Are You Ready to Party?

RR PhotoOf course you are! And who doesn’t love a party when it’s the annual Rotary Club of Youngstown Reverse Raffle?

If you attended last year’s event, you know what a great time it was. If you didn’t attend, you missed an evening of fun, fellowship and wonderful food. This year’s event is shaping up to be even better than last. Once again, we’re at the beautiful St. Mary’s Assumption Center on Belle Vista Avenue. It’s a perfect venue for the Raffle, with plenty of room to display the auction items, socialize, buy those ever-popular 50 / 50 tickets, and dance. Did I say dance? Yes, there’s a live band again this year, so make sure you wear your dancin’ shoes, because you sure won’t want to be a wallflower.

So, here’s the scoop. The Reverse Raffle will be held on Friday, May 15. The social hour begins at 6pm, with an open bar, hors d’oeuvres and music provided by the Back Beat Band. Dinner begins at 7pm, with the Reverse Raffle at 8. The grand prize is $3,000, so make sure you get your tickets pronto. Oh, and did I mention Desserts by Debbie?

There will be a chance auction, a silent auction and a live auction, featuring Jeff Byce, auctioneer.

Tickets are $100 for a single ticket, $150 for a couple (one raffle ticket, two dinners) and $50 for dinner only.

Some really awesome gifts have been secured by the committee, and here’s a sneak peek:

  • Original water color by Dwarf Dog Studios
  • Italian basket from Rulli Brothers
  • A gift card and bottle of wine from V2 Trattoria & Wine Bar
  • OH WOW gift bag
  • $25 gift card from Roberto’s Italian Ristorante
  • Tour of the Tyler Center and Davis Building with dinner for 4, hosted by none other than our own  Ron Faniro and Bill Lawson
  • Invicta watch with seven, count ‘em, seven interchangeable watch bands
  • WKBN gift basket
  • Sheman Creative gift basket
  • Food, food, food

Many more items are needed, however, and the committee is counting on ALL Rotarians to help. If each one of us is able to get at least two donations, there will be plenty of items for raffle-goers to bid on and buy. And the more we have, the more money we make to help those in our community who need it. After all, that’s really the point, isn’t it?

The committee is always looking for volunteers to help, and it’s not too late. You can call Samantha Turner or just show up at the next meeting, which will be held on Wednesday, April 2 at 5:30pm at 20 Federal Plaza, Suite 203.

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The Reverse Raffle – Here Before You Know It

Planning for the Rotary Club of Youngstown’s biggest fundraiser, the Reverse Raffle, is underway. This 16th annual event will be held on Friday, May 15 at St. Mary’s Assumption Center on Belle Vista Avenue in Youngstown.

The social hour begins at 6pm, with music provided by the Back Beat Band. There will be an open bar and hors d’oeuvres will be served. Dinner, featuring Desserts by Debbie, begins at 7pm, with the Reverse Raffle at 8. The grand prize is $3,000, so make sure you get your tickets for this great evening of fun & fellowship.

There will be a chance auction, a silent auction and a live auction, featuring Jeff Byce, auctioneer.

Tickets are $100 for a single ticket, $150 for a couple (one raffle ticket, one dinner only) and $50 for dinner only.

The committee is hard at work securing items for the auctions. Some of the gifts already donated are:

  • Original water color by Dwarf Dog Studio
  • Italian basket from Rulli Brothers
  • A gift card and bottle of wine from V2 Trattoria & Wine Bar
  • OH WOW gift bag
  • $25 gift card from Roberto’s Italian Ristorante
  • Tour of the Tyler Center and Davis Building with dinner for 4, hosted by none other than our own  Ron Faniro and Bill Lawson

Updates will be provided as more information becomes available.

The committee is always looking for volunteers to help. You can call Samantha Turner or just show up at the next meeting, which will be held on Thursday, March 26 at 5:30pm at 20 Federal Plaza, Suite 203.

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Closing in on the Centennial Celebration

Rotary 100 yrs logo - HORIZONTAL VERSION

It’s hard to believe that the Rotary Club of Youngstown’s Centennial Celebration is nearly upon us. Founded on February 1, 1915, the club was started when local architect Charles F. Owsley and businessman William W. Gillen were invited to a meeting in Cleveland in the early part of August 1914. They had heard about Rotary and how rapidly it was growing, and decided to see firsthand how it was done.

Fast forward 100 years, and Rotary Club of Youngstown is proud to honor its legacy with a series of events designed to showcase its history and move forward into the next century.

Event #1:  Rotary history exhibit cocktail & hors d’oeuvres reception at the Tyler History Center. Thursday, January 29, 2015, 5pm – 7pm.  $15 per person.

Event #2:  Rotary Centennial luncheon, Tyler History Center. Friday, January 30, 2015, 11:30am reception, noon luncheon. The keynote speaker will be Ed Futa, former General Secretary, Rotary International. $15 Youngstown Rotarians, $25 guests.

Event #3:  Centennial Gala, Youngstown Country Club on Saturday, January 31, 2015. Festivities begin at 6pm. Black tie. $75 per person.

You can register by visiting the Rotary Club of Youngstown’s website at Click on “View Full Website” on the upper navigation bar, then look for “centennial order form” on the left hand side of the site under Home Page Download files. Reservation deadline is January 15, 2015.

No tux for the gala? No problem! Rondinelli Tuxedo is offering a special deal of $75 off your tux rental at all of its locations. There are stores in Boardman, Niles and Hermitage, so get going!

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Club Centennial Project Proposed

As the Rotary Club of Youngstown turns 100 years old this year, many activities are being planned to celebrate this anniversary, one of which is the section of a service project that will make a difference in our community and commemorate our 100 years.
Ron Faniro and the Centennial Committee have come up with a proposed project that they feel fits the bill very nicely:  the renovation of the pavilion at Wick Park in Youngstown. The Pavilion has seen some wear and tear over the years, and the Rotary Club’s engagement can extend the use of this building to the City’s Park Department.
Ron and John Slanina gave members an overview of the project at our meeting on November 12. Some of the highlights included:

  • The Pavilion is the most-used building in the city’s park system, reserved several times a week.
  • The Committee shared how they did their due diligence to determine this project, compared to other considered projects
  • The Committee presented their overview of cost estimates to refurbish this existing structure
  • This will be a four to five year project because of the costs involved
  • Youngstown Rotary will not be the only financial supporter, but will be leading a community campaign to complete the project
  • The site can also be a location for ongoing plantings by the Rotary Club or other groups
Opinions were shared on the feasibility and budget, longer-term commitments, and project timelines.
Because our Club has such a great collection of strategic thinkers, campaign experience, and enthusiastic members, a collection of Rotarians will be meeting to discuss the next phase of turning this vision into reality.
If you would like to be a part of this effort on the Wick Park Pavilion Renovation, please email Ron Faniro at
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It’s Definitely Not Your Nonna’s

Your Nonna’s what? Sauce cook off! Rotary Club of Youngstown and Grow Youngstown are hosting a new fundraising event called “Not Your Nonna’s Sauce Cookoff”.  It’s a competition to see who has the best sauce in town, whether it be red, white or green. Bet you didn’t even know there was such a thing as green sauce, did you? Well, we won’t give away what that might be, you’ll have to attend the event to find out.


Not Your Nonna’s Sauce Cookoff will be held on Sunday, October 26 from 11am until 4pm at Mount Carmel Church in Youngstown.  Cost is $15 per person, kids 10 and under get in for $5.  The price entitles you to 3 “tasting tickets”. For the big eaters among us, there’s also a Pasta Primavera all-you-can eat price for $30. In addition to the great sauces created by Valley cooks, chefs and restauranteurs, there will be a cash bar with locally sourced wine and beer, and lots of activities for kids.

Local celebrities will be judging the sauces in the three categories, for the Sauce Lover’s Choice and Best All Local. To date, are judges are  Mayor John McNally, Rich Morgan, Judge Robert Rusu (a real judge!), Vindy editor Todd Franko, Frank Occobocchi and Denita Davis.

Of course, the event would’t be possible without our sponsors, WKBN / Fox and Dr. Kathy Padgitt, The Center for Lifestyle Change.  Thank you for your generosity!

We promise, Not Your Nonna’s Sauce Cookoff will change your notion of sauce forever! Tickets can be purchased from any member of Youngstown Rotary, or online at Grow Youngstown.



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Little Free Library – Take One, Leave One

Free libraries? Haven’t libraries always been free? What’s so special about a small, free library? Let’s go back to the beginning…….

In 2009, Rotarian Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin, built a model of a one room schoolhouse as a tribute to his mother, a former school teacher who loved reading.  He filled it with books and put it on a post in his front yard.  His neighbors and friends loved it.  He built several more and gave them away.  Each one had a sign that said FREE BOOKS.  And so Little Free Libraries were born. original-lfl

Little Free Libraries offer a way to promote literacy and love of reading by building free book exchanges throughout communities worldwide. The concept is simple: take a book, leave a book.  Because they’re small, they can be placed almost anywhere, creating a meeting place in neighborhoods, parks and other locations where people gather.

A committee of Youngstown Rotarians has been formed to bring Little Free Libraries to our area. The first site has already been chosen, and Rotarian Mike Shaffer has committed the Youngstown YMCA, fitting, since it’s where we meet each week for lunch. Three other locations have also come on board:  YNDC, Crandall Park and SMARTS. Currently, there are 30 Little Free Libraries in Ohio. This committee’s first big goal is to help facilitate the installation of 31 in and around the Youngstown metropolitan area starting with the YMCA, downtown – one more LFL than the state total.

You can help spread the library love by facilitating the placement of a Little Free Library where you work, shop, or play. AND you can help find donors who might be interested in sponsoring one. As always, it costs money to build these little works of art.

For more information, call or email Elayne Bozick, or give her a holler at Rotary. To read more about Little Free Libraries, visit their website at



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Harding Elementary Ready to Rock Out Cancer

footprintsGet your walking shoes laced and ready–the second annual Rockin’ Race for Cancer will be held on Wednesday,  May 28 from 12:30 – 3:00pm at The Rayen Stadium on Cordova Avenue in Youngstown. Kelly Stevens, HOT 101 radio personality and Youngstown Rotarian, will emcee the event, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Youngstown. Students will participate in three stations according to grade level: The Rockin’ Race around the Rayen track, Rockn’ Zumba led by Jamie Bylor, certified Zumba instructor, and Rockin’ Snack provided by Grow Youngstown.

Students from Harding Elementary School have been collecting donations during the month of May, and those gifts will be presented to Dr. Rashid Abdu at the end of the festivities in support of the Joanie Abdu Comprehensive Breast Care Center at St. Elizabeth Hospital.  The two top fundraisers from each classroom will win a Free Field Trip to the OH WOW Roger and Gloria Jones Children’s Center for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. The two top students from each class, one boy and one girl, running the most laps, will win McDonald’s Happy Meal Coupons.  Harding School families are encouraged to attend the day’s event. All of the money raised will directly benefit women in the Mahoning Valley.

Joanie’s Promise is a grant-funded program that provides breast care services for uninsured and under insured women who meet financial eligibility. This program covers all diagnostic breast-related services and pays for hospital and radiologist fees. Those who qualify do not receive a bill.

Event Sponsors include Youngstown Rotary Foundation; Janet and Mike Murray and W. C. Granger Co.; Lane Transport; Sam’s Club; American Maintenance; Grow Youngstown; Sherman Creative Promotions; John & Michelle Perdue from McDonald’s; OH WOW Roger & Gloria Jones Center for Science & Technology; Humility of Mary Health Partners; CCA Graphics; John Slanina; Debbie Esbenshade and Kevin Chiu. Committee chairs are Carol Sherman and Frank Kishel. Committee members are Linda Kostka, Sharon Letson, Samantha Turner, Elsa Higby, Jonahon Flauvie, Kelly Bervish, Tammy Foley and Susan Koulianos.

For more information about the Rockin’ Race, call Carol Sherman at 330.360.8839 or Frank Kishel at 330.720.6328.

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Reverse Raffle Less Than Two Weeks Away!

The Rotary Club of Youngstown’s 15th annual Reverse Raffle will be held on Friday, May 14 at St. Mary’s Assumption Center in Youngstown.  The festivities begin at 6pm with a social hour that includes an open bar and hors d’oeuvres, with music provided buy the Back Beat Band.  While you socialize, make sure you bid on the silent auction items, check out the live auction items, and buy your tickets for the chance auction.  Here’s a sampling of some of the fabulous gifts this year:

  • 18 holes of golf at Kensington for four, plus a cart
  • Kitchen design  service with full drawings buy Sam Pitzulo Homes
  • Cleveland Indians game tickets
  • Dinner cooked and served by our own Elayne Bozick and her husband Larry
  • Pancake breakfast and instructions with John Slanina-and did I mention that includes a bottle of sold-out, impossible to find Mill Creek Maple syrup??

Then there’s my personal fave–a week’s stay at an apartment in Rheims, France, generously donated by Austintown Rotarian Kristofer Sperry.

Dinner begins at 7pm, the Reverse Raffle at 8.  Single ticket prices $100 for the Reverse Raffle, while couples pay $150.  Dinner only tickets are available also for $50.  The grand prize in the Reverse Raffle is $3,000, so that extra $50 is well worth the price! And did I mention open bar?  And wonderful desserts by Debbie?

Stay tuned for more details as prizes roll in!



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A Focus on Crocus

As part of Rotary International’s “End Polio Now” campaign, the Rotary Club of Youngstown kicked off a local campaign to raise awareness and critically-needed funds to fight this crippling disease. The local Rotary’s fundraising effort, The Crocus Campaign, is a partnership with Chick-Fil-A and Youngstown CityScape. crocus

On the National Day of Caring this past fall, volunteers from CityScape and the United Way helped plant over 500 purple crocus bulbs in the downtown square.  The crocus is the international symbol for the eradication of polio.

 As the crocuses are in bloom, the Rotary Club of Youngstown is celebrating this reawakening by selling silk crocus lapel pins. The purple color symbolizes the dye that is applied to the little finger of each child immunized against polio. The Crocus Campaign is to help raise funds and awareness of the potential global economic and financial effects of Polio.  Crocuses can be purchased at the Boardman Chick-Fil-A for a suggested donation of $3.  Of course, if you’d like to donate more, it would be greatly appreciated!

Funds raised will be matched by Rotary International, the volunteer fundraising arm of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative — a public-private partnership that also includes the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

This fundraising effort comes at an important time in the fight to eradicate polio, which would be only the second human disease besides smallpox to be eradicated. Case numbers of the disease have never been lower, and only three countries (Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan) still continue the transmission of the wild poliovirus.

However, a funding gap means immunization campaigns are being cut in high-risk countries, leaving children more vulnerable to polio. If polio isn’t stopped now, the disease could stage a comeback, affecting an estimated 200,000 children every year.

Since 1988, the number of polio cases has been reduced from 350,000 a year to fewer than 700 cases in 2011. The Americas were declared free from polio in 1994, the Western Pacific region in 2000, Europe in 2002, and India in 2011.  A highly infectious disease, Polio still strikes children mainly under the age of five in parts of Africa and South Asia. Polio can cause paralysis and sometimes death. There is no cure for polio, but for as little as 60 cents worth of oral vaccine, a child can be protected from the disease for life.




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Beers, Cheers & Gears is Near

The first Beers, Cheers and Gears of the Centennial year is almost here – and have the organizers got a surprise for you!  On Thursday March 20 from 5pm until 8pm, Rotary Club of Youngstown will host a “Youngstown Club Cheese Tasting” at Christopher’s downtown.  Chef Christopher will tempt your taste buds to the max as he puts his own formulation of this classic Youngstown recipe to the test.

You know the drill if you’ve attended the other events in the past.  If you haven’t, here’s the scoop:

  • Alcoholic/non-alcoholic libations will available on your tab.
  • The famous cheese spread and munchies will be on Youngstown Rotary
  • Show up when you like…..leave when you like.
  • Socialize with your fellow Rotarians or ignore everyone in sight…..whatever your preference, it’s OK.
  • No bell ringing, singing or signup sheets….just pure fun
  • Receive a make-up credit for attending
  • No service project at this event….just fellowship

This event is open to Rotarians and non- Rotarians alike so feel free to bring a guest, spouse, significant other or a friend(s)

You can sign up three different, easy ways, so there’s no excuse not to attend.  RSVP via email to Youngstown Rotary Office, go to  Cheers, Gears and Beers Sign Up to sign up directly, or sign up at this week’s Rotary Meeting.  But SIGN UP so we can get an idea on how much food Chef Christopher has to prepare.  Hope to see you there!

Christopher’s is located in the lower level of the City Centre One Building at the corner of North Champion and East Federal Street.

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