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Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District


Club Leadership
Vickie Dorgan
President Elect
John Schwandke


Past President

Cliff Harstad

Robert Mantsh

Dennis Gorman
Gus Samios

Community Service
Andrew Horberg

World Service
John Schwandke

Eve Herdea

Rotary Foundation
John Schwandke
Social Committee
Patrick Crowley
Marilyn Sainsot
Public Relations
Werner Gonnison
John Schwandke
Sargeant at Arms
John Lamson


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We meet for lunch each Thursday at 12:10 p.m.
at the Union League Club, 65 W. Jackson Boulevard, in the heart of Chicago's Financial District.

PLEASE NOTE: Business Casual Attire is required when visiting any U.L.C. facility. Men must wear a collared shirt (including turtleneck) with slacks and women must wear slacks or skirt with blouse or sweater. (NO JEANS OR ATHLETIC SHOES ARE ALLOWED)


The Object of Rotary is to encourage and foster the ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise and, in particular, to encourage and foster:

  • The development of acquaintance as an opportunity for service;
  • High ethical standards in business and professions; the recognition of the worthiness of all useful occupations; and the dignifying of each Rotarian's occupation as an opportunity to serve society;
  • The application of the ideal of service in each Rotarian's personal, business, and community life;
  • The advancement of international understanding, goodwill, and peace through a world fellowship of business and professional persons united in the ideal of service.





-------- CLUB NEWS! --------


District Conference Final Schedule Set - Register Now!

From Governor Nicki:
I would like to appeal to all Rotarians in our District to join together in celebrating our year of “Light Up Rotary” at the District Conference April 23-26th in Davenport, Iowa.  We need to take time to celebrate all that we do in Rotary, be inspired by sharing ideas and listening to amazing keynote speakers as well as simply enjoy each others’ company. 

If you have not been to a conference before you are missing the magic that happens when multiple Rotarians from many clubs gather in one place.  To add to the excitement this year we are bringing together two Districts so there will be even more people to learn from and we are able to leverage our dollars to bring you more bang for your buck.  One key benefit is the high caliber of Keynote Speakers including internationally renowned John O’Leary and incoming Rotary International Director Jennifer Jones.  In addition to inspiring plenaries and informative workshops we are placing a heavy emphasis on being family inclusive so please bring your families as there is plenty to do and we are wrapping the conference around some fun free time opportunities - organized options as well as other choices:  Quad Cities Activities.

Davenport is a great location to meet and have fun on the banks of the Mississippi River.  Rotary CFD President Elect John Schwandke and his wife Darlene have already registered.  How about you?  REGISTER HERE!



 We'll Leave the Light On For You!


 Posted February 26, 2015



Our guest speaker today was Diana Newton (pictured at far right in pink, standing with Rotary CFD Program Chairperson Eve Herdea), Executive Director of “Porchlight Counseling Services”, which was founded in 2004 by Anne Bent of Lake Bluff Illinois who became concerned after hearing about the growing incidences of sexual assault among college students.

Ms. Bent first became aware of the magnitude of the problem when helping her youngest daughter prepare for entrance to college.  The university that she visited talked openly about rape on campus. Anne, a Chaplain, started asking her friends in the field about this topic, read a lot, attended national conferences, sought guidance from the Institute for Clinical Social Work in Chicago and met with staff, Deans and other university officials in the Chicago area to learn more about the scope of sexual assault and how she and others might help.  
You can learn more about their work by clicking this link:

Far... Sort of Far... Not Far at All
Posted January 29, 2015
It may be cold in Chicago, but that did not stop Rotary friends from near, fairly near, sorta far, and extremely far from joining us for our meeting on January 29.

From extremely far, our speaker was Rotarian Erik Bouchard, founder of "See Change Foundation Nepal" who told us about his life in Nepal and how so few dollars can make a major difference in the life of what we may refer to as "at risk" children in rural areas. We also had the benefit of discussing Nepal with Erick's mother Jody Bouchard, and the photographer  who accompanied her on a visit to Nepal to work with Erik.  He is a member of the fairly near Chesterton Indiana Rotary Club.
From sorta far, we were joined by Rotarians from Connecticut who were stranded in Chicago due to the major snowstorms on the east coast.  And, from nearby, we were joined by a prospective member who works in the downtown Chicago area.  

Mission Accomplished!

Posted December 25, 2014
 Excerpts from a Rotary Project Completion Report prepared by Denver Rotarian John Klug 


I am pleased to report the successful completion of a Rotary Club project that transported a semi-trailer truckload of much needed medical equipment and supplies from Denver Colorado to a newly constructed Red Cross Hospital in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. The fully loaded truck crossed the border on December 10 and arrived at its final destination on December 14, 2014.  


For those who don’t know the story, the project started over a year ago.  Initially, a Rotarian from the Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District named John Schwandke, who resides part-time in Puerto Aventuras Mexico, heard about the needs of a small Red Cross Clinic that had recently opened near where he lives. Soon other residents of the community joined in to help. Among them were Denver Club 31 Rotarians Martin Wohnlich and John Klug. Rotarians take pride in being able to attend and be welcomed at any of the 30,000+ Rotary Clubs in the world.  The two John's and Martin often attended Rotary Clubs in Playa del Carmen, a large and rapidly growing city, about 15 miles north of Puerto. In particular, they became acquainted with a newly formed, very dynamic, English speaking Rotary Club in Playa del Carmen, called the “Seaside Rotary Club”.


As a result of this connection and the work that was being done at the small Red Cross clinic in Puerto, it came to light that a new Red Cross Hospital was being constructed in the rapidly growing community of Playa del Carmen, and that upon completion there was a need for modern equipment and supplies to fill it.  An idea was hatched. Could the combination of the Seaside Rotary Club, along with Denver Rotary which Martin and John Klug represented, along with John Schwandke from Chicago Rotary Financial District, partner in a Rotary Project to bring these desperately needed supplies to Playa Carmen? 


Enter a wonderful organization, headquartered in Denver, named Project C.U.R.E. and its president Douglas Jackson.  Doug is also a member and former president of the Denver Rotary Club, and a good friend of Klug and Wohnlich.  Project C.U.R.E. is one of the largest Non-Governmental Organizations in the world, and ships donated medical supplies throughout the world. The details concerning the incredible work done by Project C.U.R.E. is too extensive to cover here, but you can visit the Project C.U.R.E. website to learn more. 


With all the elements in place, it then became a matter of pulling together to make it happen. Amazingly, for a small and newly chartered Rotary Club, the Seaside Rotary Club in Playa Carmen raised $10,000 to cover nearly half the total expense.  In turn, the Denver Rotary Club committed $4,000, and a grant of $3,000 was obtained from their District 5450.  Another $2,000 was donated by the Denver Southeast Rotary Club, and  small personal contributions from Wohnlich, Klug and Schwandke topped it off. Most unbelievable about the project, is trying to put in perspective what actually happened. For a total cost of $20,400 the Red Cross Hospital of Playa del Carmen received an estimated $500,000 worth of critically needed equipment and supplies. The truckload included everything from syringes and desks, to X-ray machines and dental chairs. 


The biggest hurdle that caused such a delay in the process was obtaining approval from Mexican Customs and Tax authorities to allow passage of a shipment this size as a non-taxable donation. After months of negotiation and rigorous documentation, the shipment finally received approval and arrived at the hospital on December 14, 2014 aboard the same truck that had been loaded in Denver.  We thank all who helped bring this project to fruition.  Without each and every one of you it would not have happened.  What a wonderful Christmas gift for the Red Cross and what a wonderful example of the Rotary motto “Service Above Self.” 



Would You Like to Join Our Rotary Club?

The Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District is aware that more than half the hits our website receives come from Non-Rotarians who apparently see something they want to know more about.  Like many Organizations throughout the United States, we are always looking to expand. We love welcoming new members! 
Joining a Rotary Club, anywhere in the world, happens by invitation.  In other words, you must be invited (sponsored) by someone who is already a member. But, how can we invite you if we don't even know you exist?  So, I had a "light-bulb moment.  My light-bulb moment said... "Why don't you find people who are curious to learn more about what Rotary is all about, and encourage them to contact one of us so we could invite them to one of our Thursday Luncheon Meetings at the Union League Club as a guest.  Perhaps they will like what they experience and we can move forward from there. It is a wonderful way for potential members to take a "closer look."   
You can "click this link" to learn a bit more about Rotary International... and how it helps build business relationships amongst members worldwide:   
To learn more about Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District specifically, you can contact me at or by clicking the "Membership" link from the left side menu on this Home Page. 


A Message From Our President

Posted December 3, 2014 


“In Rotary, December is Family Month. Looking back on my years as a Rotarian, I have seen how important family is in Rotary – and how important Rotary can be to our families. My wife, Corinna, chose to join Rotary just a few months ago, after many years as a Rotary spouse. All three of our children are also Rotarians. All of them joined their own club, in their own time. All of them have found unique interests in Rotary. As we have watched them find their own paths, we have been struck by how wonderful it is to have so many members of our family involved in Rotary service.

Rotary gives us something good that we can all do together. With Rotary, we always have interesting things to talk about at dinner. We are all involved in different service, in different clubs, so when we sit down together, we are talking about humanitarian needs of every kind, in every part of the world. There is always something new to learn.

Our conversations are also a wonderful way to teach our children, through our own actions, what is really important in life. They learn about what life is like in different parts of the world, and how all of us have an obligation to help others when we can. I can think of no better lessons to teach our families than the lessons of Rotary service.

I hope that in this Rotary year, many of you will encourage your family members to join Rotary, Rotaract, or Interact. Bringing your family into Rotary doesn't just Light Up Rotary – it lights up your own lives as well.”


Polar Explorer!
Posted November 27, 2014 
Is there a better way to "celebrate" the early onslaught of winter in Chicago than by having a Polar Explorer as our guest speaker?  John Huston joined us this week to recount his 2009 journey to the north pole: 55 days, 478 miles, no re-supplies, 100% human powered (no snowmobiles or dog sleds), and upon reaching the pole, a trip out on a Russian plane. The definitions of spirit and endurance may need to be revised. 
Interwoven into his remarks were the four concepts that made his trek possible: commit, prepare, believe and adapt. Concepts that he then suggested be incorporated into our daily lives and all that we do. Thank you John, and we will incorporate your four concepts into our quest to stay warm this winter.  



Visitor from Afar!

Posted November 20, 2014

You never know who you are going to meet when you come to a Rotary Club meeting.  Many of us enjoy visiting other Rotary Clubs as we travel, and Sushil Bhattarain of Kathmandu happens to be one of those Rotarians. He also visited Rotary International Headquarters in Evanston during his time here. Nestled in a valley in Nepal, Kathmandu is a name recognized by many, but understood by few. 
Here we see Sushil exchanging Club banners with Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District President Vickie Dorgan. Amongst positions held within his Club, Sushil has most recently been the editor of his Rotary Club Newsletter. 
You can learn more about Kathmandu and Nepal by viewing this website:

Leading by Example!

Posted November 13, 2014

Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District Charter Member Dennis Gorman received special recognition, from District Governor Nikki Scott at today's meeting, for achieving a new level of giving to the Rotary Foundation. Dennis, who has held virtually every office available to a local Club Rotarian, also serves multiple positions with District 6450.  Recently, Dennis and fellow  Rotary CFD member Bill Getzoff, whose father was involved with helping to charter Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District, presented a program telling us how it transpired. 


With the influx of new members, Dennis plans to present a program on January 8th to educate newer members about the forming of Rotary in 1905 by Paul Harris and friends who were Chicago businessmen.  It is expected that the program will also include information about the beginnings of the Rotary Foundation, which came some years later. To learn more about the different levels of Rotary giving, click this link: Levels of Giving 

If you are a Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District member, you are automatically a "Sustaining Paul Harris Member."  By Proclamation, enrollment is included as part of your quarterly member dues... which makes us a 100% Sustaining Paul Harris Club... to which we say "Thank You for supporting the Foundation!"

Dictionaries For Third Graders   
Posted November 10, 2014
In the photo at left, Rowe Elementary 5th grader "Esai" helps Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District President Vickie Dorgan distribute English and Bilingual dictionaries to 3rd graders at his school. Esai remembers receiving his dictionary two years ago and was anxious to help keep the tradition going.
At right, Mrs. Lourdes Jimenez, Principal of Salazar Elementary School, can be seen opening one of the boxes her school received. There is space inside the cover where each student can personalize the dictionary with their own name and the dictionaries become the personal property of the children.  You can imagine the elation the teachers feel too, with each pupil having their own dictionary.  

Why third-graders?  Educators say it is in the third grade when students transition from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.”  A dictionary then becomes an indispensable tool. This is the seventh consecutive year that Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District, in cooperation with District 6450, have distributed dictionaries to schools.


 In this “age of the Internet” many of us were surprised to see the excitement caused by a simple book.  But it isn't just a book… it is their book!



Posted November 4, 2014

The Rotary Foundation earned a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, the largest and most prestigious independent evaluator of nonprofits in the United States.  "Our foundation continues to operate at the highest ethical standard," said Rotary Foundation Trustee Chair John Kenny. "We are proud that Charity Navigator has recognized our commitment to accountability and transparency for the seventh straight year."

The 4 Star Rating, the highest that Charity Navigator awards, recognizes sound fiscal management, accountability, and transparency. Charity Navigator evaluates thousands of nonprofits each year, and only one of four earns 4 stars.  This year's top distinction marks the Foundation's seventh in a row, placing it in the top 3% of U.S.-based charities. In a letter to the Foundation, Charity Navigator President Ken Berger wrote, "This 'exceptional' designation differentiates The Rotary Foundation from its peers and demonstrates to the public it is worthy of their trust." - Rotary News


 Guest Speaker Sadia Nawab
Posted October 30, 2014
 Orphan Sponsorship Program Coordinator Sadia Nawab, of the Zakat Foundation of America, shared information about this international charity organization that reaches out to help those in need.  They respond first to emergency needs all around the world and then, as a follow up, attempt to enhance self-reliance for some of the world's poorest of people. 
As a USA based, Muslim-run charity organization, the Zakat Foundation serve the needy at home (including here in Chicago) and abroad, all the time sparked by a goal to demonstrate the true face of Islam through programs that help the destitute.  Since its establishment in 2001, the Zakat Foundation has been able to expand its programs beyond responding to emergencies and is now focused on getting to the root of poverty so as to develop long-term, sustainable solutions, to help people become more self sufficent.  One of this reporter's favorite examples was the story about a boy, his grandmother, and two goats. It is a touching story about a grandmother, living in poverty, was given two mating goats. From these two goats the grandmother was able to get enough milk to not only provide for her family, but to produce extra milk and cheese that can be sold to others to generate enough income to buy other things.  Her grandson's new favorite hobby is caring for the goats!  He loves the goats and is proud of what he is doing to help his family. With photos included, it is a touching story.  As good caretakers for the goats, they have since multiplied and are provide additional sustainability for the family.  
Another touching story was about how ZF is helping small children orphaned by Mideast wars and terrorism. The story, as told by Sadia, is a heartwarming one.  Perhaps you would want to help sponsor an orphan?  It's easy to do with the help of Zakat Foundation... just click this link to learn more: Zakat Orphanage Sponsorship 
Sadia Nawab is pictured here with Rotary Club of Chicago President-Elect John Schwandke and Past President Marilyn Sainsot.  We thank her for her enthusiasm and heartwarming stories. 


Membership Drive Off to Good Start!?

Posted October 30, 2014 by J. Schwandke 

Two new members were inducted into Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District at today's meeting.  Patrick (Pat) Crowley, an Investment Advisor with Merrill Lynch as a first-time Rotarian... and veteran Rotarian David Fenner Kelley, who is a returning member of the Club.  Patrick, at the far left, stands next to David, followed by Member Sponsor's John Schwandke and Gus Samios. The Induction Ceremony was conducted by long time Rotary CFD member Andrew Horberg.
We also welcomed Pat Muffo as a first time guest and prospective member. Pat is an attorney whose office is located downtown. With his father having been a Rotarian, and he a Rotary Exchange student, Mr. Muffo found our webpage while searching for information about Rotary Clubs who meet in the loop.  Glad you found us Pat!  


Rotary Project Fair?

 Veracruz, Mexico

 February 26-28, 2015


Calling on all Rotarian’s…  Come join us in Veracruz and handpick your next International Project from the many that will be on display there.   


Visit project booths that provide detailed information about projects from all around Mexico, sponsored by local Rotary Clubs in an atmosphere of camaraderie, in hopes of finding an International Partner to help bring their project to fruition.  


* Attend the International Gala Dinner at the extraordinary House of the Countess of Malibran.


* Meet Keynote Speakers and Past Rotary International Presidents Frank Devlyn and Francisco Creo.


* Participate in cultural tours arranged by hosting Rotarians in a manner most tourists will never experience.  


* The $200 Registration Fee includes:  All Materials, Cocktails at Thursday’s Welcoming Ceremony, Meals during Friday’s functions,  and the Gala

   Dinner Saturday evening.  Activities are also provided for children ages 2-12Hotels in the area near the Conference Site are offering Rotary

   Discount at $85 per night plus tax. Some may wish to stay a few extra days to explore the area.  It’s up to you! The Registration fee for both
   Rotarian and Spouse together costs only $100 more... so, by all means, bring your spouse! 


Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District member John Schwandke, who has attended several of these Rotary Project Fairs has agreed to act as liaison for District 6450 Rotarians wanting to know more. Email:


Link to website that includes application form:  RIMEX 2015





Do you have a Rotary Pin for your Car?  

Did you know that you can buy Specialty Plates that denote you a Rotarian?

Did you know that when you buy a Rotary License Plate, you are contributing to the Rotary Foundation?
The License Plate shown here belongs to Rotary Club of Chicago Financial
 District member John Schwandke.  The letters are his Ham Radio Callsign.
During the past three years, Illinois has sent the Foundation $5,000 because of Rotarian's who wanted to display these plates on their cars. 
It is easy to apply for Rotary plates - JUST CLICK HERE -


 The Free Internet Project
Posted by J. Schwandke - October 16, 2014
Member Kerry Malm, and Rotary CFD President Vickie Dorgan, welcome Professor Edward Lee as our guest speaker today. Edward is a professor of law and the Director of the internationally recognized Program in Intellectual Property Law at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law.  He graduated summa cum laude from Williams College with a degree in philosophy and classics, and cum laude from Harvard Law School. 
Professor Lee has written extensively about copyright, the Internet, free speech, and the history of the freedom of the press. He is co-author of a leading casebook on International Intellectual Property published by West. As a contributor to The Huffington Post, he has written various articles related to the Internet, copyright, and pop culture.  He recently started a not-for-profit organization called "The Free Internet Project."
You can see Professor Edward Lee's explanation of the project by clicking this link:  FreeInternetProject 

Wounded Warrior Project
Posted Oct. 9, 2014
Brandon Sanders, Chicago Outreach Coordinator for the Wounded Warrior Project, poses here with Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District military veterans Ed Keating (Navy), Andy Horberg (Air Force CAP), and John Schwandke (Army) following his presentation at today's Rotary Club meeting held at the Union League Club.  Brandon is personally assigned to 1,000 Wounded Warriors, plus their families, in and around the Chicago area.
He spoke of his own experiences as a multiple tour veteran of the Iraq war and how he later became affiliated with the Wounded Warrior Project. Brandon explained that working with other veterans returning from the middle-east conflict has been a healing experience for him as well.  Many have become familiar with the workings of the Wounded Warrior Project through television advertising and the Trace Adkins song, but it was nice to actually meet someone who is intimately involved in the daily activities of the organization.  Here is a big Rotary "Tip-of-the-Hat" to Brandon Sanders for the work he does with military veterans. You can learn more by visiting:

                                        What is a Rotary eClub?
                                                                                                                Posted August 29, 2014
The short answer... An eClub provides a modern way to attend meetings and participate in projects digitally from wherever you can connect to the Internet. 
Here is just one story of how an eClub was started in the Southwestern United States. It was 2001 when the Rotary International Council on Legislation adopted resolution 01-226 to provide for cyber clubs. In June of that year, with Decision 348, the RI Board agreed to support a pilot project establishing cyber Rotary clubs. The Key Elements for this project were: To extend Rotary to business, professional, and community leaders who are unable to meet traditional attendance requirements because of extensive travel, or conflicting occupational demands, or physical immobility, or resident beyond reasonable distance from an existing Rotary club. Web communities in this project would foster friendship and good will among its members and pilot clubs would determine the viability and effectiveness of a cyber Rotary club framework.
And, so it began.  The most common way Rotarians participate in eClubs is for the purpose of attending a "make up meeting" when they are not able to attend their own local Rotary Club.  But some, like Gilda Taylor from "Rotary eClub of the Southwest USA" (shown here swapping banners with Rotary CFD President Vickie Dorgan), are full time active members of an eClub. 
If you would like to do a "make up" with this Rotary eClub, you can do so by clicking this link:

August 22, 2014
In 2011 and 2012, while more than 900 people were being murdered on the streets of Chicago, creative writing students under the tutelage of journalist and Creative Writing Professor Miles Harvey of DePaul University, fanned out all over the city to interview people whose lives have been changed forever by the bloodshed.  The result is an extraordinary and eye-opening book... told by real people in their own words. The stories inside are harrowing and heartbreaking, yet full of hope.  You can have a copy of this book FOR FREE by visiting "Get The Book"
In the photo at left, Journalist/Professor/Author Miles Harvey presents Rotary CFD member Tom Baltz his Free Copy of this fascinating book.  When asked what was the inspiration for the book?  Professor Harvey explained... "My students and I felt there was something missing from the conversation about youth violence in Chicago, and we were right.  We wanted to hear from people in these neighborhoods, and hear the stories of people who are deeply affected by this stuff.  There's a guy in it that served 18 years in prison for murder. But, the stories talk about them as people, not only criminals. Narratives also make identifying with the subjects easier.  And, when they see a story that has a similar voice to them and their friends, it makes them feel heard."
The narratives contained within the book, taken from literally hundreds of people who live in these so called "war zones", also provided material for Miles Harvey to write his first play. Most notably, it was performed at Chicago's famous Steppenwolf Theater in 2013. Following the acclaimed run at Steppenwolf "How Long Will I Cry" toured Chicago Public Library branches throughout the city. In conjunction with the tour, Steppenwolf hosted "digital media workshops" for teens, that were designed to encourage critical thinking, recognize moral responsibility, and allow teens to be heard.   
The book inspires all of us to join together in search of a solution.  You can get an inside peak of the process by watching this video: Teens at the Table    


Real Change begins Within
Posted J Schwandke August 15, 2014

Guest speakers at today's Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District were Christopher and Julia Busch, representing the David Lynch Foundation, which promotes the use of Trancendental Meditation as a way to heal stress, depression, and raise the performance of at-risk population. The Foundation recently opened a new office in Chicago and are working with "Chicago Public Schools" and "Chicago Citizens For Change" in an effort to teach others how to better cope with violence and the results of violence.  Their office is located at 5300 S. South Shore Drive. 
Among the famous who claim using T.M. in their daily lives are Paul McCartney, Ringo Star, Doctor Oz, Ellen Degeneres and Jerry Seinfeld. Transcendental Meditation is described as a "Mental Technic"... referred to by the users as "The T.M. Experience."  You can click this link to learn more about it.
 A Mover and Shaker at a Very Young Age
Posted August 8, 2014 by J Schwandke 

We were pleased to once again welcome former Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar and Rotary Global Grant Recipient Hannah Warren to one of our weekly meetings. She tries to visit us when in Chicago, so we can be updated on her most recent adventures. If you haven't heard her amazing story... please read on. 
A native of Rockford Illinois, she first visited India in 2006 as an Ambassadorial Scholar. As part of a photography project she wanted to visit Maheshwar, a city famous for its weavings, so she could create portraits of female weavers wearing sarees that they had woven themselves.  But, upon arrival she learned that no weavers actually owned any sarees that they had woven themselves. The weavers she photographed were living in poverty and could not afford the raw materials for the sarees they weaved.  Instead, they were totally dependent on middlemen to provide them the raw materials, which they would then transform into beautiful sarees, in exchange for mere pennies. 
Hannah decided, that instead of abandoning the project, she would donate funds to the weavers so they could purchase their own materials and weave sarees for themselves for the very first time. See Hannah's story in a video format here:
The photography project changed Hannah's life and inspired her to work with the weavers and Chetanya Sewa, a local grassroots organization, to start a company named "Jhoole", which means "swing" in Hindi. She still becomes emotional today when telling the story. Hannah, who is fluent in Hindi, is currently the Executive Director of Jhoole.  She has a Masters Degree in Fashion Entrepreneurship and was able to secure a Rotary Global Grant to help launch the project, which now employs 200 women and continues to expand. All Jhoole employees receive a good living wage, full health insurance and partial scholarships for their children. 
Needless to say... they all love Hannah Warren... as do we. As part of todays visit... Hannah was made an "Honorary Member" of the Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District. You can see her posing here with a small selection of scarves and shawls woven by the ladies in Maheshwar.

Helping the Economy!
Posted August 8, 2014 by J Schwandke 
We had visiting Rotarians from the Rotary Club of East Nassau in the Bahamas today.  The two Rotarians and their wives are visiting Chicago for the week and decided to pay us a visit. The gentleman in green has the distinction of having 100% perfect attendance after being a Rotarian for 19 years, which is not a simple feat!  When not in his homeland... he looks for "make up" meetings.  Since the purpose of this trip was to tour, relax, and have fun in Chicago... neither had packed any dress clothes whatsoever, choosing instead to be touristy in Shorts, T-Shirts and Tennis Shoes.
When researching which Rotary Club to visit while here, Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District fit the bill perfectly.  But, they also learned, as posted on our website, that Rotary CFD meets at the Union League Club, which has a strict dress code that reads... "Business Casual Attire is required when visiting any U.L.C. facility.  Men must wear a collared shirt (including turtlenecks) with slacks and women must wear slacks or skirt with blouse or sweater. No jeans or athletic shoes are allowed!"
This led our new found friends to visit Chicago's famous Macy's Store.  Purchases included collared shirts, Docker pants, and new shoes. Our visitors, shown here with Rotary CFD President Vickie Dorgan, received a standing ovation for their tenacity.  



  Why Rotary? - A Video Explanation from Rotary District 6450 - Click Here:  Why Rotary?

August is Membership Month, so we are asking "Everyone to Bring One" by bringing a guest to a Rotary Meeting this month.  Let someone know in advance so the kitchen can be notified. For ideas and inspiration on attracting new members, sign up for the Membership Minute  Newsletter available on the "My Rotary" website.

   Connecting the Dots
Posted July 31, 2014
Cities are but "dots on a map"... but, as we learned today, Ms Cindy Lee, President of the Chicago Chinese Cultural Institute, can help connect those dots. With the help of Intern Assistant Mallory Durlauf, who is also fluent in Mandarin Chinese, Ms. Lee explained the purpose of their organization as follows; "to conduct training programs and events that promote the Chinese language and culture; to introduce the best of Chinese culture to America and vice versa; to educate people from both cultures on how to communicate more effectively; to assist corporations wanting to reach out to the Asian American communities; to consult with corporations wanting to do business in China... and to organize city tours for Chinese visitors and Chinatown tours for the general public."   
It is a "tall order" for sure, which includes everything from providing Chicagoans a Chinatown Food and Cultural Tour... to providing cross-cultural trainers who can help prepare those who are assigned to work in China so they can be more sensitive to the cultural differences and work more effectively in a different cultural environment.  You can visit their website at  to learn more.
   In the photo at left, Rotary CFD's most experienced China traveler, Bill Getzoff, is flanked by guest speaker's Mallory Durlauf and Cindy Lee. 


Recognition for Accomplishment

Posted July 31, 2014
The purpose of this article may seem ego driven at first... but please read on. Among the many ways Rotarians around the world can help grow the Rotary movement is by contributing to the Rotary Foundation. For it is through the Rotary Foundation that humanitarian projects at home and abroad are made possible on such a grand scale.  You can click this link to learn more about the Rotary Foundation 
Gifts to the Foundation allow Rotary Clubs to create positive change in communities all around the world.  Everything from peace initiatives, to clean water, to support for education, helping to grow local economies and fight disease.
Rotarians have many vehicles to choose from when contributing.  They include targeted donations, becoming a Paul Harris Sustaining Member, joining the Paul Harris Society and/or becoming a Benefactor.  A number of years ago, the Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District made a decision that each of its members would become Sustaining Members.  It means that each individual member agrees to donate a minimum of $100 to the Foundation every year. In the Rotary World, this is known as an "EREY Club" (Every Rotarian, Every year). 
And now comes the "pat yourself on the back" part of the story.  Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District recently received recognition from Rotary District 6450, which represents 62 separate Rotary Clubs, that it was once again being recognized as an "EREY Club."  Only 20% of Rotary Clubs in the District achieved this distinction.  So, congratulations guys and gals... your dedication has not gone unnoticed.   

 Breaking Through Barriers!?
?Posted July 24, 2014
Speaker, Trainer and Author, Dr. Kate Webster was our speaker today.  Dr. Kate has been presenting and training for over 25 years on a range of topics designed to help individuals get to the "other side" of life's challenges.  Also a third-degree Black belt in Karate, Kate gained the groups attention early on when she surprised all by breaking a board with the palm of her hand.  The exercise accompanies the story of her own experience in getting over the fear and doubt that she could do such a thing.
Probably we have all witnessed this feat on television... but when it occurs in a small luncheon room ten feet from where you sit... it perks you right up!  The smell of freshly split pine is a wonderful aroma.  You can read more about Kate Webster by clicking this link to her website:

 How Much Fun Can a Fundraiser Be?
                                                         Posted July 19, 2014 
The short answer is... "As much fun as the Auction Item you win provides!"  Perhaps it's a piece of art, tickets to a play, a prized bottle of wine, or a romantic picnic basket filled with everything you need for the perfect picnic. 
This particular fund raiser was sponsored by Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District and raised over $2,500 for upcoming Community and International Projects.  The event was held at "Kiki's Bistro" and one of the auction items on the table was a one-hour "Skyline Flyover of Chicago"... generously being offered by Rotarian Andy Horberg and wife Karen Ness.  Both are licensed pilots and have their own Cessna airplane. 
You can see the "happiness" this auction item created by the looks on their faces.  Up front you see pilot and photographer (it's a selfie) Karen Ness at the controls, with Darlene Schwandke in the buddy seat.  Karen is the one without the cap.  
As you can see... Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District member's have lots of fun in between doing good deeds.  If you are not already a Rotarian and would like to learn more about becoming a member of our Club, please inquire here:  Membership Information 

Posted July 18, 2014
The new President of Rotary International, Gary Huang from Taiwan, was in Chicago Tuesday to participate in the inauguration of Dr. Pedro Cevallos-Candau as the 111th President of Rotary Club One.  Rotary of Chicago Financial District member John Schwandke (see photo at right) was on hand to meet President Gary Huang so he could get updates regarding the effort to introduce Rotary Clubs to the general population of China. As it currently stands, membership in Rotary is not allowed for Chinese Nationals, but Rotary International has been authorized to operate under "Provisional Status", which allows for foreigner's with proper documentation and work permits to be members. At this time, government regulations allow only non-Chinese passport holders to join Rotary... but it is hoped that at some time in the future Chinese Nationals will also be able to join Rotary International. 
In February of 2012, when then Chinese Vice President (and now President) "Xi Jinping" visited the White House to meet with President Obama, he announced that he would visit one other place before returning home. This announcement first appeared in a Wall Street Journal article in which it described this destination as "An obscure little town in Iowa to meet with a group of people referred to as his Old Friends."  The obscure little town turns out to be John Schwandke's hometown of Muscatine Iowa.  And it turns out, President Xi Jinping's Old Friends also happen to be John's Old Friends.  It's one of those "small world stories."  The story began in the mid 1980's when Xi Jinping was part of an Agricultural Delegation that visited Muscatine to learn more about our agricultural system.  In addition to spending time at the Iowa State University Research Farm located there, they visited numerous private farms and used "homestays" during their visit. The "Old Friends" are the farmer's and host families the Premier met while he was there. You can see a NY Times Article, published February 16, 2012 here: NY Times Feb. 15, 2012 
Several of these host families are Rotarians... Xi Jinping was a guest at a weekly meeting of the Muscatine Rotary Club... and has warm memories of his time spent in Muscatine.  "You were the first group of Americans I came into contact with," Xi told his Iowa friends after reuniting... "To me, you are America."  I think you can see where this story is heading? Click here to view the Old Friends Reunite Video
Incoming Rotary International President Gary Huang visited the Muscatine Rotary Club this past February and presumably had an opportunity to meet a few of these "Old Friends" as well. You can see the story about his visit here: Huang Visits Muscatine
During Tuesday's meeting, in addition to lots of other "Happy News", Rotary International President Gary Huang was pleased to announce that Evanston recently received permission from the Chinese Government to expand with an additional 10 Provisional Rotary Clubs into other cities. He sees this a positive step in the quest to introduce Rotary to the Chinese  people. Good Job President Gary! 



Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District Plans Fund Raising Campaign!

Based upon the tremendous success of this year's "Rotary Smart Art For Kids" Pilot Program, Rotary CFD announced plans to expand their fund raising effort to include not only other Rotary Clubs... but the general public as well.  Past President and Project Chairman Cliff Harstad reports, that based upon discussions he has had with friends and associates, it appears that the scope of this project, which introduces art and the arts experiences to third-graders at Elementary Schools who lost their art and music programs due to CPS funding cutbacks, has widespread interest.  
To learn more about the pilot program scroll down this page to the story dated June 11, 2014 and entitled "Success Comes in Small Packages."  Rotary CFD Sargeant-at-Arms Ed Keating shows an expression of "exclaim" as he holds a sign describing what is involved with the $85 per student participation. Stay tuned... as more information will follow regarding plans for this upcoming fund raiser.

Your $85 Investment…

Supplies everything needed for One Student to participate.


· A first visit to the Smart Art Museum for an introductory tour with a docent.

· 10 In-School Art Classes taught by an Art Teacher and/or practicing artist.

· All of the Art Supplies needed.

· A  second tour of the Art Museum and displaying of your student’s art.

· Followed by Catered Lunch and closing remarks to students and volunteers.


And... the knowledge that YOU HAVE DONE SOMETHING POSITIVE

in the life of a child!


Awards and Rewards

Posted July 11, 2014 by J. Schwandke
Today's Quiz:  What is a Rotary Foundation Sustaining Member? 
Answer:  A Rotary Foundation Sustaining Member (formerly called a Paul Harris Sustaining Member) is a person who contributes $100 or more per year to the Foundation’s Annual Programs Fund. Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District opted to have all of its members be Sustaining Members by adding a $25 donation to each member's quarterly invoice. They believe, that without sustained support of the Annual Programs Fund, the programs of The Rotary Foundation could not happen. All gifts given through the Sustaining Member program go directly to the Annual Programs Fund and are eligible for and count cumulatively toward the Foundation’s various recognition programs, including recognition as a "Paul Harris Fellow" after $1,000 has been contributed.


At today's Rotary CFD Meeting, Past President Marilyn Sainsot was recognized for achieving this goal for a second time.  In the top photo you can see Incoming President Vickie Dorgan awarding a Paul Harris Foundation lapel pin, with one sapphire, to a surprised Marilyn Sainsot.  Thank you Marilyn for your continuing support of the Rotary Foundation.  For each $1,000 contributed, another sapphire is added to the pin.  
We were also rewarded at today's meeting with a visit from Engineer Shibu Peter, Project's Committee Chairman with the Rotary Club of of Palai India in Rotary District 3211.  In the lower photo you can see Vickie Dorgan exchanging Club banners with Shibu Peter.  The colorful banner from Palai received a big round of applause from those in attendance.   

Something that will Surprise even our Members

Posted June 28, 2014 
A recent check of the "Analytics" for this website shows that it receives an average of 5,000 visits per month. The all time record month for visits was September 2013 when 11,576 visits were recorded.  

Congratulations Madam President!

Posted by J Schwandke - June 26, 2014
Vickie Dorgan, CFA, CFP, and Financial Planner with Raymond James Financial Services, was sworn in as President of the Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District for the 2014-2015 Rotary Year last night at the Union League Club. We were honored to have Rotary District Governor Designate Osei David Andrews-Hutchenson on hand to perform the Installation Ceremony. Vickie, who joined Rotary CFD in 2011 has become a "rising star" in Rotary.  As part of her acceptance speech, Vickie shared how she grew up in the shadow of Rotary, with her father having been a long-time and very active Rotarian. Vickie is not the only member of her family to have become involved with Rotary International. "The philosophy of Rotary's Four-Way Test seems to run in our blood", she said.
Vickie has an MBA in Finance from the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago and graduated with honors in Economics when receiving her undergraduate degree (AB) from the University of Chicago. These are things Vickie rarely talks about, but this writer thinks it is something people should know and helps to explain the character of our new Rotary Club President.
In the photos below you can see Vickie Dorgan being sworn in by District Governor Designate Osei David Andrews-Hutchenson; Members posing during a social that preceeded the ceremony; and Vickie presenting retiring 2013-2014 Rotary Club President Cliff Harstad with a gift recognizing his exemplarary year of service to the Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District. 



Thank you Letters From the Children

Posted June 22, 2014

Please allow for extra time to download the entire PDF file.

Success Comes in Small Packages!
 Posted June 11, 2014 by Jerry McIlvain

The Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District hosted a "Wrap Party" for our "Rotary Smart Art For Kids" project last week. This was the culmination of an event that started with a "Kick Off" at the Smart Museum of Art on the campus of the University of Chicago.  This was a cooperative effort to bring art into the lives of third graders in the Frazier International School on Chicago's near west side. Smart Art began with a visit to the museum, followed by two classes per week in their classroom at school.  The instructor taught through creation, movement and music personal interpretation of the art the students viewed on their visit. Now, on this final visit, they returned to the museum. Here they viewed the art through new eyes; watching for things they had missed, understanding more deeply and passionately the Smart Museum's tremendous and varied collection.
This project was a huge success.  The children paid rapt attention. Yes... "Rapt Attention."  The docent lead them on this journey with their new eyes.  They were completely engaged, making observations and asking questions.  The weather cooperated as Rotary CFD provided pizza in the courtyard after.  Each child had their own art displayed in the courtyard and each received a commemorative bag to transport their own work back to the school.  
All in all "Smart Art for Kids" was a great success.  It had a meaningful impact on all the participants.  This includes the Rotary Club Chicago Financial District members who attended the session, the teachers involved and the parents who attended the wrap up. This observer could not help but be moved by these lovely children seeing the world through the eyes of the artist.
Everyone involved must be commended.  All of us owe a great debt to our 2013/14 Club President Cliff Harstad.  He was the champion of the project.  It was his vision and determination that made this life changing program available to these kids. Due to funding cutbacks at Chicago Public Schools, many art and music programs have been discontinued. The relationship with Frazier International Magnet Elementary School, was a pilot program to find a way to reengage children with the arts. It is President Cliff's view that art classes for grade school students is about learning new ways to look at the world, not to train future artists. Based upon the tremendous success of this pilot program, it is hoped that the Rotary Smart Art For Kids program can be expanded to other schools with the help of additional sponsors. Congratulations are due to all who joined in the effort. 



Ph.D in Beer Science?
Posted June 5, 2014
Now That is a Job!   Rotarian Dr. Udo Kattein, from the Rotary Club of Freising in Bavaria Germany, was a visitor at this weeks meeting of the Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District.  Dr. Kattein is a "Master Brewer" and was in town to make a presentation at "Brewing Summit 2014", which is being held at the Palmer House Hotel.  In the accompanying photo, Udo (on the left) is shown exchanging Rotary Club Banner's with Rotary CFD President Cliff Harstad at the beginning of our meeting.   
Rotating to different major cities, Brewers from around the world gather at the annual Brewer's Summit to gain access to the latest research being dispensed at these conferences. As a Ph.D Beer Scientist, Uno commonly attends these conferences as a presenter.  Last year's event was in Austin Texas and this year in Chicago. As you can imagine... Rotary CFD members had lots of questions for the good Doctor. 

 Friends of the Parks
Posted May 29, 2014
 It was our pleasure to welcome Cassandra Francis, President and CEO of Chicago's "Friends of the Parks", as our speaker today.  FOTP is an organization formed in 1975 to help improve and protect Chicagoland's extensive network of parks.  Quoting from their Mission Statement... "The Mission of Friends of the Parks is to preserve, protect, improve and promote the use of parks and open space in the Chicago area for the benefit of all neighborhoods and citizens."    
Their first project, in November of 1975, was to sponsor a clean-up of Jackson Park.  Skin divers cleaning the lagoon found, among other items, a telephone booth filled with coins dating the booth’s sinking back to 1968. More recently, FOTP forged a new partnership with the Chicago Park District and the City of Chicago that will see more than 300 playgrounds replaced.  Over the years, Friends of the Parks have developed an extensive network of partnerships and the respect of the community.  Their activities are extensive, as is their clout, in getting good works accomplished.
Cassandra was both informative and remarkably candid with her remarks. Follow up questions after the meeting were extensive.  You can learn more about "Friends of the Parks" by clicking this link to their website    
In the picture at left, Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District member Kerry Malm thanks Cassandra Francis (on the left) for taking time from her busy schedule to join us at today's meeting.  Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District meets on Thursdays, 12 Noon, at the Union League Building located at 65 W. Jackson Blvd. in Chicago.   

Blending the Sciences!
Posted May 16, 2014
Rotary Club CFD welcomed speakers Anne Barlow and Jose Francisco Saldago to their May 15th meeting.  Anne and Jose are the Co-Founders of KV-265, a non-profit organization dedicated to arts and science education and acclaimed for its Science and Symphony Series. 
Jose Francisco Saldago, Ph.D., is an astronomer and science visualizer at the Adler Planetarium, where among other things, he uses his skills in the visual arts to create multimedia works that can be synced with existing music classics.  The best way to explain what KV-265 does… is to compare it to a movie soundtrack.  Most of us have seen documentaries showing how a movie sound track is added after a movie is filmed.  KV-265 is pretty much to opposite of that.  Jose gathers astronomic photos and films, often times resourcing from NASA and his own works and, using a sophisticated process of editing, is able to sync the material to the music of Mozart and other well-known masters.  The finished product can then be projected onto giant screens positioned behind a live orchestra.  UNESCO recognized their first two Science and Symphony works as Special Projects for the 2009 International Year of Astronomy. In addition, KV 265's “The Planets” was named the 2012 One Score/One Chicago project for the Ravinia Institute.
In the accompanying photo, Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District members Eve Herdea and Jerry McIlvain act as bookends for Jose and Anne. Today's program was both educational and entertaining.  I can hardly wait until I can see a live performance!  
You can learn more about KV265 by clicking here: 

Posted May 10, 2014

 Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District Incoming President Victoria Dorgan recently attended the Berkshire-Hathaway Annual Shareholder's Meeting in Omaha Nebraska and sent back a photo for friends.  It's hard not to see the Fruit of the Loom guys... and we can see our illustrious Madam President sitting on the left... but who the heck is the old guy in the middle proposing to toast with a Coca-Cola?  

Sharing a few other tidbits, Vickie said she took Buffet's advice and visited the NetJet terminal at Eppley Airfield in Omaha. You drive up and are greeted by staff.  There is a lounge to wait for passenger departures with recliners and a large screen television.  NetJet members walk the tarmac or take a golf cart to a waiting jet.  I had the opportunity to see the inside of the 8 passenger plane and it had leather seats, rosewood paneling with brass fittings, and a GPS tracker which, when en route, gives not only a detailed map of the cities below but also a constantly recalculates travel time to destination.  Buffett's advice in his annual letter, "Come by bus; leave by NetJet.  Live a little." 


Here are a few notes that Vickie wrote down during the question and answer portion of the meeting: 
A questioner noted that the Heinz transaction included a private equity partner, 3G.  It was asked if Berkshire would adopt the "3G method of management."  (Private equity firms look to manage expenses closely and typically take over management and cut staff after purchasing a company.)  Warren noted that while the management styles do not blend, Berkshire would welcome another opportunity to partner with 3G.  Charlie Munger noted that Berkshire "never had a policy of overstaffing," and that Berkshire preferred to encourage lean operations by example, not by edict.  (The annual report has a photo of the “headquarters” staff of Berkshire Hathaway and it consists of 24 people.)  Munger said "I don't think you have to have the last nickel out of staffing costs." 

·         Berkshire will continue to operate using the principals outlined in the annual report and uphold its reputation for letting managers continue to run their businesses. Munger summed up by stating:  "First, we behave the way we do because we like doing it.  Second, we aren't likely to stop."  Imagine a private equity firm acquiring the Nebraska Furniture Mart the Berkshire way:   Mrs. B. (Rose Blumkin) was 89 years old (she worked until age 103) when Warren Buffett presented her with a two page sales agreement that her son read to her, because she could not read.  She concurred with the terms and Buffett asked her two questions:  do you own the business and do you have any debt?  The deal was struck on those terms. 


Posted by J Schwandke
Probably not totally, is what we learned from our guest speakers at the Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District's May 8, 2014 meeting. Senior Computer Forensic Examiner Yaniv Schiff, of Chicago based "Forensican", explained some of the process by which computer forensic experts glean information. His presentation smacked of scenes from a television show where we ask ourselves... "Can they really do that?"  Associate Forensic Examiner Erin Lara, who accompanied Schiff to the meeting, responded with... "Yes, often times we can." 
"Forensicon" is a computer and cellphone forensics firm founded in 2002 and based in downtown Chicago. Their specialty areas often revolve around trade secrets, employment litigation, and internal investigations.  The firm has represented numerous Fortune 500 companies and others wanting to defend or prosecute claims of intellectual property theft.  We listened in amazement as Yaniv shared a few of his "Aha Moments" discovered through deep rooted investigation of someone's computer and/or cellphone.  It is all very fascinating stuff... which you can read about in more detail by visiting this website: 
Click here to read about some of Forensicon's most notable cases:
As seen in the photo at right, Rotary CFD Membership Chairman, Gus Samios, welcomes Yaniv Schiff and Erin Lara to our meeting, as fellow Rotarian John Schwandke looks on.

Adopt-a-Beach.... Time Well Spent!
Posted April 25, 2014 by J Schwandke
 This week Rotary CFD welcomed Joel Brammeier, President & CEO of the "Alliance for the Great Lakes".  Joel explained that 20% of the earth's fresh surface water supply is contained within the Great Lakes system, so we have to take good care of it.  He spoke of the ongoing challenge to protect a drinking water supply for 40 million people, while at the same time supporting sizeable recreation and commercial activity.  Some of the obstacles include rise and fall of evaporation rates, pollution, invasive animal species and, more recently, "Algal Blooms" being introduced from phosphorous contained in agricultural runoff.  
Formed in 1970, Alliance for the Great Lakes is the oldest independent Great Lakes protection organization in North America.  Its mission is to conserve and restore the world's largest freshwater resource through the use of policy, education and local efforts designed to insure a healthy Great Lakes and clean water for generations of people and wildlife. It is headquartered in Chicago, with offices in Buffalo, Cleveland, Detroit, Grand Haven and Milwaukee. 
In the photo at left, you can see students from Racine, Wisconsin taking part in the "Adopt-a-Beach" service learning program.  In the process, students learn about the environment and help their community while analyzing water quality, investigating beach health, removing litter and debris and entering their findings into the online database. 
To learn more about "Alliance for the Great Lakes"... visit their website by clicking this link:      

YES... We Had Visitors Today!
Posted 4/24/14 by J Schwandke
 It is always nice to welcome visiting Rotarians to our meetings.  This week we were treated with two!  The smiling fellow standing in the center exchanging Club Banners with Rotary Club of Chicago Financial President Cliff Harstad, is an attorney and Rotarian from Miami, Florida... visiting Chicago on business.  The fellow on the left, visiting from Rotary Club of Savannah Georgia East, may be recognizable to some Chicagoans. He is Dr. Edmund Donoghue, Regional Medical Examiner for the Coastal Regional Crime Lab in Savannah since 2007.  Prior to that, Ed was Deputy Chief Medical Examiner of Cook County from 1977 through 1993.  He was appointed Chief Medical Examiner in July 1993 and served in that position until his retirement in 2006.  Ed smiled when he told me... "I love what I do, so I retired to the position I now hold in Savannah.  He went on to say... "It's funny.  Back in the 1990's if I told someone what my job was, they would always ask... What does a medical examiner do?  Now, because of all the television exposure, I have to explain that we can't really do all those things they say we can do on TV."  During his career, Dr. Donoghue has served as president of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, The National Association of Medical Examiners, and the Chicago Medical Society. 
If you are a Rotarian visiting Chicago, and your stay includes a Thursday, please come join us for lunch.  We meet Thursdays at noon, in the Union League Club Building, located at 65 W . Jackson Blvd. in the heart of Chicago's famous "Loop". 




February 27, 2014


“We have finally reached the point where we can publically announce a pilot program designed to help reintroduce art programs to select Chicago Schools where arts programs have been lost due to funding cuts”… announced Cliff Harstad, President of Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District. Although an official name for the project is yet to be determined, we have been referring to it as “Rotary Smart – Art For Kids”, which is a joint effort of the Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District and University of Chicago Smart Museum. “We hope that once the pilot program has been honed, other potential sponsors will jump in to help expand the program to more schools”… said Harstad.  Those working to develop the curriculum describe it as a novel and affordable way to introduce the arts to elementary age students.


The Rotary CFD Board of Director’s recently approved enough funding to introduce a pilot program into two Chicago schools: Frazier International (Pulaski & Roosevelt) and another, soon to be announced.  



From a seed planted by Cliff, we began to explore for affordable ways to bring Arts education back into select Chicago area schools. Education in the various arts has been virtually eliminated in many city schools as budget woes continue to escalate. On a personal level, many realize how important the various art forms can be to developing minds. This opinion was echoed in a New York Times opinion article last fall. Click here to read the article:  Art Makes You Smart -   
The Pilot program has been designed for 3rd graders at Frazier International (Pulaski & Roosevelt) and another, yet to be determined school.  In summary, the program outline looks like this: 


1. Participating Students will be provided an introductory visit to Smart Museum for a specially designed docent tour of the facility and introduce the students to art and this project.

2. The museum visit will be followed by 2X per week for 5 weeks of in school hands-on projects conducted jointly by an artist and a classroom teacher.

3. The program ends with a return visit to the Museum and a “concluding ceremony” for the students.


Parents will likely be encouraged to attend the ceremony. Our current estimate of cost is $2,500 per school. Assuming 35 students, that comes to $71.00 per student for 5 weeks of instruction and 2 visits to the Smart Museum.
Our first goal is to successfully complete the Pilot Program. From there, we hope to expand the program to other schools and include music, dance and theater in the mix. But, in order to expand, we need to find ways to encourage other Rotary Clubs and/or Businesses to sponsor individual schools. We are searching for ways to make this happen and need help to create a short video about the program and advice on how to market the program to others. If you would like to help… or have questions about the project, please contact Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District via this email address:  

Rotarians... All For One and
One For All!
 Feb 23, 2014
Just because the Rotary Club you belong to isn't the official "Host" or "Partner" of an International Project doesn't mean you can't get enveloped with Rotary Spirit and share a bit of sweat equity with someone else's project. Rotarian John Schwandke, who spends his winter months living near Playa del Carmen Mexico, recently learned that a newly constructed Red Cross Hospital in Playa del Carmen faced a predicament similar to one addressed last year by the Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District for a Red Cross Hospital in Puebla. The dilemma being... "Now that we were finally able to build a new hospital, where can we get the equipment to fill it?"  In July of last year, Rotary CFD in partnership with the Puebla Mirador Rotary Club, delivered a semi-truckload of medical supplies that had been donated by Chicago area hospitals and clinics to the Red Cross Hospital in Puebla.  Now the question became... "Could Rotary Clubs in and around Playa del Carmen duplicate the same feat for their hospital?"
Schwandke approached the" Rotary Club of Playa del Carmen Seaside" about the idea and they immediately jumped at the opportunity to act as the "Host Club" for the effort. They are currently seeking other area Club's who would like to partner with a "District Simplified Grant".  The Denver Rotary Club has expressed interest in becoming the International Partner and is pursuing participation by their District 5450 as well. The goal is to raise $20,000 US Dollars, which will provide the funding needed to deliver an estimated $400,000 worth of medical equipment and supplies to the Playa del Carmen Hospital later this summer. The equipment itself comes from a non-profit organization named "Project C.U.R.E." which is located in Denver Colorado and acts as a "pass through" for equipment donations from hospitals throughout the United States. "We pay nothing for the donated equipment"... says Schwandke, "only for the fees charged by Project CURE, to help cover the costs for receiving, inspecting, categorizing, handling, packaging, documentation, and actual shipping cost. That is how we are able to deliver medical equipment valued at $400,000 for the fractional cost of $20,000."  

A tour of the facility was provided earlier this month so potential sponsors (see photo to right) could meet the staff and learn first hand of their needs.  As the visitors gathered in the hospital’s inviting lobby they were welcomed by Red Cross Board of Directors member Teresa Jiménez Rodriguez and Administrative Director Horacio Moreno Trinidad, who conducted the tour.  As the visitors moved from area to area they were impressed by the design of the new facility, but also by the need for beds, equipment, and other supplies that they need to serve the community effectively. 

The morning’s big highlight was meeting with the Red Cross’ youth group, who were assembled in their meeting room on the second floor.  The young peoples’ infectious enthusiasm for their Red Cross involvement was obvious, especially when the visitors were greeted with chants that sounded like cheers at an American college football game that led the Rotarians to burst into a round of applause.

The tour concluded with a question and answer session led by John Schwandke and Seaside Rotary President Doug Morgan.  Visiting Rotarians learned more about the project, and were asked to return to their respective Clubs and solicit additional support. Additional information about this Rotary/Red Cross initiative can be obtained by contacting Project Chairman Bob Hyde of the Playa del Carmen Seaside Rotary Club at 


Our Club welcomes visiting Rotarians from Europe
Posted February 21, 2014

After hearing the stories of what brought our distinguished guests from Ukraine (Crimea) and Germany (Munich) to Chicago, our President exchanged club banners with the visitors.  We also heard from community leader and author Robert Beezat presenting his book "Knowing and Loving; The Keys to Real Happiness." 


Preventative medicine expert Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones


Posted February 14, 2014


The club had a delightful speaker presentation on 2/13.  Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones, Chair of the Department of Preventive Medicine at Northwestern, gave an interactive talk on “Life’s Simple 7:  The Fountain of Youth.”  He began by quizzing us on trends in heart disease (down), nutrition (better), and exercise (the more the better).  Life’s Simple 7 are basically seven things we can pay attention to prevent heart disease:  blood pressure, blood cholesterol, blood sugar, smoking status, healthy weight, physical activity and healthy diet.  As we tucked into our ULC lunch, we were minded of foods to avoid, things to take in moderation, and other healthy lifestyle habits. 

Dr. Lloyd-Jones has been actively involved with Chicago Public Schools and the City’s chief public health officer, to identify behaviors that could lead to heart and to advice on making better nutrition available to those who need it, especially in the inner city. 

This was a great way to recognize that February is National Heart Disease Prevention month, and thinking of our hearts on the eve of Valentine’s Day!


John Notz Provides Insight about Chicago's Graceland Cemetery
January 16, 2014
Former Trustee, Vice President and Chairman of Graceland Cemetery’s Marketing Committee, John Notz, was our guest speaker today and shared a unique perspective about  the landscaping elements of this famous historic site.   If you have never toured Graceland, it is the permanent resting place for many of Chicago’s most famous families and listed as a “must see” on the list of Chicago Architectural Tours.  He announced that a film based on a paper he wrote about one of the landscape designers of Graceland and the “Father of the Steel Skyscraper”, William Le Baron Jenney, will be shown at Chicago’s Alliance Francaise (810 N Dearborn St.) on April 8th at 6:30 PM.  A reception will follow.  The event is open to the public and there is no charge for admission.
Click here if you would like to watch a short video about Graceland narrated by John Notz: 




Posted November 30, 2013


A recent communique from District 4180 Governor Alejandro Davila Valdes, states that next year’s Puebla Rotary Project Fair will be held on January 30, 31, and February 1, 2014 in the city of Puebla. The event provides a venue for Rotary Clubs from all over Mexico to gather in one place to showcase Humanitarian Projects in hopes of finding Rotary Clubs to partner with.   


Puebla is a Mexican state with approximately 9 million people. Puebla, the Capital City, is centrally located about 2 hours drive south from Mexico City and is rich in its heritage.  Rotary District 4180 rolls out the red carpet for visiting Rotarians as they share meals and provide tours of the area. You can scroll down this page to see stories provided by District 6450 Rotarians who have attended past Project Fairs. 


Originally a part of the Latin American Project Fair, Mexico realized the need to create their own independent event. The first two fairs were held in the Colonial City of Oaxaca and Rotary CFD member John Schwandke was among the first Americans to attend. In an effort to encourage more attendance from District 6450 Rotarians, Governor Pat Merryweather, along with Chicago O'Hare member David Woodcock and wife Marisella, joined Schwandke at this year's Project Fair in Puebla to learn more about how they function. Project Fairs provide a forum for Rotarians from different countries to meet and explore a large variety of projects that have already been identified, but lack an International Partner to qualify for a Global Grant from The Rotary Foundation. There were 42 booths at this year’s Fair, all manned by individual Rotary Clubs from around Mexico and equipped with sophisticated displays that provided detailed information about their projects. In addition to participation by Rotarians from the United States and South America, at least two Districts brought their DDF Committees in tow to allow for approval of matching grant applications right there at the Fair.
After this second year repeat in Puebla, it is rumored that the 2015 Project Fair will be held in Veracruz. Mark your calendars now if you would like to attend Puebla Project Fair 2014.  The dates are January 30, 31, and February 1, 2014.  For more information, contact Rotary CFD International Projects Chairman John Schwandke at


40+ District 6450 Rotary Clubs Make Commitment of Aide to Disaster Sites in Philippines and Washington Illinois

 Response from Rotary Clubs to help thousands of families made homeless by recent storms has been heartwarming. Already more than 40 Clubs from District 6450, including Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District, have committed to assist with Shelter Boxes for the Philippines and monetary aid to support work already in progress there.

ShelterBox has been working relentlessly with Rotarians in the Philippines since November 9th to provide emergency shelter and relief to communities affected by Super Typhoon Haiyan, the largest recorded storm to reach landfall.  You can read more about the emergency relief appeal and visit the  Announcements section of for updates as more information becomes available. A "Shelter Box" contains a tent for up to ten people, with blankets, cooking equipment and other basic supplies.  One box can be provided for a donation of $1,000.  Some Rotary Clubs are able to donate one or more boxes and others have partnered with another Club to donate a box.  Anyone can donate directly to  in any amount. 

Aid for the Washington Illinois Tornado is centered on cash donations to increase funding for work already in progress. Gary Deiters of the Rotary Club of Washington is serving as the Rotary Point Person for relief in the Washington area. Gary indicated that the biggest need at the moment is cash donations.  Those wanting to help can send donations to the Washington Rotary Club, 2075 Washington Road, Washington IL. 61571.


Currently there are no opportunities to volunteer.  All slots for clean-up activity are filled and there is a substantial waiting list. If this changes and volunteers are needed, the District will put out a call for help.  For more information you can click here: District 6450 News


Rotary Foundation Receives Coveted 4-Star Rating from Charity Navigator!

Go to full article
The Rotary Foundation earned a 4-star rating from, the largest and most prestigious independent evaluator of nonprofits in the United States. The 4-star rating, the highest that Charity Navigator awards, recognizes sound fiscal management and commitment to accountability and transparency. Charity Navigator evaluates thousands of nonprofits each year, and only one of four earns 4 stars.

This year’s top distinction marks the Foundation’s sixth straight, placing it in the top 3 percent of U.S.-based charities. In a letter to the Foundation, Ken Berger, the president of Charity Navigator, wrote, “This ‘exceptional’ designation differentiates The Rotary Foundation from its peers and demonstrates to the public it is worthy of their trust.”  Some of the ways that Rotarians worldwide provide continuing support to their Foundation by becoming Paul Harris Fellows, Sustaining Paul Harris Members, Benefactors, Bequest Society Members and/or Targeted Major Donors. You can find more details about giving to The Rotary Foundation by clicking this link: Rotary Giving.   


Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District is a 100% Rotary Foundation Sustaining Member Club, which means that every dues-paying member personally gives $100 or more to the Annual Fund. 


Two Honored Guests in One Day!
Posted Oct. 17, 2013 by J Schwandke 
Pictured at right is Rotary CFD President Cliff Harstad exchanging Club Banners with Dirk Hermans of the Bree-Bocholt Belgium Rotary Club. Dirk, who is on a month long work/hobby sojourn in the United States is a writer, editor and owner of his own publishing company. As a long time Rotarian, Dirk's mission on this trip is to gather information for a book he is writing about the history of Rotary International... but, the story he plans to write comes from a different angle than those in the past and includes personal visits to each of the first ten Rotary Clubs that comprise the early beginnings of Rotary International.  From here, he is off to Minneapolis, but Dirk was grateful to have had the opportunity of share a table with Rotary CFD Club Historian Dennis Gorman today, who was able to fill in some blanks for Dirk, especially regarding the resurrection of Paul Harris' original office which has become one of the most sought after attractions for those visiting Rotary Headquarters in Evanston. Click here:
It was also a treat to hear from today's guest speaker Bill Obenshain (pictured at left with Rotary CFD's Vickie Dorgan) and Adjunct Professor Andy Bateman's presentation regarding DePaul University's new Master of Science in Wealth Management degree. Bill is the Executive Director of DePaul University's Center for Financial Services and his straightforward presentation was enlightening to say the least. You can get a glimpse of DePaul's new program by clicking this link: 

Puebla Mexico Rotarians visit Chicago Rotarians
Posted by J Schwandke - October 10, 2013  
During the first week of October 2013, five members of Rotary Club Puebla Mirador and their wives came to say "thank you" to their Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District friends and project partners. Rotary CFD member John Schwandke first met these visiting Rotarians in January of 2012 while attending the Rotary Project Fair in Oaxaca Mexico. Relationships were forged that resulted in Rotary CFD acting as the International Partner for three different humanitarian projects with Rotary Clubs from Puebla, Teziutlan, Zihuatanejo, Chicago O'Hare, and Bellevue Washington. This summer, Rotary CFD partnered directly with Rotary Club Puebla Mirador to send a semi-truck load of medical equipment and supplies to a Red Cross Hospital in central Puebla. The project was such a huge success, that we hope to repeat similar projects, this time using multiple Rotary Clubs from Districts 6450 and 4180, to provide medical equipment to other locations where a need exists. In a nutshell... all of the equipment being shipped is donated by Chicago area hospitals and clinics.  There is no cost for the equipment itself. The only costs are those having to do with the inspection, preparation and packaging of the equipment... , plus shipping cost. By forming an alliance between multiple Rotary Clubs and applying available grants... the cost per Club is minimal.   
In addition to visiting numerous tourist sites around the city, our visitors were able to meet with Rotarians from numerous District 6450 Clubs and tour Rotary International Headquarters in Evanston.  Pictured below you can see them posing with Gregory Franks, R.I's Supervisor of Club and District Support for the America's... attending the "Hispanic Heritage Celebration and Welcoming Party" hosted by the Rotary Club of Chicago Little Village... and touring Rush Hospital, with help from the Rotary Club of Illinois Medical District Chicago. Also, we give a special "tip of the hat" to our friend David Woodcock, from the Chicago O'Hare Club, for providing "hands on help" above and beyond the call of duty.  We thank all who played a role in helping to host our visitors from Rotary Club Puebla Mirador.  Our friends are very appreciative of the warm reception they received. 

Zihuatanejo Mexico Ambulance Project Completed!
Posted August 26, 2013
We are pleased to announced completion of the Zihuatanejo Ambulance Project that provided a defibrillator, monitors and other sophisticated equipment for an ambulance serving all of Zihuatanejo and the surrounding area. The project was introduced at February's Puebla Project Fair by Zihuatanejo Rotary Club member Gloria Victoria Ortiz Espinosa, who can be seen standing in the center of these photos wearing a striped blouse. Total cost for the project was $21,665... but because the project was taking place at the end of the year, budgets were tight, and it took the cooperation of four Rotary Clubs in three different Districts to get the job done. The partnering Rotary Clubs were Zihuatanejo, Bellevue Washington, Chicago O'Hare and Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District.  You can read about the beginnings of the project by scrolling further down the page and reading about the Puebla Mexico Project Fair.  


Paying it Forward 
Posted: August 22, 2013
by J. Schwandke
Designed to help disadvantaged high school students gain access to college, recent grads who have experienced the program now pass their experiences on to the next generation of graduates at 22 different area high schools. As Adviser Representatives of the "Illinois College Advising Corps", Maritza del Real, Iliana Miranda and Jeremie Perez were present at today's Rotary CFD meeting to explain how the program works. Members of the "Advising Corp" have real-life experience in gaining access to colleges and therefore can truly relate to the high school students they serve. You can learn more by clicking this link:

What Do 4,000 "Supplies for Dreams"
Backpacks Look Like?
 posted August 20, 2013
This is an update to an earlier story (scroll down) about University Student Nicole Bronnimann's "Supplies For Dreams" Project.  Rotary CFD member John Robinson reports... "We packed over 4000 backpacks for this great project, in just a couple of hours at the Northwestern Norris Center on Saturday. They will be distributed to Chicago Public Schools where a need exists."
(Click on photo to enlarge)

Supercharged Teen!
Posted August 8, 2013 
Our guest speaker today was Rotary Interact Student Sarah Dynia, a 2013 recipient of the  “Governor’s Youth Volunteer Service Award.”  Having  founded the charity organization “Stuffed Love” as a 13 year old in 2010, Sarah is not your typical teen. "Stuffed Love" creates cuddly hand-stitched animals and other items that relate to a specific need, in an effort to help comfort those who feel alone. Sarah explains..."My objective was to use my skills, find other volunteers, and reach out to those going through difficult times and let them know, in some genuine heartfelt way, that we care.”
Materials were purchased and so began the creation of hundreds of cheerful stuffed characters. Sarah says… “The scope of “Stuffed Love” was not limited; so far, we have helped veterans, seniors, the developmentally disabled, the homeless and the sick." But, her most recent focus, is helping Chicago’s Mended Little Hearts program by making little hand-stitched hearts for baby’s, with heart defects, to cuddle and clutch as they recover from heart surgery.  I never use sewing machines, because I feel that each person deserves the personal attention I give each item. I hand-stitch each one and stuff them with fiberfill and love.”  You can learn more here:
Above, you see a photo of "Stuffed Love" founder Sarah Dynia, introducing Rotary CFD members Vickie Dorgan and Cliff Harstad to the Mended Little Hearts Care Bag program.

Visitor From the North
Posted August 8, 2013
Oshkosh Wisconsin Rotarian Catherine Zimmerman brought her smiling face to the August 8th meeting of Rotary CFD.  The Club meets on the 8th floor of Chicago's Union League Club each Thursday at noon.  Catherine was accompanied by her son and prospective Rotarian Karl Zimmerman, who owns the I.T. company "Steadfast.Net" with offices in Chicago and New York. 
Catherine is the retired Director of Fox Valley Technical College's Oshkosh Campus... has been a Rotarian for more than two decades... and was the first woman to serve as District 6270 Governor in 2003. Among her many accomplishments was acting as a lead collaborator with the FVTC, Winnebago County Board and the city of Oshkosh to create three new aviation-focused programs near Wittman Airport, with a goal of making Oshkosh nationally known for aviation training and education since it already seems to be the headquarters for recreational flight.
The partnership blossomed into the S.J. Spanbauer Center, a nearly 54,000-square-foot trade building on Oregon Street.The center opened in 1991 and was nearly doubled by a $2.6 million addition in 1999 that created space for classrooms, labs for metals manufacturing and two wood technology programs. Here is a "Big Tip of the Hat" to Super Rotarian Catherine Zimmerman, shown here exchanging Club Banners with Rotary CFD President Cliff Harstad.

How Bicycles Can Change Lives!
Posted July 25, 2013 by J. Schwandke
As a child growing up in Uganda, Muyambi Muyambi witnessed how life changing a bicycle could be for those in need of healthcare and other basic services, so he founded "Bicycles Against Poverty".  BAP is a two-time recipient of the Clinton Global University Outstanding Commitment Award.  Their mission is to provide affordable bicycles, for those who otherwise could not afford them in rural Uganda. BAP distributes bicycles to individuals who pay for them in small monthly installments over the course of two years. The bikes are shared within a household and used primarily for transportation of goods to and from the market, transportation for work, the hauling of water and going to school.  Interesting statistics started to accumulate, showing that 67% of BAP participants increased their income after one year of receiving their bike and that 24 percent started a new business... all because of a bicycle. The money collected as payment from the recipients is recycled back into the system to perpetuate the donation of even more bicycles.  At the same time, they are learning about micro-loans and how to manage money. Rose Acen and her husband live with AIDS and use the bike to travel for medicine from a hospital located four miles away. Another man was able to increase the amount of fruit and grain that he transports to and from the market because he can carry more weight much quicker on his bicycle than by carrying it on his head as he did previously. And, for many more, bicycles make education more accessible for the children.   
In the photos below you can see Rotary CFD bicycle enthusiast Andy Horberg (left) and new District 6450 Asst. Governor Bonnie-Sanchez-Carlson (2nd from right) welcoming BAP Representatives Kate Rolfes and Alex Sandoval who were guest speakers at today's meeting. You can learn more about "Bicycles Against Poverty" by clicking this link:


Presidents Meet!
Rotary International President Ron Burton chose the Rotary Club of Chicago (Rotary-One) to be his first official appearance by presiding over the installation of incoming President Mike Faris during their July 9th meeting at Chicago's Union League Club. Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District President Cliff Harstad was also in attendance to congratulate President Mike and seize the opportunity to meet Ron Burton in person.  It's not everyday that we get the opportunity to shake the hand of our International President. 
As Keynote Speaker, President Ron shared his inspiration and asked that each of us fulfill two simple requests during his tenure as President. He asked that each of us bring one new member into Rotary... and that we all contribute to the Rotary Foundation. Wouldn't it be grand if that actually happens?
Before the January 2013 International Assembly in San Diego, which s the annual training event for incoming District Governors... Burton asked each of the incoming Governors to make a donation in their name to the Rotary Foundation in order to demonstrate leadership by example. At the assembly, he announced that all 537 Governors-Elect had complied; along with donations from all R.I. Board Members and Foundation Trustees; the contributions totaled $675,412.
"Now, I have to believe that some of this is money that The Rotary Foundation probably would not have received had I not asked. And, I think this is an important lesson" he said.  "If you want somebody to do something... you can just sit around and wait for them to get the idea... or you can ask."

A Long Way!
Posted June 27, 2013
Rotarians traveled a long distance to hear guest speaker and former Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District member Sander Marcus.  Marcus, who is a Ph.D Clinical Psychologist, spoke about his work with victims of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and led the group in a discussion about PTSD.  
Guests attending today's meeting included Lena Bosson, newly elected President of the Helsingborg Sweden Rotary Club, and her daughter Isabelle who has spent the past year near Seattle Washington as a Rotary Exchange Student.  The ladies are visiting Chicago prior to returning to Sweden.  Also in attendance was Tony Spencer, a visiting Rotarian from the Annapolis Maryland Rotary Club. It is always a delight to meet Rotarians from other places.
In the photo at right, you can see President Gerald McIlvain (wearing tie) exchanging Rotary Club Banners with Lena and Tony.   

Changing of the Guard
posted June 21, 2013 
A "Changing of the Guard" takes place at all 34,000 local Rotary Clubs worldwide on July 1st of each year. New Officers and Directors are elected at the Regional and International levels too, so as to promote fresh ideas and fresh energy throughout the organization that was established in 1905 by Chicagoan Paul Harris.
Pictured below (left) Outgoing Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District President Gerald McIlvain hands the gavel to incoming President Cliff Harstad at an Inauguration Ceremony held June 20th at the Union League Club. Former Rotary Asst. District Governor David Baker presided over the ceremony. Prior to relinquishing the gavel, McIlvain reviewed highlights from the past year and offered special thanks and gifts to those involved. Among the members recognized, was Marilyn Sainsot, who received the "Distinguished Service Award" signifying her "above and beyond" contribution to the Club, and John Schwandke who received the "Good Samaritan" Award. A standing ovation was afforded long time Club Sergeant-at-Arms Ed Keating (bottom right photo), without whom it seems we would be lost. Here is a big "tip of the hat" from all of us Ed!  The center photo shows some of the new officers and directors for the 2013-2014 Rotary Year. You can see the complete list of incoming officers by scanning the "Club Leadership List" on the left side of this page.  Logged in members can view the entire photo album by clicking "Photo Page List" in the menu column.
Our congratulations to our new Club President Cliff Harstad, and to outgoing President Jerry McIlvain for a job well done!  Numerous local and international humanitarian projects were completed under Jerry's watch.  

 Readers are Leaders!
Posted 6/15/13 by A. Horberg
"Readers are Leaders" is a common refrain among the promoters of literacy... and the Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District promotes literacy by distributing free dictionaries to third graders at Chicago  Public Schools.  Why third graders?  It is in the third grade when educators say students transition from "learning to read" to "reading to learn."  A dictionary then becomes an indispensable tool. In cooperation with Rotary District 6450 and The Dictionary Project Inc., Rotary CFD handed out 350 dictionaries this year. 
This is the 6th year that the Club has distributed the books, and plans are underway to continue the practice next year. 
Pictured above are Rotary Club members John Robinson and Vickie Dorgan with two proud and appreciative third graders from Rowe Elementary School. The photo to the left shows Dictionary Project Chairman Andrew Horberg with Otis Elementary instructors Genoveva Najera, Pranvera Karimani and Jestine Cross. Otis is a "5 Star" rated school, with 486 students of which 78% are Hispanic. The dictionaries become the property of the children who receive them to do with as they wish.

  We Bid a Fond Adieu
(Lei Adio)
    ... to first year Rotary CFD member Dr. Andrea Man. While we are sorry to see her go... it is with our blessings that we wish her much success as she advances her medical career.  
Even though Andrea was a practicing physician in her home  country of Romania, it was necessary that she return to medical school here in the United States to receive a license to practice in America.  
Having passed her exams with flying colors, Andrea recently accepted an invitation to complete her Internal Medicine Residency at St. Mary's Health Center in St. Louis. Long time Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District member and Past President Marilyn Sainsot pins a rose on Andrea's lapel, as her sponsor, John Schwandke, looks on. Whichever Rotary Club gains Andrea as a member in the future is in for a pleasant treat. She is a very caring person, a hard worker, and seldom misses a meeting.  Congratulations Andrea ... we wish you well.

"Supplies For Dreams" Helps CPS 6th Graders
Posted May 29, 2013
What started as a conversation around a kitchen table between two high schools students has become "Supplies For Dreams", a student-run nonprofit organization dedicated to giving Chicago Public School 6th graders tools that perhaps they would not have otherwise. Having continued their education beyond the high school level, they know some of the ingredients needed to fill younger hearts with a similar goal.  
Since its inception in 2008, "Supplies For Dreams" has grown also to provide mentoring services and field trips for students at their "partner schools". The organization puts an emphasis on teamwork, passion, efficiency, and holistic impact.  Their vision is to have a positive impact on the educational environment of Chicago Public Schools through a student-run organization. You can learn more by visiting this link:    
Rotary CFD members Vickie Dorgan and Marilyn Sainsot welcome Northwestern University Student and "Supplies For Dreams" Executive Director, Nicole Bronnimann.

Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar Shares Her Story
Posted 5/23/2013 
Rotary CFD member Dr. Andrea Man exchanged Club Banners with today's guest speaker and Ambassadorial Scholar Dr. Suchita Shah. What a treat it was to listen to this bright young humanitarian share with us a piece of her story. Born in London, Suchita graduated from Cambridge University with a starred degree in Neuroscience and completed her medical degree at the University of Oxford.  She has written a number of articles on public health issues and recently received her Master of Public Health degree from Harvard School of Public Health. Sponsored by the Rotary Club of Henley Bridge in the United Kingdom, her Ambassadorial Scholarship helped finance her education.   
In her application for the Scholorship, Suchita said... "I wish to acquire expertise in public health to realize my vision of established, sustainable and equitable primary care worldwide."  As part of this goal, Suchita was awarded a three month global fellowship placement in Cambodia earlier this year, where she established a health-microcredit partnership as part of a Non Communicable Disease prevention strategy. You can read some of Dr. Shah's opinions on gun control and other global health issues here: log

A Culmination of International Projects 
Posted 5/23/2013   
Rotary CFD International Projects Chairman John Schwandke (center) delivers Rotary Club Banners to incoming Club President Cliff Harstad (left) and outgoing President Jerry McIlvain following his return from attending the dedication ceremonies for projects recently concluded in partnership with these Clubs.
Cliff holds the Teziutlan Mexico Club Banner, who was the "host partner" for a $26,000 Sewer/Sanitation Project in the village of Chignautla.  The center banner is from Club Puebla Virreinal, host partner for a computer classroom project at a disadvantaged school, and President Jerry is holding a banner from the Puebla Mirador Rotary Club, which is host club for an ambitious project to send large quantities of medical supplies to Red Cross Clinics throughout the State of Puebla in Central Mexico.
This project is currently nearing completion and may be expanded for future shipments even more grandiose in size.  

 District 6450 Conference
Delavan, Wisconsin 2013
Rotary CFD Receives Recognition at District Conference   
Posted 5/16/13 by C Harstad
             President Jerry (and Debbie) McIlvain, President-Elect Cliff Harstad and Executive Secretary Dennis Gorman attended the District 6450 Conference this past weekend in Delavan, WI.  It was a truly exciting weekend as Rotary gears up for another year.  Outgoing Rotary International Trustee Mike Johns and retired Army Major General Burn Loeffke were an inspiration to all -not only in front of the audience but in private conversations as well. 
The Oswego Club presentation was both moving and a reminder of what Rotarians can accomplish.  In 2007 a tragic auto accident took the lives of 5 Oswego teenagers. The Oswego Club decided to do something, and their efforts resulted in a most remarkable addition to the standard drivers' education program and a video about that tragedy.  There has been a sharp decline in teen auto deaths in areas where this program has been implemented. Oswego donated the video to District 6450 and its clubs. Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District was recognized with two special awards... one for its Website and another for its Community Service Projects. President Jerry McIlvain also received "a tip of the hat" for his participation in the Chicago Peace Initiative.   
 Banner Exchange with Slovakia
     Posted May 16, 2013 by C. Harstad 

    Martin Klus, a member of the Rotary Club Banska - Bystrica (Slovakia), recently visited Chicago and met with our President-Elect Cliff Harstad to exchange Club Flags.  Thanks to a generous donation from the Chicago Blackhawks and Michal Handzus (#26), our club was able to provide a signed photograph and signed hockey puck for Handzus' home town Rotary Club's next fundraiser. 


 (Click to Enlarge)

Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District member Vicki Dorgan recently attended the Birkshire-Hathaway Annual Meeting in Omaha Nebraska and had an up close and personal photo opportunity with the world famous Geiko Gecko.  Vicki asked, "How did you get so famous."  Gecko's answer... "My boss spends a ton of money on advertising!?
Warren Buffet, owner of GEICO parent Berkshire Hathaway, has stated that he would spend $2 billion on GEICO ads if he could, which far exceeds the $994 million spent in 2011. Approximately 6.5% of Geiko's premiums are spent on advertising.  The network stations must love the Gecko almost as much as Vicki!
A Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar Shares her Story!
    India holds a fascination on Westerners from E.M. Forster to the Beatles.  Our May 9 speaker, Hannah Warren, is no exception.  She described India’s hold on her imagination in her talk when she spent a year there as an Ambassadorial Scholar.  She spoke of the insights she found in Hinduism after talking to a priest about her reaction to seeing pilgrims bathe in the Ganges despite its extensive pollution.  But the greatest impact from her year as a Rotary scholar came from watching the impact on the lives of women when she provided them with the means to make their own saris. 
 What began on a small scale has now become a flourishing business with a factory that has more than 100 sewing machines.  The opportunities offered the women gave them a new found independence and dignity.  That attitude resulted in their growth in other areas too.  She described how teaching English encouraged some of the women to teach others how to read and write in Hindi.  Whatever India has given to our speaker, our speaker has returned to India. Thank you for sharing your experience with us.   

Council Approves Dues Increase and Unlimited E-Clubs
Twelve U.S. Rotarians were honored at the White House on 5 April as Champions of Change for their efforts to improve communities locally and around the world.
As part of the daylong event, more than 160 Rotarians attended a morning round of briefings by government officials on topics including polio eradication, health, violence prevention, and the environment. “It is a great honor to see these dedicated Rotary members recognized by the U.S. White House as Champions of Change for their work to improve the lives of people around the world,” said RI President Sakuji Tanaka.

Tanaka said the honorees exemplify how Rotary brings people together to solve problems that are too large for one person to tackle. “Alone, we look at the problems of our community and our world and we feel helpless,” he said. “But together, we are powerful. And through Rotary, we have the power to change our communities and communities throughout the world -- now and into the future. We have the ability to build the world we dream of: one that is healthier, happier, and with hope for better things to come.”

Among the 12 Rotarians honored as Champions of Change was Neli Vazquez-Rowland, a member of the Rotary Club of Chicago. Vazquez-Rowland and her husband in 1994 established Safe Haven, a comprehensive program that helps thousands of people dealing with homelessness, hunger, addiction, chronic unemployment, and other issues. 
“The commitment of these individuals to service reflects that of our worldwide membership of 1.2 million men
and women, all of whom deserve to share in this recognition,” Tanaka said. “Rotary is a way for good people to step forward and work for a better world. And it is a way for all of us, around the world, to transcend race, religion, nation, and politics -- to come together to give help to the people who need it.”

A Very Enlightening Program
Posted March 28, 2013 by C. Harstad
Our March 28, 2013 speaker was Vickie Meilach, Community Outreach Program Director for South Suburban Family Shelter, Inc. ("SSFS").  SSFS provides comprehensive, coordinated services for families in which domestic violence exists.  These include various services to victims of abuse and their children, school education programs on abuse prevention,  abuser intervention, and other programs and services. 
A very enlightening program.  Thank you, Vicki.  We recommend this program for other Rotary Clubs to consider.  For more information, please go to:

Banner... Banner... Who Has the Banner?
March 28, 2013

Debra Fine, a member of Denver Southeast
 visited our club on March 28. 2013. 
Debra and Cliff Harstad, President Elect, exchanged Club Flags. 
 Thank you for joining us, Debra.  Please come again!

February Must be the Month for Ribbon Cuttings?
 March 6, 2013
Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District member John Schwandke took full advantage of his recent visit to February's Rotary Project Fair in Puebla Mexico by tacking on two other visits to sites nearby where his Rotary Club has been the International Partner for two different matching grant projects. The first was the dedication ceremony for the Sanitary Sewer System project in the village of Chignautla (as outlined in the story below)... and more recently, a visit to the Calasanz School to see their new Computer Classroom, which was a project done in partnership with Puebla Virreinal Rotary Club.  Schwandke reports that the State Superintendent of Schools was on hand to provide an up close and hands-on tour.  Schwandke said... "I was surprised at how quickly the little third graders had picked up typing and use of a computer."  He said that the instructors "master computer" interconnects to all the student computers, which greatly enhances the interaction ability between student and teacher. A "Big Screen" television is also connected into the system for classroom instruction.  "As I was kneeling down beside the children they were typing messages to me on the screen thanking our Rotary Clubs for what we have done for their school", he said. A permanent testimony to the school's gratefulness remains in the form of a plaque that has been mounted on the wall above the computers. This relatively small investment is reaping big rewards for the children at this school. 

Teziutlan-Chignautla Sanatation Project Complete!
 February 4, 2013
Construction of a half-mile long sanitation drainage system in the village of Chignautla connecting some 80 homes and 2 schools to an existing system further down the mountainside, was completed this January.  With ground breaking taking place last September and ribbon-cutting in February, the $26,000 project was finished on time and within budget. Having two members of the Teziutlan Rotary Club project committee who were an architect and a civil engineer certainly helped hold down expenses and insure quality work for the project. Construction required trenchers to excavate ditches and install pipe from multiple property lines to the exit point. You can read more about the project by viewing an earlier story that is posted below. Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District member John Schwandke, who visited the site in person for the ribbon cutting, reported that the reception from the community could not have been better.  He reported that many people turned out for the ribbon cutting, with numerous welcoming speeches from village leaders, and a local artist who presented Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District with a painting of the valley where the project took place. 

Chicago Area Rotarians visit Rotary Project Fair
in Puebla Mexico
February 1st & 2nd, 2013


Photo to Left:  David & Marisella Woodcock of Chicago O'Hare join District 6450 Governor Pat Merryweather, District 4180 Governor Horacio Solorio and Chicago Financial District member John Schwandke before entering the Project Fair's Closing Ceremony.
Other Photos:  Rotary Foundation Matching grants Coordinator Lauren Marquez-Viso helps Chicago O'Hare's David Woodcock compute the financing for a proposed ambulance project with the Zihuatanejo Mexico Rotary Club. Pictured at right is John Schwandke with Gloria Victoria Ortiz Espinosa from the Zihuatanejo Club.  
Rotarians from south central Mexico were pleased to welcome Rotarians from the "Birthplace of Rotary" at the 2013 Mexico Project Fair held February 1st and 2nd in Puebla Mexico.  Originally a part of the Latin American Project Fair, Mexico decided to focus on an independent event during the first weekend in February each year. The inaugural years were held in Oaxaca, where Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District member John Schwandke attended last year.  Hoping to encourage more attendance from District 6450 Rotarians, Governor Pat Merryweather, along with Chicago O'Hare member David Woodcock and his wife Marisella, joined Schwandke at this year's Project Fair in Puebla to learn more about how they function. Project Fairs provide a forum for Rotarians from different countries to meet and explore a large variety of humanitarian projects already identified, but lacking an International Partner in order to qualify for a Matching Grant from the Rotary Foundation. There were 42 booths at this years Fair, all manned by individual Rotary Clubs from around Mexico and equipped with sophisticated displays that provided detailed information about their projects. In addition to participation by Rotarians from the United States and even a few from South America, at least two Districts brought their DDF Committees in tow to allow for approval of matching grant applications right there at the Fair.  A novel answer to the sometimes snail like pace it often takes to process the typical matching grant. After a second year repeat in Puebla, future Mexican Project Fairs are rumored to be in Veracruz and Cancun.  
Although small in number, this year's District 6450 group was able to partner on a project presented by Gloria Victoria Ortiz Espinosa, from the Zihuatanejo Rotary Club to provide sophisticated equipment for a new ambulance recently purchased for a neighbering village.  Schwandke reports, that although this project is not the highest dollar amount for matching grants he has participated in... this project does represent the highest number of Rotary Clubs (4) and Districts (3) that he has ever combined with when processing a matching grant. Being near the end of the Project Fair, and with many budgets already exhausted, it took the combined efforts of Zihuatanejo, Bellevue Washington, Chicago O'Hare and Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District, plus their respective Districts and TRF to come up with the total $21,655 needed to complete the project. Mark your calendars now if you would like to attend Puebla Project Fair 2014.  It is an experience that will last a lifetime.

Work Begins on Crutzitzin-Chignautla Project!

Posted Oct. 18, 2012 by J Schwandke


Trenching began this week in the village of Crutzitzin-Chignautla in central Mexico. The rather ambitious $26,000 sanitation drainage project results from a partnership formed by the Teziutlan Rotary Club and Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District.  Together, we are constructing a half-mile long sanitation sewer system, with 14 junction wells, that will serve a village with 80 homes and two schools. Lack of proper drainage had created a genuine health hazard for this indigenous community, whose families have resided in this location for countless  generations. The Rotary Club of Teziutlan provided the $1,500 in seed money needed to start the project, and Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District became their International Partner by contributing another $4,675 to the cause. The remaining $19,825 in needed funding came from a series of Matching Grants provided by our respective Districts and The Rotary Foundation. Without Matching Grants from the Rotary Foundation a Club as small as ours would never be able to participate in World Service Projects of this magnitude. So, the next time you are considering your pledge as a Sustaining Paul Harris Fellow... think of these families in a mountainous village who have benefited from your contribution... or, of the child's life you might be saving in Nigeria when they receive polio vaccine from a fellow Rotarian.  


You can learn more about this and other World Service Projects that Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District is currently involved with by scrolling further down this page.


The Ruby Tear Catcher

Posted 10/11/2012 by J Schwandke


Community Service Chairman Andy Horberg welcomes author and guest speaker Nahid Sewell to the October 11th meeting of the Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District.


Ms. Sewell was born and raised in Tehran, Iran and moved to the United States in the late 1970s to attend Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. Going to college in the United States had been her dream. Following graduation she accepted a job in Chicago and has been living here ever since. She married an American and they have two sons. Her parents still live in Iran.  


Being a frequent traveler to her homeland, she witnessed first hand how suppressed life became for women following the Islamic Revolution of 1979, when the Shah of Iran's western influenced monarchy was overthrown by a theocracy under the guardianship of Islamic Clerics. Some of these suppressions include that  women must be veiled and segregated from men, may be forced to marry at age thirteen, and live in fear of an "honor killing" should they not abide by Islamic Law.   

With little information available on the subject, Nahid decided to write a book. She wanted to share the beauty of her culture and the warmth of the Iranian people. "Initially, that was my goal", Nahid said. "But as I started writing, I felt it was just as important to expose how women are treated in the Middle East and how that affects their life and their rights."

Her book, "The Ruby Tear Catcher", is a historical novel based on real people and real events. It quickly found its way to the best sellers list. Having published The Ruby Tear Catcher means Nahid can't return home. "I knew this when I started to write the book"... she said, "but I made a conscious choice to go ahead because I believed this story needed to be told." This book is a timely read, given the current climate in the Middle East.


To learn more about Nahid Sewell and her book, click one of the following links:



Plowing the Roof?

Posted 9/27/12 by J Schwandke


Alex Poltorak, the creator and driving force behind an urban farming company called "The Urban Canopy" was guest speaker at the September 27, 2012 Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District meeting. Working as an Education Pioneer Fellow with Chicago Public Schools in 2010, there were a lot of discussions regarding how nutrition affects a child's learning in school. Alex came up with the idea of utilizing idle rooftops, in urban environments, to grow fruits and vegetables as a way to attack the problem.


In the process of researching the idea’s feasibility Alex discovered "Plant Chicago", which is a vertical farming project directed by John Edel, in the Back of the Yards neighborhood on the south side of Chicago. The Urban Canopy began a pilot rooftop farm at The Plant in the beginning of 2011 with a few test systems as a proof of concept. The Urban Canopy’s vision is to show how rooftop farming can be a vital part of the urban agriculture movement to create a sustainable and equitable food system. To learn more about "The Urban Canopy" you can visit their website by clicking this link:


Lunch with Claude Monet

Posted 9/20/12 by j Schwandke


Chicago Union League Club art docent Mary Ann Hoey treated Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District members and guests to a tour of some of the art on display throughout the building at 65 West Jackson Boulevard in the heart of Chicago's Loop District. Collecting art has been a tradition at the Union League Club since 1886 and their Chicago collection has now grown to nearly 800 works, representing more than 150 years of art making in America.  Our Rotary Club is fortunate to have such grand surroundings in which to hold our weekly meetings, but you don't have to be a member of the Union League Club or Rotary to see some of the art.  


On the first Friday of every month at 10:00 a.m., Club members and the public can enjoy a tour of highlights from the art collection. Tours are usually 45-60 minutes and are geared toward an adult audience. Guided tours are free but reservations are required and must be made well in advance of each monthly tour.

To reserve a place on the monthly public tour, please contact Club Curator Elizabeth K.Whiting at 312.435.5942 or

Work In Progress!

Posted 9/20/2012 by J Schwandke


With Matching Grants approved and funding now in place, work has begun on two World Community Service Projects that Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District is involved with. The photos below show the Groundbreaking Ceremony for the Chignautla Sanitation Project, which is located in Mexico's northern Puebla State. This is an ambitious project and involves construction of a half-mile long drainage system with 14 connector wells, that will serve a village of 80 homes and two schools.  Lack of good hygiene was threatening the water supply, and consequently, the health of an entire village.  The plan requires trenchers to excavate ditches  and install pipe from property lines to the exit point. You can read more about the project by reading an earlier story posted below. It is estimated that the project can be completed by the end of this year. 


Here is a direct quote received this week from Project Co-Chairman Edgar Jaime Cardoso of the Tezuitlan Rotary Club:  "On September 2, work began on introductory drainage Cruitzinzin community. I'm sending some photos to have them show it to our friends in your Club. Soon I will send other advances. We are working on the project, thank you for your help. Greetings from your friends in Teziutlán. Hope to see you soon"!

Almost sumiltaneously an email was received from Project Co-Chairman and Puebla Virreinal Rotary Club President Alejandro Ponce Rivera y Chavez, saying that work has also started on the Calasanz School Computer Room project as well. 


Here is what Alejandro's email said:  "Dear John, I am very happy to read your news. I hope that the project of the medical supplies goes well. And also I hope that many Rotarians from Chicago can visit us at the Puebla Rotary Project Fair in February of next year!! About our project at Escuela Calasanz, we receive the funds since last month. We are working now on the electric installation. It was a little delayed but now is going on. Before September ends we are having an event, kind of presentation of the project, with all the students and maybe some local authorities, Ivon is working on that. We will send you pictures so you can upload them to your website. We will keep you informed!" 


Contact Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District if you would like to visit one of these sites in person. Also, please read information posted below regarding plans for District 6450 travel to the Rotary Project Fair in Puebla January 31 - February 3, 2012.





A Good Time Was Had By All

Posted 9/15/12 by J Schwandke


Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District celebrated their annual fund raising event on September 14th under the guise of being the "Last Picnic of Summer."   And a picnic it was, as Food Channel Diva and picnic hostess Ina Pinkney served up homemade recipes of Crispy Southern Fried Chicken along with several of her most famous summer salad entrees from the comfort of her restaurant at 1235 W Randolph Street. You can learn more about Ina by clicking this link:


In addition to having lots of fun, the evening provided an excellent platform from which to raise money for Rotary International's "End Polio Now" campaign. And who better to host the event than polio survivor Ina Pinkney, who contracted the disease at the age of eighteen months and has never experienced what it is like to have normal agility. With fifty Rotarians and guests in attendance, the combination of ticket sales and silent auction generated a net $6,000 for the cause. The "Finale" for the evening was the "Pinning of Ina", when Club President Jerry McIlvain thanked Ina for her contibution by making her an Honorary Member of our Club.


Rotary first became involved with polio in 1979, when the organization committed to immunize 6 million children in the Philippines through a Health, Hunger and Humanity (3-H) grant from The Rotary Foundation. Encouraged by the program’s success, Rotary consulted with Dr. Albert S. Sabin, developer of the OPV, and launched the PolioPlus program in 1985. Over the years, Rotary members have raised funds in some very creative ways.  Rotary also benefits from outside grants, including contributions totaling $355 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. 


After thirty years of hard work, and more than two billion children having received oral polio vaccine, Rotary and its partners are on the brink of reaching their ultimate goal of a polio-free world. For the week ending August 15, 2012 only 121 cases of polio have been reported to date.  Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan seem to be the last bastions where work continues. If we can't eliminate these final pockets, the disease will begin spreading all over again and that is why so much emphasis is being placed on the project this year. Kudos seems too small a word to express the thanks we feel for those involved with the "End Polio Now" program.  


* Members can view more photos of the event by clicking "Photo Page List" in the left-side menu.

Mission Impossible?

Posted by J Schwandke 8/31/12


We hope not!  In July, Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District initiated a four-way partnership as part of a  "District Simplified Grant" with Rotary Club Puebla Mirador and our respective Districts 4180 and 6450.  The plan is to ship 5,000 pounds of much needed medical supplies to Red Cross Clinics in the state of Puebla, Mexico. 


In Mexico, the Red Cross is much more than simply an organization designed to respond in time of disaster.  The Mexican Red Cross is pretty much the health care system for an entire country! By and large, emergency health care in big cities is good, but in smaller towns and villages people rely on Red Cross Clinics for care, where you can see a Doctor or Dentist, get an x-ray taken, have a prescription filled, or call an ambulance.  Signs posted in the clinics list suggested fees, but the fees are considered a donation and rarely cover the actual cost. Those without the ability to pay receive free care.  Red Cross Clinics in Mexico are highly respected, receive no money from the Federal Government, and operate solely through donations and voluntarism.  


Equally fascinating is a 501(c)3 organization known as "Hospital Sister's Mission Outreach", with facilities in Springfield and Chicago. Mission Outreach has developed relationships with most of the major healthcare providers in our area who, for a multitude of reasons, desire to donate expendable materials to others. Mission Outreach acts as a clearing house, with dozens of volunteers who help sort, label and organize the material. All items are donated free and clear, users of the service pay only for the cost of preparation and shipping. May God Bless Hospital Sister's Mission Outreach and those who donate their time and material. 


Pictured here is Mary Ann Skvara who gave us a tour of their warehouse near Chicago's Midway Airport. While having stepped most of the way through this project, we are currently in a "holding pattern" as we attempt to document the shipment in the manner required by Mexican Customs officials at the border. Their regulations are far more stringent than those of the United States. Please keep your fingers crossed!


Where is the Border? 

 Who Decides?


Posted 8/30/12 by J Schwandke


Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District was pleased to welcome Asad Hayauddin, from the Consulate of Pakistan, to this week's meeting.  Mr. Hayauddin, who specializes in matters regarding Trade and Commerce for the Consulate, instead provided us with an "insider's perspective" regarding the obstacles that stand in the way of a more harmonious relationship between Pakistan, Afghanistan, India and the United States.  

The country of Pakistan is one of several new countries created in 1947 during the dismantling of British Colonial India. Even India as we know it today did not exist until 1947. It too was only a small piece of the total puzzle. Similar to what happened with the Berlin Wall, Israel, and other nations whose borders get changed by treaty and wars, the individual families and ethnicities caught in the middle don't easily accept the resulting change.

The terrain of today's Pakistan makes it nearly impossible for a central government to impose wide rule and, since Pakistani's see India to the east a greater threat to their security than Afghanistan to the west, nearly 80% of their troops are aligned at the eastern border. People living in the more mountainous regions are more accustomed to being governed by tribal leaders than a central government. Hence, one of the recent strategies used by the Taliban, being to assassinate tribal leaders to create fear and confusion. Having lived and studied in the United States for many years, Mr. Asad Hayauddin displayed great insight and sensibility as he explained the issues.


The editor thought you might find these links informative: and



Poof... a New Member Appears! 

Posted 8/23/12 by J Schwandke


Chicago Based Magician Nathan Lee Powell works his magic in front of prospective Rotary Club member Andrea Man during the August 23rd meeting at the Union League Club. With reactions ranging from astonishment to outright laughter... I don't know whether to describe Nathan as a magician or a comic.  But, I can say unequivocally, that I have never seen better!


When hearing some of Nathan's true life experiences... they sound like the material that books and movies are made of. We are told that Nathan's fascination with Sleight of Hand began at a very young age... and that few were surprised, when at the age of 20, Nathan made himself vanish!  You see... Circus Vargas had come to town, and Ward Hall's famous "Side Show" was touring the country. For decades since, Nathan has perfected his craft, gaining priceless experience with traveling shows like Jimmy Dixon's Magic Circus. He trained and toured with Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus. More recently, to the delight of local audiences, Nathan has returned to the Chicago he loves. 


To see photos of Nathan Lee Powell, including one where he is kissing an elephant, visit 


District Governor Pat Merryweather Shares Her Vision for the Year

 Posted by J Schwandke


Past and Present Rotary CFD Presidents Marilyn Sainsot and Jerry McIlvain welcome District 6450 Governor Pat Merryweather and Assitant Governor Osei Andrews-Hutchinson to the August 2nd Meeting at the Union League Club.  Governor Pat shared with us how her personal desires to Help American Veterans and to sponsor a Chicago Peace Summit, that focuses on youth when addressing the growing violence in our neighborhoods, is spreading throughout Rotary District 6450. 


You can learn more about what is happening in District 6450 by clicking this link:





Lawson House YMCA

Posted by J. Schwandke


Pictured in front of the "Jobs" bulletin board at Lawson House are Alvena Clark, Director of Lawson's "Life Development Center", along with Case Worker Kenya Taylor and Rotary CFD member John Schwandke, who does volunteer work at the facility.  


Alvena was Guest Speaker at our July 26th Rotary Club meeting and provided an overview of the services provided to the residents of Lawson House.  She described the facility as the largest single-room occupancy (SRO) supportive housing facility in the Midwest and playing a key role in Chicago's efforts to address homelessness.


As Ms. Clark explained, "Lawson House is dedicated to enabling residents to become self-sufficient."  Through its "Life Development Center" highly trained Case Managers connect residents to medical treatment, job training, life skills, substance abuse counseling and socialization activities.  John became curious about Lawson House YMCA when looking for a "clothes closet" where his donated clothing could have impact. Lawson House has need of clothing appropriate for job interviews, which can be in short supply for newer residents. If you have clothes to donate, he suggests Lawson House, which is located on Chicago Avenue, between State and Dearborn Streets. You can reach Alvena Clark at 



Do you have your Rotary Pin for your Car? 

Did you know that you can buy Specialty Plates that denote you a Rotarian?

Did you know that when you buy a Rotary License Plate, you are contributing to the Rotary Foundation?
The License Plate shown here belongs to Rotary Club of Chicago Financial
 District member John Schwandke.  The letters are his Ham Radio Callsign.
During the past three years, Illinois has sent the Foundation $5,000 because of Rotarian's who wanted to display these plates on their cars. 
It is easy to apply for Rotary plates  - Just go here - 
Select the picture on the left that represents your car type, click on it, then select specialty. Then select "Rotary International" and You will be on your way!


Rotary Banner Exchange

with Tajimi Japan


Marilyn Sainsot, Immediate Past President of Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District exchanges banners with visiting Rotarian Kazuhiko Yamamoto of the Tajimi Riverside Rotary Club in Tajimi, Japan (District 2630)



Kazuhiko is spending the week visiting his brother, Minoru Yamamoto, who is Executive Director of Japan's External Trade Organization in Chicago. Kazuhiko is in the business of Designing and Manufacturing Custom Furniture. 

Shutterbugs find a Picture-Perfect Way to Develop Skills and Friendships

The photography fellowship is among 62 recognized by RI. Fellowships bring Rotarians, their spouses, and Rotaractors together to share common interests, explore new opportunities to serve, have fun, and promote vocational development through friendship. Each June, they are celebrated during Rotary Fellowships Month.

How Do You Make A 3rd Grader Smile?

You Give Them Their Very Own Personalized Dictionary!


Kids are anxious to learn, but don't always have access to the tools that can help make it happen more easily. The idea behind the "Dictionary Project is to put a dictionary in the hands of as many 3rd grade students as possible. One that is presented as a gift... can be personalized with their own name... taken home and kept for the rest of their lives. When members of the Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District decided to make dictionaries for schools their community project for 2012, many had no idea of the welcome they would receive. Andrew Horberg took on the daunting task of organizing the project and determining which schools had the most need. Club members labeled and delivered the books. Gratification came from seeing the reaction of the children when they learned that they were about to receive their very own dictionary, with a place inside the cover to write their name. Our club name also appears on that same page. One 3rd grader, with a great big smile, asked... "Should I print my name, or use cursive?" I suggested that cursive was more "grown up.  In this age of the Internet, many of us were surprised to see the excitement caused by a simple book. But, it wasn't just a book... it was their book!  We also met some extraordinary 3rd grade teachers along the way. One teacher wanted to show us her classroom, where 40 students shared just three dictionaries. Another said... "I purchased dictionaries for my students last year, but I can't keep doing that."  In every instance, we were made to feel that the "Dictionary Project" was filling an important need. Kudos to Andy Horberg and the members of Rotary CFD who worked so hard to bring this project to fruition. In the process, they delivered more than 1,000 dictionaries to 20 schools.  


May 18, 2012


During a special "Visioning Meeting" last summer, the Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District targeted development of a new and more interactive website as its number one priority in an effort to improve  communication.  Rotary CFD members John Schwandke and Werner Gonnissen spent a good part of September 2011 working on the design concept, and the new interactive website made its debut the following month. It is nice to be rewarded for work being done, and that is just what happened recently during the District 6450 Conference at Blue Harbor Resort, in Sheybogan Wisconsin.  


Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District President Marilyn Sainsot is presented this year's "2nd Place in Website Design" award from District 6450 Governor David Templin. A pleasant surprise for an enjoyable task!




Photo by Hunter Byington 

More Photos from the District 6450 Conference


Welcome to the District 6450 Conference in Sheboygan!


When Marilyn Talks.... People Listen.

How many members of Rotary CFD do you see?


The GSE Group from India certainly added to the fun! 


Rotarian's Celebrate Milestones in Fight to Rid World of Polio

From - May 8, 2012

Rotarians celebrated two major milestones in their decades-long fight to rid the world of polio this week during the third plenary session of the 2012 RI Convention in Bangkok, Thailand.

Rotarians were congratulated for meeting and exceeding Rotary's $200 Million Challenge, in response to $355 Million in Matching Grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for polio eradication. Attendees also celebrated India's removal from the polio endemic list, which leaves only three countries where transmission of the virus has never been stopped. But, John F. Germ, Chairman of Rotary's Challenge Committee, went on to say... "with the Global Polio Eradication Initiative facing a significant funding shortfall for 2012 and beyond, it is vital for Clubs and Districts to keep pushing forward with their many creative fundraisers."

As part of this continuing need, Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District will be hosting a Charity Dinner with Silent Auction on Friday evening, September 14, at Ina's Restaurant (1235 W. Randolph Street). Owner Ina Pinkney, herself a polio survivor, will be Co-Host and Honoree for the event. The fund raiser is open to the public and guests are welcome.  Please mark September 14 on your calendar, as more information will follow.



Posted May 10, 2012

Rotary Club of Chicago member, John Schwandke, recently returned from visiting two Rotary

Matching Grant Project sites in Mexico.  You may recall having read about Rotary CFD's visitation to the Rotary Project Fair in Oaxaca earlier this year, and of its desire to partner with Mexican Rotary Clubs on the two projects that caught Schwandke's attention.


That desire has now become reality, with both projects having been approved by their respective Clubs and Districts.  Subject only to final approval from the Rotary Foundation, work on these projects is expected to be completed this summer. 

Project #1 is a simple one.  Add a modern, well equipped Computer Classroom to a school that probably wouldn't have one without our help. The right hand photo introduces you to the 5th Grade Class at "Escuela Calasanz", which is primary school, grades preschool through six.  It is located in an economically depressed neighborhood in Puebla. The Principal of this school (left hand photo, young man on left) and teacher's are young, motivated, and eager to provide their students with tools to help them excel. This computer classroom includes 10 wireless computers, 10 work desks, 35 chairs, blackboards, a printer, plus associated audio-visual equipment to expand their teaching capabilities. The computer lab will be used primarily by grades three through six. Rotarian's will provide the equipment and instruction for its use. Using a Rotary Foundation Matching Grant, Rotary CFD was able to leverage a $2,100 investment into the total $13,000 needed to finance the project.  We give special thanks to Alejandro Ponce and Ulises Solorio of Rotary Club Puebla Virreinal for introducing us to this project and for their club's hard work in bringing this school's dream to fruition. Good Job!

(Members can see more photos and commentary by clicking "Photo Page List" in the menu)



Posted May 10, 2012

Project #2 is much more ambitious... and involves construction and trenching for 2,000 feet of sanitary

drainage for the village of Crutzitzin, near the town of Tezuitlan, in the mountains of northern Puebla state. It is a village of approximately 80 homes and a school , but no sanitation system whatsoever. A Civil Engineer and Architect, who are members of the Texuitlan Rotary Club, donated the design plans which sliced thousands of dollars from the cost to build the system, which includes 14 junction wells. Even so, the cost will exceed $25,000.




 The photo at left shows a typical outdoor toilet facility currently being used by residents of Crutzitzin. The center photo is Chicago Rotarian John Schwandke, posing with the project designer's in the valley where the main portion of the drainage pipe will run. The third photo was taken in front of a school classroom. It is an interesting structure, made from every material the builder could find. Brick, wood, tar paper, sod and tin.  Rudimentary, but clean and functional. This sanitation project required $4,600 in seed money from Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District. The Mexico partnering club in Teziutlan, along with matching grants from District 6450 and 4180 combined to add another $9,400. A matching grant from The Rotary Foundation will account for the remaining balance. (Members can see more photos and commentary by clicking "Photo Page List" in the menu)

 When Rotarian's travel to foreign countries to work on projects like these, they are usually hosted by members of the partnering Rotary Clubs. Your host typically provides room, board, and transportation during your stay. It is an economical way to travel, to meet new people and learn a country's culture from those who live it.  At the same time, you are doing good deeds and building lasting friendships. If you would like to participate at one of these project sites, or learn about other travel opportunities with Rotary International, please contact Rotary CFD member John Schwandke.

Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District Receives Tezuitlan Club Banner

Photo by Neil King

Rotary CFD Club Member John Schwandke is shown here presenting President Marilyn Sainsot with a banner from the Rotary Club of Tezuitlan Mexico.  Rotary CFD has partnered with the Tezuitlan Rotary Club in a rather ambitious and much needed sanitation drainage system project for the village of Crutzitzin-Chignautla, which is located in a remote region of northern Puebla State in Mexico.  The project has been approved by both Clubs and both Districts and now awaits final Matching Grant approval from the Rotary Foundation.









District 6450 Keynote Speaker

April 21, 2012

Posted by M. Sainsot

Tammy Duckworth was the keynote speaker at the Rotary 6450 District Assembly on April 21, 2012.  Her entertaining and inspiring presentation was filled with anecdotes about her time as an employee at Rotary International Headquarters in Evanston. She highlighted the 2012-2013 District 6450 Mission to support our Veterans, which is the theme chosen by incoming Governor Pat Merryweather, who has two sons in the military.

March 8, 2012

Assistant District Governor Osei David Andrews-Hutchinson was joined by members of the Village Leadership Academy to enlighten Rotary CFD members about their World Scholar's Program. 

March8, 2012

Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District President, Marilyn Sainsot, exhanges Club Banners with a visiting Rotarian from Canada. 



Dr. Bob Schenk

February 9, 2012


Posted 02/13/12 by Staff


Our speaker on 02/09/12 was Dr.  Bob Schenck, a retired Chicago surgeon who remains active using his professional skills in volunteer programs in various locations around the world.  Dr. Schenck recently completed a 10,000 mile trip across Europe and Asia to deliver an ambulance purchased in the UK to a village in Mongolia.  This project was in connection with “Go Help,” an organization that arranges such projects in the developing world.  Dr. Schenck’s presentation was inspirational, not only because it demonstrated what one or two people are capable of accomplishing, but also due to his insight that most people around the world, regardless of religion, ethnicity and all other varying backgrounds, are kind, good and willing to help others.  It was a reminder to all of us that we truly live in a small world together, regardless of the miles involved.  Thank you, Dr. Schenck!





 January 26 - 29, 2012


Posted 02/06/12 by Staff


Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District member John Schwandke, and his wife Darlene, recently attended the Oaxaca Rotary Project Fair 2012 in south-central Mexico.  Oaxaca is a two day drive from their winter residence near Playa del Carmen on the Yucatan Penninsula. Schwandke, who has attended Rotary Project Fairs in Belize and Guatemala, was encouraged to attend Mexico's Project Fair by Rotary friends from District 6000 in Iowa where John had been a member prior to relocating to downtown Chicago in retirement. 


"My Rotary passion has been World Community Service ever since I was invited to join a contingent of Rotarians who spent a week visiting The Rotary Club of Xicotepec de Juarez in the coffee mountains of northern Puebla State. Representatives from many different Club's were included in the group and we all came home with project ideas that lacked only an international partner to partake in the Matching Grant proceedure. The first World Community Service Project that I personally worked on was at a children's orphanage in Nuevo Necaxa.  The sound of excited children running toward my car shouting JUANITO... JUANITO... still rings in my ear today.  And, I've been hooked ever since".


Schwandke says this trip was no different, in that Rotary Clubs (and the world alike) benefit when they build new friendships and work side-by-side in helping to improve the lives of those less fortunate. The feeling of camaraderie that you experience in the process is like no other. John and Darlene say that the friendships they forged in Oaxaca will last a lifetime. They can hardly wait to return and begin the work. 

The photos above are with Rotarians representing projects that Schwandke hopes Rotary CFD can partner with.

"My intent was to find one good humanitarian project that filled a need in one of the areas our membership has expressed interest in", He said.  Instead, he came back with two!


The photo on the left is the booth sponsored by the Rotary Club of Teziutlan, who wants our help on a sanitation and water project. The people of the Chignautla-Crutzitzin village contacted the Teziutlan Rotarians and asked for their help. They have no sewage system, defecate in open air, and are experiencing serious health issues and a poluted drinking water source. There is no government resource to help them. The men of the village will do the hand labor and a Rotarian, who is also a Civil Engineer, has already drawn the plans. A plus to the project is the positive affect it will have on the community's drinking water source.


The right-hand photo shows John and Darlene with members of the Rotary Club of Puebla Virreinal.  This is a new Club, having existed for only 18 months.  The members are young and energetic. Their proposed project includes creating a computer classroom for an impoverished school for orphans and transform it into one of the communities more progressive schools. Demonstrating the significance of the Rotary Foundation's Matching Grant program... an investment of $2,150 from Rotary CFD would result in the entire $12,950 needed to complete the project. 


As you already know, the Rotary Year runs July 1 through June 30.  For Matching Grants to be approved within the current Rotary Year, they must be submitted before the end of March to allow time for processing within the current year.  Matching Grants not submitted by March 31, will have to wait until after July 1st before they can be submitted. The clock is ticking... and we'll see what happens.


To learn more about Rotary World Community Service and other ways you can travel the world with Rotary, please contact Rotary Club of Chicago Fianancial District member John Schwandke. The opportunities are endless!


Members wishing to see additional photos and commentary should click "Photo Page List" in the left hand column.


"Rotary Smart"

Our "Rotary Smart" project promotes peace by improving thinking and reasoning skills through experiences with art. The program provides 3rd graders with two visits to the Smart Museum of Art and 10 in-class art lessons from a teaching artist.

Join Us at our Club Meetings


Mar. 12, 2015 - Andrea Mattson, founder of "Edible Alchemy Foods" will tell us the motivation behind her new startup food cooperative. 
Mar. 19, 2015 - Speaker Ashley Richardson presents... "The Incredible Edible Egg & You." 
Mar. 26, 2015 - Guest Speaker is Andrei Russu, First Secretary of the Romanian Consulate in Chicago
Apr. 02, 2015 - Club Assembly Mtg. - Project Reports
Apr. 09, 2015 - Guest Speaker Amy Kozyra will explain the "Cystic Fibrosis Foundation" and its mission.
Apr. 16, 2015 - Prof. Tom Plagge, from the University of Chicago, will speak about "strategic acquisition of abandoned property."
Apr. 23, 2015 - College Advisor Jessica O'Connell, will the Illinois College Advising Corps. 
Apr. 30, 2015 - Guest Speaker is Ben Hollis, creator of WTTW's long running "W.I.L.D. Chicago" television series.
May 07, 2015 - Club Assembly Mtg. - Project Reports
May 28, 2015 - Guest Speaker Douglas Chien tells us about "Friends of the Forest Preserves."
June 11, 2015 -  Mariyana Spyropoulos , President of MWRD, an award winning government agency responsible for wastewater treatment and storm water management, will present on this topic.