Bob Gifford
Jan 24, 2018
Jim Maier (Lakeshore Rotary)
Feb 07, 2018
Tree planting project
Patricia Birkoltz
May 02, 2018
Tara Gillette
May 09, 2018
Aging Mastery Program
Upcoming Events
 Club #27802 in 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
Becki Tomsheck, program manager, has 20 years experience in training.  In 2017 she decided to put that experience to work for Junior Achievement. JA trains in three areas: financial literacy, workplace readiness and entrepreneurship.  The model brings experienced business volunteers into classroom to go through JA's excellent educational materials. The  work is all supported by donations and includes many classroom volunteers.  140 classes are planned for the spring, starting in March.  Why not join in? Training will take place February 13 from 1-3 pm.  To enroll or ask about other volunteer opportunities write to becki.tomsheck@ja.org.
Our own Ellen Russell, with 14 years of Head Start experience, said a huge change had taken place this school year.  Resources were shifted from centers to home visitation.  This was specifically targeting the 0-3 years old children, with the belief that theses early years are very important to ultimate outcomes.  The program has a special reading curriculum, includes pre-school practice, helps with parents education and builds resiliency skills. See the short video below on this final element. Parents are also taught to advocate for their children.  Head Start requires a 25% local match to the Federal funds, so please consider donating or volunteering.
The club's board of directors appointed the following members to serve as directors of the Benton Harbor Sunrise Rotary Foundation for the 2018 calendar year.
Dave Bly
Mel Burton
Bob Elliott
Alice Ford
Mike Kinney
Ellen Russell
Lee Scherwitz
These directors will elect their officers in January.
Philip Freeman, superintendent of Lakeshore Public Schools, was at Rotary as a spokesperson for the Reading Now Network.  The network is the result of efforts at a regional level to improve results. Superintendents in the ISD cooperate to drive results. They determined that five key principles are necessary
  • Uncompromising focus on reading
  • Data used deeply
  • Shared leadership - Sustained commitment
  • Classroom management focused on learning
  • Collective responsibility for every child's success
Along the way they learned it's not about:
  • Class size
  • Condition of building
  • District size
  • Building size
  • Technology resources
  • Principal's resume
  • A Specific Program
  • A Special reading intervention
What children need is 90 minutes of reading every day. Current Initiatives include professional development, principal coaching, lab schools and classroom libraries. This last item adds 30 minutes of reading time to each day by eliminating trips to the media center.  Books on the buses also increasing reading.
The club's foundation - Benton Harbor Sunrise Rotary Foundation - is pleased to announce the recipients of two Alumni Scholarship Awards.  The funds were made available by alumni donors who were inspired by the resurgence of the Tigers under Coach Uzelac. The scholarships go to Eusean Jennings and Willie Roberson. Mr. Jennings had the highest GPA and Mr. Roberson was team MVP.  Both winners are seniors from last season's football team and plan to on to college. They were recommended by coach Uzelac and Mr. Slivensky.  We appreciate the assistance of new athletic director Tray Crusciel in this process.
Dan Utroske and Rhonda Pallas are shown at Wal-Mart in Benton Harbor.  Rotarians were at both doors all day.  People were generous and filled the kettles.  Thanks to all the bell ringers and to Alan Bartlett for organizing the event.
Momono Sakura is the club's Rotary Youth Exchange student from Higashiouni, Japan, a town the size of Kalamazoo, located about 2 hours southwest of Tokyo. Her first love in running.  She won a medal in the Rotary Pumpkin 5k shortly after her arrival and joined the track and cross-country team. Her family includes her father, a welder, her mother, city commissioner, and an older sister. She attends an online school in Japan and is in the 10th grade at St. Joseph High School. She used an innovative way to talk about Japanese culture: she conducted a survey, asking students at school to vote on several suggestions, such as rice, cherry blossom trees, sushi and many more.  On rice, she said it is part of each meal, breakfast, lunch and dinner. She noted that her last name means Cherry Blossom.  Sushi was the number one association students had with Japanese culture.
Becki Tomsheck has spent twenty years training others, at Whirlpool and now at Junior Achievement.  JA offers classes in their three pillars of business education: financial literacy, workforce development and entrepreneurship. Becki will be training volunteers on February 13 for the 140 classes that are planned to start in March.  The training provides all the materials and tips for being successful in the classroom. She will also be doing special training for JA-in-a-Day at Steam Academy on February 16th.  Training will be based on the need of volunteers for that day.  If you would like more information or sign up for the training write to becki,tomsheck@ja.org.  Becki also encourages everyone to participate Achieve-A-Bowl in the spring.
Darrin Drollinger, Executive Director, was our host at the International Headquarters of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, whose logo appears above.  The ASABE is an educational and scientific organization dedicated to the advancement of engineering applicable to agricultural, food, and biological systems. Founded in 1907 and headquartered in St. Joseph, Michigan, ASABE comprises members in more than 100 countries. They publish three peer-reviewed journals and a bi-monthly member magazine.  The conference room had several models of farm equipment on display, this being the principle area of activity of most of the members.Thanks to Dolores Landeck, Director of Public Affairs, for arranging our visit.
    On to the Christmas party; with a buffet dinner provided by Lee Sherwitz and Patrice Grant with many elfs helping too. The evening finished with Christmas carols.  See part of the gang below.
The club took the opportunity of the meeting to collect donations for the Wonderland Toy Store. The night's haul is shown below.
Julie Webb is shown at the end of a table full of Thanksgiving Day fixings. The club assembled 16 baskets for needy families. Members brought items and then filled baskets in an assembly line fashion.  One trip down the table, with one of this and two of that until the basket was full.  Thanks to all the members, to Bob Gifford for organizing, to Monte Packaging for donating the baskets and for Kyra Utroske for the cards and table runners.
State representative Kim LaSata made her first visit to Sunrise Rotary. She attended Lake Michigan Catholic High School and returned many years to teach fifth grade.  Ten years later she made her first run for elected office.  Now she is chair of the higher education committee with responsibility for 15 campuses.  She also serves on the agriculture and health committees.  Her first legislation addressed homeowners falsely claiming homestead exemptions, assessing back taxes and fines. Her ed committee uses performance metrics to allocate up to 50% of the college annual budgets. She expects to review and revise these metrics during this term. Discussions are also focused on municipal pensions, gun control and free speech on campus.  Some of these topics will result in future legislation.
Rotarians were out in the community providing dictionaries to every third grader in the Benton Harbor Area Schools and all the area charter schools. Each dictionary has a place for the student's name and is presented by a Rotarian.  This year the dictionaries also have Rotary's Four Way Test printed on a label.  Thanks to Jim Smith and Sharyn Kaatz for organizing this project.
Dr. Terry McIlvaine says that frequently asking that question may indicate a loss of hearing.  Hearing loss is the third most prevalent health condition with links to diabetes, depression and dementia.  The gradual decline is often not noticed but the loss never gets better.  One Rotarian volunteered that he was checked last year and found he needed help with his hearing.  A baseline evaluation is recommended even if you don't think you have issues.
       Terry also had exciting news.  Professional Hearing has a commitment from the Starky Foundation to offer free hearing aids to those in need.  Plans are being made for the one-day event to held in May of 2018.  Rotary  members are asked to identify possible recipients for early screening and qualification.  Details are still being finalized so check their website early next year for event date and qualification procedures at www.prohear.net
Kevin Edlefson, a member of the Providence World Ministry, is part of a project called La Providencia in Honduras.  Orphans are removed from traditional institutions and joined to existing families in a new community structure.  The families are recruited to be long term residents which provides two important things to orphans: a two parent household and stability. Four houses have been built along with a school and a clinic.  Families grow coffee, bananas and tilapia for food and sale.  The village is adding housing for widows to provide the "aunts" and "grandparents" for the orphans.  Rotary International has provided a $250,000 global matching grant to provide school supplies and housing needs.  Every $1 donated will be matched by $3.50 from Rotary. Click here to learn more or donate.  For more information contact the Sacramento Rotary at claytonlee7@gmail.com  .
Our own Kyra Utroske, an artist with a studio at 210 Water Street, explained the Benton Harbor Art Hop. The hop is organized by New Territory Arts Association. Every four months, the businesses in the Benton Harbor Arts District choose a Friday to host an Art Hop. It’s a family-friendly evening filled with an entertaining mix of art, music, dance, theater, culinary arts and more. Come check out the multiple venues along the walkable Arts District streets. Be sure to meet Mert Unger, the new Artist-in-Residence at the Glassworks.  Meet your neighbors, talk with business owners and see impressive art. These popular events truly connect people with NTAA’s belief that “Art Builds Community.”  No admission charge, 6-9 pm.
The next two events are October 20 and December 8, 2017
Marian Prince, PhD, has made four trips to Nepal to improve math education. Now she is collaborating with Choice Humanitarian to provide 50 advanced TI graphing calculators to teach difficult topics, one each for 50 middle and high school teachers in the village of Lamjung. These tools allow the teachers to go beyond plugging values into formulas. Her goal is $7,000 for the next trip.  To learn more or donate to the Nepal Calculator Project click here. Marian was advised to contact a Rotary club in Nepal and to pursue an RI grant.
Marian also works locally. Through her position at Andrews University she has developed Math in a Box, a mixture of math games to improve math skills.  The Box is available for temporary use reserving a box at Andrews; click here. The box is delivered to any school in Berrien County.
Rhonda Pallas is the Center Director for Tri County Head Start on McCord in Benton Harbor.  Ellen Russell is her sponsor.  Rhonda lives in Stevensville.  She has been active with the Road to Life food pantry and Right to Life. Welcome Rhonda!
First graders at Countryside Early Learning Center received iPads from Rotary and Toys for the Needy. Eleven students and parents signed up and were on hand to receive their iPads. The devices have apps and links to promote increased reading and math skills. The program was made possible by grants from Rotary District 6360 and Getman Corporation, Bangor, MI. Photo by Don Campbell, Herald Palladium Staff .
Julia Gourley, Executive Director of Krasl Art Center, on left, and Tami Miller, Curator of Art & Education, were welcomed by president Brian Saxton. The speakers were on hand to introduce their latest public art initiative.  Every five years the center takes on a major project.  This time involves re-configuring the plaza area to incorporate an arch designed by Richard Hunt.  See photo below for a model of the arch with the artist. The final piece will be 20 feet tall and encourage visitors to linger, take photos and stage events. The total project cost is $1.7 million.  Ground breaking is planned for April 2018.  Donations are now being accepted to match a $50,000 challenge grant.  Click here to donate. 
This selfie shows, from left, Mike Scheffler, Larry Culby and Lee Scherwitz below the rail they installed at the MLK playground. The rail had to be removed and welded before it could be put back into service.  Well done to the A-Team!
Elizabeth McCree, Esq. returned to Benton Harbor after Spelman College, law school and legal practice in Georgia. In 2013 she was a prosecutor in the family courts and saw how it takes four systems - school, welfare, mental health and justice - working together to put young people on the path to success.  She recently open a practice in Benton Harbor and recognized a need for more lawyers to replace the retiring generation.  This eventually lead to her plans to conduct a summer camp in 2018. The camp would be open to all Berrien County residents grades 9 to 12, plus those graduated in last two years. The camp will be intensive, with three weeks of activities including two field trips.  She is drawing in state and local resources to put on the camp.  Scholarships will be available. Contact her at attorneymccree@outloook.com if you would like to help her with this important endeavor.
President Brian Saxton, on right in each group, presents Paul Harris Fellow awards to, from left, Bob McFeeter, Carol Bly and Larry Culby. These awards were part of Jim Smith's dollar-for-dollar matching challenge.
Jim Smith's efforts to promote Paul Harris Fellows added two more awards.  Shown above Felicia Smith and Mike Scheffler receive their first awards from president Brian Saxton,  These latest awards add to the awards presented during our visit to Morton House Museum; to  Dyann Chenault, her first, and repeat winners, Alice Ford, Pam Pappas and Bob Elliott. Felecia's award was a surprise gift from her tablemates.
The team from Jimmy Johns won the 2017 Great Bed Race.  They overcame an early loss to defeat Lakeland ER twice for the win. The race had new teams from Leco and United Federal Credit Union and Lakeland ER. Returning teams were: Abonmarche, Elks, Home Depot, Lakeland Homecare, Lakeland Building Services, Starks, FOP and Benton Harbor Sunrise Rotary.  Leco won the fundraising award and a first round bye.
Turn out was Great.  myTeamTriumph had a Great event.  Bob Gifford's audio-visual extravaganza was Great. Jon Wallace our emcee was Great.  Everyone had a Great time.  Check out the photos here. Thanks to all Rotarians, volunteers, and sponsors that made the event possible.  Results are posted here.
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
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Club Executives & Directors
President Elect
President Nominee
Immediate Past President


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.