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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
Our own Dave Krieger, past president, went through the new RI Club Constitution. The main difference is the option to vary meeting and attendance to meet the needs of the club and its members.  The club will have an opportunity to adopt the constitution at a future meeting.  Then the hard work begins: deciding how to use the flexibility to make our club better.  Thank you Dave.
Dyann Chenault exhanges flags with Matt Cooper of the Paw Paw Rotary Club.  Matt, an attorney in Paw Paw, learned that protecting service members has been a long tradition, starting with George Washington, followed by Abraham Lincoln and enshrined in US laws.  Matt found that the tradition didn't mean much when he tried to help a national guardsman whose home was foreclosed on while he was serving in Iraq.  His case was initially dismissed but he was able to appeal and finally presented his case to a jury. He won a large settlement for Mr. Hurley of Hartford.  That was not the end of the story. The publicity of the case generated more contacts from people the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act was failing to protect. The law was also amended to make it easier to defend the servicemembers rights. Matt formed a foundation to provide assistance in court and through education, publishing a new judges guide to the law.  He also wrote A Soldiers Home, a book to spread the word about the wrongs done to servicemembers while away serving their country. To learn more or make a donation visit the SCRA Foundation, a 501c(3) public charity, by clicking here..
Chris Takacs, community outreach director for the Michigan Masonic Foundation, has been a mason for twenty-six years.  In 2008 he took on his role as director with state wide responsibility for programs such as Bikes for Books, Safe Schools, community grants and, his main topic today, Michigan Child ID. It only takes ten minutes for Chris to complete a detailed file for each child.  At the end of the process he can produce a CD or USB Drive for the parent or guardian for save keeping.  Having the information can save time if a child is missing.  First responders are prepared to read this data file. The data file adds photos, fingerprints, dental impression and voice recording to all the regular information such as name, date of birth, etc.  The service is provided free of charge. Chris has other Masons at lodges in St. Joseph, Lakeshore and Coloma available to speed up the processing.  He will set up at schools, businesses or churches to make Child ID profiles for the parents. Call Chris at 269.612.7424 to arrange for this free and valuable service.
Smiling faces greeted Rotarian at Hull International Academy in Benton Harbor. Kyra Utroske and Alan Bartlett distributed the books, photo by Alan..
President-nominee Joseph Taylor walked us through the ten elements cited above. There is work to do but the club scores pretty well.
Five classrooms of students at Countryside's Millburg Campus received the first books for 2017. Catherine Ravitch and Bob Elliott distributed the books, Bob Kynast took many wonderful photos like this one.
Dictionaries are also being distributed to third graders in BHAS and area charter schools.
The canoe full of cub scouts is proof of Greg Trezise's success in building up the cub scouts in Benton Harbor. The scouts get together at Lighthouse Ministries on Pipestone every Saturday from 12-1:30 pm for projects, learning and fun. The goal is to help the cubs become good people and good citizens. Most of the Rotary could recite the scout oath about doing one's duty and knew the twelve values in the scout law: trustworthy, loyal, etc. Greg has 17 cubs scouts this year, four will be graduating to the boy scout troop in Stevensville. Cub scouts go up to 5th grade, boy scouts to age 18 years. Watch for news of the pine car derby in March. Greg can always use extra hands, please volunteer.
After the meeting the club's foundation decided to provide a scholarship for one new cub scout.
The directors of this club's foundation elected the following officers for 2107 as follows:
Lee Scherwitz, president
Mike Kinney, vice-president
Alice Ford, secretary
Bob Elliott, treasurer
Also re- appointed as directors of the foundation are Whitney Hadanek, Don Mitchell and Dave Bly.
The board thanked Don Mitchell for his many years of service as our president.  We are please that Don will continue to be part of our board.
Elllen Russel, on left, is shown receiving her club flag from president Patrice Grant.  Ms. Russell is executive director of Tri-County Head Start.  Brian Saxton is her sponsor.  Welcome to Rotary.
Dr. Eric Lester Md. is a retired oncologist. He suggested using an image of DNA's double helix to lead this report. He saw many theories for the causes of cancer during his career but believes the current approach is showing great success.  Cancer is a disease of the DNA, either by mutation or abnormal expression.  This understanding leads to treatment that starts with molecular analysis followed by targeted treatment. He predicts further progress since only 15% of the human genome has been fully understood.
Tara Gillette, marketing specialist for the Area Agency on Aging, Inc., provided and update on this wonderful local resource.  The agency serves Berrien, Cass and Van Buren counties form its offices at 2900 Lakeview Ave. in St Joseph. Their INFO-LINE, 800 654-2810, is open M-F, 8 am to 5 pm, helping connect callers to one of 75 agencies serving our community.  They're experts on Medicare coverage questions and disability assistance.  Of course they also have many programs, such as, Senior Net, teaching computer skills for a small fee, Transition Assistance, helping people return home, and MI Choice, providing services for low income individuals with disabilities.  To learn more or volunteer click here.
At the annual meeting of the club on December 21, 2016 the following Rotarians were unanimously elected to offices for 2017-2018 club year as follows:
Brian Saxton, president
Joseph Taylor, president-elect
Mike Scheffler, president-nominee
Dyann Chenault, secretary
Debbie Goforth, treasurer
Dan Utroske, chair of club admin committee
Alan Bartlett, chair of service projects committee
Mike Scheffler, chair of new generations committee
Farai Rakunda, chair of membership committee
Kyra Utroske, chair of public image committee
Eddie Marshall, chair of fundraising and foundation committee
Thank you to all those who volunteered to serve Rotary and our community.
Ellen Russell, program services administrator, from Tri-County Head Start returned to update Rotary.  Head Start, located in the McCord School, serves 330 three and four year old children who meet family income guidelines.  Head Start also provides family support and works hard to build relationships.  Because the Head Start parents are often in crises and are working hard to provide shelter and food, they often don’t have time to read to their children.  As a result, these children usually have a vocabulary of 2500 to 3000 words, where children whose parents read to them have 7000 word vocabularies.  Only 48% of the children in Berrien County are ready to read.  The children love to be read to and talked with. Please consider volunteering to read to these students.
Read Aloud 15 Minutes needs volunteers to read in the classrooms. Their goal is to have someone in every classroom every day for 15 minutes.  They are asking you to come in when you can.  It can be sporadically or each week or each day.  It can be up to 15 minutes, or even longer.  You can bring a book or read one from the class library. The optimal time to come is from 9:00 to 10:45 or 1:55 to 3:45.  You can show up during these times whenever you have 15 minutes free.  Head Start is located in the McCord School, 465 McCord St., on the corner of Britain.  If you are further out, you can also go to the Spinks Corner Head Start on the corner of Park and Napier. If you have questions, call Ellen at 605-1606.
Rob Cleveland, president of Cornerstone Alliance, returned to Rotary to announce the strategic plan for 2017-2021.  The new goals are to recruit 10 new businesses, assist the expansion of 15 businesses, add $100 million in sales and help 50 new small business startups. There are plenty of building sites available but Rob thinks that success will require an available manufacturing building of approximately 75,000 square feet.  He cited statistics that 94% of companies went to sites with existing buildings.
Tara Harazinova has taken over the reins from Joanne Johnson at the disability network.  There are two offices serving 8 counties in southwest Michigan.  The main work is proving information and connected people with the correct agency.  Tara reminded us that 75% of disabilities are not visible, such as depression or autism.  Cindy Camp was also on hand to talk about Ramp Up, a program to find volunteers to help provide ramp for those in need.  To learn more, volunteer or donate, click here.
Dr. Patricia Quattrin returned to Rotary with exciting news.  But before the news she recounted a few essential facts about the organization: a focus on middle school girls, educating the entire person, building confidence, strength of character and critical thinking.  The school is ungraded, providing individualize learning based on students needs. The academy accepts 4-6 graders and completes 8th grade. There is a very small charge to the parents.  The school is under the direction of a 501(c)3 organization. The news is that the school will be moving to a new facility made possible by a donation from AEP. The donation was 15 modular buildings and $25,000 to reconfigure them.  There will be space for three classrooms, office, and kitchen. The new building will allow them to serve 45 students, up from the 15 enrolled now. Dr. Patricia estimates a need for $200,000 to complete the new facility.  They have a site at Pearl and Catalpa, just around the corner from their current location at St. John's.  To learn more, donate or volunteer, click here.
The club made up sixteen baskets for families in Benton Harbor.  This year we brought the baskets to the food - a much improved process. The baskets had liners from Patrice, table runners from Kyra and cooking instructions. Bob Gifford was master organization with everyone involved.  The baskets were completed by donations from members and community partners.
We gathered at 165 E. Main Street in Benton Harbor for an evening of fellowship and Christmas song.  Thanks to Jim Schueneman and Dyann Chenault for leading the music, along with Bob and Mary leading the twelve days of Christmas. A large pile of gifts fo the Wonderland Toy store were also collected. Well done Mike and Cindy Kinney for all the arrangements. Photos by Cindy.
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.
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
Mar 29, 2017
Zera Composter
Jim Muller
Apr 12, 2017
RI/Club Constitution.


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.