Opening and Welcome - President Pam Cohen
Pam thanked members and guests for finding their way to the alternate meeting location in the Community Room at the Salvation Army facility on East 6th Street ibn Mesa.
Mike Whalen offered the invocation.  Pam led the Pledge of Allegiance.  Following the Pledge, Pam announced November 10 marked the 247th anniversary of the United States Marines and invited the club's Marines, Logan Harper and Dave Brauchler to come forward while the Marine's Hymn was played.  It was apparent that our Mesa West marines did not remember the lyrics to the hymn beyond the first verse...
Shelly Romine was thanked for serving as Greeter.
Introduction of Guests
  • Paige Kistner and her service dog, Nelly were introduced briefly as our speakers with more details to be presented about them later in the meeting.
  • Marge DeWitt-Crocket was visiting from the Corpus Christi Texas Rotary Club where she is President-Elect.  She shared some information about their club's Veteran's Day project, which has grown over the years.  They put up American Flags to honor heroes.  The flags are left up for a week.  The first year, they hoped to display 500 Flags, but 650 heroes were honored with flags that year.  This year 1800 flags were placed along the very visible shoreline drive.  The city allows them to leave the flag receptacles in the ground which makes the job of putting them up much faster.  In two hours, with the help of ROTC, Scouts, Students the job of putting up the 1800 flags was accomplished in two hours.  Marge's was accompanied by her husband, Tony Crocket.  They have only been married for a year.  Both members of the Corpus Christi club which has 214 members.  It was the 125th Rotary Club to be chartered.  Marge has been a member of the club for 28 years.
  • Kayla Mudge introduced her friend Rodrigo Caruco who she met while attending law school.  He travelled to Arizona to help Kayla celebrate her birthday.
  • Member Scott Ramsey, whose commitments rarely allow him to attend meetings was warmly acknowledged and thanked for the hospitality of the Salvation Army. 
Ace of Clubs Raffle - Dick Myren
After Dick explained the raffle, he asked our guest, Marge DeWitt-Crocket to draw the winning ticket.  She drew her own.  She donated the $30 won back asking that it be donated to Polio Plus.  Her luck did not continue when she attempted to draw the Ace of Clubs.  She instead drew the Queen of Hearts.
Happy Bucks 
  • Ed Koeneman contributed "snitch bucks" saying he attended a Mesa West meeting a couple of weeks prior via Zoom, and he was not introduced by our President.  He was happy Interact members committed to help hand out flags and water at the Veterans Day Parade on November 11.
  • Pam Cohen contributed $5 admitting to her guilt as accused by #1.  She was happy to report Interact sold 16 dozen purple donuts November 8.  Altogether the club raised almost $800 to donate to Polio Plus.
  • Jim McGown collects cans and bottles when he is away for the summer in New York.  They can be redeemed for cash.  Many people know he collects them so he can donate the redemption $$ received to SPCA.  He passed around an interesting unopened can, which stood out when it was donated because it had an unusal top.  The can contained Weed Water.  Apparently it sells for $15/can and has cannabis in it.
  • Guest Tony Crocket contributed.  They are here celebrating the 25th anniversary of Mission of Mercy which provides free medical care and prescriptions for the uninsured.  They operate in Corpus Christi Texas, Arizona, Maryland and Pennsylvania.
  • Dick Myren contributed because he was glad the election season was over.  He also contributed his traditional $2 for the privilege of he and Honorary Member Rod Daniels being associated with Mesa West Rotary.
  • Polly Cady was happy she and Allan would get to help Rodrigo and Kayla celebrate Kayla's birthday.
  • Don LaBarge contributed for being late - actually it was the reason he was late that motivated him to contribute.  Even though he is on the board at Salvation Army and helped set up the meeting being held at their facility, when he left his office to go to Rotary, he drove to the Doubletree.  He said he needed more volunteers to help with the Veteran's Day Parade.  He said he had tried to reach Logan Harper, but was frustrated in that effort because Logan does not have a voicemail account.
  • Lola McClane contributed.  She had a lot of trouble finding the meeting location.  She first went to 6th Street in Tempe.  She ten went to East 6th Avenue rather than Street and found herself in a neighborhood.
  • Kayla was happy she had help getting to the meeting and to celebrate her birthday pledged $250 toward her Paul Harris Fellow account.  President Pam said she would match that with points.
Rotary Flag Exchange
President Pam exchanged Rotary Club flags with our new friends from Corpus Christi.
  • Dave Brauchler said he already has ten volunteers for the Midwest Food Bank hands-on service project November 19.  He reminded members that the November 17 meeting would be the last meeting in this campaign we would be collecting non-perishable food items to donate to their organization.
  • Don LaBarge announced he is about ready to start recruiting for the Salvation Army Bell-Ringing season which will start Friday, November 24 and go through Christmas Eve.
  • Polly Cady was happy to announce she has 36 registered for the November 19 session of Rotary Leadership Institute (RLI).  Carla Krcmarik from Mesa West is one of those registered.  This session will be held in Laughlin.  The next session will be in January and will be back in the Phoenix metro area at the Thunderbird campus in downtown Phoenix.  On the 19th, there will be an Interact activity going on as well.
  • Shelly Romine announced the first planning committee meeting for the June 29 People of Action dinner celebrating Mesa West Rotary Club's 50th anniversary will be held at President Pam's house the evening of November 21.
  • Logan Harper reminded members to respond to the survey to determine our club's motto going forward.  So far, he has received 20 responses.  He would like the decision to be made by a broader representation of the club.
Program - Paws and Peers - Paige Kistner and Nellie
Ed Koeneman introduced Paige Kristner as our speaker.  Ed met her through the dog chew toy project the Westwood High School Interact Club conducted earlier this year.  Paige taught in Mesa Public Schools for five years before becoming the district's first Paws and Peers Support Specialist.  Paws and Peers is a therapy dog training program for MPS staff members to participate in providing therapy work to their students on campus.  Paige and her therapy dog Nelly, completed two years of therapy work at Edison Elementary before Paige took on the program full-tine.  Paige now oversees over 80 therapy dog teams across the district.  She is a graduate of University of Arizona, and obtained her Masters at Arizona State University.  Nelly is five years old.  Paige said the District recognized there has been a mental health crisis for school children.
The dogs are trained to work in classrooms.  After seeing the amazing Paws and Peers program in New York, the program was piloted here in 2018.  It has been growing since then.  The dogs recognize stress hormones and are trained in responding to that awareness.  Of the 81 teams in the district, 36 of the dogs were rescue dogs.  76 teachers have dogs in their classrooms.  There are 40 participating locations out of 80 plus schools in the district.
As Paige spoke, she wondered around the meeting room with Nelly, who stopped to get acquainted with several members.  It was clear she had a favorite Rotarian.  Nelly spent more time with Don Boucher than any other single Rotarian.  One had to wonder - was Don emitting more stress hormones than other members or did Nelly just really admire his shiny black shoes?
They partner with other organizations.  It is very important for the dogs to have the right temperament.  They have been on the news.  Seeing the dogs in action is interesting.  They are immersed into daily classroom activities.  Some youth just need a "brain break."  They are better able to focus after spending some time with the therapy dog.  Having the dogs in the classroom creates a culture of compassion.  The dogs are very loved on the last day of school.
The teachers are the owners of the dogs.  There is some financial support for the added costs related to training.  The training involves social emotional learning curriculum.  
When asked if there are more male or female dogs in the program, she wasn't certain, but felt like she had seen more male dogs.  When asked if it created a problem for children with allergies, she responded that children can opt out of being in a classroom with a dog.  When asked about comfort breaks for the dogs, she said a few schools have dog runs.  The rest have "designated areas."  They have "care teams" who can take the dogs on breaks when needed.  The participating dogs are a wide variety of breeds.  Student behavior in the classroom improves with the dogs present in the classroom.  
Using the QR code, will take you to the Paws and Peers website.  The 2023 calendar Paige mentioned is available to order on their site.