Russell Hampton
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Jul 05, 2021
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Aug 02, 2021
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Sunday, June 27, 2021
At the start of the 2020-21 Rotary year I talked about the three doors of the theme-Rotary Opens Opportunities. I will review the meaning and see if Bethlehem Rotary accomplished the goals RI President Holger Knaack set.
Door 1: Placing newer members into leadership positions to strengthen our club, get fresh new ideas, and build their Rotary skills. 
  • Result: It has been exciting to see many new members (8 the past year) jump right in, lead projects or make an impact on committees, share their expertise, and advance our mission. Keep in mind, some of them have only met us through Zoom!
Door 2: As usual, we would continue our Legacy service projects, but implement new projects and procedures arising from recent events (pandemic). 
  • Result: Our Liberty High School Interact Club is up and running and tackling projects (Toys for Tots, Guatemala Clean Water, etc.).
  • A newly-established quarterly project assembles and delivers bagged lunches for Bethlehem Emergency Shelter homeless clients.
  • Our Foundation provided need grants to community organizations adversely affected by Covid-19.
  • We continued participation in the Guatemala Clean Water Global Grant,
  • We continued support of the BAVTS Artisan of the Month program that gave many fine young adults the opportunity speak publicly about their goals.
  • We provided dictionaries (Thanks Paul) to BASD 3rd graders-and 4th graders who did not receive them in 2020.
  • We established a butterfly garden within Centennial Park to give support to the Monarch butterfly(after we learned of their plight), and ran a very successful work session with Camp Neidig students at the Park.
Door 3: We will improve the lives of those in need. 
  • Result: The Jamaica-Unitas Project for sustainable farming in interior Jamaica has seen setbacks, but with the resolve of our committee is moving forward, despite the slow pace and success is just around the corner.
  • Our RAGAS (Rotary Action Group Against Slavery) committee is growing with regularly scheduled meetings and inviting members and non-members to join them in bringing more awareness to the tragedy that is human-trafficking. Establishing a Speaker's Bureau is under way, and more initiatives are planned to combat this growing global crisis.
  • The 2020 fully virtual Taste & Tunes was uncharted territory for us. The goal was especially important as the beneficiary-Northeast Community Center pantry assumed the workload of six other closed pantries due to the pandemic. The success realized from the on-line auction will see it become an important component of future Taste & Tunes to complement the in-person component.
My tenure as President of the Rotary Club of Bethlehem has been like no other in the 105 year history of the club-the first fully virtual President. But in many respects it was another year of Rotarians doing what we do best-improving the lives of people worldwide-just in a different way. Instead of being dormant, we overcame the challenges of the pandemic and built a stronger organization poised to move into the "new" future. I am humbled by the fantastic job our Rotarians did and I thank each one of you for being an important "cog" in the Rotary wheel.
Space limitations preclude me from individually recognizing all the members who were integral to our success-you know who you are and I appreciate your service. Remember, I was just the engineer leading the Rotary train down the tracks, but for that to happen it takes a dedicated crew involved in the process. There are several key members of the 2020-21 year I want to highlight:
  • Jill Long-Chair of the 2020 Taste & Tunes who had a venue, beneficiary, and arrangements in progress-then the shutdown. When it became obvious we had to go virtual, Jill was able to pivot and guide the committee to a new concept, on-line bakery auction to benefit the Northeast Community Center and also give business exposure to restaurants and bakeries that needed support from the pandemic.
  • Diane Donaher has been Chair of our RI Foundation and did a wonderful job showing us the power of Rotary from our contributions. By the number of Paul Harris presentations I gave, her message resonated through our membership. And we are VERY proud of Diane as she becomes District Governor Nominee in 2021-22. Best wishes and know your club will support you.
  • Maria Dietrich is making an impact not only as a Board member, but is Co-Chair of the Interact Committee, serving on the Jamaica-Unitas Project, Taste & Tunes, District Grants, and part of the Centennial Park crew. She has helped with other connections, and looks forward to hearing reports about mentoring our BEST scholarship student.
  • Karley Sebia was Chair of the Program Committee. While having interesting, engaging programs has been a key component of in-person meetings-it became paramount in the Zoom environment. Karley accepted the challenge and did a fantastic job making sure the speakers and topics were timely, informative, and sometimes interactive.
  • Finally, Al Philpotts has been THE glue that kept our club together. Hosting every weekly Zoom meeting (1 from a hospital bed!), a myriad of Zoom committee meetings, increasing the informational content of the website-helping it tell the world what we were accomplishing, publishing the weekly e-Bulletin, answering website inquiries, etc. Most importantly, Al was my trusted advisor-sharing his Rotary knowledge to make this year a huge success. We thank him for living up to "Service above Self".
This Wednesday at Noon my Rotary train pulls into the old Central Railroad of New Jersey station at 61 W. Lehigh Street-now known as the Wooden Match. Please join me to celebrate the last year with some special guests, meet some of our newer Rotarians, and pass the gavel to President-Elect Deb Walter. As we highball into the 2021-22 year, please remember "Rotary Opens Opportunities". It has been an honor and privilege to have served as President of our club.
Yours in Rotary service,
President Pete Mickolay