Opening of Meeting and Welcoming Remarks - President Pam Cohen
  • As members and guests arrived they were welcomed by Greeter, Sean Green.  Many also enjoyed the opportunity to meet and visit with our scheduled speaker, Marilee Baptiste from Midwest Food Bank.
  • Before offering the invocation,  Dick Myren announced his good friend and Honorary Rotarian Rod Daniels was in Banner Hospital on Power Road as a result of another serious heart-health concern.
  • Steve Ross led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Introduction of Guests
  • Visiting Mesa Rotary Club Member Dil Brinton was introduced by Ron Thompson and given the opportunity to share a few words.
  • John Penneypacker introduced speaker Marilee Baptiste, assuring everyone we would hear more about her and from her later in the meeting.
  • It was noted Bob Jensen, Shelly Romine and Warren Williamson were all attending via Zoom.
Ace of Clubs Raffle - Chuck Flint
Chuck explained that the holder of the ticket drawn would automatically win $40.  They would also win the opportunity to try to draw the Ace of Clubs from the cards remaining in the deck.  Should they be so lucky, they would win an additional $165.  Check then asked Diane Ware to draw the winning ticket.  Jack Rosenberg was the holder of the stub to the ticket drawn.  Since it as purchased jointly by he and John Benedict, they worked together to try to draw the Ace of Clubs.  They drew, instead, the Queen of Hearts.
Kickoff of Sponsorship Campaign - Allan Cady
Since the 2017-18 fiscal year, Mesa West Rotary Club has held an annual Sponsorship Drive to raise funds for our charitable work in Community Service, International Service, Vocational Service, and Youth Services.  Allan is very happy that Mesa West is a very generous club and some members also have some very generous family, friends, and business associates.
Donations to the sponsor campaign made to Mesa West Rotary Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charity, so the donors do have the advantage their donation being tax-deductible.
Allan has asked, and received positive responses from six club members who are willing to be team captains in this new campaign:
  • Chuck Flint
  • Kayla Mudge
  • Steve Ross
  • Ray Smith
  • Ron Thompson
  • Ed Koeneman
We have averaged $50,000 in donated revenue each year we have held a campaign.  This year, a lofty goal of $60,000 has been set.  Allan said that $4,750 had already been received with an additional $5,000 committed.  He said more information would be forthcoming.
Appreciation Expressed by President Pam
  • John Penneypacker was thanked for faithfully arriving early for our meetings, putting the banner stands together and hanging the banners so that our meeting room has the feel of an event rather than a simple gathering of club members.
  • Ed Koeneman was thanked for using his skills and expertise to make our meetings consistently available via Zoom for those who are unable to attend in person.
Happy Bucks - Ron Thompson
  • Polly Cady contributed to the Sponsor Campaign wanting to get her team (Ron's team) off with an enthusiastic start.
  • Frank Rosenberg said his family has enjoyed the opportunity to host Fanny Leinard who is a wonderful representative for France as a Youth Exchange Student.  The experience has inspired their daughter Sam to apply for and be accepted as an outbound Youth Exchange Student.  Sam will be travelling to Denmark this summer.
  • Don LaBarge shared a little more information about Rod Daniels (who works for Don).  The last day Rod worked, Don was aware that Rod had one leg that was swollen and one arm that was aching.  The next morning, Rod called Don to see if Don would give him a ride to the hospital.  Don told him to call 911.  Since the meeting, Don has reported that they did not find evidence of a new heart attack, but that Rod was retaining fluid in his leg and fluid in the tissue surrounding the heart.  Don will miss the March 9 meeting.  He will be in Jamaica participating in a Factory meeting there.  He will be gone six days.
  • Colleen Coons contributed to announce that she was asking a few members to volunteer to bring in desserts to be auctioned off at a future meeting.
  • Dick Myren contributed his traditional $2 happy that he and Rod Daniels are members of Mesa West.  He also reminded members to keep Rod in their prayers.
  • Jeanie Morgan was happy to have received a text from her grandson in Grapevine Texas prior to the meeting.  He said he thought he was ready to get involved in a service organization like Lions or Rotary (his grandpa had been a Lion).  Jeanie immediately went on the web and found a well-maintained website for the Grapevine Rotary Club with a phone number readily available for their Membership Chair.  Jeanie made a phone call.  A few minutes after a brief conversation with the Membership Chair, her grandson texted again saying he had just been invited to a Rotary Club meeting.
  • Ray Smith was happy to announce we have reached the half-way point in the tax-filing season.  He did acknowledge the the most difficult half of the season is what remains.  He noted that a couple of members (Jim Schmidt and Dick Myren) who are now retired CPA's will probably be smiling more in the coming weeks than they have during the same period in prior years.
  • John Pennypacker was happy to announce that his guests from the prior week (The Mobley's) had purchased some of the items being requested on the New Life Center Wish List.  CLICK HERE to see the list.  Items can also be brought to the March 9 meeting.  Dave Brauchler will see that they get to the right place by March 15.
  • Ted Williams was very happy to report that his son-in-law is doing much better.  Some of the complications from his organ transplant surgery have been successfully treated and he is progressing well.  When asked about the occasion for his showing up in a Sport Jacket for the meeting, Ted responded, "I was cold."
  • Ed Koeneman was very happy about all the positive attention Westwood High School Interact received at the Interact District Conference February 25.  They were recognized as a Club of Distinction.  They won the prize for the best video in that competition.  Two of their members were selected as Ambassadors for the 2023 Crutches for Africa mission.  Two other Westwood HS Interact members were selected as Ambassadors for a similar mission to Mexico this summer.
  • Dave Brauchler was very happy that their remodel is nearly complete.  Their stone waterfall is beautiful.  Their sink works.  He was also excited to see snow on the mountains surrounding us.
  • President Pam was unable to attend the Interact District Conference as she was involved in a facilitator training seminar taking place the same day.  Mesa West had more members at the training than any other club.  Then, when she was driving home, she had a conversation with Ed about the IDC and felt like Westwood HS Interact is following in their parent Rotary Club's footsteps.  Pam had Ed share a photo of an amazingly large snowdrift at her daughter's home in Flagstaff and in the photo was a very excited little boy, Wilder, wildly enjoying the snow.  The storms were bad enough that I-17 was shut down so Pam would not get to see him enjoy the snow in person.
  • Bob Jensen made a very encouraging brief report about how our efforts to achieve sustainability of the hearing project in Mexico are starting to pay off.  He was very obviously enthusiastic about the progress being made in that direction.  Bob asked Ray Smith to contribute $1 for him.  Ray contributed $5 instead.
  • Jim Schmidt briefly explained that he had made a contact who is committed to helping write a global grant for the Guaymas Hearing Project.
  • Ed Koeneman spoke about the April 8 Spring Olympics event that will be held at the Koeneman home.  Practice will start at 4:00 PM, Dinner will be available at 5:00 PM.  Competition will happen after dinner.  He said there would be some new events.  One will be competitive landscaping.  He is going to have six tons of crushed granite delivered to be spread by the competitors.
  • Dave Brauchler was happy to see items showing up for the New Life Center.  CLICK HERE to see their wish listItems can be brough to the March 9 meeting. The New Life Center is an emergency shelter for those who have just escaped from domestic violence.
Program - Midwest Food Bank - Marilee Baptiste
Bob started by saying the the first service project he participated in after joining Mesa West Rotary was a project at Midwest Food Bank.  Eric, who had just stepped down from a position with Midwest Food Bank was a close friend of Dr. Blessman.  The Trilogy community where Bob lives has participated in volunteer work at the food bank as well.  
Because the facility is located on the south side of Baseline Road, they are actually in Gilbert, but when they look out their windows, they are looking at Mesa.  
Midwest Food bank started in 2003.  They have been in Arizona since 2017.  
Marilee had worked for twenty-three years with Vanguard.  During her 23-year tenure with them, she did volunteer work at a variety of nonprofits.  When she happened on Midwest Food Bank, she was attracted to it because they allowed parents to bring their children so do volunteer work together.  That was something she wanted to do .
She had more than once thought maybe she could work for a nonprofit one day.  When Midwest was looking for help, she felt like she was being shown what she should do.  She was hired by them in February 2020.  One month later the pandemic happened increasing the food needs in communities everywhere.
Marilee was very open about her own sense of the "Holy Spirit" in this place.  Eric and the other founders are all very faith based.   They have a culture of teamwork which is very positive and encouraging.
It was interesting how Midwest Food Bank started.  Two farmers in Illinois who were brothers had feed sacks stored.  When Hurricane Katrina hit, they met with the Salvation Army.  They loaded up and delivered some food sacks.  The Salvation Army asked for ten more loads.  After putting out a plea, 167 loads of food and supplies were delivered.  The brothers had 8th grade educations and had a firm belief that "Only God could do this."
They have been in Arizona six years.  They are also in Texas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Kenya and Haiti.  From the Arizona facility, they freely donate to California, Utah, and sometimes as far away as Washington.  There has been tremendous growth in a short amount of time.
In 2022, the value of the food distributed system wide was $415,000,000.  In Arizona, the value was $41,000,000.  They did that out of a 25,000 square foot warehouse with a $1,000,000 budget.  
They give food to other organizations.  They serve 265 nonprofits.  1/3 of them are in Mesa.  Because they are not government-funded they have flexibility that makes it easier for them to do more.  Much of the food they distribute is given to them.  It comes in bulk quantities that would otherwise be going to a landfill.  They receive food from Kellogg's, Texaco, Target, and Amazon to name a few.
Some members remembered recently shoveling corn flakes into smaller bins so the flakes could be repackaged into serving-size bags.  Those flakes would have been waste otherwise.   They do what they do with very few paid employees and tons of volunteers.  She said last year 6700 volunteers provided 60,000 volunteer hours.  
Across the US 2200 non-profits are served. It is a simple application process.  Where is the food going?  Who will they be serving?  What are the demographics of those to be served?  The non-profits pick u the food from them.  They pick it up in everything from cars to semi's.  
What they can provide depends on what is available.  When emergency needs arise, they can usually be met through their network.
Tender Mercy meals are created to feed a family a nutritious meal easily by just adding hot water.  Those meals are produced at a cost of twenty-five cents per meal.
Marilee talked about Hope Packs.  Some kids who get free breakfast and lunch at school may not be that fortunate on holidays and weekends.  Hope Packs are weekend bags.  $50/year will sponsor hope packs for a child.
They try to operate displaying the fruits of the spirit:  Faithfulness, Peace, Goodness, Joy, Love, Kindness, Self-Control, Patience and Gentleness.
Shared purpose provided a good operating mentality during the pandemic.  
The opportunity for kids to help is a huge benefit for families.  Doing good together rarely has a bad outcome.
There are opportunities for groups of individuals to volunteer there to learn some work place skills.
She spoke of some steps:  pray, volunteer, follow, connect, donate - $1 donation will provide $30 in food.
They own all of their equipment.  They own 3 semi's.  They do fundraising when they need to buy equipment.
Update on Preparation for 2023-24 Rotary Year for Mesa West - Colleen Coons
As President-Elect, Colleen is being inundated with information.  Much of it is information that needs to be shared.    Excellent training will be available for incoming club leaders.  Information was on the tables so interested members would know what what being offered.
Because Logan Harper was elected to be President-Elect in 2023-24, the second year of his two-year director term needed to be filled.  Allan Cady has been elected by Colleen's 2023-24 board to fill that vacancy.
Education is one of the things Rotary Districts are charged with providing.   The Club Leadership Academy, the District Budget for 2013-14 will be voted on at that educational event
  • Club Leadership Academy provides task oriented education
  • Rotary Leadership Institute provides information about Rotary beyond the club level