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Club Information (#27802, District 6360)

We meet Wednesdays at 7:00 AM
Elks Lodge (BPOE 541)
601 Riverview Drive
Benton Harbor, MI 49022
Map            Background Check
Write to us at:
Benton Harbor Sunrise Rotary
PO Box 1552
Benton Harbor. MI 49023-1552
Meeting Presentations and Stories
Dr. Shelly Walker, superintendent of Benton Harbor Area Schools, returned to Rotary to provide an update on the district. She reported that organizing the grades in five groups has worked well.  The K-2 dual language program is being well accepted and drawing in Spanish speakers.  Music and arts have been added to each group.  Dream Academy has been acquired and integrated in as an alternative school of choice.  Her priorities are simple: learning and safe and orderly schools.  For better results on learning she is focusing on the later, she is teaming with local partners, such as IUSB, Lakeland Regional Heath, Riverwood and others to reduce suspensions.  Each building will have an "intervention center" staffed with behavior specialists to help students overcome their behavior issues and return to the classroom. Extra funds for the centers is being supplied by a Safe and Secure grant.
George McManus of Piggott's Farm in Benton Harbor has a sustainable approach for his 800 acres.  First he divides the acreage into three parts and then rotates the usage every year between vegetables, corn and soy beans (leased out) and cover crop.  The cover crop is fourteen varieties that retain moisture and enrich the soil. The vegetables are grown in plastic tunnels.  The tunnels include fertilizer and drip irrigation which uses only 10% of the water. The tunnel also prevents the fertilizer from being carried into the waterways. Clear plastic layered over wire frames retain heat and avoid frost damage. Rye or corn are planted between rows to provide shade and prevent wind from removing soil. George employs eighty field hands throughout the season.  George is a long time supporter of our Rotary and co-founder of Countryside Academy and president of their school board.
The  Benton Harbor Sunrise Rotary Foundation has established an endowment fund to support its mission of promoting literacy, numeracy and personal development among the youth of Benton Harbor. The endowment fund was started by an initial donation from a member of Benton Harbor Sunrise Rotary. Don Mitchell, president of the foundation, commented on the news, "We're excited by this donation. This new fund will expand our ability to provide funds and grants that advance the mission of the foundation."

The Endowment Fund joins the Benton Harbor Alumni Scholarship Fund and General Fund as tools to impact the youth of Benton Harbor.  The foundation is a 501c(3) public charity. Tax deductible donations may be sent to PO Box 1552, Benton Harbor, MI 49023, use the memo line to designate your choice of fund.
Brigitte Baskin, Boatswain's Mate third class (pronounced Bosunsmate) or BM3 for short, US Coast Guard, grew up in a small farm community in Florida.  She joined the service after trying college for a year.  Her first duty station was close to home in Panama City, Florida.  She set her sights on becoming a helmsman, selecting the BM rate.  She was transferred to St. Joseph station two years ago.  She survived her first experiences with snow and driving on winter roads. Activities at the station include search and rescue, about 50 per year, and law enforcement, about 500 safety inspections per year. She noted that they do not need probable cause to stop and inspect any vessel.  Flares, PFDs, running lights and fire extinguisher are common safety equipment boats must have. Training is a constant part of military life, so you can expect to see Brigitte and the rest of the station out on the lake in all conditions. She expects to make the Coast Guard her career.
Thanks to Countryside Academy's Aerospace Team Program, Mr. Fred Frazee, science teacher was able to use a drone to capture the 2016 Great Bed Race.  The brief video below starts with the parade past the reviewing stand to be judged for the most creative design.  Then the racing begins.  Two teams race to the half-way point where the rider must complete a task then jump back on the bed for the race back to the finish.  You'll note the team in red shirts leading most of their heats.  That's the team from Wightman Associates; they're fast and have an excellent game person. They were the first place winner.  Thank you Fred, Countryside Academy, co-sponsor Slumberland Furniture and all the great organizations that competed.
There are more photos available here.
The video is available here: https://youtu.be/5yUS4qtbTd4
A belated thanks to the folks at Mid-west Family Broadcasting for their on-going support of the Great Bed Race.  This year they supplied two emcees and two judges.  The emcees were new to the community and new to the event, Brock Havens from the Rock 107 Morning Show and Matt Malone, the 97.5 Y-Country Morning Show.  Lindsay Kay, 97.5 Y-Country drive time, and Kristen Havens, executive assistant, were judges. We also appreciate Lorraine Day's support for Rotary.
Martin's Community Affairs coordinator Cathy Taylor organized a book drive to collect donations of books for our Books for Kids program.  Customers came through with many wonderful books.  Thank you  Cathy and Martin's.
Denise Arend's son Brandon committed suicide at 16 in 2014. He had been a wonderful son, athlete, student, and friend. But he had depression, a hidden medical condition, that led to his death. Denise tried to get help but Brandon declined the treatment, and at 16, she could not force him to accept the help. In her pain and grief she became involved with the Berrien County Suicide Prevention Coalition. She learned that suicide is the 10th leading cause, taking 42,000 deaths each year, with three times more men affected. Below are the signs and a link to the coalition's website with meeting schedule and much more.
For more information click here.
Juliet Cunningham, JA program director, started with a wonderful (and short) video that tells the JA story of teaching work readiness, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy. JA has courses and content for every age group from elementary school through high school.  JA uses volunteers to deliver the content.  This allows current business people to use their own experiences to add flavor and interest to the programs.  JA and Rotary are working together to provide the elementary program at Countryside Academy. The video is also available at https://youtu.be/4L49IjKV6po
Marcus Winchester is the director of language and culture from the Pokagon Band on Potawatami. Before the Europeans came the Potawatami left the east coast near Maine and inhabited the southwest of Michigan, the north of Indiana and most of Illinois and into Wisconsin. Over time the nation split into three, the Pokagon, the Odawa or Ottowa, and the Ojibwa or Chippewas. These three tribes continue to operate as one nation. Marcus explained that duties are carried out along traditional lines with the Pokagons as fire keepers, Odawa as traders and Ojibwa keepers of tradition.  Marcus is of the Thunder clan which is responsible for planning (thunder relates to sky, relates to vision, relates to the future).  The experiences the early French and British were agreeable but the Europeans wanted land. The St. Joseph leader, Pokagon, decided to cooperate rather than move to a reservation.  They signed a treaty with the US Government that provided funds in exchange for land.  Eventually the head of the missionary embezzled a portion of the funds to start Notre Dame. To learn more about the Pokagons click here.
Our club's Farai Rukunda refused several invitations to join his "dad" to join his on mission trip to his home village of Arnoldine in Zimbabwe Africa.  When he was offered free air fare he ran out of excuses. More than forty years ago the United Method Church built a church and clinic in his village.  Later a school was added.  But the village needed some help. The trip is covered in pictures from a presentation Farai made to the Stevensville Methodist Church in the video below. He is raising funds to build an addition to the school.  The video is also available at https://youtu.be/yizNTaGC6Nk

When Paul Harris died he did not want any flowers.  In stead, he asked for donations to the Rotary Foundation. A total of $1.3 million was donated, building the foundation to an operational level.
The growth has continued.  This has allowed Rotary to expand the breadth and depth of its philanthropy.  For example the foundation made 915 grants for 2014-2015, with $123.4 million for polio eradication and $68.7 million for the other areas of focus.  See graphic below from The Rotarian, November 2016 edition.
Princella Tobias, founder and editor of the Benton Spirit Newspaper came to talk about the Benton Harbor History Class she teaches and the Benton Harbor History Calendar she has produced.  The 2016 Calendar was on each table for us to take.
Do you know the history of Benton Harbor?  Do you know the founders?  Do you know any of the famous people whose roots are in Benton Harbor? Princella has found that most of the young people know nothing about their roots here in Benton Harbor.  She created this class and calendar to educate, instill pride, showcase and inspire our young people.  She started the class at the Benton Harbor Public Library as a summer program.  She could see the transformation of the young people.  Three essays from her graduates were read.  These students were very excited that they learned good things about Benton Harbor and not just the negative things.  They also were excited that they were able to learn people skills and life skills and how to do public speaking.  They were given a purpose and hope for their future. 
The 2017 calendar will be even more important and will educate our children even further. You can learn more by contacting Princella through her newspaper, click here.
Alan Bartlett has posted four photos albums from our recent events.  Check out these wonderful shots.
For pumpkin decorating click here.
For face painting click here.
For other pumpkin festival photos click here.
For Bed Race photos click here.
The albums are also on the lower right of our home page.
The Great Bed Race is won or lost during the games refereed by Whitney, Mike, Pam, Beth and Larry (not Farai, Sorry!). This was just one aspect of a great event, won again by Wightman Associates.  Lakeland and Home was most creative, Lakeland Building Service won best team spirit.  Wightman also lead in donations, with $1,200.
The Pumpkin Festival was busy with pumpkin decorating and carving, plant and bake sale, and over 500 pumpkins circulating the tank waiting for the final drawing.
Great work by all the Rotarians that did all the big and little things that made these events successful.  All the proceeds, net of expenses, will go for our programs to benefit the youth of Benton Harbor.
Stay tuned for an update that includes photos by Alan Bartlett.
Our new layout with a large tent near the starting line worked out well, especially for a couple of brief rain falls. Turn was down but we will still help fund our Books for Kids program with the proceeds.  Thanks to our hosts: Harbor Shores and Renaissance Athletic Club, all our runners, walkers, sponsors, prize and food donors, workers - both Rotarians and friends of Rotary.
The Boys and Girls Club, with funds provided by a club grant, combined with the Renaissance Athletic Club, the Y, and the City of Benton Harbor, to provide basic swimming instruction.  In a report provided by Brian Saxton, the students reported impressive growth in comfort with the water and learning to swim.  We hope several of this new swimmers will become new sailors next summer.
Imani, a student at Dream Academy, enjoyed the experience of a weekend of RYLA camp.  The leadership exercises were fun and challenging. She even canoed for the first time.  Imani plans to attend the next RYLA camp in the spring.
Bob Kynast, the club's fundraising chairman, provided a preview of the Pumpkin Run on September 17.  Bob used the club's video review to remind members why we need to work on this event (see below).  All the details are at the event website, click here.
Tyler Cook was inducted into membership of Benton Harbor Sunrise Rotary by Dyann Chenault. Tyler is a third generation Rotarian, lives in Cassopolis with his wife and child, teaches school at River School in Sodus and will be the faculty advisor for their new Interact club. Janet Drews is Tyler's sponsor.
Jasmina started her presentation with facts about Germany.  It has 16 states, a population of 82 million and uses the Euro for its currency. Schwerin is the capital of her state and the home of the Sherweriner Schlosse, a castle perched on an island.  See below.
Jasmina said the park/castle was one of her favorite places to go.  She attends a gymnasium (high school), which is for college preparation.  She plans to study international event planning.  She speaks French and English and plans to add Spanish.  Her family has hosted an exchange student from Argentina and her sister was an exchange student in France.  America was her dream destination.
Her goals for her exchange year is to have three different hosts, attend a big football game, go skiing and make friends at school and RYE events. Lee Scherwitz presented her a birthday card. She turns 16 on September 1, 2016.
The youngster pictured is riding a tricycle that he can "peddle" with his arms. He's a special need child and received the bike from the Ray Carlson Memorial. This is just one of the success stories told by Craig Carlson, founder and chairman, of the organization.  Craig started life with his feet on backwards.  His father and mother sacrificed so much to correct Craig's feet.  It took 7 years of surgery and therapy before he took his first step.  Along the way the Elks offered to help.  The Carlson's were too proud to accept the help but Mr. Carlson eventually became an Elk.  Craig was working at the Elks when his father died in 1991 and he decided to start the Ray Carlson Memorial to honor his father and the sacrifices he make for his special needs child.  Now the Memorial raises funds for special needs children in Berrien County, those with juvenile diabetes, arthritis, cancer, or hearing, speech or physical impairments.  The organization covers all its administrative costs so that 100% of funds raised or donated go to help special needs children, like the tricycle, a service dog, a special car seat.  Eight volunteers and 200 local sponsors power the organization. This year they will spend $42,000 helping children.
Plans are being finalized for a special needs park, filled with equipment such that every child will be find fun and enjoy an appropriate apparatus. The estimated cost is $210,000.  Stay tuned.  To learn more or make a donation click here.
Patrice Grant, on left, club president, proudly displays the banner from Rotary Club of Parchim Germany.  Jasmina, our club's exchange student, displays our club banner.  Parchim is about 60 miles east of Hamburg.  We'll hear more from Jasmina in the future.
Shown, from left, Tanieka, Larkin, Lou, Addie, Alyssa, Annie and Grace, representatives of the four Interact clubs that participated in this year's trip to the Dominican Republic.  A total of thirty-five students went on the trip.  The initial impression was a joyous place, filled with music and signs of faith.  The people and the place were upbeat and colorful. Each student provided a water filter to a family in the village - setting it up and teaching how to use it.  Local Rotaractors helped with translation.  They also helped construct a latrine - a block and cement affair involving lots of work.  Finally they assisted in a mobile medical unit that provided services to locals. They had plenty of time to meet and play with children, passing out forty bags of clothes, shoes and toys. The kids were very happy. A day at the beach and life at the compound made the trip fun as well as satisfying for the work the team accomplished.  Many found new facebook friends when they got home.
Rotarians have had a busy summer so far.  Pictured at left is the expanded chicken coop at Countryside, thanks to great teamwork by Rotary and Countryside.  Well done, everyone!  And on a rainy Saturday morning the Rotary's Centennial Park at Chicago and Linden was refreshed and repaired for the season.  Thanks to the AKA sorority for their ongoing clean up and care of the park.
Club Information

Welcome to our Website!

Benton Harbor-Sunrise

Service Above Self

We meet Wednesdays at 7:00 AM
Elks Lodge (BPOE 541)
601 Riverview Dr.
For mail: PO Box 1552
Benton Harbor, MI  49022-1552
United States
District Site
Venue Map
Dr. Patricia Quattrin
Dec 14, 2016
BH Girls Association
Terezie SWM Disability Network
Dec 21, 2016
Rob Cleveland Cornestone Alliance President
Jan 04, 2017
Brief Plan For 2017


Pam Pappas - September 5

Mike Scheffler - September 8

Bob Elliott - September 30


Lee Scherwitz - Oct 9

Larry Culby - Oct 14

Lorraine Day - Oct 14

Kevin Geiser - Oct 14

Sarah Stocker - Oct 20


Brian Tutton - Nov 22
Rotary membership gives men and women an opportunity to forge new friendships and share the rewards of helping others through volunteer service.