Prize Peace Laureates. DG Turpin began by saying he was in our shoes not too long ago with regard to the District. “I had no idea who the District was.”, he said. He has since found out. The district consists of people who are there to support Rotary clubs with service projects they do in their local communities and the world community.
“Rotary is an amazing organization” DG Turpin said, “and we should all be very proud of the way we serve humanity”. Many other organizations focus on a single aspect of service. Rotary doesn't do that. Rotary has six official areas of focus for how we serve humanity. Those areas are: Fighting diseases (the Polio-Plus program), Maternal and Child Health, Fresh Water and Sanitation, Education and Literacy, Economic Development throughout the developing world, and finally Peace and Conflict Resolution. Rotary was instrumental in helping form the United Nations. Rotary sees a need and figures a way to solve it.
DG Turpin said that he was aware of our club and the great things we do in community. He then challenged our club to step back and take a look at how we could take on new service projects that would benefit not only our local communities, but also benefit the world.
DG Turpin spoke about the word team. The word TEAM means: Together Everyone Achieves More. Great things can be achieved working with the District and our club leadership.
Shelter Box is a program that was started a Rotary Club service project. Shelter Box is an international relief organization that provides a box that contains shelter and other supplies to provide hope and dignity to the families who have lost everything during a disaster. Most recently, shelter boxes were in Haiti even before the latest hurricane arrived.
DG Turpin handed out a brochure which listed the District leadership team and the District goals for the coming year. The main goal of the District is for each club to have a “Hands-on” service project does “good” whether in the local community or abroad. A visible service project is one way attract the attention of your community and let them know what Rotary is about. A visible service project is also a way of attracting new members.
This year's District theme is “Do Good Have Fun We are Rotary” which is a good way to quickly describe what Rotary does.