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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



2019 - Slide Show

On October 15, 20020, District Governor, Chuck Corrigan and Mike Theodore, our Assistant Governor came to virtually visit our club. Chuck is an attorney, primarily practicing civil law.  Our slogan for this Rotary year is "ROTARY OPPENS UP OPPORTUNITIES." This year there will be emphasis to adapting to a evolving diversity in our membership."
           Chuck also discussed Rotaract members (primarily younger members) are now considered full members of Rotary International.
            Chuck reviewed that with the COVID pandemic, that has be an uptick in polio cases, primarily in Afghanistan and Pakistan; of approximately 100 to 200 cases this year.

Ellie Bartlett, with Wintrust Bank, made a presentation to the club on February 20, 2020, on activities available through the bank's program, Platinum Adventures.  With frequently scheduled event scheduled for its customers, locally available seminars and day trips are available; also, multi-day trips lasting up to two weeks.

Ellie has headed up this program for three years and provided a summary schedule listed; examples includeda presentation, on "How to Communicate With Your Doctor," and "Money Smart Week."  Extended Trips were alluded to.

Pictured  is club president Travis Marcum on the left and Ellie on the right.

Ellie Bartlett, with Wintrust Bank, made a presentation to the club on February 20, 2020, on activities available through the bank's program, Platinum Adventures.  With frequently scheduled event scheduled for its customers, locally available seminars and day trips are available; also, multi-day trips lasting up to two weeks.

Ellie has headed up this program for three years and provided a summary schedule listed; examples includeda presentation, on "How to Communicate With Your Doctor," and "Money Smart Week."  Extended Trips were alluded to.

Pictured  is club president Travis Marcum on the left and Ellie on the right.

On January 9, 2020, Dr. Zumdahl with New Moms presented on this organization.  Started in 1982 with handing out diapers and baby formula out of the trunk of a car, has recently finished construction of their 2nd building; 800 individuals are currently receiving services.  In regard to job services, it takes an average of 3 tries to successfully land a job.

Special programs have been developed, including for previous incarcinated women and those with current mental health problems.

Pictured is Zumdahl of the right. club member Dennis Gorman.

On November 21, 2019, Casey Ryan with Ryan Life Coaching gave a presentation on how on site Mental Health Services are not routinely available at the work place.  Unaddressed mental health problems cost hundreds if billions of productivity annually. 

Pictured are Casey on the left, and photographer John McGuire on the right.

On November 21, 2019, Rachel LeFevre-Sree, CEO if the Chicago Children's Choir, reported that nearly 100 Chicago area schools participate in their organization's program. With 80 schools represented, and over 1,000 students participating, all students may participate, regardless of background. 

Pictured are speaker Rachel LeFever and Marketing Manager Lisa Salazar.

We meet for lunch the first and third Thursday of each month at 12:10 p.m. in the Union League Club of Chicago at 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 allowed)


District Governor, debi Ross (yes, she does spell her first name starts with a lower case letter), visited our club and gave an overview of her plans for the 2019-2020 year. Lieutenant Governor, Bonnie Sanchez-Carlson, also presented her thoughts. Club member, Marilyn Sainsot, was presented a certificate by the club for being the Top Rocker.

Pictured on the left is award winner Marilyn, in the middle is Club President Travis Marcum, and District Governor debi Ross is on the right.  

On October 3, 2019  - Rotarian Nonnie Lyketsos, an artist working in fused glass, concentrating of floral still life; also other works including mosaic dinner ware, gave a graphic presentation on her working with the medium of glass.

Having worked in many types of colored glass, Nonnie currently works with fused glass and the other item types noted above; she has had a professional studio and workshop in her office for approximately 10 years.

Pictured is Nonnie on the right and club member Dennis Gorman on the left

Ravi Rade, a personal coach with The Leader Inside You, gave a presentation on the technique of mindfulness, a type of personal meditation, during which he lead those present, in a brief period of meditation, which was received well by the members.  

Ravi worked for a number of years for the Chicago Board of Options, doing which time he obtained an MBA at the Booth School of business at Northwestern University at Chicago. He has obtained additional training through the "Search Inside Yourself" program, having trained as professional coach prior to that time.

Pictured is Ravi on the left, and club president Travis Marcum on the right.

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

On August 1, 2019, Mariyana Spyropoulos a commissioner with  the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) of Greater Chicago, accompanied by her aid -  Tom Gannon, presented insights into major issues facing MWRD.  As an example, increasing frequency and degree of flooding.  In addition to an increase in 100-year rain events, is an increase in 500-year events; numerous engineering and construction projects are being planned and implemented. 

Over a range of many necessary years, a "big pipe" project is being constructed, in conjunction with three huge reservoirs, in order prevent overflow of a combination of sewer and storm water.   On reservoir is large enough to contain 6 foot prints of Soldier Field.  

Ms. Spyropoulos listed steps that consumers can do to decease the amount of rain water going into sewer system.  Using the "gray" rainwater collected in rain barrows for gardening and placing a water permiable surface on parking ares, are examples of utilizing "grey" water.

Pictured, from the left are: Donald Garner, Jerry McIlvain, Commisioner Mariyana Spyropoulos, and club president Travis Marcum

On July 18, 2019, Julie Gustafson and Robert Jordan, of Video Family Biographies, record family legacy information.  These projects can typically take 6 months to complete. With Robert's back ground in national broadcasting, these productions are often requested by high wealth families; sometimes the focus can be on specific holdings such as collection of art.

Pictured, for the left, Robert Jordan, Julie Gustafson, and club president Travis Marcum.

On June 6, 2019, The officers for the 2019-2020 year were installed.  All officers for the 2018-2019 year are continuing their current positions, with the exception of our new President, Travis Marcum, the movement of Jerry McIlvain to the position Immediate Past President, and our new Treasurer - Thomas Baltz.
In the photograph, starting from the right are: Travis Marcum, Jerry McIlvain, Assistant Governor Bonnie Sanchez-Carlson, President of the Rotary Club of Chicago Near South - Steven Smutny, Cliff Harstad - Service Chairman.

On May 2, 2019, Tony Quintanilla and Dylan Schwietzer representing Chicago North Chapter of the national nonprofit Citizens' Climate Lobby, presented strategies for countering the causes of climate change. 

A major effort has been the garnering of support for enacting national carbon fee and dividend legislation via the 
Energy Innovation and Dividend Act. Apparently, this approach involves taxing entities on the consumption of carbon sources, such as petroleum products, coal and natural gas.  The taxes being collected would fund dividends to the tax payers, neutralizing the increase in prices that result  as the cost of this new tax being being passed onto the consumer by the entities utilizing the hydrocarbon energy sources.

The two speakers are volunteers with Citizens' Climate Lobby, with Tony have been involved with this organization for the past three years. 


On April 18, 2019, Kathi Peteroccelli, Director of Development for Community Services Foundation, described that her non-profit organization supports individuals with mental and physical impairments with outpatient services, through group homes, daytime activities, and various programs including even an art studio.  Their volunteers interact with the clients, in such activities as cookouts and assistance with routine activities of daily living. The organization also provides training, counseling and other assistance for their clients..

Kathi has been with the organization since September of last year.  She previously completed a Master Degree in Organizing and Leadership. 

Pictured on the right is Kathi, with club president Jerry McIlvain on the left.

Smart Art Program at U Chicago

Pathways to Peace

On April 4, 2019, Rotarian Keith Cross gave a presentation on the prevention of identify theft.  Apparently, by piecing together information phished and available on the dark web, the components for a criminal to piece together a new identity are present, and commit crimes using the victim's identity; you might find yourself arrested on an outstanding warrant at a traffic stop.

Keith described that children are a growing target for identity theft, with seniors being the second most common target.  He suggested that if a social security number exists, then it should be monitored.

Kieth is representative for LegalShield and IDShield, companies, which can access many states and foreign countries when dealing with identity theft. 

Pictured is Keith on the right with club member Phil Chandler

On March 21, 2019, Paula Sexton and Elaine Krohn, from the Neptune Society, described that not too many years ago, fewer than 10% of all funerals involved cremation; now, greater than 60% of families chose cremation.  Apparently, the Neptune society has a network of several thousand providers nation-wide, with now numerous locations in other countries. 

On March 7, 2019, Shaun Pesce with Illinois Secure Choice, addressed his company's solution to the requirement that a retirement plan be offered to employees of companies of 25 or more employees, as recently implemented by the state of Illinois.  In his position as the Institutional Relationship Manager with this company, he provides services to for profit organizations, and also serves in the same position for Ascensus to serve nonprofit organizations. 

In regard to the "Turnkey" program, each employee is automatically enrolled into the plan, as the default action for the employee.  Subsequently, each employee may "opt in" and "opt out" of the plan at any time. Associated with the plan, is a variety of investment options such as money market, stock and bond funds.

Pictured on the right is Shaun standing next to our club president, Jerry McIlvain.

On February 21, 2019, Zbig Skiba, with Skiba Associates, presented a method for the evaluation of team member's "soft skills," In order to improve the overall interaction of team members, such as in a work situation.  Those of our club members who wished, completed the survey provided, which was then processed on line.  A 27 page report was then generated, providing a summary of one's soft skills.  The object in a team setting is to see what the overall style of the team, and the component individual profile.

Zbig has been with his company for over 15 years.  He went to undergraduate school at University of Chicago, and completed and MBA degree at the Kellogg School at Northwestern University in Chicago. Pictured in Zbig on the right, with club President Jerry McIlvanin on the left.

On February 7, 2019, Katherine Anderson, one of our own club members, presented  an overview on how to protect the online presence and other personality identity issues, for one self and others that we care about.  

A good part of the time was spent on a "question and answer" discussion on various issues, including password management, avoiding malicious websites, and avoiding "phishing" and other scams

Katherine is manager of the main office location of Wyntrust Bank, here in Chicago.


Nepal, Tibet, and India!

The idea of going on a trek or a mountaineering feat is always toward a sense of achievement, to make yourself bigger than who you are.  But the idea of a pilgrimage is to subdue yourself.  -- Sadhguru

Vickie Dorgan, a member of Rotary CFD, gave a talk on her September trip to Kathmandu and Mount Kailash in Western Tibet. 

Among our visitors was Geshe Tenzing a Bon Buddhist teacher; his parents left Tibet with the Dalai Lama in 1959.  He gave the group a Tibetan Blessing. (Facebook:  TenGelek Geshe)

Dorgan told the group about her tour of Kathmandu, with arrangements by Rotary CFD’s Marilyn Sainsot of Pierbusseti World Travel. 

With a group of 70 fellow pilgrims through the auspices of Isha Sacred Walks, traveling on a group visa as required by China. The itinerary went from Kathmandu -- by plane over Mount Everest -- to Lhasa (12,000 foot elevation).  Then the group traveled by bus for three days across the Tibetan plateau to Mount Kailash (17,500 foot base elevation.)  Kailash is the most sacred place for Bon, Buddhist, Hindu and Jain religions.  It is the home of Shiva.

But wait, there’s more!  Despite the inward focus of the trip, Vickie did manage to make friends with several she shared rooms with, including a woman planning a December wedding for her daughter.  Vickie was invited and enjoyed the glory of an Indian wedding in Bangalore!

On August 25, 2018, Dr. Azher Quarder, a retired surgeon, and his son, Abrar Quader, made a presentation to the club regarding their non-profit organization, Compassionate Care Network. 

Dr. Quader, also is an attorney, and the executive director (and co-founder) of the organization.  He his spent over 15 years addressing disparities in the availability of health care services for needy community members. 

Services are provided by 200 clinical providers, including physicians, psychologists, chiropractors and podiatrists. Also, available are laboratory and x-ray studies and medication.  The organization reflects a philosophy that health care is a right, not a privilege.    

On November 1st 2018, Bob Evanosky, proprietor of Aspen Wine Company, described that he started his organization in his garage, and provides a "Turn Key" approach to fund raising for non-profit organizations. With wine production associated with a high margin structure, wine-based events allow relatively good results with relatively little effort.

Not deriving personal funds from his winery (Bob is a stay-at-home Dad; his wife works outside of the home) his dedication to these efforts has been inspired by his multiple childrens' genetic disabilities.  Now routinely employing individuals with disabilities, he educates local business of the advantages of hiring similarly affected individuals, thereby increasing employee opportunities in the local community.

Bob is a Rotarian in the Chicago area Aurora Rotary Club.

Bob is pictured (on the right) with club president Jerry McIlvain.

Jim Coryell, a long time financial and Medicare/Social Security adviisor, presented an informative and concise summary of the present and future of Medicare in general, and of Medicare Advantage programs specifically.  Long term care apparently will be available through some Medicare Advantage plans in the near future. Jim further summarized that individual circumstances should be considered when deciding whether traditional Medicare or a Medicare Advantage plan is the best choice..

Phil Chandler, presented a career classification presentation on his non-profit organization, Broader View Initiative.  This organization provides counseling to disadvantaged young adults, including exposures to settings that typify those who found success in the work place.

Pictured is Phil, on the left, with club president Jerry McIlvain. 

On October 20, our speaker, Rita Dragonette presented the back ground and 13 year process for her new novel, The Fourteenth of September.  Having previously authored her first novel, Rita is currently working on 3 new books.

The Fourteenth of September takes a look at the goings on at a college campus, through the eyes of a woman, including her experiences through the eyes of a woman

On September 5, 2018, two Directors from the Mercy Homes for Boys and Girls, Jennifer Gludici and James Marrese, made a presentation to our club regarding their organization.  This organization provides a full spectrum of services to disadvantaged children, from after school tutoring to residential housing (of approximately 80 boys and 40 girls).  Services were provided to 750 children this year.

Pictured are Jennifer and James, with club president Jerry McIlvain.

Our club was treated on August 16, 2018, to a visit from current District Governor Pedro CEvallos-Candau.  Pedro detailed his vision for the district, 6450, and well specific strategies.  Pedro noted that our district currently has 59 clubs, with more clubs likely to be created; also, Pedro predicted that overall membership will increase for the district, and will become Iincreaseingly more diverse.

Pedro has a long history of service to Rotary, including having recently having served as president of his own Rotary Club.

Pictured is Pedro on the left and our club member Cliff Harsted on the right.

Rotarian guests from all over the world!

The meeting on 19th of July  of 2018 featured the reinstallation of our president, Jerry McIlvain. Jerry thanked the various officers and board members who have served with him. Upcoming events for the 2018-2019 year were reviewed. The other officers and other board members will remain unchanged.

It was also a special meeting because of several members of other Rotary Clubs from outside of the United States were visiting us. They included, as pictured below: John Muyonga from Uganda, Lynola Petterwood from Australia, club president Jerry McIlvain and Icy Ngai from Hong Kong.


On August 2, 2018, Dr. Janet Szlyk- a psychophysicist who is the Executive Director for the Chicago Lighthouse, anonprofit organization that provides services to the visually impaired, presented an overview of her organization. Primary in Illinois, this organization provides employment to greater that 1,000 visually impaired individuals, many of them work in call centers.  A primary example is the agency that interacts with drivers using transponders on the toll roads in Illinois. This is just one example of the services offered to visually impaired clients. Rehabilitation efforts have been more recently been offered to visually impaired clients who are also intellectually impaired, in addition to other physical impairments. 

Pictured in the photograph are Dr. Szlyk on the left, club president Jerry McIlvain in the left, and Robert Mantsh - who is also in the administration of this organization - on the right.

! MINI-CONCERT - One of our members & his son-in-law
On June 21, 2018 Marc Willage (Rotary member) and his son-in-law, Zachary Schroeder, swapped the mandolin and guitar back-and-forth as they played some originals that each of them had written.

As can be seen in the picture below, They were playing for the cookies shown in the same picture!

On May 17, 2018 from the Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), Hannah Willage (Alumni Relations Manager) and alumnus Maneshwar Singh, made a presentation on the history and work of the IFYC.  This organization brings together members From virtually all faith backgrounds to work together on community projects, and to learn about both each other’s differences and similarities.

Maneshwar is of the Sikh Faith, from which it has drawn on both Islam and Hinduism. He talked of his background, and of his participation in the activities of the IFYC.

The IFYC currently is active on 400 college campuses, and is also inclusive of members without a stated religion, in addition to those others noted above.  The organization was started in 2002.

On February 15, 2018, Rotarian Dr. Sander Marcus, a clinical psychologist currently affiliated with Illinois Institute of Technology, presented a program addressing motivation. Using humor, Sandy reviewed personal motivational techniques. He suggested that instead of procrastinating from day-to-day, that one make a three commitment, such as concentrating fully on developing a skill – such as playing a musical instrument. “You’ll be surprised by how much you will start achieving.“ 

Below, Sandy is pictured with his wife, Christina, who are both members of the Near South Rotary club.


On April 19 2018, John Saccomanno presented a cluster of fund raiser Events that his company, WINE PULL, could organize for companies and other organizations, to articulate a fundraisers involving bottles of wine.

Also, Rotarian Jose Roberto from San Paulo in Brazil, visited our club today, during which he exchanged banners with our club. He is currently in Chicago on business for several days.

Included are two photographs. In the top photograph is Rotarian Jose Roberto exchanging banners with club president Jerry McIlvain. In the bottom photograph John Saccomanno is shaking hands with club member Tom Baltz.


In the Army now!

On April 5 2018, Captain Matthew Phelps spoke to our club about his work with the Salvation Army.  Pictured is Matthew and his wife Emily. 

Four years after their first bell ringing experience, the pair moved to Chicago to attend the Salvation Army’s training college. The college is essentially a seminary, Matthew Phelps said, and offers training for future officers. The training provides the future chapter leaders with experience in accounting, leadership, spirituality, ministry and serving the community and less fortunate populations.

On 1/4/18, our program was presented by Doctor Nneka Jones Tapia, A clinical psychologist, who is the executive director for the Cook County Jail. In a very informative talk, Dr. Tapia presented the current therapeutic approach for the massive population of inmates suffering severe – or at least significant – mental health problems, including counseling and indicated psychotropic medications, along with prescreening for significant psychiatric disorders upon even the period prior to bond determination hearings. Apparently, there has been significant decrease in over all as well as psychiatric affected inmates, over the last several years.

Below is Dr. Tapia and Program Chairman Marc Willage.


On November 2, 2017, Uruguay Rotary Club member Wilder Ananikian and his companion Estalina Fernandez joined us for our club meeting; they were in Chicago today attending a real estate conference.  In the photograph today, they are talking with our club president, Jerry McIlvain.


On October 5, 2017, new club member Katherine Anderson gave a “Classification Talk,” regarding her career leading up to her current position as vice president as well as branch manager of the main location of Wintrust Bank in Chicago. Literally, by tossing a ball of yarn from between club members at the luncheon table to illustrate (in quite visual terms) the process of networking and professional growth, Katherine took us through a fascinating narrative of the various work positions and geographical locals that have led her to her current position at her bank. A fascinating approach!

In the a photograph, Katherine is shaking hands with fellow club member Marilyn Sainsot.


On October 19, 2017, club member Deborah Willage PhD, gave a “Classification Talk” describing her career as a clinical psychologist. Having practiced last in a small town in Southeast Indiana (population 12,500) over 20 years, she took care of patients presenting with a vast spectrum of psychological disorders. Deborah presented an approach to dealing with anxiety, as well as some introductory comments regarding Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). She presented some “made it home“ Ink Blots, as an illustration of the use of “projective” psychological tests In the evaluation of patients. In addition, Deborah briefly discussed the often complementary roles of clinical Psychologists, Psychiatrists, as well as Social Workers.

Character Based Management

Author Robert Beezat
On September 21 of 2017, author and management expert Robert Beezat made a presentation based on the effects of character in improving the quality of decisions and managing an organization. Robert has been a manager in several different settings, and described that effective leadership involves working with and through the individuals of an organization.

He presented a self-assessment tool based on his book, Character Based Management. He described character is something difficult to define, but people recognize it when it is present.

Pictured is Past Club President Marc Willage with Robert Beezat.

District Governor Visit

District Governor
On September 7 2017, our club was visited by Patrick McAdams, Rotary District 6450 Governor, as well as Bonnie Sanchez-Carlson, the assistant governor serving our club.  Both of these individuals explained membership of our club and the various social and service activities that our club puts on, both individually and joint with other clubs or organizations.

For instance, our club works with the University of Chicago Smart Art museum, as well as with other Rotary clubs in Chicago, in a project initiated by our club, our "Smart Art" Program. This program provides a combination of museum visits and classroom visits of a professional teaching artist, to teach children at various schools to "think outside the box," within emphasis on building peace at school, in the community, and even in the world.

This launch meeting provided for today's largely informal learning experience, in a warm and congenial format that was part of today's club meeting.

In the photo from the left, Club President Jerry McIlvain, Assistant District Governor Bonnie Sanchez-Carlson, and District Governor Patrick McAdams.

Chicago KICS with Dr. Scott Hanlon
Posted: March 2, 2017

Dr. Scott Hanlon, President of the Chicago KICS Community Academy, along with Tina Feldstein, President of the local Chicago Neighborhood Alliance, made a presentation regarding their program of increasingly larger soccer programs, for which they sponsor even a national and international tournament. Apparently this is all funded by contributions, and involve dozens of local teams, Across the Chicago area.

The accompanying photograph includes Ms. Feldman on the left, Marc Willage – club president in the middle, as well as Dr. Hanlon on the right.

Posted: February 23, 2017

As part of our "Smart Art" project, we arrange for and assist young students to visit two local art museums, both before and after a series of classes with a teaching artist that we also arrange for and assist. Frasier second and third grade classes took their initial visits at the two museums that they visit at the University of Chicago.


At the Oriental Museum, the children saw two of some of the very largest ancient artifacts in town! The students pictured are from Frazier School, and their teacher is Ms. Latarsha Winners.


Life Matters Media - Randi Belasomo
Posted: February 16, 2017

Award Winning TV Reporter Randi Belasomo from Chanel 9 news addressed our club about how Life Matters Media came to be and the services it provides. The Chicago-based organization is among those leading a national cultural shift that prioritizes the planning that can lead to true quality of life at the end of life. Its digital resource, has been hailed by The New York Times as a “website to visit.”  The organization’s public programming has been described by The Chicago Tribune as “passionate, lively and enlightening.”

She noted although 90% of Americans agree that having the conversations about end-of-life wishes is important, fewer than 30% have actually done so. This organization sponsors a website, which provides access to a variety of materials regarding this topic. She noted that more formal training is provided for a variety of professionals such as social workers and certified financial planners. Randi, who does TV news casting as her "day job," started this foundation in conjunction with a medical oncologist and is Chicago-based. Her presentation generated much interest and discussion amongst those present today.

In the photograph, Dennis Gorman -the club treasurer is on the left, Randi is on the middle, and Jerry Mclvain - the president elect of the club, is on the right.


Survival at the Top of the World!
Posted February 2, 2017

Ms. Ingvill Ytreland, who heads up theNon-Profit organization, "Live a Life in Motion," presented a summary of her work of securing donations from climbers of the high peaks of Nepal. Those donations go towards improving the lives of inhabitants of isolated and impoverished villages in the country.  Ingvill's current flagship project is rebuilding of a 5-room school house that was destroyed as the result of a 7.8 magnitude earthquake in 2015.  So far $20,000 of a needed $65,000 to complete the project has been donated.  She described her work as one of a "Social Entrepreneur."  She relies on contributions raised from individuals who purchase treks that she organizes to the highest mountain passes in Nepal.  Ingvill has a 20 year background in corporate banking.

The photograph attached is Ingvill with Club President Marc Willage.


"Catching Lighting" with John Wasik
Posted: January 19, 2017

On January 19, 2017, John Wasik presented a program centering on his new book, Lightning Strikes, a biography of Nicola Tesla, who he described as a forward thinking inventor and an "ahead-of-his-time individual." Nicola Tesla invented radio, though the first person to transmit across the Atlantic Ocean, Marconi, is the primary name associated with this phenomenal development. An early proponent of the use of alternating current (AC) over the use of direct current (DC), Mr. Tesla also invented the first radio controlled device, and arguably the first robot. He worked extensively with magnetism, and spent most of the 1880s working with Thomas Edison.

Pictured is John Wasik and President Elect Jerry McIlvain
John Wasik

Tesla also apparently coined the term "artificial intelligence" and wrote on the future of the combination of artificial intelligence and automation. Over the years, Mr. Tesla spent a lot of his time in Chicago.

John gave a very dynamic presentation today, about a variety of topics in addition to Mr. Tesla. As the award-winning author, John Wasik has spoken to crowds from coast to coast on investing, retirement and protecting your money. He has written 16 books, and has authored more than 1000 articles, columns and blogs, appearing in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Forbes and Morning Star.


A Visit from the Theatre Community
Posted January 5, 2017

Nancy Needles visited our club and presented an informative talk concerning community theaters in Chicago. She described that there are over 200 theaters in Chicago and that she is on the Board of Directors with the Hypocrites Theatre, who are celebrating their 20th season. Nancy described the economic impact of the theater when people attend theater performances they also patronize surrounding businesses. Nancy notes that each theater group puts in many hours and when the dedication of the artists are taken into account, ticket prices appear much more reasonable.
Pictured above is Nancy with Incoming Rotary President Gerald McIlvain.  In addition, please note that Chicago Theater Week is February 9-19!


Not a Routine Program!
Posted December 1, 2016
We were treated today to a program presented by past Rotary Chicago Financial District President Megan Bhatia, addressing management of "routine" throughout our day. She works for CCI Greenheart, a non-for profit agency that places exchange students.  Because a student's routines are so disrupted upon arrival in a foreign country, she provides a program for establishing routines with each student in order to help them acclimate to their new surroundings.  She describes that routine comprises one's behavior, as well as a person's thoughts while carrying out habitual activities throughout the day.

Meanwhile, some of our own routines, in regard to behavior or mindset, cannot be altered at times – such as doing the dishes.  However, one's train of thought while doing the dishes can be controlled.  Once an individual is aware that "routine" not only deals with physical tasks, but also the flow of thoughts while doing the dishes. Sometimes, the degree of rigidity or flexibility of routines need to be adjusted.  Very interesting program and was enjoyed by all in attendance.

Reproductive Rights & Estate Planning
Posted November 17, 2016
A program addressing Reproductive Rights, particularly in regard to estate planning, was presented by Jonathan Morton, a local attorney. Apparently, reproductive entities, including sperm, eggs as well as embryos, are being treated as personal property by evolving case law in Illinois, as well as in other states. Our presenter described that unintentional but significant consequences, can result when such considerations are not taking in account in regard to wills, trusts, powers of attorney for property, and powers of attorney for healthcare. He reported that in 2018, 60,000 births (1 1/2% of the total) were the results of ART (Assisted Reproductive Technology), most often being artificial insemination.

Pictured is Jonathan and his assistant Toni, With past president Vicky Dorgan.

A Visitor from "The Land of Enchantment" New Mexico
Posted October 20, 2016
Today we were visited by Rotarian Kathy Eaton, visiting Chicago from Silver City, New Mexico. She shared the experiences she encountered while walking across the country (nearly 3000 miles!) to celebrate her 50th birthday.
She described that she never experienced any fear while on this trek. With her husband providing support, Kathy was able to average 22 miles on any given day. She notes that she had to purchase new shoes five times along the way. The  photograph shows Kathy exchanging banners with Club President, Marc Willage.
See more about Kathy's trip HERE.

Meet ESPN Legal Analyst Lester Munson
Posted September 29, 2016
We were in "good company" today, as long time Sports Attorney and ESPN Legal Analyst Lester Munson
joined us for lunch and shared some "insider information" about some of the cases he is either actively involved with, or covering for ESPN Sports.  They included former Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose's litigation case still under fire... and he shared opinions about another case involving a former Duke University basketball star who was abruptly expelled from the University following sexual assault charges. Lester also spoke about other cases readily recognizable to anyone who follows sports news.  
Munson shared his views about a case against the NCAA that he expects to be heard before the United States Supreme Court next year, although that is speculation on his part.

It’s hard to understate the potential impact of the lawsuit against the NCAA. Some experts have called the case a "Game Changer"... others have gone further, predicting the suit could result in the extinction of the powerful NCAA. At issue is whether student-athletes, who help to generate millions of dollars for their colleges and universities, as well as for the NCAA... should be paid for their performances. Plaintiffs in the case, O’Bannon v. NCAA, argue that they are entitled to a portion of the revenue the NCAA earns by licensing the “likeness” of players in broadcast rights and video games.


The NCAA, meanwhile, has defended its practice of profiting from players, arguing that revenues from hugely popular events, such as men’s basketball, are returned to the system to help fund less visible sports. As Mark Emmert, the president of the NCAA said... “The NCAA runs 88 national championships, but it’s men’s basketball that allows the golf championship to go on or the volleyball championship to go on because those, of course, don’t generate the same kind of revenue.”  The NCAA case was brought in 2009 by former UCLA basketball star Ed O’Bannon, who first learned that the NCAA had licensed his likeness for a video game while visiting a friend.

It was fun listening to Lester weave his way through the stories with such candor, as he follows these cases closely and presents his thoughts and findings with great ease and humor. Thank you Lester Munson for a most interesting program!  Pictured to the right is Lester Munson, with long time friend and Past Rotary CFD President, Vickie Dorgan.

Caring Transitions
Posted September 19, 2016

Erin Marcus from "Caring Transitions" presented a program regarding "having the difficult conversation" with aging parents. However, she noted that this is actually a good discussion to have with any loved one, any elderly person who might be vulnerable, and even one's own spouse.                                                       
She is the proprietor for Caring Transitions, and advises her clients on Senior Relocations as well as in "downsizing." At least as important as "getting the documents all signed," is for one to gather an understanding of what a parent would want after they are gone, in order to make difficult decisions when the parent is no longer able to. Pictured is Erin shaking hands with Rotary CFD Sergeant-at-Arms John Lamson.

Small World... isn't it?
Posted August 26, 2016

Our August 25 meeting turned out better than just good. It was filled with great conversation and the sharing of cultural differences.  We were joined by Rotarian Trofimov Ilia and his son from the Kemerovo Rotary Club in Siberia Russia. That is father and son straddling Rotary CFD Club President Marc Willage in the photo at left.  Absent a speaker, we had great conversation about the similarities and differences of our respective countries... and how the shared goals of Rotary seem to be equal throughout the world.


First established in 1657, Kemerovo has grown to become a large and important industrial city boasting a population of 530,000 people. The main industry is coal mining, which has brought with it a conglomerate of steel and aluminum manufacturing plants. Located in the region of the country known as "Siberia", you may want to pack an extra coat if you are planning a visit.     


A most thoughtful guest, Trofimov brought some Siberia honey as a gift for us. It was great and truly appreciated by all.  In a very small version of paying it forward, we were able to share the honey the following week with a visiting Rotarian from Turkey.  Small world... isn't it?


Rotary Make-Up Meeting
Posted August 20, 2016
Rotary "Make-Up" Meetings have nothing to do with cosmetics, or the application thereof.  Rather, a "Make-Up Meeting" is a fun way to fulfill Rotary's requirement that member's attend at least 50% of the weekly meetings... and since Rotary is an International Organization... that can be accomplished by attending any Rotary Club meeting in the world.  On a recent trip to Czech Republic, to visit wife Tetiana's family, Rotary CFD member Travis Cole Marcum attended a Rotary Club of Prague Platinum meeting at the Radisson Blu Alcron Hotel near Prague's famed "Wenceslas Square". He wanted to attend both as a make-up meeting and for the  opportunity fo meet some of Prague's business leaders and learn how other Rotary Clubs conduct their meetings. Travis is Rotary CFD's newest member.
The meeting did not have a speaker, but what it lacked in formal speeches it more than made up for with fellowship and lively discussion. The Rotarian's attending noted the strong connection between the city of Chicago and the Czech Republic. One of the past mayors of Chicago, Anton Cermak (we have a major east-west road named after him), was Czech (originally from Kladno in the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, which is now Czech Republic) and we still have a large population of Czech immigrants living here today.
Travis presented the President of the Prague Club, Jacob Sadilek, with one of our Club Banners (Travis is the one giving a "thumbs up" in the accompanying photo). The Rotary Club of Prague Platinum members told him that they didn't have a banner, but noted that Rotary is more about fellowship than items, and we couldn't agree more.

Sit... Stay... Read
Posted August 18, 2016
 I attended the "Gold Coast Dog Show" earlier this year in Lincoln Park.  It drew a large crowd and was more of a "fun" event, than a serious pedigree dog show.  One of the event tables that stood out as you entered the gate was hosted by a bevy of smiling faces accompanied by what appeared to be some "very happy dogs".  Do dogs smile too?  A large banner across the front of the table exclaimed... "Sit... Stay... Read".  I am familiar with the common commands of "Sit, Stay and Heel"... but, READ?  "These must be some pretty exceptional dogs"... I thought. 
It turns out that "Sit, Stay, Read" is actually a not-for-profit organization that uses volunteers and their dogs as tools to help kids improve their reading skills... and apparently... it works!  Our guest speakers this week were Mara O'Brien and Kate McIlvain, representing "Sit, Stay, Read", and the facts they shared were rather startling. What we learned (slightly tongue in cheek) is that children learning to read are more comfortable reading aloud to a friendly, non-judgmental dog. They even write stories about their time spent reading to dogs... and they make 47.8% greater fluency gains than their peers as a result.  The main reason being... that not all households have parents that are willing, or able, to devote sufficient time reading to their child.  A growing number of kids from disadvantaged neighborhoods need help and other forms of encouragement to improve their reading skills. By clicking on the link above, you can learn more about the program and how it works. Pictured at left is Rotary CFD Past President Jerry McIlvain thanking Kate and Mara for sharing their story with us at today's meeting. The extra big smile on Jerry's face might be one of pride... as Kate is also Jerry's daughter.
Pictured to the right is Rotary CFD Club President Marc Willage exchanging Club Banners with visiting Rotarian Daniele Pomata, President of Genoa Centro Storilo Rotary Club in Genoa Italy. Daniele and his Bride Elena Musorella are in Chicago celebrating their Honeymoon!  How about that for something to smile about?

You Never Know Who You Might Meet?
Posted by John Schwandke
I love to travel... and when I do, its common for me to visit a couple of Rotary Clubs along the way.  You never know who you might meet... and what better way to learn about the region you are visiting than by meeting some of the community business leaders?
Recently, my wife and I were in Colorado visiting friends and family, and to attend a wedding.  While there I did a "Make Up" meeting with the Rotary Club of Denver... also known as "Club 31".  There are more than 34,000 Rotary Clubs in over 200 countries around the world... and each is assigned a number sequential to the order in which they joined Rotary International. The Rotary Club of Denver, founded in 1911, became the 31st Rotary Club in the world and they still commonly refer to themselves by using that number. They are a large Club... numbering around 400... and I know two of those Rotarian's personally from friendships established before we knew we were Rotary brethren.

While eating lunch, what an honor it was to learn that two of my "table mates" were Grant Wilkins and his wife Marlene (pictured above). Grant is one of the people most responsible for Rotary International proclaiming its goal to eradicate polio worldwide in 1985. He is a past member of the Rotary International Board of Directors and his accomplishments are legendary.  A delightful man, who will have celebrated his 90th birthday by the time this article is published, grew up in a family of Rotarians. At 25, Grant was afflicted with a deadly form of polio, becoming the first American to receive the now common surgical procedure called a tracheotomy. His first wife, Diane, also contracted the disease and remained in a respirator for the next 13 years until her death.
Having been afflicted with Polio myself in 1953, I found his stories to be fascinating.  My friend John Klug, who is also a member of the Denver Club and  responsible for inviting me to the meeting, is also a polio survivor, so it was kind of like "old home week" for the three of us.
After the meeting, I sat in as Klug was being interviewed by an author (pictured at right) who is currently writing a book about Mr. Wilkins. Grant and John are longtime associates. Called "Mister Rotary" by fellow Club members, Wilkins has dedicated himself to what we Rotarian's call "Service Above Self". All in all... it was one of those meetings you're glad you didn't miss. You never know who you might meet at a Rotary Club meeting! 

Rotary Foundation Year
Posted August 7, 2016 
District 6450 announces plans to kick-off the 100th Anniversary celebration of the Rotary International Foundation with a special orientation and information event scheduled THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 8, 2016 at the Riverside Country Club, in Riverside Illinois.  Festivities begin with a social at 6:00 PM and guest speakers will include RI General Secretary and Foundation General Secretary John P. Hewko. Registration includes a complimentary sandwich and salad buffet.  Seating is limited, so registration is required via the District Website: Rotary Foundation Summit

Changing of the Guard
Posted June 24, 2016
It happens on July 1st of each year, as more than 34,000 Rotary Clubs around the world elect new officers and directors at the local, district and international levels. The induction of retired M.D. Marc Willage, as the Rotary Club of  Chicago Financial District's new President, took place June 23rd at Cafe Ciao in Chicago's West loop. With outgoing President John Schwandke acting as MC, the Installation ceremony was conducted by Past District Governor and current District Foundation Chair Pat Merryweather.  As District Governor, Pat was very helpful with several Grant Projects our Club was involved in while John served as International Projects Chair, and those who know Marc and his wife Debbie know of their affection for the Rotary Foundation.  So, it was most fitting that Pat Merryweather be the one to officiate over the evening's proceedings.

Marc, a Medical Doctor... and Debbie, a PhD Psychologist... both retired from Madison Indiana last year and relocated to the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago. They are both Rotarian's and Marc is Past President of the Madison Rotary Club, so he doesn't come to us without experience.  Both are involved in other volunteer activities as well. Definitely... Service Above Self type of people.

During his opening remarks, Schwandke said... "while preparing for tonight's year-end summary report, I was both elated and relieved to learn that we had accomplished virtually every goal we set out to do at the beginning of the year, except for that of member growth. I had hoped we could expand our membership to 40, but instead we drifted backward to now having just 20 members."   He went on to thank individual members who had contributed "above and beyond" in helping during his tenure as President. A few photos from the event are included within this story... however members can login to access the "Photo Album List" which contains all the photos taken during the celebration.

The photo at top left shows Membership Chair Gus Samios and Club Secretary Robert Mantsh receiving their official Rotary International Ties presented as "thank you" gifts from John.  The photo above and to the right shows "Rotary Smart Art" Project Co-Chairs Vickie Dorgan and Cliff Harstad, displaying the Rotary International Kid's Silk Scarf and men's silk tie as a gesture of appreciation for the work they did in helping kids from some of Chicago's disadvantaged neighborhoods. Below you can see President Marc being sworn in by District Foundation Chair Pat Merryweather... and to the right of that... the newly sworn in Officers and Directors for the 2016-2017 Rotary Year.

 Is It Fair to All Concerned?
Posted June 9, 2016 
Today's program was presented by Melissa Josephs, the Director of Equal Opportunity Policy at "Women Employed".  Ms. Josephs concentrated today's talk primarily on Fair Work Preferences, which strives for "economic equity" for women.  Even when comparing women's and men's earnings, for the same job, women make 78% of what a man earns.  She believes the "glass ceiling is cracked, but not yet broken through." 
She went on to state that 16 million women work at jobs earning less than $12 per hour, or $24,000 per year.  This, in the face of knowing that 64% of all working women are either breadwinners or co-breadwinners.
Apparently progress is being made.  A new formula is being developed for employees "on call" to be available to work "volatile schedules."  Also of interest, is new legislation recently passed that requires employers to accommodate pregnant workers by providing private space for women needing to breast pump milk while at the workplace. 
Of note, apparently 88% of all employees making a minimal wage are more than 20 years old.  The minimum wage in Chicago is scheduled to expand to $13 an hour in 2019.  This remains a difficult situation for individuals earning this amount, as it equates to only $26,000 per year. 

Rotary International Convention
May 29-June 1, 2016 
Korea is playing host to Rotary's largest event of the year, its annual convention.  More than 42,000 Rotary members from over 100 countries have come together for the weekend to celebrate service, exchange ideas, and relax among friends at unforgettable concerts and social events. The convention runs from 28 May to 1 June. Attendees are hearing from renowned experts in areas of peace, global health, and human rights.  If you have never attended a Rotary International Convention... those who have say it is a once in a lifetime, unforgettable experience.
Attendees, wearing the traditional garb of their home countries walked in solidarity for a more peaceful world in Saturday's 3k Walk For Peace.  The event was complemented by the "Rotary Way" exhibit, which featured photographs of 111 years of Rotary service.  Convention speakers included Rosie Batty, family violence activist and 2015 Australian of the Year... Gary Haugen, CEO of International Justice Mission... Gary Knell, President and CEO of National Geographic Society... Willie John McBride, former rugby star, and Sri Lanka Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe
Photos with this story include one taken as members gather for the opening ceremony... Rotary and Rotaract members wearing traditional Korean attire getting ready for the "Walk For Peace" in Seoul Plaza... and our very own Executive Secretary Dennis Gorman modeling his Korean attire.  Way to go Dennis.  You make us proud!

How Long is the Chicago River?
Posted May 26, 2016
Longer than you think.  The Chicago River is a system of rivers and canals with a combined length of 156 miles that runs through the center of Chicago. While not exceptionally long, it is longer than most residents realize and is notable for being a reason why Chicago became such an important location, with the related Chicago Portage being a link between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi Valley waterways leading eventually to the Gulf of Mexico.
We learned this and many other interesting facts from today's guest speaker Margaret Frisbie, Executive Director of Friends of the Chicago River, the only organization solely dedicated to the Chicago River. Their work spans the entire 156-mile Chicago River system and surrounding watershed and is focused on a greener river with healthy habitat, an accessible river that people can use and enjoy, and a river cared for by a broad group of supporters. Friends works in partnership with municipalities, businesses, community groups, schools, peer organizations, government agencies and individuals on projects that benefit the river.  You can learn more about Friends of the Chicago River by clicking on this link:  Friends of the Chicago River
Pictured below left, Rotary CFD President John Schwandke thanks Margaret Frisbie by presenting her with an official Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District pen. Pictured to the right is a Rotary Club Banner exchange with Philippe Weiss, a visiting Rotarian from Zurich Switzerland.


Constitutional Rights
Posted May 19, 2016
Nisan Chavkin, Executive Director of the Constitutional Rights Foundation Chicago made a presentation today about his organizations overall goals and methods. The organization's volunteers, from all types of professions and backgrounds, meet with children as young as third grade to provide them hands-on learning about the Constitution in an effort to prepare them for informed civic engagement.  Based on that premise, a class of students is asked to identify a problem and attempt to implement a solution. One class wanted to have locker's installed in their school, and they did the research as to the needed materials, where the lockers would be, and who would do the work. They eventually gave a presentation to a person who was able to assist in implementing the change, and to actually bring to fruition that change.

Students are also instructed and guided through their presentation of one side of an issue, with other students presenting an opposing view. The goal is to guide the students on both sides of the issue to listen to each other and to understand the opposing viewpoint. 

This organization's activities have been presented to thousands of students across Illinois and across the United States.  At the beginning of his presentation today, we were each given a small booklet containing the United States Constitution. In the accompanying photograph, Rotarian Debra Willage (center), along with a visiting Rotarian from England (left), thank Mr. Nisan Chavkin for his most enlightening presentation.

Rotarian Meets Gecko!
Posted May 2016
"Have I made myself clear?".... asked the Geico Gecko as he stood in front of a sheet of glass.  Rotary CFD Past President Vickie Dorgan probably wondered if she was about to change color as she posed with the "green guy" himself while attending the annual Berkshire-Hathaway shareholder's meeting in Omaha last month.  The first shareholder's meeting in 1980 attracted 12  people, including Warren Buffet.  This years meeting welcomed close to 40,000 which is slightly below last year's attendance.  Perhaps it was the constant rain that accompanied this year's event, but technical advancements that include "live video streaming" is a more likely culprit.
If you weren't there, you missed the newspaper throwing contest with Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, and lots of shopping. Special shareholder pricing was available at Borsheims, the Nebraska Furniture Mart, and from vendors of Berkshire-owned companies who pitch tent for two days below the arena. At Borsheim's, Vickie was charmed by an antique stickpin dating from the 1880's and consisting of a very unusual freshwater pearl, in an 18K gold setting with rubies. The pearl was shaped on one side to look like the profile of a Bulldog/Boston Terrier. The rubies were used for an eye and the collar.  It was priced at $4,500, but the discounted shareholder price was $3,375.  I wonder if she bought it?
Just before the meeting starts, a special "Shareholder Movie" is shown, which is produced each year by Buffett's daughter Susan. Early into the meeting, before giving the first quarter financials, Buffett acknowledged a "special guest".... his seven month old great grandchild. He said if the child began to cry, that was because his mother was "explaining my views on inherited wealth."  After lunch, a child did begin to cry and Buffett said, "Oh, they are getting my message about inherited wealth. Probably putting himself up for adoption."  One of the shareholders asked what Buffett and Munger would have done differently in their lives. Buffett answered by saying "I eat what I want, I do what I want, and I am with people I love." He decided early in life that his favorite employer was himself. He went on to note that Charlie Munger was doing what he wanted to at age 92 and that Buffett valued their long partnership. Munger chimed in with... "I regret I didn't wise up as fast as I could have. Now at 92, I still have a lot of ignorance to work on."..
When asked why Berkshire doesn't take restructuring charges, Munger said, "Let me take that. We don't do it.  It's like killing your mother for the insurance money."  Dorgan observed that there seemed to be an air of reverence for the legacy of Munger and Buffett at this meeting. Half the questions from shareholders were laudatory, focusing on their wisdom and legacy; the Q & A continued for five hours. We thank our fellow Rotarian Vickie Dorgan for sharing a few of these "tidbits" from her time in Omaha. Vickie is a Financial Advisor with Keating & Associates of Chicago.

 World Health Organization Wild Polio Virus Update
May 1, 2016
The globally synchronized switch from the trivalent to bivalent oral polio vaccine, the first stage of Objective 2 of the Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan 2013-2018, is underway. You can learn more about the rationale for the switch by watching a series of videos available from the Rotary International website.  Here is a link to another video explaining the "Switch Strategy".  The final communique of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Istanbul Summit, adopted by OIC Heads of State and Government, reaffirmed the importance of preserving the health and wellbeing of children as a duty of parents and society as prescribed by Islam, and appealed to religious scholars and leaders to support polio eradication efforts.
Afghanistan:  One new case of wild polio virus type 1 (WPV1) was reported in the past week in Shigal Wa Shelten district of Kunar Province with onset of paralysis on 27 March.  The total number of WPV1 cases for 2016 is now three, compared to one reported by this date in 2015.
Pakistan:  No new cases of wild polio virus type 1 (WPV1) were reported in the last week.  The most recent case had onset of paralysis in Bannu District, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, with the onset of paralysis on 22 March.  The total number of WPV1 cases for 2016 remains eight, compared to 21 reported at the same date last year.
These are the last two countries in the world where any reported cases of polio exist. Other videos about Rotary's Polio Eradication Project can be found here: Polio Eradication Videos.

Welcome to Rotary!
Posted May 5, 2016
We celebrated by welcoming a new member to our Rotary Club today.  Borrowing from the words that begin the installation ceremony... "It is the duty of our Rotary Club to add new members from time to time, so that we may not only increase our usefulness and influence as a Club, but also to extend the spirit of Rotary throughout the community."  Our new member is Travis Marcum, who is married to Tetiana and works as a "Business Quality Control Analyst" for JP Morgan Securities in downtown Chicago.  His Rotary Classification will be "Compliance Officer".
Travis hails from Louisville Kentucky, and in fact will return home this weekend to attend the famed "Kentucky Derby", which has become somewhat of a tradition since youth. Later in the meeting Travis served double-duty by filling the role of speaker and presenting a PowerPoint presentation he created to help educate us about the duties of a Compliance Officer. The Patriot Act, the post-9/11 legislation that made data mining a common term, places a number of specific requirements on financial services companies. And the banking industry is playing a significant role in sanctions and anti-money laundering efforts aimed at cutting off the funding of terroristic governments and organizations.  Travis is an "investigator" of sorts. 
Travis has a history of serving his country.  Earlier in his life, he served eight years with the United States Marine Corps, as a M1A1 Abrams Tank Crewman during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Congratulations Travis and Welcome to Rotary!

An Eye Opener!
Posted May, 1, 2016
The headline is in "gold" letters to signify the "Golden Years", a term first used in 1959 as part of an advertising campaign for America's first large-scale retirement community, when referring to a person of retirement age. The three words of "exclamation" describe the reaction of those in attendance as Chicago Senior Living Consultant Andrea Donovan shared information she gathered while exploring the options available to families needing to make decisions about senior assisted living. What began as a personal exploration became so complex that it eventually led Andrea to start her own consulting business, to be used as a conduit to share what she learned with others.

Today, Andrea is the President of Andrea Donovan Senior Living Advisors a senior housing consulting and geriatric care management firm. Since opening in 2006, she has toured and evaluated over 450 independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing, and retirement communities in and around the Chicago metropolitan area.  Who would have guessed there could be so many?
Her research has now surpassed 5,000 hours.  She assists seniors and family members who experience difficulty in trying to determine what is best for them.  Everything from narrowing down the myriad of facility choice, to level of care options, insurance coverage, and a multitude of other unforeseen obstacles.   

As part of today's program, Andrea stepped us through a PowerPoint presentation entitled "Senior Living Myths Unmasked". Trust me... it was enlightening!  Thank you for joining us Andrea.  When the need arises... I'll be wanting you to be on my team. 
Pictured here with Andrea Donovan (in white) is Rotary CFD Past President and current Social Committee Chairperson, Marilyn Sainsot.


Rotary Ambassador?
Posted April 22, 2016
"Sometimes I feel that way"... says visiting Rotarian Givi Chikovani from the Rotary Club of Tbilisi Georgia (not the State, but the Eurasian Country).  Givi is a Rotarian and Past Treasurer with the Rotary Club of Tbilisi International, which is located in the country's capital city. 
Georgia is a relatively small and mountainous country that abuts the Black Sea, and shares borders with Russia, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Armenia. The Republic of Georgia's only U.S. Consulates are located in Washington D.C. and New York... so Givi is in Chicago independently, but with support from government and academia, in hopes of developing business relationships in and around the Chicago area. He has an office on Wabash Avenue and is living with his wife in Chicago's River North area. 
In addition to business goals, Givi is visiting numerous Rotary Clubs in the Chicago area and has "adopted" our Club, which meets very close to his office, as his temporary Rotary home during his stay in Chicago.  Givi Chikovani, is qualified to speak on numerous business and cultural topics and will be presenting to our Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District in the near future. Givi is pictured here being welcomed by Rotary Club President John Schwandke.

The Rotary Foundation is a Top Charity
Posted April 19, 2016
Another Kudo... The Rotary Foundation has been identified by CNBC as one of the top 10 charities changing the world in 2015.  Part of the article on states, "They're big and global, with budgets exceeding $100 million and net assets of at least $65 million. Yet these 10 charities manage to do exceptional work throughout the country and overseas, all while maintaining stellar financial management and transparency.  You can see the online article here Top Ten Charities Changing the World
The not-for-profit Rotary International organization works to advance world understanding, goodwill and peace. Using Rotary Foundation grants, Rotary's 34,000 Clubs across the globe develop and carry out sustainable humanitarian projects and provide scholarships and professional training opportunities. One of the biggest initiatives aims at eradicating polio through its PolioPlus program, launched in 1985.  Since then, Rotary and its partners, including the World Health Organization and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, have immunized more than 2.5 billion children, reducing the incidence of polio by 99% and eradicating it from all but two countries in the world. 

 Rotarian's Working to Provide Clean Water

 In rural Ghana, Rotary members supply clean water and sanitation facilities to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.


Clean water is a basic need for human beings. When people, especially children, have access to clean water, they live healthier and more productive lives. However, at least 3,000 children die each day from diseases caused by unsafe water, which is what motivates our members to build wells, install rainwater harvesting systems, and teach community members how to maintain new infrastructure.


While very few people die of thirst, millions die from preventable waterborne diseases, providing the impetus for our members to also improve sanitation facilities in undeveloped countries. Members start by providing toilets and latrines that flush into a sewer or safe enclosure and then add education programs to promote hand-washing and other good hygiene habits. You can help extend the flow of clean water to many... by joining a Rotary Club. To learn more about Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District, you can contact me at or by clicking the "Membership" link from the menu along the top of the page. 

Giving Families a Chance
Posted April 7, 2016
At today's meeting, Guest Speaker's Jan Hubbard and Stacy Adams told us that was the premise behind founding "Good News Partners", which was formed in 1976 by members of the community who aspired to a better future.  Together, they learned about the struggles of poverty and racism, and realized that for their youth to thrive, their neighborhood needed to be a place of support and resource from within. They have, and can always use more, volunteers who act as Reading Coaches, teach games, build relationships, mentorships, and help with the Music Club. 
Today, as a faith-based organization, an ever growing "Good News Partners" continues to need people to scrape, sand, paint and organize at buildings they have acquired to reduce homelessness in the neighborhood. Most of the 550 people living in the buildings GNP owns or manages would have lost their housing if they hadn't partnered with Good News.  Most of the housing consists of co-operatives, where families without enough income or positive credit history to buy a used car are able to begin buying their own house.  Over the years they have determined this to be the most effective investment to help people work their way out of poverty. It was explained that more than 160 formerly homeless families were able to build enough equity at the co-op to use as down payment to buy a house. Now that is... "GOOD NEWS"!
Pictured below, Rotary CFD Secretary Robert Mantsh thanks Jan Hubbard and Stacy Adams for their presentation today... while Rotary CFD President John Schwandke presents one of our Rotary Club Banners to visiting Rotarian Otacilio Vilas Boas from Rotary Club Bahia Norte Brazil (District 4550).  Otacilio is currently a graduate student at U of C.

 If Clothes Could Only Talk
Posted March 31, 2016
Clothes may not be able to speak words... but, according to our speaker today... they can still tell us a lot... especially when it comes to marking history. Our guest today was Petra Slinkard, who was described in "Glossed and Found" magazine as... "a storyteller, detective, anthropologist and style maven." As Curator of Costumes for the Chicago History Museum, Petra is retelling stories of historical garments to the masses.
What many don't know, is that the Chicago History Museum has the 2nd largest collection of costumes and textiles in the world, dating from the mid-18th Century to the present.  Clothing and artifacts from the Civil War era are amazing and include the cape that Mary Todd Lincoln wore to Ford's Theater on the night her husband was assassinated. President Lincoln's blood stains can still be seen on the cape. Petra shared with us the emotion she feels when she views some of these objects for the very first time.  The museum's jewelry and accessory items also rank among the finest in the world.  You can view some of these things online, by clicking this link: Items from the Collection.
For an up close and personal look at some very rare pieces, you should visit the "Lincoln's Undying Words" exhibit opening on April 9th. President Lincoln's Deathbed, Family Carriage, and a multitude of other garments and artifacts from the period will be on display as part of that exhibit. 
Pictured here; Club President John Schwandke presents Chicago History Museum Curator Petra Slinkard with a commemorative "Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District" pen as a "thank you" for her presentation. He went on to suggest that perhaps she would want to add the pen to the museum's collection of Chicago historic Items of significance. (But, perhaps he's a little prejudice when it comes to the subject of Rotary).  

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 relationships amongst people 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 menu along the top of the page.  

Chewing On Beckett?
Posted March 24, 2016
Wazzup with that headline?  "Chewing on Beckett" s the title of a new play, written by Ed Proudfoot, that will celebrate its World Premiere in Chicago on May 20th. It is a production of "Artemisia - A Chicago Theater", which has dedicated itself to producing plays that empower women, give playwrights career-altering opportunities, and bring groundbreaking new theatre to Chicago audiences, who are engaged as a vital part of Artemisia's play selection process. Julie Proudfoot, our guest speaker today, founded Artemisia in 2011 based on that premise. 
Before moving to Chicago, Proudfoot spent years in New York and Los Angeles in professional acting, directing, play, and screenwriting roles. As if that isn't enough... for multiple years, Julie has been a script analyst for HBO Network, sometimes reading up to 15 projects a week. Her online bio describes her this way... "I am a SAG-AFTRA, AEA actor who has worked in television, film and theatre in Los Angeles, New York and Chicago. My work has been seen on CBS, NBC and ABC and various independent cable channels, as well as in independent film. I have currently returned to HBO as a story analyst, where I previously worked for six years with Keri Putnam, now Executive Director of the Sundance Institute. In New York I appeared Off-Broadway and Off-Off Broadway, where I had the honor of creating roles in a number of new plays.
Later this summer, we plan to have Julie for a return visit so she can explain more about what a "script analyst" does and tell us about her consulting business. Pictured here, from left to right, are visiting guests Theresa Ehrhart, Tom Pasker, our speaker Julie Proudfoot (who also stars in the play), and prospective Rotary member Kate Anderson.  To learn more about the play, simply click this link:   

To get the ball rolling, take a look at and download the flyer for this year's Rotary Family Fun Day with the White Sox. REMEMBER: from the tickets that are bought via your Club, $8 - $10 of the purchase price will go towards your Club's Polio Plus Goal for 2016-17.Get the entire flyer via the link below and stay tuned for on-line purchasing.

Silk Road Rising
Posted March 17, 2016
The"Silk Road" was an ancient network of trade routes that were central to cultural interactions through regions of the Asian Continent connecting the West and East from China to the Mediterranean Sea. The Silk Road derives its name from the lucrative trade in Chinese silk.
There is a progressive theater company in Chicago named "Silk Road Rising".  So, why that name? During a recent interview, Founding Executive Director Malik Gillani said... "Many of our patrons are familiar with Silk Road Rising's plays being rooted specifically in Asian American and Middle Eastern American experiences (connecting East and West). In light of the troubling political climate we now find ourselves in, we decided to dedicate the majority of our 2016 resources towards creating the Midwest's first-ever Theatre season focused solely on Arab American and Muslim American voices."  Malik, whose family roots are in Pakistan, and fellow co-founder and Artistic Director Jamil Khoury, who has ties to Syria, were on hand at today's Rotary CFD meeting to tell us about their latest play entitled "Mosque Alert", which was written by Khoury. Those in attendance listened with great interest, as the subject created a lot of political controversy recently in Naperville and other communities around America. An enthusiastic Q & A followed their presentation. 

The photo at left shows Gillani and Khoury standing next to visiting Rotarian and Theater aficionado Neil King.  Neil, as well as several other of our members, were intrigued enough to have already order tickets to the Chicago premiere. You can learn more about the play by clicking either the "Mosque Alert" or "Naperville" links in the previous paragraph.

Daughters of the American Revolution
Posted March 10, 2016
The National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR) is a non-profit, non-political volunteer women's service organization with a focus on preserving American history, promoting patriotism, and better education for children.  In addition to monthly meetings and outings throughout the year, the Kaskaskia Chapter offers assistance to anyone interested in tracing her roots to a patriot of the Revolutionary war.  Any woman is eligible for membership who is no less than eighteen years of age and can prove lineal blood line descent from an ancestor who aided in achieving American independence. You do not need to complete an application worksheet before attending a chapter meeting... and you do not even need to have identified your patriot ancestor. 
Members of Rotary CFD were pleased to welcome Anita Maiworm, Regent from the Kaskaskia Chapter of the Society of Daughters of the American Revolution, as our speaker today.  She was accompanied by fellow DAR member Ann Mahoney.  They explained that the Kaskaskia Chapter, which is located in the Northshore area of greater Chicagoland, has a long history of patriotism and service.  Chapter DAR members currently support a variety of causes, including those related to veterans, active duty military, blinded veterans, historic preservation, conservation, and English as a second language.  They also provide various DAR Committees like Genealogical Records, Public Relations, Americanism, and the American Flag.  And finally, as Anita emphasized, we enjoy building friendships and having fun!  You can learn more about the National and State DAR by visiting their website at
Pictured here with Anita Maiworm (left) and Ann Mahoney is Rotary CFD Sargeant-at-Arms John Lamson, who is a Vietnam veteran and former Navy F-4 Phantom fighter-bomber pilot with over 300 missions under his belt.  We thank John Lamson for his service... and to Anita and Ann for reminding us of the sacrifices made by so many on behalf of the freedoms we too often take for granted here in the United States of America. 

Leaders Not Followers
Posted March 10, 2016
On July 1st of every year, we put new leaders in place to guarantee the succession and future of our Rotary Clubs. Beyond our boards, how can we do the same for our membership?  We look for leaders who will keep our clubs on track. We look for leaders who exemplify and embrace Service Above Self.  We look for leaders who walk the "4 Way Test" talk (See Rotary's 4-Way Test posted in the right hand column).  Essentially, we look for new Rotarians.
It's a challenge we accept because we know our communities and the world need Rotary.  Everywhere we look, we see the need for Rotary.  Whether it's good fellowship, impactful service projects, life-changing global initiatives, informative programs...we know from our experience that Rotary needs to be here to stay.  We must guarantee "The Gift of Rotary" will always be given. Three-Fourths of the way through this club year, what can we do to welcome the next Rotarians to join us, to carry on into the future, to share and give The Gift of Rotary?  Take some time at your next meeting to brainstorm about what and how much Rotary means to you. Then take it to the streets and invite the future of Rotary to your next meeting.  Remember: If no one had taken the time to invite you to Rotary, consider how very different your life would be.  We need to share the Rotary experience with others.  
If you are a non-Rotarian reading this message and would like to know more about membership in Rotary International, and the benefits that come with it, please contact Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District and we will happily invite you to attend one of our weekly meetings so you can learn more.  Email:


 The days have gotten longer and the 2016 Rotary District 6450 Conference will be here before you know it!

The Conference will run from Thursday, April 28 to Sunday, May 1 and promises to be filled with fun, activities and CELEBRATION! This year's conference will be held at the newly renovated Illinois Beach Resort and Conference Center in Zion and the entire resort is reserved for this event.  The hotel rate is $109 per night, plus tax. You must reserve your own room by calling 847-625-7300 Ext 0. Tell them you are with the Rotary Conference and the nights you will be staying

Registration is $400 Rotarian, $225 for spouse/guest. Rotarian's can Register Here

Each day of the conference will provide plenty of choices so your schedule is up to you. Most of the activities, excluding golf and the optional dinner on Thursday evening, are included in the registration price.

Rotary International's 111th Anniversary
Posted March 2, 2016
Chicago Rotary One sponsored a "Birthday Bash", for Chicago area Rotarian's at member Naren Soni's "Gaylord's India Restaurant", to celebrate the 111th Anniversary for the founding of Rotary International. Rotary CFD's Executive Secretary Dennis Gorman partook in the festivities as witnessed by the photo included here. That's Dennis, wearing the brightly colored Rotary tie visiting with Past District Governor Nicki Scott.
Special thanks was given to Naren and his staff for a wonderful evening and to Mike Faris, Rotary-One Past President for his inspirational remarks linking the strength of Rotary Service from the very first Service Project to the "End Polio Now" project currently underway through a worldwide effort. The difference between these two projects is as different as the diversity you find in the more than 33,000 Rotary Clubs located in over 200 countries worldwide.
In 1907, Rotary's first project consisted of the planning and construction of a public toilet outside the new Chicago City Hall on the corner of LaSalle and Washington Streets. The project's result was humble, but it just may have been something that only an organization like Rotary could have pulled off at that time... and that reflects the unique power of Rotary as an organization.  Rotary didn't just go out one day and slap a shack on the side of City Hall and put a toilet in it.  Nobody could have done that... not even in 1907.  What Rotary did was create a collaboration among several groups to accomplish something that perhaps no single group could have done on their own. It included City officials, an Alderman, a Presbyterian minister, and organizations like the Commercial Club, Industrial Club, City Club, Chicago Commercial Association, the Hamilton Club, and the Municipal Art League. Remember any of those?  We believe that the ability to bring groups together across economic, political and sectarian lines is what makes Rotary unique.  Did you know, for example, that Rotary International was very instrumental in creating the United Nations?  It's true, and to this day Rotary holds the highest consultative status with the United Nations as a non-governmental organization.
During the Birthday Bash, Rotarian's and Guests tossed their "change" into a hat and raised $2,376 for the Polio Eradication Campaign, which will be matched by the Gates Foundation for a total of $7,130.  Not bad for a group of friends getting together to celebrate and have a good time!
Click this link to see the entire album of photos taken during the event: 111th Birthday Bash Photos

 What is "Smart Art"?
Posted February 25, 2016
Story by Marc Willage
Kevin Sparks, artistic instructor "in resident" for Rotary's "Smart Art Project", turned those present at today's meeting into artists themselves as he demonstrated the approach he takes in using art to teach children how to analyze the often difficult circumstances in which they find themselves in today's environment.  The program begins with a trip to the University of Chicago's "Smart Art Museum" where the children view various works of art and express opinions about what they think the artists are trying to convey. These third-grader's, from public schools in disadvantaged neighborhoods, learn basic art skills and are encouraged to express themselves about the environmental challenges the face growing up. After a series of "in classroom" art instruction, the children return to the museum, now finding themselves better able to interpret the various works of art and relate what they see to the lives they live. The program was expanded last year to include two schools and is expanding even further this year. Through member Cliff Harstad's 's persistent efforts, other organizations are coming on board to help make the program available to other groups. The University of Chicago is further developing a program to research and document the benefits this type of intervention may produce.

The example today involved putting together the image of a gun using elementary shapes that we first drew on graph paper. We were then given the opportunity to talk about our drawings and what we interpreted from each others drawings. It was a treat to participate in this exercise, and to learn more about the fantastic intervention style that Kevin has developed to teach these children about creativity and the ability to analyze their reactions to the various situations in which they find themselves.

This was an unusual program... both enlightening and entertaining.  You can see a more intiement side of Kevin Sparks by watching this video: Kevin Sparks defines Studiology

End of Life Decisions
Posted February 18, 2016
Ed Gogol, representing "Final Options Illinois", provided a thought provoking talk about the "death with dignity" movement. "Final Options Illinois" is part of a worldwide death with dignity movement, also called aid in dying.  As explained by Mr. Gogol, the Chicago based group is part of a broader movement that recognizes there is way too much suffering at end of life, and that much can be done to minimize that suffering, which includes hospice and palliative care.
But suffering at life's end is sometimes extreme, even with the best of care.  Gogol's organization believes that mentally competent, terminally ill adults, have a basic human right to choose to hasten their death... and that legal change needs to happen to establish that right.  In Illinois, an Oregon-style bill, the "Illinois Patient Choices at End of Life Act" has been drafted and submitted for consideration. To watch a video interview of Ed Gogol talking about the subject, you can click here:  Ed Gogol WTTW Interview

Sitting Disease?
Posted February 11, 2016
Our guest speaker today was Dr. Hayley Price, pictured here with Rotary CFD Past President and Community Projects Chairman Cliff Harstad who presided over the meeting. Dr. Price is a physical therapist with Athletico, a rapidly growing outpatient provider of physical therapy services. Her degree is a DPT (Doctor of Physical Therapy); which she received from Elon University in North Carolina. She spends the majority of her time providing "hands on" physical therapy services and shared that a total of seven years was required for her to finish the  degree; three years of graduate studies, followed by four years of undergraduate studies.

She discussed "Sitting Disease," for which a device is available that can raise and lower a desk working surface; she demonstrated  "Deskersize" as a way to keep fit while remaining stationary for long periods of time and suggested the inclusion of a "Stability Ball" as an additional tool to fight the disease. Hayley noted that over the last several years, prolonged sitting is becoming recognized as a risk factor for an array of chronic illnesses, including heart disease and diabetes. She explained that the additional risk for prolonged sitting may be similar in magnitude to that associated with smoking cigarettes.

Though physical therapy in the state of Illinois requires a physician's prescription, Dr. Price noted that a brief consultation session is available at no charge to a person who is considering the expense of going to a physician in order to have physical therapy services provided. More information about Haley Price can be found here: Dr. Hayley Price

From Russia With Love
Posted January 28, 2016
Today's speaker was Irwin Weil, Professor emeritis with Northwestern University, who grew up in a "baseball household," as his father – at that time – was the owner of the Cincinnati Reds. But, that wasn't Irwins' interest.  After achieving a PhD in Slavic studies from Harvard University, he also wanted to cultivate his love for opera performance. He worked in professional theater both on and off Broadway.  Professor Weil began his teaching career at Harvard and came to Northwestern University in 1966. By that time he had already been traveling and working in the USSR for six years. He had already laid the foundation for his future work in USA-USSR-Russia relations. He has traveled to and from Russia frequently over a 55 year time span.

Today, he told us a number of stories about his travels and his book entitled "From the Cincinnati Reds to the Moscow Reds". He learned Russian as an undergraduate, and has centered his studies around that country's people and culture over his entire tenure as a professor.  It was interesting to hear about such hot button topics as Crimea and Putin from the viewpoint of someone who has been there frequently and has many connections. This was an informative and highly interesting presentation, and was enjoyed by all who were present.

 A Gift that Keeps on Giving!
Posted January 25, 2016
Guest speaker and Major Gift Officer Rachel Greenhoe with the Rotary Foundation Zone 28 (12 districts in our zone; 34 zones worldwide) explained how the Rotary Foundation has multiple different programs for how it distributes proceeds to different accounts and funds. The polio fund continues to provide the financial basis for our efforts to truly eradicate polio as a human condition. The perpetual fund program continues to grow, apparently to be twice the size it was 10 years ago.

The scope of what is able to occur as the result of funding made available through the Rotary international Foundation, as well as through our own District Foundation, it's just mind-boggling. Rotary CFD is proud to be able to say that all of its members, 100%, donate on a regular basis to the Foundation.  It's great to get "feedback" from the top that let's us know on a first-hand basis the result of our effort.  Rachel is a member, as well as Past President, of the Lakeview Rotary club, and her office is Rotary Worldwide Headquarters in Evanston. She gave a very nice presentation, both informative and inspiring, and a good time was had by all who were in attendance. Thank you Rachel for taking the time to be with us. You can visit this link to learn more about Rotary Foundation giving levels and the recognition that comes with them:  Rotary Foundation Giving Levels


 Rotary Serving Humanity


Rotary’s founder, Paul Harris, believed that serving humanity is “the most worthwhile thing a person can do,” RI President-elect John F. Germ said, and that being a part of Rotary is a “great opportunity” to make that happen. Germ unveiled the 2016-17 presidential theme, Rotary Serving Humanity, to incoming district governors on 18 January at the International Assembly in San Diego, California, USA. “I believe everyone recognizes the opportunity to serve Rotary for what it truly is: not a small opportunity, but a great one; an opportunity of a lifetime to change the world for the better, forever through Rotary’s service to humanity,” said Germ.


Rotary members around the globe are serving humanity by providing clean water to underdeveloped communities, promoting peace in conflict areas, and strengthening communities through basic education and literacy. But none more important than our work to eradicate polio worldwide, he said. After a historic year in which transmission of the wild polio virus was stopped in Nigeria and all of Africa, Germ said we are closer than ever to ending polio. “We are at a crossroads in Rotary,” he added. “We are looking ahead at a year that may one day be known as the greatest year in Rotary’s history: the year that sees the world’s last case of polio.”  Last year’s milestones leave just two countries, Afghanistan and Pakistan, where the virus still circulates. Polio would be only the second human disease ever to be eradicated. Congratulations fellow Rotarians... keep it up... it works!

You can view President Elect John Germ's speech in more detail here: "Rotary Serving Humanity"

"It's About the Culture"
Posted January 14, 2016
Yi Liu, Ph.D., the Cultural Advance Coordinator with the Mid-USA Falun Dafa Association, gave a very entertaining and informative talk about Chinese culture, especially concerning the Chinese New Year. Yi presented videos of some of the traditional dances, and represents an organization that is available to make group presentations regarding traditional Chinese culture and history. Apparently, they teach meditation, calligraphy, along with a variety of other activities. A primary activity of the organization involves Chinese dance as a storytelling medium and Yi Liu wanted to be sure we knew about a performance from Shen Yun Dance Company that will be appearing at Chicago's Civic Opera House on March 15th. Several of our members plan to attend and wanted to share this information with others who may also appreciate this unique opportunity.This was a wonderful presentation that provided a delightful experience for all who were present. You can learn more by clicking this link: Shen Yun Tickets
Pictured at left is Rotary CFD President Elect Marc Willage thanking Ms. Yi Liu for visiting us today.

Define "Makeup"
 Posted January 6, 2015
"Makeup" is a word with many meanings.  It can be used to describe something a woman applies to her face before leaving the house... but it can also mean the way something is put together... or, the moral character of a person... or, reconciling after a quarrel... or, replacement... as in to "make up" for a previous omission. Here enters the Rotary definition of "Makeup".  Rotary International expects all members to attend at least 50% of their meetings. To help insure making it easy to do that, members are encouraged to "Makeup" meetings anywhere in the world as they travel.
There truly is no better way of meeting the "locals" and learning the culture of an area than by sharing a "meeting and a meal" with community leaders from wherever it is that you are visiting. While not a requirement of the visitation... it is customary (and fun) for Rotarian's from different Clubs to exchange Club Banners to help mark the occasion. Rotary CFD President John Schwandke is currently traveling the Southeast United States and while in Georgia attended the Skidaway Island Rotary Club (right) and Rotary Club of Savannah (below).  Pictured at right with Skidaway President Tom Macek, John describes the Skidaway Island breakfast group as mostly retirees who have elected to live here among the stunning landscape and pristine waterways. Perhaps the fact that their homes sit in the middle of six championship golf courses has something to do with choosing this particular spot. John says... "It's a lovely place to visit, but I can't afford to live here."
The Rotary Club of Savannah, with some 240+ members, was founded in 1914 making it among the oldest Rotary Clubs in the United States. They meet each Monday for lunch at the Desoto Hilton, which is so pleased to host Rotary each week that they provide free parking, in the middle of busy downtown Savannah mind you, for Rotarian's attending.  Wouldn't it be grand if the Union League Club would do that for Chicago Rotarians?  Pictured below is Rotary CFD member John Schwandke (left) exchanging banners with Savannah Rotary Club President Rick Monroe. In the other photo you can "get a feel" of what it's like to attend a LARGE Rotary Club.


Official White Elephant Gift Exchange Rules
Posted December 10, 2015
Rotary CFD celebrated the Holiday Season with their Annual White Elephant Gift Exchange this week. For those who haven't experienced it... the White Elephant (don't know how that name was selected) is a popular Christmas event where people vie ot walk away with the best present.  It also goes by Yankee Swap, Dirty Santa, and a plethora of other names. Call it what you will... it is a lot of fun!  The game is played by a lot of different rulesets... some dead simple and others confusingly elaborate... but here are the basic rules:   

1. Each player brings one wrapped gift to contribute to a common pool. The gift exchange organizer should provide information on what type of gift people should bring.  2. Players draw names to determine what order they will go in.  Alternatively, everyone can draw from a hat, or have their order set by the organizer prior to the event.  3. Players sit in a circle or line where they can see the gift pile.  To make things easier, everyone

 should sit in the order in which they will take their turns.  4. The first player selects a gift from the pool and opens it.  Make sure everyone can see the gift!  5. The following players can choose to either pick an unwrapped gift from the pool or steal a previous player’s gift. Anyone who gets their gift stolen in this way can do the same – choose a new gift or steal from someone else.  This is one of the few games where being the last to play is a big advantage.  You get to choose from all available gifts before you!



Tis Better to Give than to Receive
Posted December 2, 2015
Tis the Season to be Jolly... and Warm.  Remembering back to program speaker Rich Lalley's visit to our Rotary Club in October (see story below)... members decided, as an impromptu wintertime project, to donate 100 winter coats to Chicago children with need.  Below you can see the process and the smiles on the faces of Club Members Dennis Gorman and John Schwandke as they help families find the correct size. Rotary CFD members can see more photos of the event by clicking "Photo Page List" located in the menu across the top of this page. We also learned that color is important to the kids.  The winter coat giveaway was organized as a joint effort between Lalley's "Operation Warm" organization, which exists for the sole purpose of providing large quantities of warm coats at greatly reduced prices for donation... and "Breakthrough" , an exciting outreach program being operated in Chicago's West Garfield Park neighborhood.  You can learn more about each of these organizations by clicking their links included within the story.  For others wanting to donate coats for kids... it's easy to do simply by clicking this link: Donate to Operation Warm Here.  Merry Christmas Everyone!

Educate and Inspire Through Visual Art
Posted October 19, 2015
Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District Past President and currant Local Projects Chairman Cliff Harsted welcomes Brian Barasch, Communications Manager for "Marwen", Chicago's Free Art School for Underserved Youths, that was  founded in 1987 by Chicago entrepreneur Steven Berkowitz. Cliff, who was thrilled by the opportunity to quiz Brian during lunch, is Chairman of the Rotary Smart Art Project, which similarly, but on a much smaller scale, introduces art to 3rd Grader's from underserved Chicago Public Schools. 
Brian explained that nearly 900 students a year, from almost 300 Chicago Public Schools, receive free courses from Marwen, where they are also provided free college and career counseling. A recent expansion to their facility, at 833 New Orleans Street, will allow the school to serve 30% more than that by 2018.  He explained that once a student is accepted into the program, attendance at all scheduled class sessions becomes mandatory. If a student misses more than two sessions, they will be dropped from the course and no longer allowed to attend.  Statistics show that participating in the Marwen program increases the odds of high school graduation, as well as continuing education. It was a "thought provoking" program, once again demonstrating the importance of "the arts" in a child's education.

Christmas Spirit, or
Spirit of Rotary?
Posted November 14, 2015
Or, could it be both? Call it what you will... it's a good thing and Rotarians seem to be known for being involved with "Good Things".  One of our guest speakers last month was Rich Lalley, Director of "Operation Warm", which exists to provide adequate winter clothing for children with a need (see story below).  Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District is very active in humanitarian projects, both locally and abroad.  In recent years we have delivered two semi-truckloads of donated medical supplies to two different Red Cross Hospitals in Mexico, outfitted a computer classroom at an elementary school, supported sanitation and clean water projects in several different countries, and continue to participate with Rotary International and the Gates Foundation in the effort to eradicate polio worldwide.  Locally, we continue to promote expansion of our "Rotary Smart Art" project, which is an effort to reintroduce "Arts" programs to third-graders at schools where these programs have been suspended due to the budget crisis.  In listening to Mr. Lalley, we were moved to participate in yet another project this year, by donating $1,000 to provide 50 quality winter coats for Chicago school children with a true need. Rich was able to find an anonymous donor who matched our donation enabling us to provide 100 winter coats instead. In the photo at right, you can see the gratitude that is felt by child and adult alike.  
Operation Warm’s mission is most effectively executed in collaboration with other organizations, like Rotary, when serving impoverished children and their families.  They feel that the provision of brand new winter coats affords unparalleled opportunity to leverage critical outcomes important to transitioning families to financial independence.  Through community-based partnerships to help determine placement, "Operation Warm"  provides families with brand new winter coats for their children.  In our case, we've determined the recipients will be pre-schooler's in the West Garfield Park neighborhood. For others who may be moved to donate, you can click either of the links included with this story to learn how to do it.  

Women Receive the Right to Vote!
Posted November 5, 2015
 What year did that headline appear in the newspaper?  In her address to the National American Woman Suffrage Association's (NAWSA) 50th convention in St. Louis, Missouri, President Carrie Chapman Catt proposed the creation of a "league of women voters to finish the fight and aid in the reconstruction of the nation."  The next year, on February 14, 1920 - six months before the 19th amendment to the Constitution was ratified - the League was formally organized in Chicago as the national League of Women Voters. Catt went on to ask... "Are the women of the United States big enough to see their opportunity?" 
Our guest speaker today was Vice-President of the Chicago League of Women Voters, Ann Louge (pictured here, on the right, with Rotary CFD member Kayrn Malm, who brought us up to date regarding today's League activities on a local and regional basis. As explained by Ann Louge, the League's primary purpose is to educate citizens by presenting unbiased nonpartisan information about elections, the voting process, and the issues at hand.  Only after studying the issues, League volunteers will use their position to advocate for or against particular policies in the public interest.  These decisions are made by active volunteers who have been studying the subject, with all members welcome to participate.  You can learn more from this website:

Operation Warm
Posted October 29, 2015 
October's coolest and windiest day provided a suiting backdrop for Richard Lalley, Director of "Operation Warm", a non-profit corporation founded in 2002 to help counter one of the most unfathomable hardships of childhood poverty... the lack of adequate winter clothing.  As explained by Richard, families struggling to survive prioritize food, heat, and rent above winter clothing, resulting in frequent absenteeism from school. This translates not only to forgone learning, but also missed opportunities for socialization, play and balanced nutrition which is provided at the schools through Federal Free and Reduced Meal Programs. 
Pictured with Richard (the tall man in the middle) are visiting Rotarians Salvador Farfan from the Rotary Club of Long Beach California (left) and Barbara Ferguson, from the Dundee Illinois Rotary Club.  Barbara's club already has experience working to further the cause of Operation Warm. 

 Motivating and Motivated
Posted October 22, 2015
What you see in the photo accompanying this story is a visual representation of the words "Motivating" and "Motivated".  To the right is motivational speaker Talei Thompson, who shared with us "The Law of the Lid". As explained in the well-worn book he holds, entitled "The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership", it suggests that the first irrefutable law of leadership has been dubbed "The Law of the Lid", which theorizes that ones leadership ability determines a person's level of effectiveness. The point being, that the lid (limit) of your leadership skills may need to be raised if you want to increase your ability to lead and influence others. Talei's delivery is guaranteed to hold your attention and his ability to weave true life experiences through the presentation helps connect the dots in a way we can all understand. You can learn more about it here "The Law of the Lid" , or by inviting Mr. Thompson to speak at one of your own functions. 
Thanking Talei Thompson for his presentation is Rotary CFD member Marc Willage, who was recently "motivated" to accept the nomination as President Elect of Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District.  Upon retirement last year, Marc and his wife Debbie (he a Medical Doctor and she a Clinical Phychologist) moved to Chicago from Madison Indiana, where Marc was a Past President of the Rotary Club there. Both Marc and Debbie are Rotarians. Marc's term as President will begin on July 1, 2016.  Congratulations Marc! 

Rotary CFD Welcomes Dignitaries
Posted October 8, 2015
Our Rotary Club was proud to host District 6450 Governor Osei David Andrews-Hutchinson as our special guest at this week. Also in attendance at the meeting were Assistant Governor Coordinator J.N. Settles and District 6450 Assistant Governor Lisa Russ, who is also a member of Rotary Club One.  The photo at left shows "the lineup" of Settles, Russ, Governor Osei and Rotary CFD President John Schwandke. Governor Osei provided an update on a range of subjects, including Rotary International's worldwide effort to eradicate polio from the planet.  As of today, there are only two countries remaining in the world where polio still exists.  Those are Afghanistan and Pakistan, with civil wars there aggravating efforts to vaccinate the rural populace. 
We also learned there will be a "District Fall Training Seminar" on Saturday, October 22nd, in Oak Brook Illinois. Although designed primarily for President Elects, Secretaries, Treasurers and Committee Chairs, all Rotarians and guests are invited to attend.  Interested parties can register here Fall Training SeminarThere is no fee to attend the event.
Governor Osei also updated us regarding the new "Rotary Membership Rewards" program that gives Rotary members access to discounts on a variety of products and services that have been selected with their interests in mind.  Click HERE to go to the "Rotary Global Rewards" page on to learn more.
Rotary CFD was congratulated for its current work on two humanitarian projects (one local and one international)... and for once again being recognized as a 100% Sustaining Paul Harris Rotary Club, which means that every member of our Rotary Club is a pledged annual contributor to the Rotary International Foundation.

Rotary is Fun!
Posted October 2, 2015
Building friendships is an important part of the Rotary International movement, because it is through friendships and relationships that we are able to accomplish so many good deeds. In between the work, we like to have fun. 
Sometimes we will combine fun and fundraising together... and we call that a "FUNRAISER". With help from Ms. Cindy Lee and the staff at the Chicago Chinese Cultural Institute  Rotary CFD recently held a "Funraiser" at the Hing Kee Restaurant in Chinatown. A percentage of the ticket sales went into our Projects Fund, and as the photos show, a good time was had by all.  To the left you can see Membership Chairman Gus Samios and Social Director Marilyn Sainsot welcoming members and guests to a "Dumpling Making Dinner", where docents explained the important role (no pun intended) that a "dumpling" plays in the rituals of the Chinese New Year Celebration. Unlike a New Year's Celebration in the United States that basically lasts for one night, the Chinese New Year Celebration goes on for at least 7 days, and in some parts of old China perhaps even weeks!  After learning the traditions... we got some real "hands on experience" making dumplings.  Some of us were better at it than others... but we sure had some good laughs along the way.  Following our dumpling making... we were treated to a complete multi-multi-course Chinese Dinner, that included the dumplings we had made ourselves.  Oh my!    
In the second photo you can see some of our "experts" showing their prowess.  Local Rotary Club socials, like the Dumpling Dinner, are easy and fun to arrange... but for those who want something on a much larger scale, for Rotarian's and friends who share a common vocation or recreational interest, you may want to consider something like what you will find here: Rotary International
 Fellowships Yes... we do like to have fun. 


Hiring America's Veterans
Posted September 17, 2015
Rotary CFD welcomed Eric Costantini, a Marine Veteran and current Director of "Veterans Exchange" to our meeting today. The Chicagoland Veteran’s Exchange (“CVE”) is a subsidiary of the Chicagoland Community Assistance Board (CCAB”), which is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit Illinois company that was incorporated in 2012. The "Veterans Exchange" is not a part of the Military or any U.S. or Illinois  State governmental agency or organization. It receives its funding from private individual(s) and these funds are used exclusively to support the work of the CVE in finding jobs for veterans as well as helping employers connect with veterans.

CVE serves as a one-stop, online, ease-of-use exchange for area veterans who wish to find employment or support services in the region. CVE is and always will be free to all veterans, employers and all other users.  You can learn more about the CVE but clicking this link which will take you to their Facebook Page: Veterans Exchange Facebook Page
We also welcomed visiting Rotarian Steve Ober, who owns a True Value Hardware store in Manheim PA and was in town for the 2015 True-Value Reunion at McCormick Place. In the photos below you can see Rotary CFD President John Schwandke presenting Steve with one of our Club Banners. Visitors often request the Banner, because it contains a rendering of the original office building where Rotary used to meet in its infancy. Rotary International was established in 1905 by Chicago attorney Paul Harris. In the other photo you can see 12 year Navy Veteran and former Phantom F-4 pilot John Lamson thanking Eric Costantini for sharing his story with us today. Lamson serves as Rotary CFD Sergeant-at-Arms.


 Year of the Sheep
September 10, 2015
2015 is the Year of the Sheep (Goat) on the Chinese zodiac calendar.  The Year of the Sheep started on February 19, 2015 (The Lunar New Year) and lasts to February 7, 2016. Sheep is the 8th animal in 12 zodiac signs and is one of the Chinese people's favorite animals. Sheep's Chinese character is pronounced "Yang".  The Chinese character for the word "luck" contains a similar symbol and pronounced almost the same, therefore "Sheep" becomes a lucky animal.
Rotary CFD seems to be receiving more than its fair share of Chinese culture this year... and we are grateful for that.  After having Cindy Lee, President of the Chicago Chinese Cultural Institute visit us earlier this year, we decided to have some fun by arranging for a Dumping Making Dinner at Chinatown's "Hing Kee Restaurant". That event, which takes place on October 2nd, will double as a fundraiser and is open to the public.  You can read more about it above. 
At today's Rotary Club meeting we were treated to a program by Mses. Yi Liu and Karen Huang (pictured at right with Rotary CFD Social Chairman Marilyn Sainsot), who are Cultural Event Coordinator's for MID-USA Falun Dafa Association. They shared insights about traditional Chinese values, music from different dynasties and the ethnic groups of China.  We were encouraged to attend an upcoming performance of the Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra, which is a large orchestra of traditional Chinese instruments.  That performance will be at the Chicago Symphony Center on Sunday October 18th at 3:00 PM.


West Africa Trip for Rotarians


Bradford Howard, Rotary International Director for zones 25 & 26, announces an upcoming trip to Cote d’Ivoire, West Africa in November 2015 to participate in a polio immunization exercise, attend the 10th Annual West Africa Project Fair, and engage in a hands-on work project.  Attached is detailed trip information.  Please feel free to share this information with the Rotarians in your club as soon as possible as we have a limited amount of space.


Trip Dates:                       November 10 – 19, 2015

Travel to:                         Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, West Africa

Per Person Price:              $1,779, double occupancy

Program includes:            Hotel accommodations, transfers, most meals, polio immunization exercise, hands-on community service field work, West Africa Project Fair registration, special Rotary and fellowship events, sightseeing, etc.


In November 2015, North American Rotarians will travel to Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, for a life changing experience.   Have you ever heard a Rotarian speak about their personal experience participating in a polio eradication exercise, a cleft lip/cleft palate mission, or work on a humanitarian grant?  These trips have a profound effect upon the individual.  For those of you who have gone on one of these trips you know, and for those of you who have yet to enjoy this experience, you should.


The experiences you have stay with you forever.  You get up early in the morning, travel with local Rotarians to a village, health clinic or impoverished neighborhood, and for the next few hours, you change.  Small children come up to you to say thank you.  Mothers and fathers smile at you knowing that you are giving their child a chance for a better life.  You meet with the leaders in the village to learn of their needs and their hopes.  It is hot; it is dusty; it makes you uncomfortable; it is exquisite. You can learn more here: 10th West Africa Project Fair 

Helping the Homelesss
                Posted August 27, 015
On the opposite side of all the wondrous things Chicago has to offer, is one not so glamorous that causes some to ponder... why are there so many homeless people on the streets? Where do they come from?  Where do they sleep, wash, eat?  Isn't there something that can be done for these people?  
All good questions... with seemingly no answers... unless you know Jacqueline Hayes and her talented cadre of volunteers who are helping Chicago's northside homeless improve their lot in life.  Jacque Hayes is Founder and President of the "Chicago Help Initiative", which is a consortium of business, residential, religious, social service, institutional and volunteer leaders striving to promote an atmosphere of dignity and compassion toward those in need.  They do so by providing access to food, health services, shelter and employment. CHI also works to educate others on how they can help ease the plight for this disadvantaged segment of the population.
Perhaps Jacque herself explains it best in this television interview that aired on CBS television: CBS interviews Jacqueline Hayes
In the photo at left, Rotary CFD member David Kelly thanks Jacque for taking the time to share her story with us. Hopefully her visit will generate a few additional volunteers. 

One Woman's Story
Posted August 20, 2015 
Guest speaker Ioana Salajanu, a Chicago attorney specializing in Commercial Law, had a poignant story to share today. While expecting to hear a typical success story from an immigrant who found success through hard work in the land of opportunity, we instead learned of the suffering many have experienced before accomplishing that goal.   
Prior to World War II, Ioana's Jewish ancestors were prominent members of Romanian society and held influential positions within its legal system. That all changed in 1939 and the holocaust that followed. Her story, without the use of notes and shared with total candor, weaved its way through the persecution and death of family members... the Soviet occupation... poverty... and her father's ability to reestablish enough credibility within the Soviet justice system to allow him the ability to travel.  One day he disappeared. Without even the knowledge of his family, he had secretly defected to Canada.  It was four years before he was able to communicate his fate and reunite the family. 
But, the picture was not idyllic, as the starting point for their new found freedom was in the slums of Detroit, Michigan. If we "fast forward" to today, we find Chicago attorney Ioana Salajanu having reignited the family tradition of working within the legal system, with aspirations to become a Judge. Much has changed in her homeland since the downfall of the Iron Curtain and its 2007 accession into the European Union, where Romania has become the 17th largest by GDP. The country has become a regional leader in many fields including IT and automobile manufacturing. In her spare time, Ioana works behind the scenes trying to encourage more business investments between the two countries. After hearing Ioana's story, one is left feeling that  those of us born in America often take too much for granted.
In the photo at right you will find Rotary CFD International Projects Chairman and fellow attorney Andy Horberg in the middle, with Ioana Salajanu on the left... and prospective member and fellow Romanian immigrant, Diana Rusz, on the right.

Labor and Consumption
Posted August 13, 2015
Nila Ginger Hofman, associate professor of anthropology at DePaul University, was our guest speaker today. Professor Hofman studies urban populations, focusing specifically on labor and gender.  She is the author of numerous articles recording the lives of urban populations, including undocumented immigrants and injection drug users in Chicago.
Her latest book entitled "Women and Capitalism in the Croatian Hinterland: the Practice of Labor and Consumption" (2015) examines the affects of post-socialist capitalism on the lives of Croatian women. Croatia's secession from socialism provide the contexts which detail the cumulative effects of these changes and the resulting upheaval in the lives of Croatians. Following years of war and unrest, what was formerly Yugoslavia in 1990 has since been divided into 8 separate countries. We thank Dr. Hofman for her insightful presentation.
Posing with Nila Hofman in this photo is Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District Past President Cliff Harstad exchanging banners with a visiting Rotarian from Nigeria. We are blessed to receive many visitors at our Thursday noon luncheons.

 A Classification Talk Like No Other 
Posted August 20, 2015 
When a lawyer named Paul Harris, a coal dealer, a mining engineer, and a merchant tailor first met in 1905 in Chicago, they gave birth to Rotary and, by the nature of their diverse occupations, to the association’s most distinctive feature – the classification principle. Today, the classification principle, though modified, remains a cornerstone of Rotary. Upon joining Rotary, you are lent a classification by the Board of Directors to reflect your occupation or primary source of income. By limiting active membership by classifications, each club becomes a cross-section of the business and professional life of the community it serves.  Also, the classification principle makes sure that no one profession or business becomes the dominant force within the club.

Another benefit of the classification system is that representatives of many fields are brought together, providing the opportunity for Rotarians to broaden their knowledge of the contemporary workplace. This, in turn, enables Rotarians to fulfill one of the basic obligations of vocational service – recognizing the worthiness to society of all useful occupations.  Many Rotary Clubs will periodically schedule a "Classification Talk" as a meeting program so members can learn more about each other.  

Rotary CFD added a "new wrinkle" to the Classification Talk idea by asking fellow member Marc Willage to share his hobby with us. A retired medical doctor, Marc learned to play the guitar in his teens, joined a "garage band" and ended up performing with a local rock band.  His guitar helped pay his way through college. When career and family took priority, Marc traded his electric guitar for an acoustical model like the one you see him holding in the photo.  Wife Debora holds the 2015 Rotary International "Be a gift to the world" theme banner, representing husband Marc's gift of music to his fellow Club Members.  As the saying goes.... "and a good time was had by all". 



Rotary Friendship Exchange Trip to Ecuador  

Posted August 1, 2015 and
Rotarians and partners are invited to participate in a wonderful trip to Ecuador that includes tours, a Rotary Project Fair, visits to Rotary communities, and numerous tourist sites. Your tour leader will be Pedro Cevallos-Candau, the immediate Past President of Rotary Club One. The overall plan has participants leaving Chicago on November 7 and returning on November 22... but for those who do not want to be away that long, participation can be dissected into three distinct parts, which can be viewed by opening this link: Rotary Friendship Exchange to Ecuador
Within the link you will find cost estimates, Visa and Passport requirements, and a survey that needs to be completed for the Friendship Exchange Committee. The trip will encompass multiple cities, where you can visit Rotary Service Projects, the Inca Ruins in Ingapirca and stay overnight in a glorious Hacienda. Participants will attend a Rotary Project Fair in Quito and spend several days exploring the Galapagos Islands.  If you have never participated in a Rotary Friendship Exchange, this may be the opportunity you have been waiting for. You will travel the way few tourists ever experience, because you are being hosted by Rotarians who live there. 

  Open House Chicago!
Posted July 30, 2015
"Open House Chicago 2015" is one of the subjects emphasized today by guest speaker Deb Rodak, Docent and Group Sales manager for the Chicago Architecture Foundation.  Using a PowerPoint presentation, she shared several of Urban Planner Daniel Burnham's original drawings from the early 1900's.  It was fun to compare those with the finality that we see today. Initiated in 1906 and published in 1909, Burnham and his co-author Edward Bennett prepared "The Plan For Chicago" , which laid out plans for the future of the city.  It was the first compressive plan for the controlled growth of an American city, and an outgrowth of what was then called the "City Beautiful" movement. The plan included ambitious proposals for the lakefront and river and declared that every citizen should be within walking distance of a park. Sponsored by the "Commercial Club of Chicago", Burnham donated his services in hopes of furthering his own cause.  
From there, Ms. Rodak educated us about new zoning laws that were enacted for buildings located within "The Loop", and then through a series of photographs that brought us to the skyline we see today. She emphasized "Open House Chicago", a special event being sponsored by the Chicago Architecture Foundation on October 17 and 18. It is a Free Public Festival that will provide behind-the-scenes access to 200 buildings across Chicago.  Participants can explore hidden gems and architectural treasures of Chicago's diverse neighborhoods... all for free!  In the photo below you can see Rotarian Gus Samios thanking Deb Rodak as she hands him a brochure about the event.  
Other guests included Rev. Jacob Ugwoke, Director of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Enugu, Nigeria and Fawaz El Merheby, who is Manager of the Banking Control Commission in Beirut, Lebanon and in Chicago for a series of meetings at the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank before continuing on to Washington D.C.;  Always nice welcoming foreign visitors to Rotary.   

Rotary International Being International

Posted July 23, 2015
Rotary CFD had an interesting luncheon meeting today, which demonstrated in "first person" the International aspect of Rotary. Guest speaker Lori Dillon (second from left in this photo) has made numerous trips to Ghana Africa doing what she can to reduce modern-day slavery there. Human trafficking has become the second-largest industry in the world, bigger even than drug trafficking, with an estimated 29.8 million adults and children currently being used for forced labor and the sex trade. 
Several years ago, Lake Forest resident Lorraine Dillon became so concerned that she decided to do something about it.  She is Founder and President of "Right to be Free" , a not-for-profit organization raising funds to rescue and rehabilitate victims of human trafficking.  She is focused primarily on children in Ghana, West Africa.
Also at today's meeting, was visitor and prospective member Djeneba Diakite (far right), an immigrant from Ivory Coast who now lives and works in Chicago.  She echoed a similar plight in her country and applauded the approach being used by "Right to be Free" in educating and empowering villages and families with ways to prevent the exploitation.  Marlene LaPorte, a visitor from Lincoln Park, came especially to meet Lorraine and listen to her presentation. Welcoming all three ladies, in the photo at right, is retired medical doctor and Rotarian Marc Willage... who was also able to display his technical skills today in overcoming the challenge of a pesky computer.  For others who would like to hear Lorraine's message, you can reach her at


 What do Tasmania and Colorado have in Common?
Posted July 16, 2015
Both of these places are home to Rotarians who visited Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District luncheon meeting today.  Dr. M.D. Kinoti, representing the Westminster Rotary Club, which is located north of Denver Colorado, can be seen below exchanging Club Banners with Rotary CFD President John Schwandke.  We also welcomed Tasmanian Rotarian Shaun Lennard, who is in Chicago attending a series of business conferences, but was able to dodge the camera today. Shaun is a writer and Chairman of the Australian Motorcycle Council. Like I often say... "you never know who you will meet at a Rotary Club Meeting". 
Today's guest speaker was Felice Batlan, a Professor of Law and Associate Dean at IIT/Chicago-Kent College of Law.  She is also a book review editor for "Law and History Review" and was an associate editor of the "Encyclopedia of the Supreme Court".  Felice is a high energy teacher, writer, blogger and recent author of a book entitled "Women and Justice for the Poor".  Today, she shared stories of her personal journey that led to the uncovering of the previously unknown historical facts, that led to her authoring the book.  A fascinating story... told with passion, by the person who experienced it. More about Felice Batlan    

 Meet Your City Alderman
Posted July 09, 2015 
You never know who you might meet when you attend a Rotary Club Meeting. Today, we welcomed "Chuka Onugu", who was attending his first meeting as a newly installed member of Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District.  We met a visiting Rotarian from southern California, and we met Chicago Ward 43 City Alderman Michelle Smith.  After listening to Ms. Smith share with us some of the responsibilities and duties of a Chicago Alderman, it became obvious to me that we should all make an effort to meet our Alderman... and if they are all as open and accessable as Michelle Smith seems to be, that should be a breeze. 
I appreciated Michelle's candor as she explained the things that make Chicago's form of city government unique from other large metropolitan cities in the United States.  In affect, Chicago's Aldermen are given an exceptional deference called "aldermanic privilege", to control city decisions and services within their individual wards. Aldermanic privilege includes zoning, licenses, permits, property tax reductions, city contracts and patronage jobs.  The system has been described as "50 Alderman serving essentially as Mayors of 50 Wards". Each ward consists of approximately 60,000 people. Some suggest the system facilitates corruption, but in Michelle Smith's eyes, it represents democracy at the grass roots level.  What more personal way for constituents to have their voices heard, than by the person most capable of gaining resolve. No matter how you want to define it, I think all will agree... that it puts a lot of power into the hands of one person. 
After earning a degree in Political Science in 1976 and a law degree from University of Chicago in 1979, Smith joined the United States Attorney's Office. During her time there, she prosecuted over 400 narcotics, white-collar, and political corruption cases.  She has experienced both the bad and the good side of Chicago Style politics.  



 One Down.... Fifty One to Go

Posted July 2, 2015
For Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District, the first meeting each month is often reserved for something called a "Club Assembly". Most Rotary Clubs provide for at least six such meetings a year. Although visitors are welcome, it is time set aside for programs and discussions relating specifically to the projects and activities of the Club. This week's meeting featured a "clip" from a video by R.I. Image Coordinator Mark krieble, which provided a humorous glimpse of what goes through the mind of a first year Rotary Club President.  The video can be viewed in its entirety here: Mark Kriebel Rotary PETS Video
Prior to the program, we were able to hear from visiting Rotarians Nancy Ootrowski, Past President of the Piscataway New Jersey Rotary Club and Dr. Vasanth Kumar, Past President of the Jubilee Hills Rotary Club in Hyderabad India. You should have seen the smile on his face as Doctor Vasanth shared the purpose of his visit to Chicago, which was to witness the birth of his first grandchild.  It was also interesting to eavesdrop on Doctor Vasanth as he shared his initial confusion at the number of seemingly unnecessary tests that were being performed on such a healthy baby. Of course, we at the table had fun speculating about why healthcare costs are so much higher here in the United States, as compared with the rest of the world.
Today's meeting culminated with a huge surprise for Rotary CFD charter member Dennis Gorman when he was presented the "Avenues of Service Citation". This is a rare designation from Rotary International, reserved for an individual Rotarian who has consistently demonstrated support of the Object of Rotary through participation in service activities in each of the five Avenues of Service: Club, Vocational, Community, International, and New Generations.  Congratulations Dennis!

Celebrating a Very Good Year!
Posted June 25, 2015
Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District had much to celebrate at Athena's Greek Restaurant at their June 25th Annual Officer Installation Dinner. The Rotary International Year runs from July 1 through June 30, so changing of administrations is something that happens this time of year at over 34,000 individual Rotary Clubs worldwide.  Outgoing Rotary CFD President Vickie Dorgan took the opportunity to poke some fun at several of her fellow Rotary members. Vickie, who is a Certified Financial Planner with Raymond James, must have had her "shopping list" with her when attending Berkshire-Hathaway's annual stock holders meeting this year, because several of her "gag gifts" were obviously from Omaha Nebraska.  One such attendee received a sleeve of Titleist Golf Balls, with the Berkshire-Hathaway logo on one side and a caricature drawing of its famous investing partners on the other.  She told the recipient... "Now you can say you played a round of golf with Warren Buffett".  Cute... but does it truly pass the Four-Way-Test?  
On a more serious note, on behalf of Rotary CFD, Vickie made fellow club member Cliff Harstad an "Honorary Paul Harris Fellow" in recognition for his continuing work as Chairman of the "Rotary Smart Art" project. Plans for the 2015-2016 Rotary Year include converting the Smart Art concept into a Global Grant that could lead to worldwide distribution of the project. Other awards included presentation of a third sapphire for Incoming President John Schwandke's Paul Harris Foundation Pin, in recognition of achieving a new level of giving to the Rotary Foundation.  In the photo at bottom right, Marilyn Sainsot and John Schwandke present a smiling Vickie Dorgan with a gift of appreciation for a "job well done".  We all agreed.... that It has been a very good year!  

Very Fitting...
Posted June 18, 2015 
It is very fitting that the speaker for today's Meeting, the last for which current President Vickie Dorgan will oversee as President of Rotary CFD, would be her favorite cousin, architect Robert Dorgan, Founder and Director of the "Institute For Small Town Studies". 
The "Institute for Small Town Studies" is an educational non-profit corporation founded in Fairfield Iowa in 2003. They provide community design assistance and small town planning services, pursue historic preservation and develop educational programs based on small town themes.
It was fascinating to learn about some of Robert's projects, designs and accomplishments. Currently, he  is about to fulfill another dream... that of joining the Peace Corps. Robert was recently accepted by the Peace Corps and will be working with public school teachers to help institute new and/or expanded teaching methods. It was a treat listening to the energy and motivation from someone living their dream. 

 Winding Down
Posted June 18, 2015
As the school year ends, so does Rotary CFD's "Smart Art" project with third-graders from two Chicago Public Schools (Doolittle and Fraser). You can learn more about Rotary's Smart Art Project by clicking the SMART ART icon link at the top of the page. 
The children were very engaged in the program, which included museum tours and ten sessions of classroom instruction with artist and mentor Kevin Sparks. You can click here to meet him Kevin Sparks YouTube Video in person via this video link, which was produced for the project. The 2015 Program concluded last week with a final visit to the University of Chicago's Smart Art Museum and display of some of their personal art. The two hour visit concluded with a giant pizza party! 
In preparation for applying for a Rotary International Global Grant, which could result in worldwide distribution of the program, a detailed series of instructional videos and accompanying materials lists are being produced in a kit form. Rotarians Cliff Harstad and Vickie Dorgan are to be congratulated for their undying dedication to the project and their desire to make this an affordable opportunity for others who lack arts programs as part of their curriculum.  Here are a few photos from last weeks celebration.  


       Passing the Gavel
                                                                                  Posted June 1, 2015
The "Rotary Year" runs July 1 through June 30, which means that administrations will soon be changing at all levels of the worldwide organization. Each of the 34,000 Rotary Clubs in more than 200 countries will elect a new President... each District a new Governor... and at the International Headquarters, our new President will be Ravi Ravindran from Sri Lanka, who recently proclaimed "Be a Gift to the World" as his theme for the coming year. 
Rotary's 1.2 million-member organization started with the vision of one man—Paul P. Harris. The Chicago attorney formed one of the world’s first service organizations, the Rotary Club of Chicago, on 23 February 1905 as a place where professionals with diverse backgrounds could exchange ideas and form meaningful, lifelong friendships. Rotary’s name came from the group’s early practice of rotating meetings among the offices of each member. One of the "treats of being a Rotarian in Chicago, is that you have the opportunity to meet the incoming Presidents from both Chicago's Club #1 and Rotary International on the same day at the same place.  It has long been a tradition, that the incoming International President officiates the installation ceremony for the incoming President of Club One. By attending that meeting on June 30th you can meet them both. 
For Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District, in existence a mere 30 years, the new President following Vickie Dorgan will be John Schwandke.  John (pictured here with current International President Gary Huang) will be inducted during a 6:00 PM evening ceremony at "Athena's Restaurant" in Greektown on June 25, 2015.  John and his wife Darlene are transplants from Iowa, having moved here in retirement six years ago. John is a retired radio broadcaster and former owner of Muscatine Iowa radio stations KWPC and KWCC. He has held numerous leadership rolls within two different Rotary Clubs in Iowa, and more recently in Chicago, but this is his first go as a Club President. Advanced reservations for the 6:00 PM June 25th Installation Dinner are being taken now and you do not have to be a Rotarian to attend.  Cost is $39 per person.  

Critical Thinking From a Third-Grader 
Posted June 2, 2015
Today was "Day Number One" for third graders from Doolittle Elementary School located in the Southside of Chicago. Readers should refer to the story below entitled "Rotary Smart Art Project - Round Two" in order to understand what the Smart Art Project is.  These photos were taken from Doolittle's first-time visit to the University of Chicago's Smart Museum of Art as they take part in a "critical thinking" exercise designed to expand their knowledge, while exploring shapes, meanings, and ideas.  You would be amazed if you could have eavesdropped as this group of youngsters expressed what they saw and how they interpreted it. 
In the photo below and left we see some of the students sitting on the floor contemplating two very large and beautiful paintings using an Asian theme.  The children are interacting with Artist and Rotary Smart Art Mentor Kevin Sparks about what they see.  His questions are probing, as he asks... "what do you think the artist was thinking when he painted this scene?"  "Do you think this is a real scene, or imagined?"  The photograph at right captures the look on the children's faces when they encounter the only piece of art in the entire museum that they were allowed to touch. It is a three dimensional textured piece, that was painted by one of the University students especially for the children to touch, so they can better understand the medium and what has been applied to the canvas. 
 As part of this story, we thought you might like to see two videos taken the day we were there with the Doolittle Elementary School students. This link will take you to a video entitled "Interacting"  where you can watch what happens when third-graders from today meet a vintage 1930's Kenwood typewriter. And, this link will take you to a YouTube video entitled "Playtime" showing what these talents kids did while waiting for the bus to return them to school.  Hopefully someone from Jesse White's Tumblers will see the video, as I think we have some promising flippers in the group!  


   Friends of the Forest  
                                                            Posted May 29, 2014 
Pictured here with Rotary CFD Director Marilyn Sainsot, are Douglas Chien, Advocate's Network Manager for "Friends of the Forest Preserve"... and Daiva Gylys, an Intern Program Director who spends many of her days out in the field training young people about the science of forests. While many of us had assumed that "Friends of the Forest Preserves" of Cook County was a "watchdog group" helping to protect our forests, that is only a small fraction of what they do. The 2,000 members of "Friends" spend far more of their time restoring and promoting the use of Cook County's forests. 
They are most proud of their award-winning "Internship Programs" for high schools students and young adults who are often from low-income neighborhoods on the south and west sides of Chicago.  Interns contribute hours of conservation work while becoming advocates for the preserves, with some going on to seek careers in the fields of conservation and sustainability. You can learn more about "Friends of the Forest Preserves" by visiting this website: Friends of the Forest Preserves" 



Rotary Smart Art Project - Round Two

Posted May 26, 2015

Following the success of last year's "Rotary Smart Art" pilot project, where the Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District is working with select schools to demonstrate how new and affordable ways to reintroduce art programs to Chicago Public School third-graders might be implemented. This year, in addition to expanding to include two schools, the project has been "fine-tuned" to emphasize the "peace building" aspect of the program.  Experts, far wiser than us, repeatedly emphasize the value of "teaching the arts" to young children and have gone even further by stating that the proven level of success lies within the impressionistic mind of a third-grader. Rotary CFD encourages others to join the effort to grow donations to a level that will provide the "seed money" necessary to qualify for a Rotary Foundation "Global Grant", that could then expand the program to multiple schools in the near future. 
Painter, Professor, Mentor and Musician Kevin Sparks plays an integral roll in the program. He is the mentoring influence that the students and teachers interact with in the classroom. University of Chicago's "Smart Art Museum" provides the venue for Extracurricular Activities, which culminate with an art show featuring the work of the students. 
Kevin's video, entitled "Studiology", CLICK HERE does a terrific job explaining the concept and its peace building connection. A second video CLICK HERE was recorded during the Fraizer student's initial docent tour of University of Chicago's Smart Art Museum earlier this week. (Sorry for the poor sound quality).
If you would like to know more about the Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District/Smart Art Museum Project, please contact Project Chairman Cliff Harstad via this website. 

 Cutting Edge Technology!
Posted May 21, 2015
 The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago is building a new 550 million dollar state-of-the-art medical facility that will change the way physical medicine and rehabilitation is delivered in the United States. The 1.2 million-square-foot research hospital, now under construction, will feature five interdisciplinary Innovation Centers focused on impairments in the brain, spinal cord, nervous system and limbs in adults and children. At the heart of each Innovation Center will be new AbilityLabs that bring together clinicians and patients in the same space as scientists, engineers and device developers to focus their efforts on the most important challenges their patients face. These spaces embed biomedical research into clinical care in ways unlike any other hospital.
I call it "innovative science", and Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District was fortunate to welcome Dr. Joel Press, Vice President of External Relations and Executive Medical Director as our guest today, and listened in awe as he shared some of the details with us. In the photo at right, Rotarian David Kelly (right) thanks Dr. Press (left) for his candid and informative presentation. We left the luncheon feeling we had just received some important "inside information." 
You can learn more about the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago by clicking this link:

    Hangin' with the Stars! 
                                                                       Posted May 15, 2015  
Pictured at left is Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District President Vickie Dorgan posing with the Geico Gecko... not in Hollywood where you would expect the stars to be, but Omaha Nebraska while attending Berkshire Hathaway's Annual Meeting of Shareholders. Vickie is in attendance every year and enjoys meeting and listening to Warren Buffet and Charlie Munger, who are the stars on that day. Vickie said... "My wakeup call was for 3:30 AM for a 4:45 AM arrival at the arena to queue for seats, as over 40,000 attendees were expected for this 50th Anniversary meeting. 
When Warren Buffett acquired majority interest in Berkshire Hathaway in 1964, the business was a struggling textile maker. In the last 50 years, Berkshire has become a conglomerate that is the 14th largest company in the world (ranked by 2013 revenue). As of April 15, 2015 it is the fifth largest company traded on the U.S. Exchanges on the basis of the value of all outstanding shares, trailing only behind Apple, Exxon, Google and Microsoft.


District Conference 2015 - Davenport Iowa

April 26, 2015
The Rotary District Spring Conference was held April 23-26 in Davenport Iowa... this time a collaborative event shared by Rotary Districts 6450 and 6420... meaning there were lots of Rotarians and a sharing of expenses.  If you attended the special Thursday night Foundation Dinner, as Rotary CFD members Dennis Gorman and John Schwandke did, then you spent three nights in the Mississippi River town. Without a doubt, the most memorable experiences at a District Convention come from the people you meet and the networking that happens as a result. 
Cliff Harstad, Past President and current Project Chairman for our "Rotary Smart Art Project", arrived later that evening to set up a display in the "Expo Room" so he could share his concept with other potential project partners. Cliff performed Yeoman's Duty by remaining "on post" at his station through the majority of the weekend.  
In addition to camaraderie shared... and ideas gained... other stand out moments at the conference included Motivational Speaker John O'Leary John O'Leary YouTube Video ... experiences shared by attending Rotary Scholars... and the exuberance spread by 50+ Rotary Exchange Students, adorned in souvenir jackets, who joined us at numerous events throughout the weekend. Their "Parade of Flags" during the opening ceremony was heartwarming. 
While some may wrongly assume that District Conference is for "seasoned" Rotarians, such is not the case.  I met numerous newly pinned guys and gals who were there for the experience and desire to learn what Rotary is all about.  You can view an video interview with a feisty 76 year old first year Park Forest Rotarian named Jolene Evans and learn why she attended the District Conference. Jolene Evans Video
Below left is a photo of the Rotary Smart Art table and... looking at the right hand photo... see if you can find the seasoned veteran hiding amongst a few of the Exchange Students who attended the District Conference in Davenport.


 Good News is on the Horizon
Posted April 9, 2015 
Development Manager Amy Kozyra (right) and Director Joann Socrates (click photo to enlarge), from the Greater Illinois Chapter of the CYSTIC FIBROSIS FOUNDATION, shared information about this genetic disease that primarily affects the lungs and digestive system. In people with CF, a defective runaway gene causes the body to produce an nusually thick, sticky mucus that clogs the lungs. In the 1950's, few children with CF lived to attend elementary school.  Today, many live into their 30's and 40's. Research efforts focus on clinic trials investigating some of the novel new drugs being developed. The purpose of their Foundation is to generate the funds needed to find a cure... and they are getting close.  Hence,   "there is good news on the horizon".  Click here to learn more:  

Scrolling Photos and a New Design

Posted March 29, 2015

If you are a regular visitor to our website, you will notice that significant changes have occurred during the past week. The site has been redesigned to coordinate digital communication between Rotary Clubs, their Districts, and the Rotary Foundation. The end result will be a vastly improved communication system and the opportunity of go paperless with much of the reporting.  We have condensed three columns down to two, put menu choices along the top, Programs and Club Leadership to the right, and stories down the main page.  
The new design also allows for incorporation of a "photo slideshow" in the header and the ability to change those photos at will.  From the series of photos running as of this date, the vast majority come from past and present Rotary Club of Chicago Financial Projects.  Currently active projects include the "Smart Art For Kids" project, which focuses on a specific way to restart art programs for third-graders at select Chicago Public Schools. Another is the "Dictionary Project" that puts dictionaries (both English and Bilingual) into the hands of third-graders from disadvantaged schools.  The dictionaries then become the personal property of each child. We also participate in the goal of eliminating polio worldwide and shall continue to do so until accomplished.  To date, polio has been eliminated from everywhere except Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan.  For as long as a single child remains infected with the polio virus, Rotarians will continue the fight for total elimination. 

 Rotary CFD Club Banner Travels 8,000 Miles!
Posted April 4, 2015 
We received this message from Erik Bouchard today... "Thank you so much for your Rotary Club's donation. In partnership with the Rotary Club of Lamjung Nepal we will be sponsoring two children with scholarships in the village of Siurung. (Google has pictures). I'll be using your funds for this project and will send photos in the coming month when we arrive there for the project - it is 1-2 days walking distance. If you haven't followed us yet on Facebook, LinkedIN or Twitter yet, please do. I do my best to sponsor local Rotary/Rotaract projects as our club is always struggling with funds. Payment can be made on the website via ... Please provide the mailing address of everyone who chipped in. I would like to send them an SCF postcard from Nepal as a Thank You".
Regards,  Erik Bouchard

"Rotary Smart Art For Kids" Update 

Posted March 29, 2015
Following the success of last year's Pilot Project, work is underway to expand the Smart Art For Kids Program into more Chicago Southside Public Schools. The project has been a joint effort between Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District and the University of Chicago's Smart Museum of Art. This year, we hope to expand the scope of the project by soliciting public support and matching grants. 
Due to funding cutbacks at Chicago Public Schools, many of the art and music programs were discontinued.  Last year's relationship with Frazier International Magnet Elementary School was a pilot program to find a way to re-engage third-graders with the arts.  It is the brainchild of Rotary CFD Past President Cliff Harstad, who believes that introducing art to third-graders is more about exploring new ways to look at the world, rather than to train future artists. It is our belief that art can be used as a tool to expand the horizons of ayoung minds, and in so doing, convey the concepts of peace in the streets by avoiding gang affiliation, dealing with bullies and seeing a path to a better future. While some might say... "That's a lot to expect from an art program"... those who have been involved with this program say... "We have seen the potential."  Below is a video that explains the concept...  

                     Participation in the program costs $85 per student.  Donations can be made here:  Donate Here

Do you have a Rotary Pin for your Car?  

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 chose to display these plates on their cars. 
It is easy to apply for Rotary plates - JUST CLICK HERE -


Three Languages?
Posted March 26, 2015 
It was interesting eavesdropping on table #1 at yesterday's Club meeting.  Interest in meeting our guest speaker, Andrei Rusa, Trade Commissioner at the Romanian Consulate in Chicago, brought Razvan Herdea, a transplant from Romania and husband of Rotary CFD Program Chairman Eve Herdea.  It also peaked interest from a visiting Rotarian from Sweden, accompanied by his son and daughter.  The daughter is currently serving an internship with the Swedish Consulate in Chicago. A whole lot of language going on at that table!
Mr. Rusa was very candid in explaining the obstacles Romania faces in efforts to attract American companies to invest there... that being a past history of corruption and a population that lags in higher education. The present government is working for social change, doing so in an atmosphere where nearly 80% of the population evades taxes. But, change is at hand and an emerging Romania is anxious to accommodate new business and provides a strategic location from which to launch into the European and Mediterranean consumer markets.  You can learn much more about the effort by clicking this link:


 Spring Training!
Posted March 23, 2015 
While some do their Spring Cleaning this time of year... District 6450 Incoming Officer's spent their Saturday attending "Spring Training" in Oak Brook, Illinois. The Rotary Year runs from July 1 through June 30. Subjects covered included Youth Projects, Public Relations, Community and International Projects, and the Matching Grant process. But, the majority of emphasis this year was focused on Rotary International's revamped Internet presence.  The change is evident the first time you click onto the redesigned website.
As soon as you open it, look along the main menu across the top and the first thing you come to is "MY ROTARY".
Among other things, "My Rotary" provides a direct paperless link between your local Rotary Club, District, and Foundation. In addition, you can track past history, member history, goals (past, present and future) and member profiles.  You can even use it to link Secretary and Treasurer reports with both District and R.I. without need of a stamp. If you know the username and password for Club's own website, then you also know the username and password for "My Rotary", because they are the same.  How is that for progress! If you are a Rotarian... you can give it a try right now by using this link: My Rotary 
If you are a member of Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District, after logging in to our website, you can access "My Rotary" from the menu of our webpage.  
Pictured at left are Rotary District 6450 Incoming Governor Osei Andrews-Hutchinson shaking hands with Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District Incoming President John Schwandke, as they wish each other success in the coming Rotary year. Sergeant-at-Arms John Lamson, not pictured here, also attended the meeting. 

The Incredible Egg and You
Posted March 19, 2015
Ashley Richardson, Industry Communications Director for the American Egg Board was our guest speaker today.  She had an amazingly interesting presentation (after all, there is only so much you can say about an egg) showing how much farming, and in particularly the harvesting of eggs, has changed over the past century. To see the size of today's modern ranch and the amount of automation and robotics being used, is a real eye opener. 
We also learned the answers to questions like...  What determines whether an egg is brown or white?  Why we never need worry that there might be a baby chick inside an egg bought at the super market?  How long does it take for a freshly laid egg to make it onto the store shelf?  Do egg producers inject their hens with hormones?   All of us who were at the meeting know the answer... others may need to visit Mr. Google.  

Pets Without Paws?
Posted March 10, 2015
This is not a sad story.  In fact, the PETS of which I speak don't even have hair.  PETS is a Rotary acronym for "President Elect Training Seminar" and it happens each year at this time in preparation for the change in Officers and Committee Chairs that will take place on July 1st at all levels of Rotary International (local, district, zone and world). This year's three day event (March 6-8) took place in Itasca Illinois and was attended by 532 Rotarians, from 350 Midwest Rotary Clubs, in 7 Districts.  
In addition to powerhouse motivational speakers, meeting representatives from Rotary Headquarters, and "breakout sessions" where participants share what their Clubs have been doing and brainstorm new ideas, the Closing Plenary Session and Commissioning of President Elects was conducted by Incoming Rotary International President K.R. "Ravi" Ravindran from Sri Lanka. His theme for the coming Rotary Year is "Be a Gift to the World."  

Each year, Midwest PETS ask each attending President Elect to conduct a quick club engagement project and bring with them items that will then donate to a local charity. Two years ago all 350 clubs brought canned goods and gifted them to a local food pantry. Last year after the devastating tornado in the Washington, Illinois area, we donated books to their local library to help restock their empty book shelves. This year, due to the local need for the homeless in Northeastern Illinois, your District Governors Elect have opted for what we are calling "A Pair and a Spare", and are asking your club members to send with you "new" children or adult socks and underwear. The collection gathered at our local March 5th meeting garnered a yard bag full of goodies.  A big “tip of the hat” to those who participated.  As you can see from the right hand photo, the project was a huge success. Each of those boxes is 5 feet tall, so the mound itself was about 7 feet tall.  That’s a lot of socks and undies!



Rotary CFD Celebrates 30 Years!

Posted March 5, 2015
Rotary International is a 1.2 million-member organization that started with the vision of one man—Paul P. Harris. The Chicago attorney formed one of the world’s first service organizations, the Rotary Club of Chicago, on 23 February 1905 as a place where professionals with diverse backgrounds could exchange ideas and form meaningful, lifelong friendships. Rotary’s name comes from the group’s early practice of rotating meetings among the offices of each member.
So, in celebrating its 30 years of existence today, the Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District is a mere child... but the things we are able to accomplish as a small group can be rather gigantic. We participate in worldwide Polio Plus Project with the goal of eradicating polio throughout the world and, as part of Rotary International, are very close to achieving that goal.  Last year, in partnership with three other Rotary Clubs, Rotary CFD was instrumental in delivering a semi-truckload of donated medical supplies and equipment to a Red Cross Hospital in Mexico. Locally, under the leadership of Rotary CFD Past President Cliff Harstad, we are working to reinstitute art programs into the curriculum of disadvantaged elementary schools in Chicago.  But, our existence and our Rotary Club isn't just about doing good works.  We like to have fun, as you can see from a few of the photos posted with this story.
Past President and Charter Member Dennis Gorman did the celebratory toast to open the meeting.  Dennis, who is always good for a laugh, recalled some of the early days when the Club was just beginning. He held up what he claimed to be part of a Microsoft computer from 1985 to demonstrate how much things have changed in just thirty years. Cliff Harstad explained the "Smart Art For Kids" Project (which you can learn more about by scrolling down the page)... while special guest, and Honorary Member of Rotary CFD, Ina Pinkney spoke about her appreciation for Rotary's effort to eliminate the polio virus worldwide.  Ina, a restaurateur, author and television personality, is a polio survivor and still lives with its affects today. You can learn more about what Ina Pinkney is up to today by clicking this link: 
Our Keynote Speaker was Rotary District 6450 Governor Nicki Scott.  After sharing a few of her favorite projects and fund raisers conducted by Rotary CFD, she ended her talk with a narrative entitled "The Power of One." It is a thought provoking piece and the room became silent.  I'll ask Governor Nicki for a copy and will post it below this story.   
The Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District is currently in the midst of a membership drive. If you are a non-member reading this, and would like to learn more about our Club, you can contact me at or click the "Membership" link from the left side menu on the Homepage. We meet each Thursday noon at the Union League Club, which is located downtown in the loop. 

The Power of One

by Ashish Ram


One song can spark a moment... One flower can wake the dream... One tree can start a forest... One bird can herald spring...

One smile begins a friendship...One handclasp lifts a soul... One star can guide a ship at sea... One word can frame the goal


One vote can change a nation... One sunbeam lights a room... One candle wipes out darkness... One laugh will conquer doom

One step must start each journey... One word must start each prayer... One hope will raise our spirits... One touch can show you care


One voice can speak with wisdom... One heart can know what's true
One life can make the difference... You see, it's up to you!



District Conference Final Schedule Set - Register Now!

From Rotary District 6450 Governor Nicki Scott:                      
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 Erik'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.” 



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!


 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!  

 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:

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    

 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.  


   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. 


 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.   

Congratulations Madam President!

Posted by J Schwandke - June 26, 2014
Vickie Dorgan, CFA, CFP, 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. 


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 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:      




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 

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


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:

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."


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.


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.   

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.   

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. 


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:




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 



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! 

Rotary CFD meets VIRTUALLY on the first and third Thursday of each month



November 5, 2020 - Kevin Kuhn speaking on the Forrest Reserves of Cook County.  These preserves are extensive, and provide of experiences to visits, many of are COVID risk free.

November 12, 2020 - 
No Meeting, Rotary CFD meets on the first and third Thursday of each month.

November 19, 2020 - Jim Coryell, whose career has included consulting on Medicare and Social Security, will discuss the myriad of decisions facing Medicare recipients as the year end approaches.

November 26, 2020
 - No Meeting, Rotary CFD meets on the first and third Thursday of each month.

December 3, 2020  - Lori Clark, Executive Director of Jane Addams Senior Caucus (501C3) and Jane Addams Seniors in Action  (501C4) Both organizations are grass roots NGOs run by seniors.  The Caucus advocates for the remedy of issues facing senior citizens, such as for well checks in senior housing. Jane Addams Seniors in Action is the sister organization that can participate political campaigns.

December 10, 2020 - 
No Meeting, Rotary CFD meets on the first and third Thursday of each month.

December 17, 2020  - CLUB BOARD MEETING

December 24, 2020 - No Meeting, Rotary CFD meets on the first and third Thursday of each month.                              - 

December 31, 2020 - NO MEETING FIFTH THURSDAY.

January 7, 2021 - Speaker to be determined

January 14, 2021 - 
No Meeting, Rotary CFD meets on the first and third Thursday of each month.

January 21, 2021 - Speaker to be determined

January 28, 2021
 - No Meeting, Rotary CFD meets on the first and third Thursday of each month.

February 4, 2021
 - Speaker to be determined

February 11, 2021 - No Meeting, Rotary CFD meets on the first and third Thursday of each month.

February 18, 2021 - CLUB BOARD MEETING

February 25, 2021 - No Meeting, Rotary CFD meets on the first and third Thursday of each month. 

March 4, 2021 - Speaker to be determined

March 11, 2021 - No Meeting, Rotary CFD meets on the first and third Thursday of each month.

March 18, 2021 - Speaker to be determined

March 25, 2021 - No Meeting, Rotary CFD meets on the first and third Thursday of each month.

April 1, 2021  Speaker to be determined. 

April 8, 2021 - 
No Meeting, Rotary CFD meets on the first and third Thursday of each month.

April 15, 2021  - CLUB BOARD MEETING

April 22, 2021 - No Meeting, Rotary CFD meets on the first and third Thursday of each month.                              - 


May 6, 2021 - Speaker to be determined

May 13, 2021 - No Meeting, Rotary CFD meets on the first and third Thursday of each month.

May 20, 2021 - Speaker to be determined

May 27, 2021 - No Meeting, Rotary CFD meets on the first and third Thursday of each month. 

June 3, 2021 - Speaker to be determined

June 10, 2021 - No Meeting, Rotary CFD meets on the first and third Thursday of each month.

June 17, 2021 - CLUB BOARD MEETING

June 24, 2021 - No Meeting, Rotary CFD meets on the first and third Thursday of each month.

July 1, 2021  Speaker to be determined. 

July 8, 2021 - 
No Meeting, Rotary CFD meets on the first and third Thursday of each month.

July 15, 2021  - Speaker to be determined

July 22, 2021
 - No Meeting, Rotary CFD meets on the first and third Thursday of each month.                              - 


August 5, 2021 - Speaker to be determined

August 12, 2021 - No Meeting, Rotary CFD meets on the first and third Thursday of each month.

August 19, 2021 - CLUB BOARD MEETING

August 26, 2021 - No Meeting, Rotary CFD meets on the first and third Thursday of each month.

Club Leadership

Robert Mantsh

President Elect
To Be Announced

Immediate Past President
Travis Marcum

Jerry McIlvain

Tom Baltz

Katherine Anderson

Community Service
Cliff Harstad

Executive Secretary
Dennis Gorman
World Service
Vickie Dorgan

Marc Willage

Social & FundRaising
Marilyn Sainsot

Debora Willage

October 4, 2018  Luncheon Meeting - Speaker to be determined

October 11, 2018 - 
No Meeting, Rotary CFD meets on the first and third Thursday of each month.

October 18, 2018  - Luncheon Meeting - Randal Avolio - Consulting to optimize the function of companies.

October 25, 2018
 - No Meeting, Rotary CFD meets on the first and third Thursday of each month.