The Rotary Club of

February 1, 2024 Newsletter

Our off-site Social Night in the Community Room at Scheels Sporting Goods Store on January 29 turned into an informative Club Assembly (see President's Comments and the story below). Please see the New Club calendar in Upcoming Programs and Events in this Newsletter. We will not be holding our club meeting on Feb. 5, but be sure to join us for our Feb. 12 club meeting at Maldaners Upstairs. The speaker that night will be Gordon Davis speaking about the Whimsy Tea Company. 

Comments from President Travis
January 22 Club Meeting Cancellation
We had to cancel our club meeting at Maldaners Upstairs on January 22 because of the dangerous weather conditions. The roads were icy and slippery, and we made a good decision for our members and the Maldaners staff. John Webb has rescheduled the presentation that we would have had by Derek Harms of the Springfield Park District. He will now update us on what's going in the parks, including Rotary Park at our March 11 meeting in Maldaners Upstairs. See Upcoming Programs and Events for more information on Derek and this presentation.
January 29 Off-site Social Night at Scheels
We gathered in the community room area on the second floor of the Scheels Sporting Goods Store in Springfield (lead image for Newsletter and image above). Most members purchased a sandwich and soft drink to bring to the room. We missed our buffet meal and bar, but the exchange of information was excellent.
Several members discussed the pros and cons of continuing to have our meetings at Maldaners, and the importance of keeping our club meetings at a downtown venue. A desire for better and safer parking for meetings was also discussed.  Numerous members provided updates on ongoing and upcoming activities, which will hopefully be featured in articles in upcoming Newsletters (see the brief story in this Newsletter). The meeting was more like a club assembly than a social night, and we all benefited from these conversations. One result was the updating of our calendar for the remainder of the Rotary year. I sent the calendar to all members via ClubRunner Email, and it is also included in the Upcoming Programs and Events section of this Newsletter. Visiting Rotarian and Collaborator Katherine Turner brought her daughter and son-in law, Katrianna and Justin Ball, to the meeting, and they are shown with Harry Mitchell and David Fowler in the image to the left. We are always to happy to have family members at our meetings. 
No Club Meeting on February 5
Feb. 12 Club Meeting and Speaker
We will meet at Maldaners Upstairs for Feb. 12 Club Meeting. Our featured speaker, Gordon Whimsy, will tell about the Whimsy Tea Company, which he co- founded in Springfield. Join us to learn about "quality teas as a way of life." See Upcoming Programs and Events for more information on the speaker and the program.
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Reserve Your Maldaners Meals
When we meet at Maldaner's, please submit your reservations for dinner! Click on the link embedded below and enter the date, your name, dine in/carry out and number of meals being consumed in the restaurant and/or carried out prior to each meeting. Preferably, everyone will fill out the form by noon on the Friday before the upcoming meeting. I have given Jesse at Maldaner's access to the view, so it will help him with planning. As always, we will direct him to have a few additional servings available for members who forget or last minute guests. 
Here is the link:
The same link will work for the entire Rotary year and will be shared within each Newsletter, so do not delete the Newsletter until you have submitted your dinner information. Please remember that the three most recent Newsletters can also be accessed from the Website Home Page ( so you can also access the link for reservations from the Website Home Page ( 
Information from our January 29 Social Night
Those who participated in the January 29 Social Night at the Scheels Sporting Goods Store came away with a wealth of information about ongoing activities in our Club. Here are just a few of the projects and ideas that members discussed.
Jim Applegate provided an update on the District Club grant that is providing refurbished computers for a computer lab at Helping Hands and some of the plans for continuing work with The Outlet.
Harry Mitchell appraised us the plans for our upcoming Foundation Night on February 26 where Paul Harris Fellow recognition will be given to club, community, and family members (see upcoming Programs and Events for more information). 
Bill Smith spoke about plans to continue to get the oranges for the annual citrus sale from California because they were of a higher quality than the oranges we have been getting from the Florida Grove. The current plan is to continue to get the grapefruit from Florida because they have consistently been of high quality.
Rod Buffington announced that we will have a Rotary Night at the Ball Park on July 13, and there will be 2,000 tickets to sell. He also noted that his baseball artwork will be featured in a Springfield Art Association exhibition in mid-July along the work of a another well known baseball artist, James Farentino.
Bill Kempiners reported that the two individuals affiliated with Goodwill that we previously recognized as Paul Harris Fellows have identified  two students who would like to go to the RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Awards) training. We are working with them to send these two students to RYLA, which will be held from April 12-14 at Lake Williamson, Carlinville. 
Vicki Megginson and others spoke about the January 26 performance of 12 Armenian youth dancers at Westminster Church. This event was sponsored by a Rotarian friend of Barb Malany (Vitaliy) and was promoted to all Rotarians in Springfield by Barb Malany and again to all our club members by Travis Magoulias. Three of the dancers (shown in the image below with Vicki Megginson) stayed with Vicki in her home during their time in Springfield. Vicki and the other club members who attended the performance said it was a wonderful cultural experience.
Katherine Turner and Dave Fowler spoke about a series of projects to distribute computers refurbished through Dave's business (Computer Banc in Springfield) and to provide technical training through internships in Dave' Educational Center in his facility. Dave also described a previous District Club Grant project where our club provided 100 refurbished computers to students at Ridgely Elementary School. The families had to contribute $50 to get a computer for their child to keep them invested in the project. He suggested it might be time to look into such a project with Ridgely School again. Katherine and Dave will be pitching an international project at the upcoming PETS (President Elect Training Seminar) in which other clubs could buy refurbished computers for projects. They also spoke about a project to bring in $125,000 in donations to expand the Educational Center at Computer Banc so they could support more interns. The need for IT Techs is so great that interns trained through the program would be hired by Hewlett Packard as soon as they graduate as has been the case for a current program at Lincoln Land Community College.
Jim Applegate described an organization that he recently joined and thought others might find of interest. The organization is called Third Act. It is a national organization that has state groups. He joined the Illinois Chapter. The group works climate issues and access to clean energy. It was recommended by National Geographic. 
Dave Fowler suggested that our club might consider going to a performance at Legacy Theater for one of our evenings out. 
Vicki Megginson described some international trips that will be coming up under the banner of the new WeCARe Rotary Club (chartered as Rotary World Citizens Alliance of Springfield, IL), including a trip to British Columbia in June and a trip to Poland and Romania in October. They are also planning a trip to Nepal. There may be spaces available on these trips for members of other Rotary Clubs.  There were numerous questions about this International travel club so we are planning to do a separate story on it in a future Newsletter.
We have asked all of these individuals to expand these topics and submit a story for the Newsletter.
2024 Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast
Ten club members attended and greatly enjoyed the 2024 Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast hosted by our long-time partners Springfield Frontiers International. In addition to the Rotary table shown in the lead image to this Newsletter, we also had members at three other tables. Club members also purchased 12 tickets for UIS students to participate in the breakfast (See Loretta Meeks' article below).
We were pleased that such a large crowd (image above) was able to participate in the breakfast and hear the presentations despite dangerously cold temperatures and numerous winter illnesses in our community. Members were inspired to action by the keynote presentation by Wendi Will El-Amin (image below), M.D. and Associate Dean for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. Dr. El-Amin is a professor in the Department of Family Medicine and provides care at the Center for Family Medicine in Springfield. In addition, to work to eliminate inequities and disparities in health and health care, her message spoke to the need to keep the dream going in the next generations.  
Thanks to Ken Gilmore for taking and providing the images for this article.
Rotarians Work Together to "Pay it Forward" on MLK Day
Twelve UIS students (lead image and images in this article provided by Justin Rose) attended the Frontiers International Dr. Martin Luther King Day Celebration Breakfast as a result of sponsorship by members of the Springfield Rotary Club. Six members of the Club worked together in an “impromptu” effort with Justin Rose, member of the Club and Director of the Diversity and Inclusion Office at the University of the Illinois Springfield to identify and sponsor twelve students. The students were representative of several majors and levels of academic preparation ranging from sophomores to seniors. 

The theme for this year’s event, “In Times of Challenge, We Will Stand,” provided an overview of accomplishments and challenges of the times as well as promoting the inclusion of new dreams, new journeys, and new dream keepers for the next generation of leaders. The keynote speaker was Dr. Wendi El-Amin, the Associate Dean for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. She challenged audience members to concentrate on individuals and organizations that will encourage them on their journey and help to promote their dreams—a message that each of the students embraced. The Springfield Club’s sponsorship initiative did a lot to convey that we accept the charge and responsibility of supporting our youth and being encouraging “dream keepers.” 

Students commented on their appreciation for the Club’s sponsorship and support. They were uplifted by the message and the Club’s gesture and indicated it was an excellent opener to the upcoming spring semester. 

Attendance at the event is a tradition for the Club. Ten club members (lead image and images in story below) were able to brave the weather conditions and attend.  All members appreciate the dedication and mission of Dr. King, the efforts of Frontiers International, the University of Illinois Springfield and the sponsoring members.
Upcoming Programs and Events
Please remember that we are trying our new schedule with some social night meetings at locations other than Maldaners. Please pay attention to the meeting schedule listed the Newsletter, on our website home page (, and on our Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram pages for the dates and locations of the meetings. I am in the process of scheduling speakers now and will provide more details as soon as they are available. 
February 5, No Rotary Club Meeting
February 12, Rotary Board Meeting at Maldaners Upstairs, 4:00 p.m.
February 12, Rotary Club Meeting at Maldaners Upstairs, 5:30 p.m.
Gordon Davis, Co-Founder of the Whimsy Tea Company: The Whimsy Tea Company
Gordon co-founded the Whimsey Tea Company in Springfield in 2019. In 2022, Downtown Springfield, Inc. named him as a "Downtown Advocate" for his work with the Whimsey Tea Company. His business on Adams Street offers a large selection of high quality, Fair Trade teas, herbal infusions, and tea-infused products, including health and beauty products. Learn more about his perspective of tea not just as a beverage, but as a way of life. He has an Associates degree from Lincoln Land Community College in Political Science and Government and a Bachelor of Arts from University of Illinois Springfield, also in Political Science and Government. He is an Outstanding Honors Graduate, All-Illinois Academic Team Member, and a Servant Leader.  He previously worked as a Field Advocate for an Alderman, the owner and Lead Tech for Compu-Medic, a Firefighter, and a Job Coach. He volunteers for Volunteer Network Security and Penetration Testing and as a Disaster Recovery Specialist for American Red Cross.
February 19, 2024 Off-site Social Night Club Meeting, 5:30 p.m.
Location to be announced.
February 26, 2024 Rotary Club Meeting at Maldaners Upstairs, 5:30 p.m.
Foundation Night, Harry Mitchell, Master of Ceremonies
Harry Mitchell is standing in for our Club's International Foundation Chair (Nate Clemmer), who is having health issues. The evening will celebrate Paul Harris Fellows and related donations. We will be presenting Paul Harris Fellow pins to club members who have reached a new donation level. One representative from each of our Paul Harris Fellow Giving Circles will name someone as a Paul Harris Fellow. Our club will also present a Community Paul Harris Fellow. The recipient for the Community Paul Harris Fellw has been selected by the Paul Harris Community Fellow Committee (Chaired by Randy Erford, with Barry Tobias and Bonnie Styles as members) based on nominations from Club members. A story on the recipient will be included in the next Newsletter.  
March 4, 2024 No Rotary Club Meeting 
March 11, 2024 Board Meeting at Maldaners Upstairs, 4:00 p.m.
March 11, 2024 Rotary Club Meeting at Maldaners Upstairs, 5:30 p.m. 
Derek Harms, Executive Director of Springfield Park District: Springfield Park District Recreational Opportunities & Rotary Park Update
Derek grew up on a working farm south of Springfield, Illinois and earned a Bachelor of Science in Recreation Parks and Tourism Administration from Western Illinois University. It was at Western where he met his wife while performing volunteer work in the recreation department. They were later married and now have three daughters.

He began his professional career in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago where he held progressively higher positions in leadership and management at the Wood Dale Park District, Bloomingdale Park District and Elk Grove Park District. Although Derek lived and worked in the Chicago Suburbs for several years, he always considered Central Illinois his home.
In 2007, Derek moved to Springfield to accept the position of Director of Recreation at the Springfield Park District and was later appointed by the Park Board of Trustees as the Springfield Park District’s Executive Director in 2013. Under Harms’s leadership, the Springfield Park District has accomplished many significant milestones. The District developed a comprehensive master plan, ADA transition plan, secured millions of dollars in outside grant funding to reduce the burden on local taxpayers while improving local parks and facilities, eliminated negative fund balances and earned multiple credit rating upgrades from Moody Investor’s Service resulting in the District’s highest credit rating ever obtained. 
Throughout his diverse career, he has led and managed both the visioning and construction phases of countless multimillion-dollar community wide park re-development projects including the construction of a $10 million water theme park, community wide recreation centers, athletic complexes, skate parks, dog parks, pump track, splash pad, in-line hockey rink, zoo animal exhibits enclosures and much more.

Throughout his personal and professional life, Derek has witnessed the powerful impact that recreation can have on individuals, families and communities. He believes recreation is critical to fueling the human spirit, building strong family ties, and creating a series of connections with nature and our environment that are as essential to life as air and water.
March 18, 2024 Rotary Off-site Social Night, 5:30 p.m.
Location to be announced.
March 25, 2024 Rotary Club Meeting at Maldaners Upstairs, 5:30 p.m.
April 1, 2024 No Rotary Club Meeting
April 8, 2024 Rotary Board Meeting at Maldaners Upstairs, 4:00 p.m.
April 8, 2024 Rotary Club Meeting at Maldaners Upstairs, 5:30 p.m.
April 15, 2024 No Rotary Club Meeting
April 22, Rotary Club Meeting at Maldaners Upstairs, 5:30 p.m.
April 29, Rotary Club Meeting at Maldaners Upstairs, 5:30 p.m.
May 6, 2024 Rotary Off-site Social Night, 5:30 p.m.
Location to be announced.
May 13, 2024 Rotary Board Meeting at Maldaners Upstairs, 4:00 p.m.
May 13, 2024 Rotary Club Meeting at Maldaners Upstairs, 5:30 p.m.
May 20, 2024 Rotary Club Meeting at Maldaners Upstairs, 5:30 p.m.
May 27, 2024 No Rotary Club Meeting
June 3, 2024 Rotary Board Meeting at Maldaners Upstairs, 4:00 p.m.
June 3, 2024 Rotary Club Meeting at Maldaners Upstairs, 5:30 p.m.
Distribution of Community Grants from the Springfield Rotary Foundation
June 10, 2024 Rotary Board Meeting at Maldaners Upstairs, 4:00 p.m.
June 10, 2024 Rotary Club Meeting at Maldaners Upstairs, 5:30 p.m.
June 17, 2024 Rotary Off-site Social Night, 5:30 p.m.
Location to be announced. 
June 24, 2024 Rotary Club Installation of Officers Picnic
Recognition of Club Members and 2023-2024 Officers and Installation of 2024-2025 Officers and Board
Location and time to be announced.
Be a Food Pantry Superhero
Here's your chance to be a pantry superhero!  Join us in stocking the Ridgely Elementary School micro pantry for two weeks. Your commitment will ensure that families and children have access to essential items when they need them most.  Whether it's a can of soup, a box of cereal, or toiletries, your contribution will brighten someone's day.  Reach out to Allie Montney at or call 217-494-6901 to become a beacon of hope for those in need.  Every item you place on those shelves is a small gesture that collectively makes a huge impact!
Information and Shifts for Ridgely Micropantry Volunteers
Thank you for signing up for a  micro pantry volunteer shift. Your time and effort are greatly appreciated by the community we serve. Below are the details including your two week shift, location of the pantry, and suggestions on items to collect and distribute.  If you are unable to complete your shift, please reach out and we'll work on a better period of time to meet your needs. If you have suggestions for future volunteers, please let me know and we'll adapt the program along the way.
 Ridgely Elementary School 
 2040 North 8th Street
 Springfield, IL  62702
 Main entrance to the school (look for the yellow and purple pantry by the front  doors).
The image below shows the location of the pantry at the entrance to the school.
 These suggestions came from people who use food pantries to help feed their families. 
1. Everyone donates Kraft Mac and Cheese in the box. They can rarely use it because it needs milk and butter, which is difficult to get from regular food banks.
2. Boxed milk is a treasure, as kids need it for cereal, which they also get a lot of.
3. Everyone donates pasta sauce and spaghetti noodles.
4. They cannot eat all the awesome canned veggies and soup unless you put a can opener in too or buy pop tops.*
5. Oil is a luxury and needed for Rice a-Roni, which they also get a lot of.
6. Spices or salt and pepper would be a real Holiday gift.
7. Tea bags and coffee make them feel like you care.
8. Sugar and flour are treats.
9. They fawn over fresh produce donated by farmers and grocery stores.
10. Seeds are cool in Spring and Summer because growing can be easy for some.
11. They rarely get fresh meat.
12. Tuna and crackers make a good lunch.
13. Hamburger Helper goes nowhere without ground beef.
14. They get lots of peanut butter and jelly but usually not sandwich bread.
15. Butter or margarine is nice too.
16. Eggs are a real commodity.
17. Cake mix and frosting makes it possible to make a child’s birthday cake.
18. Dishwashing detergent is very expensive and is always appreciated.
19. Feminine hygiene products are a luxury and women will cry over that.
20. Everyone loves Stove Top Stuffing.
Time Commitment:   Two consecutive weeks (1-2 restocking visits per week)
 Volunteer Schedule for Winter 2023 - Spring 2024
Thanks to Bonnie Styles for stocking the pantry for the December 17-31 shift during the holiday season. Bonnie provided the image on the left that shows the special items she stocked in the pantry for Christmas Eve and Christmas. She restocked the pantry on December 27 and December 30 (image below) to be certain that it was ready for New Years Eve. Each time she checked the pantry, there were only a few canned goods left, including some green beans and chickpeas. This pantry continues to be heavily used during the winter months.
Thanks to Bill Sturm for stocking the pantry from January 1-14, which has included some extremely cold weather! Special thanks to Rod and Rosemary who have taken the next shift and encountered severly cold weather. Thanks to Rod & Rosemary Buffington for stocking the pantry from January 25-28.
Upcoming Schedule:
January 29 - Feb 11: Jim  Applegate
February 12 - 25: Harry Mitchell
February 26 -  March 10: Sheila Mack
March 11 - March 24: Ross Hodel
March 25 - April 7: Randy Erford
April 8 - April 21: Jason Huddleston
April 22 - May 5: Bill Kempiners
Micro Pantry Coordinator:  Allie Montney
Phone 217-494-6901 (for the quickest response, please text)
Things I've noticed that may be helpful:  Stocking the pantry on a weekend or after 4:00PM during the weekdays means less people and easier to get a parking spot.  Ask friends and family to donate unused household items for the pantry that you can collect.  If purchasing bags of fresh fruit or veggies, stock them individually so that more in need can take what they need.  It's going to be freezing outside soon, so consider if the items will no longer be good if frozen.  ALDI grocery stores have prices that cannot be beat. 
Volunteer Update
At our January 8 Board and Club meetings, President Travis reported that our 2023-2024 Club's Community Service Director, Madeline Boner had resigned as Community Service Director and from our Club because her job is requiring more work than she had anticipated. We wish her the best in her career and hope that she will be able to come back to us in the future when the duties of life and work are perhaps a little less demanding. We thank all the volunteers who gave and are giving generously of their time on service projects this fall and over the holiday season. Work on our ongoing service projects continues, and we thank all who have stepped up to help coordinate these activities.
Stocking our Little Libraries
Jason Huddleston ( and Allison Montney ( have taken on the important task of coordinating the stocking of our Little Libraries. We previously built a  series of Little Libraries with a support from a District Club Grant and secured a large number of books that were donated by a group in St. Louis. The books are stored in the Computer Banc warehouse. We thank new members Jason and Allison (far right in image to right) for taking on this important task. 
The image of the Little Library at Ridgely School (to the left) clearly shows that this little library needed to be regularly stocked. Thanks to Jason and Allison for coordinating this project and ensuring that it is well stocked. Let them know if you would like to help.
We also need to help keep our newest Little Library at the old Firehouse well stocked with books (image below)! We thank Kathryn Harris for her work and promotion for this Little Library, which is right across the street from her home! If you would like to help stock this little library and any of the others we have installed in Springfield, please contact Jason and Allison.
Stocking of the Ridgely School Micropantry
We previously installed a Micropantry at Ridgely Elementary School (our adopted school) with support from a District Grant. At our October 23 meeting, Allison Montney volunteered to coordinate the stocking of this micropantry with food, cleaning, and toiletry items. She has implemented a system for volunteers to sign up to stock the pantry for a two week period. If you would like to volunteer to stock this important and regularly used pantry, please let Allison know ( as soon as possible. More information is provided in Allie's article in this Newsletter. 
Flag Service
On September 12-15, Flag Service teams completed the last pick up of flags for 2023 following the commemoration of Patriot's Day (September 11). Teams picked up the flags and returned them to the warehouse. The teams consist primarily of Rotarians, but numerous family members assist Rotarians in this effort. Alec Tobias, son of Barry Tobias, often assists Barry. The image above shows Alec picking up flags in this final round for 2023. The image on the left shows Ross Hodel picking up flags, and the image below shows John Webb and Jim Theis returning flags to the warehouse.
At our September 18 meeting, President Travis extended a special thanks to all the individuals who participated in flag installation and pick in 2023. Please consider volunteering for the Flag Service project. There is much work to be done throughout the year. Bill Sturm relayed that there is a current need for volunteers to help replace faded flags with new ones and help transfer good flags from bent poles to new poles. If you are interested in assisting with this task please contract Bill Sturm ( Please contact John Loftus ( if you would like to help with any aspect of our Flag Service project. It's rewarding and raises lots of money for our community grants program!  
Citrus Campaign
As noted by our Warehouse Czar Bill Smith, this year's successful campaign had ended and has raised monies for our community grants program. We thank all the Rotarians who ordered and sold citrus, and all those who worked on the planning of the campaign and in the warehouse.
Encourage Membership in Rotary
Do you know or are you someone who has a passion to give back to your community? The Rotarians in this image are helping pack essential items for the Illinois Police Department to give to homeless individuals in our community. As a Rotarian, you adhere to the principles of the 4-way Test., which are:
  • Is it the Truth? 
  • Is it Fair to all concerned? 
  • Will it build Good Will and Better Friendships?  
  • Will it be Beneficial to all concerned?  
If you find value in these ideals and want to be part of a great organization, right click on the attached link to open our online Membership Application in a new window. You can also click on this link to download an electronic copy of the Membership Application from our Club's website Home Page ( in the Download Files section. You can send the completed application to the Membership Committee at We look forward to hearing from you! 

Downtown 2023-2024 Rotary Membership Chair
Harry Mitchell
Record Your Service Hours and Contributions
Please remember to report your service hours and related contributions. Travis Magoulias has added the 2023-2024 Rotary Year to the form. You will be able to enter your hours now and correctly assign them to the correct Rotary Calendar year. Just follow this link:
Please email images of service activities to Bonnie Styles at It's easy to take pictures if you have a smartphone, but even an old style camera works just fine. Send me an email ( to let me know when you will be volunteering for a service project, and I will come out and take some images.
Be sure to turn in your hours for any volunteering that you do on behalf of Rotary.
Be sure to record the service you conducted over the holidays. The images below show Rotarians from our Club volunteering on holiday projects.
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102-2060 Winston Park Drive, Oakville, ON, L6H 5R7
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