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#27802 in District 6360
We meet Wednesdays at 7:00 AM
Elks Lodge (BPOE 541)
601 Riverview Drive
Benton Harbor, MI 49022
Write to us at:
Benton Harbor Sunrise Rotary
PO Box 1552
Benton Harbor. MI 49023-1552
Meeting Presentations and Stories
Rotarians gathered twice at Lee Scherwitz's place to get the pumpkins ready to pick the raffle winners.  At top they're prepared for gluing the counterweight; at bottom they're finished. A pumpkin goes into the tank for each raffle ticket sold. Buy your ticket now to join the race on September 21, 2019. Photos by Dan Utroske.
Our own club's Pastor Mel Burton and Caroline Fort went to Columbia South America on a mission trip.

They focused on the city of Buenoventura, which is across the Andes from the capital, Bogata.  Because of the drug cartels, there has been an increase in crime, child labor and child prostitution.  Their focus was to train the children in leading a better life.  To do this, they created a curriculum which included how to support yourself without prostitution and held classes with the children.  In addition, they passed out beans and rice, school supplies to a school with elementary, middle and high school kids, lead rallies, fed families, went to a Latino Convention, set up leadership meetings, and performed baptisms.  The women of Buenoventura have their own plot of land and plant, grow, wash, roast, package and sell coffee and cocoa.  Mel and Caroline’s church sells their product for $10 for 18 ounces.  The proceeds are helping the people in Buenoventura, Columbia.

A few comments about Columbia: Columbia is in the northern part of South America and is close to the Panama Canal on the Pacific side.  It has 12 million ethnically, linguistically, and culturally diverse people.  Many of the people are leaving the Catholic Church because of the church’s connections to the government, which is connected to the drug cartels.  Should you choose to go there, they emphasized that you never wear jewelry, take only the money you need each time you leave your hotel room, and don’t let anyone see your money because thievery is rampant.  They said that the cheapest time to go is September through May.  

  Our own club's Marcy Hamilton, at right, representing SWMI Planning Commission, provides instructions to volunteers for the first Ox Creek clean up. Teams headed out to five different sections to police the area near the creek. Several organizations supported the effort, including Interfaith Action, Benton Harbor Sunrise Rotary, and St. Joe-BH Rotary. Industrial Sanitation took away the 70 bags of trash. Abonmarche handled the 40 bags of recyclables.  A spring event will be organized.
Sarah Woolcock is a heart transplant recipient and a volunteer for Gift of Life Michigan. Her heart started failing shortly after the birth of her son when she was 34. She struggled with heart issues for seven years before a transplant was her only option. Now 20 years later she is a member of a small group of transplant survivors.  She noted that in Michigan you must opt-in to be donor.  Every donor could save eight people and improve the lives of 75 more.  You are never to old to be a donor.  The doctors will decide how your donation might help.  To learn more about Gift for Life, or to sign up to be a donor, click here.
Rotarians gathered at Mike Kinney's shop to build three beds for this year's Great Bed Race on September 20, 2019. (Michael Mason couldn't stay for the photo.) Thanks to great planning and preparation by Bob Gifford and Mike Kinney the build went smoothly.  Mike's cat Sam crashed the picture but stayed out of the way most of the time.
Our club provided dinner for the Benton Harbor High School football team, aka the Tigers, and their coaches.  The players showed up a little tired after two-a-day practice but they made short work of spaghetti, meat balls, salad, rolls and cookies. Rotariams plus Beth Bentham did the planning, shopping, cooking, serving and clean up. Thanks to Cindy and Mikes Kinney, Dan and Kyra Utroske, Jim and Beth Bentham, Michael Mason, Lee Scherwitz and Bob Elliott for putting this together on short notice.
Harbor Country Rotary partnered with Chikaming Open Lands to offer the community an opportunity to get outdoors, enjoy some beautiful areas and learn about these two wonderful organizations located in Harbor Country. Pictured, from left, are Rotarians David McNabb and Tom Flint, also shown is Jen Thompson, marketing director for Chikaming Open Lands. They offer a 10 trail challenge during the month of July.  Participants earn prizes for 3, 5 or 10 trails completed. There is a strong social media component as participants take selfies in special frames to document their accomplishments and send them via Intragram. This year 205 registered participants gobbled up 95 prizes.  They are interested to add more trail options in St. Joe Benton Harbor.  For more infomation click here.
Each year the outgoing president designates the "Rotarian of the Year" for their activities throughout the year.  This year president Joseph Taylor decided to recognize the three club members the formed the Interact Club at Benton Harbor High School, shown above, from left are the club leaders: Felicia Smith, Sarah Stocker, (not shown Larry Jackson); and current president Cindy Kinney.  Each recipient received a plaque citing their "outstanding service to the BHHS Interact Club committee".  Congratulations!
On board Cynthia, from left, are Cindy Kinney, Rhoda and Larry Jackson and boat owner, Andy Grootendorst.  They were part of the Rotarians, spouses and friends who went for an evening sail to enjoy the beautiful conditions on lake Michigan. Thanks to other skippers: Ron Groth, Jud Brown, Kevin Geiser and Ann Dahmer for providing their boats for this event.
The Benton Harbor High School Interact team just returned from a two-week trip to Cuba. Larry Jackson, left, lead the trip which included chaperone, Mshannon Rockette, and students, Qiyamah and Tamia.  Not shown are chaperone Sarah Stocker, students Quincy and Christopher, and club leader Felicia Smith.
   A highlight of the trip was playing soccer with kids at a park near the AirBnB. Even though they didn't have a shared language they figured it out together. For the service part of the trip the team delivered books to several schools.  They were prevented, however, from meeting with the students.
     The Interactors  were shocked by the poverty, and soon grew tired of rice and beans. They took in the sights with the help of a guide, learned a little Spanish with daily lessons, and become a "family". The host and chef made life a little easier.  They learned that in the Cuban system many people had to work two jobs: one for the government, without pay,  and another one to put food on the table. Most jobs paid $20-30 per month. The photos from the trip will be added to this story and our website in an update to this story.
Gary Washington attended the recent Rotary Youth Leadership Academy Camp and wrote to say thanks "for the great opportunity and great experience."
Mary Jo Schnell is the executive director of the OutCenter in Benton Harbor, a 501c(3) non-profit organization, partially funded by United Way. The organization serves the LGBTQ+ community, helping to make the community more inclusive for kids, families, employers and employees. The OutCenter offers a drop-in location that is safe and welcoming, with computer lab, library and referrals to services.  Confidential counseling by professional staff or religious leaders are also available.  Programs include Teen Pride Alliance, LGBTQ+ Safe Schools Collaborative, and Advocacy and Education services. Its legislative priority is to protect the LGBTQ+ individuals from discrimination by expanding the current law to include them.  For more information click here or call 269.925.8330.
The club held it's first "Lift a Pint for Rotary" event at the Livery in Benton Harbor. Shown, from left and Kyra and Marcy alongside the information display prepared for the event to tell the Rotary story to friends and visitors.  The 6360 District Governor Marjorie Haas was on hand to meet and greet club members and guests. When you combine the fellowship, the drawings and prizes, the pizza and  pints, the funds raised for our projects, the evening was a great success. Farai received an American Flag to celebrate his recent citizenship.  Thanks to president Cindy Kinney and all her helpers for making the event a success.
District Governor Marjorie Haas is shown taking a photo of the rapidly disappearing pizza and beverages. Afterward she shared her comments about the night. 
"Just a quick note to thank you for inviting me to your "Lift a Pint for Rotary" event last night.  I enjoyed meeting you and listening to you.  Congratulations on your trip to Cuba and on Faral becoming a citizen of USA!  Your Public Image display board and website are exceptional.  Your club has a lot going [on]. "
Steven Pierangeli, chief assistant prosecutor for Berrien County, returned to Rotary to the rest of his story.  In May his primary topic was Sexting. This time he focused on Cyberbulling crimes which have three laws with escalating penalties. The first is just bullying. Second is "stalking", which is un-consented contact. Physical threats also fall under this area.  And finally there are acts of terrorism which included threats of violence, especially toward schools - a 20 year felony.
   Steve also discussed the attorney general's efforts to protect kids from abuse.  The state offers an anonymous tip line via a new app called OK2Say.
His suggested starting questions are:
  • What are your favorite websites?  Have you seen objectionable pop  ups?
  • Who are texting with?
  • May I look at your feed?
  • How do you choose which people to accept as friends??
  • What personal info do you share?
He also recommends you maintain access to your children's web activities; no secret passwords or lockouts.
Some teens are sending nude selfies to their boyfriends, expecting it to be private.  But, it often happens that the photo or video will be quickly shared with a wide circle of associates.  This can be devastating.  It's a crime for someone to ask you for a inappropriate photo, punishable by up to 20 years and/or $100.000 in fines.
For more tips go to
Farai announced to the club that he completed all the requirements and was recently sworn in as a citizen of the United States of America.  Congratulations Farai!!
Sarah Bischoff, left, staff specialist and Kathleen McCourt, second grade teacher, report that the year-long pilot project was a great success.  Each student had their own Kindle that had content managed by Sarah and Kathleen. They found that the Reading A-Z app was the perfect solution for managing the books they wanted the kids to read. The Kindles went home with the students but were also used in the classroom to add books and other apps. Parental controls limited usage. The testing at the end of the year demonstrated reading growth that exceeded standards and expectations.  The tablets were given to the students at the end of the school year for their personal use. The project was partially funded by a District 6360 matching grant.
The wall was filled with ideas about changes the club could consider to close its deficit for breakfast meals. President-elect Cindy Kinney will collect the input and recommend changes for the future.  Thanks to Cindy, Michael Mason and Brian Saxton for organizing the session.
The club was presented with an award for its work for Polio Plus.  Jim Smith shows the award to Alice Ford.  Alice has lead many projects to raise funds for Polio.  The club uses the first meeting 50/50, speakers awards and other avenues to provide fund to eradicate polio.  This fiscal year we donated $2,050 dollars to The Rotary Foundation for Polio Plus.
This week we watched an discussed a TED talk by Reshma Saujanic, founder of Girls Who Code. She contends most parents raise their girls to be perfectionists and their boys to be brave.  This conditioning makes girls overly cautious.  She stated Girls Who Code to over come the conditioning. The 12 minute video is below and available here.
The club gathered at the Hawks Nest in Benton Harbor for fellowship and brief updates on various topics. 
  • Bryan Tutton reported the Bed Race plans are moving forward.  He also pointed to the flowers around town.  This is the result of Bryan's work with local business and the First Church of God.  Bryan also mentions tilling five gardens around time.
  • Dave Bly reported the fundraising events are on track for the fall.  Sponsors will be asked to shift their support from the 5K to other events. Dave also reported that the club's foundation will review grant applications next week. 
  • Larry Jackson will lead four Interact students to Cuba in June.
  • Finally, Dave Krieger has completed two grant applications for next year; one for t-shirts for Interact and Books and Tablets for Kids.
  • Photo by CIndy Kinney, president-elect.
Dyann Chenault, in her role as assistant governor, presents Bob Elliott with the 2018-2019 Hero Award from District 6360.  The club's citation was: "Bob Elliott has been an active member of our club since 2005 and served several years as treasurer. He recently made a transition to bookkeeper supporting the new treasurer. This new alignment provides separation of duties and better financial controls and accountability. Bob also provides the “glue” for the club members with weekly newsletters, posting summaries of presentations, and instructing new members on use of our club’s website. He organized and initiated two district grants for literacy and park maintenance projects. Bob also built and maintains a dedicated website to support our three annual fundraising events. Not only that, he has had perfect attendance for at least two years. Bob is a true Rotarian!" Congratulations Bob.
Steven Pierangeli, chief assistant prosecutor for Berrien County, stopped by Rotary to provide messages that he has been delivering around the community.  His two primary topics were Sexting and Cyberbullying. First, he said sexting involves send photos and videos over the internet.  He suggest parents start a conversation with those who have access to phones with texting capabilities. 
His suggested starting questions are:
  • What are your favorite websites?  Have you seen objectionable pop  ups?
  • Who are texting with?
  • May I look at your feed?
  • How do you choose which people to accept as friends??
  • What personal info do you share?
He also recommends you maintain access to your children's web activities; no secret passwords or lockouts.
Some teens are sending nude selfies to their boyfriends, expecting it to be private.  But, it often happens that the photo or video will be quickly shared with a wide circle of associates.  This can be devastating.  It's a crime for someone to ask you for a inappropriate photo, punishable by up to 20 years and/or $100.000 in fines.
Cyberbullying, i.e., sending threats over the internet, was recently made a crime in Michigan.
For more tips go to
Club Information

About Our Rotary Club

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 of America
District Site
Venue Map

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Event Sponsors

Whitney Hadanek - May 4

Don Mitchell - May 12

Lynn Sperry - May 17

Olivia Starks - May 25

Julie Webb - May 29

Dyann Chenault - Jun 10

Skip Heavener - Jun 13

Bob Gifford - Jun 15

Dave Bly - Jun 20

Bob McFeeter - Jun 25

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