Posted by Jeff Benson on Feb 26, 2019

Bev Aplikowski was able to attend the meeting today after a long absence due to health issues.  Welcome back, Bev!


President Cindy Carlson welcomed our speaker’s guest, Karen Pepin.  Karen serves on the board of Remember Niger Coalition.


Cindy thanked all those who helped put on our 40th Anniversary Party this past weekend.  Special praise was given to George Winiecki, who worked so hard to contact past Rotarians and Nicole Ulrich, whose banquet experience and decorating expertise made the event so special.  Cindy also thanked Chef Kyle and the Exchange staff for the excellent food and service.  The club responded by thanking Cindy for her part in organizing and emceeing the bash.


It’s now confirmed that our April 30th noon meeting will be held off-site at the Community Support Center Luncheon.  We will meet at St John the Baptist Catholic Church.


Geoff Hollimon reminded us that we will also have an off-site meeting at the CPY Spring Luncheon on March 5th.  A big Rotary turnout will show the community how strongly we support CPY’s youth mission.  There is no cost to attend.  An accurate head count is necessary to plan the food.  Look for a sign-up sheet at next week’s meeting.


Dennis passed around a sign-up sheet for Gold Plate Dinner responsibilities.  If everyone takes at least one responsibility at the dinner, it would allow those few who have traditionally done everything to have some time to enjoy the evening.


Our condolences go to Margaret Johnson, whose father died recently.  Margaret will be in Taiwan for services.


Dennis Connolly will be sending an email with possible times to sort and pack medical supplies for Bolivia at the Mano-a-Mano warehouse near the Minnesota Fairgrounds.


Ed James said that we collected $78 last week by passing the hat for seed money for a future visit to Feed My Starving Children in May.  Stay tuned for more information.


Next week, Geoff Hollimon will auction off three tickets for a tour of the inner workings of Target Field.  This isn’t your average tour, but rather a private tour provided by the “Curator” of the stadium.  The Tour will visit several areas which are off-limits to the standard tours.  Check your calendars for availability on Saturday, March 9th.


Ed James celebrated a birthday this week so Cindy discovered the hiding place of the dreaded birthday hat and brought it out just for Ed.  As you can see from the photo below, Ed wore the hat with style.


Happy Bucks Highlights

·         Ed James was happy that his fiancée, Rachael, was able to join us for the 40th Anniversary Party.

·         Bev Aplikowski was happy to be back with us.

·         David Hoel was happy to be leaving for Florida for 3 weeks.  I wonder if it will still be below zero when he returns.

·         George Winiecki was thankful for all the Rotarians who do so much for the club, both visible and behind the scenes.


President Cindy introduced a speaker who is very familiar to us by now, Kara VanderKamp, President and Executive Director of Remember Niger Coalition.  Remember Niger is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year and Kara noted that we have been supporters of the Coalition for 8 or more years.  Remember Niger is a response to the desperate conditions present in Niger.  With a population of 20 million, Niger is the least developed and least educated country on earth.  Combine this with an average birth rate of 7 children per woman (the highest rate on earth) and the future looks bleak, but Remember Niger Coalition believes that education is the key to preventing a humanitarian crisis in Niger.  Currently, only 38% of kids attend elementary school, 11% attend middle school and just 3% attend high school.  Remember Niger envisions quality education for all and supports Nigerian leaders who share that vision.  These leaders believe that education is the key to increased prosperity and the key to population control.  Studies show that birth rate drops dramatically as the education level of young women increases.  A higher education level of mothers also dramatically increases their desire to educate their children.  Since Niger’s education system is ill-equipped to accomplish this goal, Remember Niger has adopted multiple strategies to improve the educational infrastructure and educational outcomes.  Our Rotary club and others have joined forces to create matching grants to help fund many of Remember Niger initiatives, including many of the following:

·         School construction

·         Latrine construction

·         School sponsorships

·         Solar power and solar wells

·         Gardens and meals

·         Teacher training

·         Scholarships

·         Computer labs

Future projects include more solar powered wells, schools for disabled children, teacher training seminars, more secondary schools and a nursing school.

Kara and Cindy are pictured below.