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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99 Years and Counting

Youngstown Rotary Celebrated its 99th Anniversary on Saturday, February 1, 2014 with a bang, not only reviving the tradition of honoring those from the community and members as Paul Harris Fellows but also revealing a new Youngstown Rotary Centennial Logo.

The Paul Harris Fellowship is named for Paul Harris, who founded Rotary with three business associates in Chicago in 1905 and is one of Rotary International’s highest honors. The Fellowship was established in his honor in 1957 to express appreciation for a contribution to the humanitarian and educational activities of The Rotary Foundation. These activities are funded, implemented and managed by Rotarians and Rotary Clubs around the globe. Rotarians also designate a Paul Harris Fellow to recognize another person whose life demonstrates a shared purpose with the objectives and mission of The Rotary Foundation to build world understanding and peace. This year, Youngstown Rotary has re-established this tradition, and sought nominations from the membership community members this evening.

Rotarian Elayne Bozick, District Governor Debbie Esbenshade, Rotarian Sharon Letson and clubb President Sccott Schulick present the Paul Harris Fellowship Award to Dr Richard Billak.

The certificate for the Paul Harris Fellows states, “In appreciation of tangible and significant assistance given for the furtherance of better understanding and friendly relations between peoples of the world.”  Those members honored as Paul Harris Fellows are; Msgr. Robert J. Siffrin, Carlton A. Sears, Carol Chamberlain, and John B. Slanina. Community members honored as Paul Harris Fellows were Brian Corbin, Lawrence Bozick, Frank Matyi, Dr. Richard Billak, and Janet Murray.

Elayne Bozick, DG Debbie, Janet Murray, Paul Harris Fellow recipient, President Scott and Rotarian Carol Sherman after presenting the Fellpowship award to Janet.

President Scott and President Elect Paul Garchar Schulick and Paul Garchar rang the Rotary bell together to kick off the Centennial celebration and yearlong festivities. The Centennial Committee revealed the new Youngstown Centennial logo created by Keynote Media. The logo highlights the changing nature of Youngstown’s skyline over the past 100 years, with smokestacks, skyscrapers, and prominent education buildings. Each attendee received a new logo pin as part of the celebration.

Youngstown Rotary received its official charter from the International Association of Rotary Clubs, now known as Rotary International on February 1, 1915. It became the 137th club, of what is now 34,000 clubs worldwide comprised of 1.2 million members. Youngstown Rotary is the first club founded in what is now Rotary District 6650, comprised of 48 clubs in northeastern Ohio. It holds a special place in the early beginnings of the Rotary movement; sponsored by the Rotary Club of New Castle, PA, with assistance from the Rotary Club of Cleveland. Youngstown Rotary was founded by architect Charles F. Owsley, who with his son, designed many buildings of historical significance in downtown Youngstown and throughout the community.

Youngstown Rotary founded and established the Boys & Girls Club of Youngstown in 1968, and was instrumental in the founding of several other key civic organizations including the Chamber of Commerce and Better Business Bureau. Most recently, activities have focused on the adoption of Harding Elementary School, where Rotarians have operated an award winning mentoring program.  The Youngstown Rotary Foundation, Inc., has provided scholarships annually to seniors from each public and parochial high school in Youngstown to attend Youngstown State University.  Additionally, the Club’s local foundation has provided over $1 million of support to local charitable projects since its founding.

Seven Youngstown Rotarians have served as Rotary district governors, including Debbie Esbenshade, the current governor; Leonard T. Skeggs served as Vice President of Rotary International in 1925, and was key YMCA leader and founder of Youngstown State University; and most notably, Atty. Robert A. Manchester II, of Harrington, Huxley and Smith law firm, served as President of Rotary International, 1976-77.



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Gimmee Shelter

The disaster in the Philippines left thousands upon thousands of people homeless, without even the most basic of necessities.  Rotarians of course are springing into action to help, and District 6650 is no exception. DG Debbie Esbenshade is collecting donations to purchase Shelter Boxes, and so far has over $6,000, enough to send six boxes to Phillipines relief.

What is a Shelter Box?  As the name indicates, it’s a green box, each one tailored to a specific disaster.  However, a box commonly contains a disaster relief tent for an extended family, blankets, water storage and purification equipment, cooking utensils, a stove, basic tool kit, a children’s activity pack and other vital items.

Contributing to the relief effort is simple–just get out your checkbook and write out a check to Youngstown Rotary and put “Phillipine Relief” in the memo line.  Mail your donations to Debbie Esbenshade, 34 E. Western Reserve Rd., Unit 2, Poland, OH 44514.
If you would rather send your donations directly to Shelter Box, make the check payable to “Shelter Box USA” and mail to 8374 Market Street, #203, Lakewood, FL 34202. If you do send directly, please let Debbie know, as she is tracking them.

You can find out more about Shelter Boxes at www.shelterboxusa.org.  These boxes are lifesaving, and many times, the only place people have to live.  Sadly, people in Haiti are still living in theirs–they are better than what they used to call home.


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Beers, Cheers & Gears Goes to the Caribbean

Well, in spirit anyway.  The next BC&G will transport you to the Caribbean–Caribbean Pools and Hot Tubs that is, as the Rotary Clubs of Youngstown and Austintown, as well as Polish Youngstown team up to support District 6650’s Dominica mission trip project in 2014. Dominica is in the Caribbean, hence the theme.

There will be great food catered by the newly-opened Flambeau’s Caribbean Take Out, island music by DJ Dr. Goo, and of course, appropriately mixed libations by Polish Happy Hour mixologist extraordinaire Ken Shirilla.  All you need to know is on the poster on the right.

Yes, it says to bring your swimsuit.  That is totally up to you…….shorts and flip flops might be a much better choice!



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We Are THISCLOSE to Ending Polio

On October 23, Rotary Club of Youngstown will host Janet Newcomer, major gifts officer for the Rotary International Foundation, who will speak on the End Polio Now initiative.  Janet’s visit coincides with World Polio Day on October 24.

Rotary International made polio eradication its top priority in 1985, and since then, remarkable progress has been made in the fight against this devastating disease.  Since 1988, the number of polio cases has been reduced from 350,000 a year to fewer than 700 cases in 2011, an amazing 99% decrease.  The Americas were declared free from polio in 1994, the Western Pacific in region in 2000, and Europe in 2002.  There are only three countries where the wild poliovirus has never been stopped:  Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan.

A highly infectious disease, polio mainly strikes children under the age of 5, robbing them of the ability to walk and breathe.  It can even lead to death.  There is no cure for polio, but for as little as a a 60-cent vaccine, children can be protected for life.

Wouldn’t it be great to see this disease eradicated in our lifetime?  It’s possible with your help.  Find out how on October 23.



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Eradicate Polio in Your Lifetime

 Rotary has approved a $500,000 Rapid Response grant to the World Health Organization (WHO) to address a recent polio outbreak in Somalia. The outbreak occurred in the Banadir region of Somalia, where a large number of children had not been vaccinated against polio due to inaccessibility. 

As of 14 August, 110 cases of wild poliovirus have been reported in the Horn of Africa—100 cases in Somalia and 10 in Kenya. This is the first outbreak in Somalia since 2007 and in Kenya since 2011.

The Rotary grant will cover operational costs, including human resources, training, and transportation of health workers, aimed at immunizing children under ten in all accessible areas of Somalia in August. 

To date, five vaccination campaigns have been held in Somalia, three in Kenya, two each in Ethiopia and Yemen, and one in Djibouti.  Additional campaigns are planned through the end of the year.

Rotary’s emergency funding for responses to polio outbreaks in Somalia and other countries has been critical to ensuring that immunization activities proceed without interruption, thereby minimizing the risk of the disease’s further international spread. 

The United Nations has warned that without further intervention, polio could quickly develop into an epidemic across East Africa and put countless lives at risk. With the assistance of the United Kingdom, Japan and Rotary the World Health Organization will be able to immunize 6.1 million people most at risk from the disease in Somalia, northern Kenya, and other countries in the region.

Your contribution to the Rotary Foundation will enable the total eradication of Polio across the world.  Thank you for your generosity.

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Halfway to Coats for Kids

This week we have big news, fellow Youngstown Rotarians.  We have made it to the halfway mark in our Operation Warm endeavors.  Take a moment to celebrate this small success.  Ready?


Ok, now get back to work!  Halfway is good, but let’s not rest until that thermometer bursts past the $10,000 mark.

And in case you forgot the details about tribute cards, here they are again:

Tribute cards supporting our Operation Warm initiative are now available for $20.00 each. Tribute cards can be purchased “in honor” of someone and enclosed the next time you send a birthday, anniversary or holiday greeting card to family and friends (what a meaningful way to say Happy Holidays). They are also available “in memory” of an individual and can easily be enclosed the next time you send a sympathy card.

To order your Tribute cards, please send your check payable to The Youngstown Rotary Foundation  and include “operation warm” in the memo area.

Include a separate note as to how many cards (honor) and/or (memory) you want to order.


Rotary Club of Youngstown
Attn:  Shirley Shields
PO Box 1287
Youngstown, OH  44501




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Dr. Randy Dunn Visits Youngstown Rotary

And decides to stay!  Meet our newest member, Dr. Randy Dunn, president of Youngstown State University.  Dr. Dunn was the speaker at our Wednesday lunch on August 14, sharing the three strategic directions on which he will focus as YSU’s eighth president:  enrollment, increasing the university’s engagement with its constituencies and doing a better job of communicating YSU’s success stories.

President Scott wasted no time in asking Dr. Dunn to become a Youngstown Rotarian, making the offer the day before he visited us.  If the size of the crowd on Wednesday was any indication, our attendance with Dr. Dunn as a member should skyrocket!  Several members of the print and broadcast media were also in attendance, and highlighted some of our great work in their stories.

We welcome Dr. Dunn into the Rotary family, and look forward to sharing our work with one of the newest residents of the Mahoning Valley.  If you didn’t get to meet him yet, you have a great reason to be a regular at our Wednesday meetings!



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Operation Warm

For the second year in a row, District 1A (our district, of course!!) will be particpating in Operation Warm.  Operation Warm is a national effort to make sure all kids have a warm coat to wear in the winter.  Seems simple enough, yes?

Believe it or not, there are thousands of children who have to walk to school and don’t have a warm coat to wear.  We complain about walking from the parking lot to our Rotary lunches when the weather gets cold–imagine having to do that without a warm coat to wear.  Puts an entirely different perspective on the subject, doesn’t it?

Our club, along with other clubs in the district, have pledged to donate $10,000 to purchase 500 new coats to children in need.  Last year, we raised enough money to provide 200 coats.   We can do it!  Download the form by CLICKING HERE.  Print the form and send in with your donation.

To find out more about Operation Warm and the Coats for Kids Foundation, follow this link go to http://www.operationwarm.org.

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