Our guests today were DG Ed Marek, New Brighton Mayor-Elect Kari Niedfeldt-Thomas and Rotarian Ray Panczyk from Maryland.
President Ed’s Quote of the Day: “Be the reason someone smiles. Be the reason someone feels loved and believes in the goodness in people.”― Roy T. Bennett
Check your email for important Rotary dates and events.  You can also download them here, if you prefer.
Don’t forget the Board meeting next Tuesday at 11AM.
If you have not yet paid your October – December dues, please take a moment now to write and mail the check.  You’ll be helping to reduce the bookkeeping burden on our Treasurer.
Geoff Hollimon reported that the Suburban Ramsey Emergency Coalition is considering 2 more grant applications to add to the 16 that have already awarded.  Originally organized to be active until the end of 2020, the Coalition has extended its mission through 2021 to continue to help those most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Geoff was also pleased to announce that CPY was able to take full advantage of the $65,000 matching grant offered by Bell Lumber and Pole by raising $75,000 on their own.  Congratulations to CPY and thank you to Bell Pole and the many others whose generosity will allow CPY to continue to provide quality distance learning support to community students.
Cindy Carlson noted that we received a grant of nearly $5,000 from State Farm Insurance to support our No-Plate Dinner Fundraiser. This grant will help us to maintain our charitable giving in the coming year.
Cindy also said that Charlie Hall is now living at Scandia Shores and he would like to set up a DVD library for residents to use.  He’s hoping to collect DVD’s that are gathering dust on your bookshelves to get the library started.  You can mail DVD’s to Charlie at: 418 Hwy.96 West, Apt. 307, Shoreview, MN. 55126.  You can download Charlie’s entire letter here.
New Brighton Mayor-Elect Kari Niedfeldt-Thomas was present at today’s meeting and took the opportunity to lay out her priorities: 
- Affordable Housing
- Pandemic Data Communication
- Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
The Mayor-Elect has been invited to elaborate at an upcoming meeting.
Cindy Carlson introduced Kara VanderKamp, with Remember Niger, for an update. Kara was zooming in to us from Niger! Kara introduced us to her associate in Niger, Mary Shannon. We had some issues with the recorded PowerPoint presentation on Ed’s computer, so Kara managed to play it from her computer in Niger!  Remember Niger Coalition is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to unifying people and mobilizing resources to expand quality educational opportunities in Niger, Africa.  Niger is the least developed and least educated country in the world.  Only fifty percent of children attend elementary school, 20% attend middle school and only 5% attend high school.  With little educational infrastructure and wariness about the quality and safety of existing schools, Remember Niger faces many challenges to its goal to offer quality education.  They address the challenges by engaging local parents, businesses and Rotary clubs to help plan and operate their own schools. Remember Niger gets new schools rolling by offering sponsorships to 50 students as a school first opens, building trust and motivating parents to continue to send their children.  Remember Niger also helps with infrastructure, building classrooms, latrines and security walls to relieve parental concerns.  Solar power is also set up to provide reliable and inexpensive power for lighting and laptop charging.  These initiatives have increased the student population to 2,800 in 13 schools.
Rotary has been an important part of  Remember Niger’s mission.  A global grant, district grant and 13 club grants have been instrumental in providing the above mentioned sponsorships and infrastructure, as well as teacher training.  Our club has helped with funding for latrines, security walls, sponsorships, teacher training, water and electric.  We have also helped support the Hamsa Girls Education Center for middle school girls.
Priorities for 2021 include the Niamey School for the Deaf and more use of solar power.  Covid-19 is also poised to create problems for education in Niger.  It’s good to know that Remember Niger is on the ground to make education a priority in Niger.