Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What We Learned At This Week's Meeting

Today we heard from Don Fairbanks of Cardinal Air Training. He wrote an autobiography called “Once Around the Patch of Life”. He trains folks to fly helicopters.

He shared about an something he participated in called Operation Carpetbaggers which was an ultra-secret deliver supplies to the resistance of France, Belgium and Norway. He enlisted in the Army in 1942 and trained in the U.S. He was stationed in England and his crew was reduced to 8. He became a tail gunner for their supply plane. He was part of the 801st provisional bomb group. They has 12 highly modified B-24 “Liberators”.

They dropped 20,496 containers during the entire course of operations. The containers contained weapons, radio equipment, medicine and other equipment necessary for the conduct of military operations. In order to maintain their cover, they often carried and dropped booklets. They often dropped agents called “Joes” through the portion of the plane they called “The Joe Hole”. Overall 1043 agents were dropped in enemy territory to conduct operations.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

What We Learned At This Week's Meeting

Today we heard from Gail Koford the Development Director of Interparish Ministries. She began by drawing our attention to hope. Emily Dickinson said, “Hope is the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul, and sings the tune without words, and never stops at all”. She said with the many job opportunities available now and some recent info released from the United Nations that hunger is down worldwide, there is great reason to have hope.

Although the need is still great! 14.6% of US households (49million + Americans/nearly 1 in 4 children) struggle to put enough food on the table. Moms are forced to choose pop and chips over milk and bread due to cost (also leads to obesity issues). Overall 1 in 6 Americans struggle to feed their families. The elderly are also greatly affected by poverty. Hunger America (a parent organization which filters down to local pantry agencies) estimates 27 million low-income individuals receive some type of emergency food relief services from their partner agencies. A Brookings Institute Study showed that poverty has recently jumped in the suburbs by 37.4% to 13.7 million people. Gail also shared stats by Peter Edelman (Georgetown Law Professor) about what poverty costs America. We are losing over $500 billion per year in extra costs as a result of poverty.
Inter Parish Ministry has been helping for over 46 years in Eastern Hamilton County and all of Clermont County. Their values are “always being Christ centered”, “treating people with respect and dignity” and “seeking solutions through collaboration”.

Located in Newtown and Batavia, Inter Parish operates a choice pantry where people are accompanied by a volunteer as they choose products off the shelf. They provide 4 days worth of food. Many recipients also help finding shelter, counseling, job leads, etc. In 2006 they served just under 6000 folks. In 2009 they served close to 11,000. Their budget is $400k and has been the same since 2007 and 70% of people served come from Clermont County.

Gail shared some pantry stories. Last night they brought 50 women in for facials, manicures, etc. by professionals. They also offered baby sitting during the event. There once was a guy she called “Mike” who is unemployed, sought help, found courage and gave back...He went out, interviewed, got a job and eventually came back and gave some clothes to the pantry. Gail also shared about a 79 year old woman she called “Fran” who drove to the pantry, was on a fixed income, needed food and other help. Then Gail mentioned a person she called “Savannah” who desperately needed shoes. There was once a former nurse who after an extreme illness had to go on disability. She needed soft items like soup (due to dental issues) and also needed soap (she had been using dish washing liquid). The pantry gives away these types of items. Each year for Christmas, Inter Parish also does an adopt-a-family program and a toy store where items can be purchased very inexpensively.

Inter Parish programs include: Choice pantries, choice clothing, special events, IPM's elder ministry, Mentoring and planning program, back to school back packs. They have opportunities of service such as running a food drive, adopting a family, running a toy drive and group opportunities to work at the pantry.

There are 150 volunteers who serve over 9000 hours per year. Often unemployed men and women will come and help out. Annually, the Mariemont Key Club does a food drive for Inter Parish. Another group has begun an annual 5k race. A local beauty salon runs an annual “cut-a-thon”. Several other organizations help as well.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What We Learned At This Week's Meeting

Today we heard from Shawn Baker the new Head of School at Miami Valley Christian Academy in Newtown, OH. He is originally from Fairfield, OH and Graduated from Fairfield High School. In his experience, Shawn has owned 5 businesses north of Knoxville and was the pastor of a church which had 3 campuses! In fact, he was preparing to take a church when the school called and offered the Head of School position at MVCA.

82 churches are represented at MVCA which will be 15 years old next school year. MVCA started with 11 students and currently has 315 (up from 298 last year). The National average for Christian school enrollment is 239 students (Down 11% from last year).

Shawn shared with us what sets MVCA apart from other Christian schools. He told us 75% of all ACSI accredited school educators have Bachelors Degrees and at MVCA every teacher does (44 % even have post graduate degrees). MVCA is a school of academic excellence! The national average test score in Reading is 501 and at MVCA it is 622. In Math the average is 515 and at MVCA it is 574. The average overall SAT test score is 494 and at MVCA it is 575. On the ACT Miami Valley beats the national average of 21 with a whopping 24!

The School however is not only about academics but also Christian service. Believing that faith is a action word according to Scripture, the school encourages their young people to serve our community in many ways including an annual “Serve-a-thon”. Shawn held his hand out to every Rotarian in our club if we should desire his students to come serve any of our businesses or organizations (no strings attached!).

In regards to sports, this year MVCA hired Highlands former offensive coach Robert Villardo to kick off it's inaugural Football season. They started with 11 players and now have 30 (with an impressive record of 3-1). MVCA also plans to revive it's basketball program, begin High School baseball and go all out in the area of fine arts.

Shawn mentioned that MVCA is not underwritten by deep pockets. In fact, 30% of the budget is based on fund raising. MVCA gives every student in grades 7-12 a laptop and underwrites every student by $1500. Their budget is $2.9 million per year (The national average is $760k). MVCA is a Pre-K through 12th grade school where every morning, 5 days per week, their staff gathers at 7:30am to pray for the school, the students and the greater community. They believe according to Matthew 6:33 and Deuteronomy 8:18 that God blesses us so that we become a blessing. Clearly this school is modeling that philosophy!

In his final remarks, Shawn also shared about the importance of camaraderie. He candidly told us there was a time in his life when he found himself withdrawing. Scripture and friends reminded him that it's not good for man to isolate himself and that there is safety in a multitude of counselors. He reminded us that camaraderie is not only good but there is a commanded blessing of God where unity dwells. Shawn commended the efforts of Rotary to create camaraderie and even asked if he could occasionally return to fellowship with us.

Next week our speaker will be: Gail Cofferd of InterParish Ministries

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

What We Learned At This Week's Meeting

Today we heard from Ryan Ventura of Southeastern Cincinnati Young Life. Ryan was involved with YL for 7 years as a volunteer leader and now has been a staff person for 9 years. He explained YL as a world-class, global Christian organization for adolescents. YL is in 58 countries with thousands of volunteers and about 3300 paid staff. They have branches for High School, Jr High, disabled students, teen moms and urban schools. The vision of YL is to give students a chance to hear about Jesus and grow in their faith. They attempt to partner with Christian kids in the schools and help them share their joy with other students.

Ryan shared four main areas to explain what YL is about:
1. YL is “out there” which means they don't own buildings but rather enter the world of kids.
2. YL is inviting which speaks about not leaving people out but rather inviting them in.
3. YL is about changed lives which speaks to understanding the difficulties of the adolescent years and helping them through.
4. YL is about a firm foundation because for 70 years YL has been doing this work and is partnered with thousands of reputable community members.

Ryan shared a video which explained several aspects of YL.
1. Christ – YL does not hide the fact they are a Christian organization
2. Contact work in the schools – to meet kids where they are and help them achieve their potential
3. Clubs – YL refers to these as a “party with a purpose”
4. Camps – YL has 22 properties which provide amazingly fun adventures in the summer & fall
5. Campaigners – These are special study & discussion times for kids who want to go deeper
6. Committee – This is the board who help maintain accountability & organize local adult support
7. Church – YL needs to partner with local churches so the kids have faith support after they graduate

YL began in Southeast Cincinnati in 2000 in New Richmond High School. Locally there is 1 paid staff family and many volunteers. They are currently working with 6 local High Schools and 2 middle schools with plans to expand east. Current schools include Turpin, Anderson, Glen Este, Amelia, New Richmond & Batavia.

Ryan encouraged us with the following:
1. Be an adult guest at camp – one of the best, inexpensive vacations you could have
2. Attend the November banquet – find out more
3. Become a YL supporter – YL needs faithful, monthly financial support to keep going
4. Get involved on the YL committee – YL needs your faithful service to keep going

*Next week our scheduled speaker is Shawn Baker, Head of School at Miami Valley Christian Academy