President Dan Coons opened the meeting by introducing himself and reminding members and guests of the 2021-22 Rotary International Theme - Serve to Change Lives.  He then recited the Rotary Vision Statement:  
Together we see a world where people unite and 
take action to create lasting change - 
across the globe, in our communities and in ourselves
Thought for the Day - Lucinda General
With District Governor Bret McKeand making his official visit to Mesa West Rotary, Lucinda had planned to talk about the inspiration she gains from seeing the commitment of everyday Rotarians.  It was with sadness that she learned of the loss of an extraordinary Rotarian who passed away September 19th.  Hal Wochholz had been a member of Sun Lakes Rotary Club for nineteen years after moving to Sun Lakes from Mesa.  More recently, he had been residing in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
Hal had grown up in Michigan and was a successful athlete, playing football, basketball and baseball.  While at Purdue trying to make the football team, the Korean War broke out.  Hal enlisted in the Navy where he got into electronics and started his pursuit of an Electrical Engineering degree.  He eventually received highest honors as he earned his BS and MS degrees in Electrical Engineering Degrees from Michigan State University.  Hal worked with a variety of corporations involved in the fields of aerospace, rocket development, computers, electronic technology, and at once point served as a college professor at the University of New Hampshire.  Whle VP at McDonnell Douglas Electronics Company of its Electronics and Flight Controls Division, Hal provided development support for the Apache Helicopter.  He retired from the Valley's Boeing Corporation.  Hal first joined Rotary in the Boeing Employee Club (where he and John Pennypacker were charter members).  
During his naval service Hal began his fight with polio.  In his twenties, as a young father, he read Dr. Spock's baby book.  While reading one portion to his daughter, where the symptoms of infantile paralysis were discussed, Hal said, "My gosh, I have all of those symptoms."  Hal went to a doctor at the local navy hospital who dismissed it as being a "stiff neck," and sent him home.  It got worse, so he returned again, and they concluded, "Ys, you do have polio."  They checked him in for the beginning of a life-long battle for him and his wife, Phyllis, his strongest teammate and ultimate caregiver.  He battled all the ailments, aches, and pains of polio, and suffered from Post Polio Syndrome.  He was able to avoid the iron lung, but used crutches, canes, and an electric-powered wheel chair.  He had his left leg amputated above the knee due to polio-caused poor circulation.
In the Valley, Hal became known for his owrk as the "PolioPlus Poster Guy," a title he had given himself in honor of thos children in the 30's and 40's who served as President Roosevelt's Poster Children.  He will long be remembered for his substantial efforts working to eradicate polio through becoming a leading force of Rotary's End Polio Now drive throughout the Valley and the worldwide Rotary community.  He served as District 5510's PolioPlus Lead making presentations at Rotary Conferences, most of the Rotary Clubs in the Valley and to principals, teachers, student councils and schools in the East Valley.  Those activities resulted in Hal being designated 2010 Rotarian of the Year for RI District 5510.  Hal was always a ready and willing volunteer.  He was generous with both his time and resources.  He and Phyllis became members of Rotary's Arch Klumpf Society when they made a donation to The Rotary Foundation of $250,000.
After a moment of silence, members were encouraged to make a donation to End Polio Now in memory of Hal and to be an active part of World Polio Day which will be celebrated by Rotarians all over the world on October 24.
Pledge of Allegiance - John Pennypacker
Introduction of Guests
  • Warren Williamson introduced Jonathan Theimer.  
  • Don LaBarge introduced Terry Cowan a PDG from Wisconsin and a member of the Rotary E-Club of the Southwest.
  • President Dan introduced another PDG, Tom Yuzer who was attending via Zoom.
Ace of Clubs Raffle - Chuck Flint
Chuck explained that the holder of the winning ticket would automatically win $45 along with the chance to win $460 if they should draw the Ace of Clubs from the remaining cards in the deck.  Jeane Crouse's ticket was drawn, and she immediately returned the $45 so it cold be sent by the club to The Rotary Vocational Fund of Arizona.  The card she drew from the deck was the six of hearts which was immediately destroyed.
Happy Bucks - Greg Okonowski
  • John Pennypacker contributed sad dollars.  In the past week, he had lost three good friends, Bill Bemish, Hal Wochholz, and his brother-in-law, Donnie Oates.  He did make a celebratory contribution in honor of the recent birth of Buey Ray Tut's son, Nilo.
  • Chris Krueger was excited that her best friend would be flying in from Austin, Texas to share some fun for a few days.  
  • Colleen Coons pledged $50 to Youth Services in memory of Bill Bemish.  Bill was working with Rotary Youth Exchange for the district when their son Ryan was an outbound student to Japan.  Bill included siblings in all the YE activities, resulting in Nicholas eventually being an outbound YE student to Taiwan.
  • Warren Williams thought is was so nice of the club to plan a party on his and Son Hee's wedding anniversary which is coming up September 30 that he made a $100 contribution to Polio Plus.
  • Don LaBarge contributed - he was happy to report that because of his close relationship with the Hilton (now the Doubletree) they were going to start leaving the south door unlocked making it more convenient for members who like to park out back.
  • Chuck Flint contributed - he had wonderful memories of Bill Bemish and his life-changing work with Rotary Youth Exchange.  Chuck had participated many years with a trip where Rotary Youth Exchange students were taken to Puerto Lobos Mexico.  One of the forms the youth needed to cross the border was a 201I form.  One year, one of the students was missing his form.  Bill Bemish drove to  the border with the form so the student could cross back into the USA.  Chuck was also happy to have been able to attend the Reno Air Race with Reid Douglas a friend of fifty-three years.
  • Polly Cady contributed observing how nice members looked, having come dressed a little finer than usual in honor of the DG Official Visit - that is until she realized it might also have something to do with the portrait photos Wayne General had volunteered his time, talent, and equipment to take before and after the meeting.
  • Allan Cady contributed sad dollars.  Jimmy Cline - who he had requested prayers for at the September 16 meeting had lasted as long as he could but passed away over the weekend.  Both of Allan's sons work at the dealership in Charlotte North Caroline where Jimmy was General Manager.  Both sons are having a hard time with the loss of their good friend and business associate.  Allan again asked for prayers.  This time for his son Chris who is having an especially difficult time with the loss.
  • Jeanie Crouse contributed - she was grateful that Ted Williams had told her that Susan's daughter Brittney, who is a respiratory therapist and had been hospitalized with a serious case of COVID has recovered sufficiently to be released from the hospital.
  • Pam Cohen announced she would be making online donations to Polio Plus in honor of Bill and Hal.  She contributed $5 stating that Frank and Amanda Rosenberg had cleaned her carpets, and was happy to report their work was awesome.  
  • Dan Coons contributed.  He was happy that a few weeks ago when our speaker did not show up, it was still a great meeting.  All he had to do was be quiet because Mesa West is such a great club.
  • Polly Cady contributed.  Their oldest granddaughter was going to be Married on Saturday, and they would have the opportunity to celebrate the happy occasion with out-of-town family guests all weekend.
  • Terry Cowan contributed, stating that as a member of an e-club, it is nice to be around real Rotarians.
Auction - John Pennypacker 
John had won prize at one of the holes at the Midwest Food Bank golf tournament held at The Biltmore on September 16.  The prize was actually a collection of nice items including a blanket a blender, skin care products, and others.  After some competitive bidding, Chris Krueger's bid of $100 was the bid that prevailed.
  • Shelly Romine announced that the bedding drive for Sleep in Heavenly Peace is going well.  We will continue to collect even after the end of September.  
  • Volunteers can still sign up to participate in the bulk food repackaging project on Tuesday, September 28 at Midwest Food Bank.  They not only need to sign up on the link Shelly provided so their service is recorded in club records, Midwest Food Bank has also requested that the volunteers sign up on their website.  Shelly had already provided that information to those who had already volunteered.
  • President 'Dan reminded members that nomination forms must be completed by any past club president interested in being in the running to serve as District Governor in 2024-25.  He can provide them to anyone interested.  The club board needs to approve any nomination forwarded on to the district.
  • Lucinda General announced that she had not been selected to serve as Zone Director.  She said the interviewing committee had several very qualified applicants and it had not been an easy decision.  It was around 10:00 PM when they notified the candidates of their decision.  The Committee selected PDG Dan Himelspach of the Rotary Club of Denver Mile High in District 5450. He accepted and agreed to serve. 
  • Everyone was reminded of the Musical Interlude to be held the evening of September 30 at Allan and Polly Cady's new home.  
  • The October 23 meeting will be a Club Assembly and Job Fair.
Program - Official Visit of District Governor Bret McKeand
Assistant Governor Lee Holmes said that he has served as Assistant Governor eight years of his Rotary career.  In most cases, when he has introduced the District Governor, he has been given a long introductory bio.  He said that with Bret, he only had to say three things:
  • Bret is a member of the Peoria North Rotary Club
  • Bret has a lot of connections in the Valley since he worked in the local news industry for a long time.
  • Bret is a good friend.
DG Bret began by stating this was his second visit to Mesa West this year.  He attended the July 1 Changing of the Guard Celebration Dinner when twelve new members entry into the club was celebrated.  He said Mesa West really set the tone.  He also said we were number three in membership growth in Zones 26 and 27.
A concern in preparing for his presentation to Mesa West Rotary was "What do you say to inspire a club with six past district governors in it.  He went on to say that attending Mesa West is like attending a District Leadership Meeting.  Chris Krueger is the District Membership Chair.  Pam Cohen is in charge of member retention.  Allan Cady is an Assistant Governor and serves as a director on The Rotary Vocational Fund of Arizona.  Polly Cady is Chair of Rotary Leadership Institute, Donna Goetzenberger is District Youth Exchange Chairperson, Chuck Flint is Paul Harris Society Coordinator.  Jim Schmidt is also an AG and in addition is a member of the District Finance Committee.  Jeanie Morgan is the immediate Past District Treasurer, is the current President of TRVFA and produces the best club newsletter in the district.  Looking around the room, he concluded Mesa West was likely the best dressed club in the district.  When naming the district leaders, he said he had failed to mention that Lucinda General serves as a Rotary Zone Coordinator.
Bret told about a trip early in 2020 when he traveled to Caborca, Mexico to participate in a Polio Immunization effort with other Rotarians.  They went to a very rural community near the Sea of Cortez.  Most of the homes were shacks.  There was no school or grocery store in the area.  There were more boats than cars, which he found interesting.  When they knocked on the doors, the mothers would come out with their children's immunization records.
He found it to be a life-changing event.  A moment filled with true purpose and impact and would change someone's life.  He spoke of one person who questioned the importance of Rotary Service Projects.  In a club that distributed dictionaries, one member questioned "What good are dictionaries if the world is falling apart?  Bret acknowledged that we are living in challenging times, but in answer to that kind of negativity, he reminded us of what Paul Harris said at the 1942 Rotary International Convention - another dark time in history:

"The grandest opportunity to serve humanity is directly before us.

Let us remember that it is always darkest just before dawn. These are the before daylight hours. Let us fervently hope that when the sun does rise it will usher in a day of unprecedented glory - the day of the brotherhood of man."

Bret likes to use the 2020-21 and 2021-22 Rotary International themes together:  "Rotary Opens Opportunities" to "Serve to Change Lives," reminding us that one person can make a difference.
New members are attracted to Rotary because we serve to change lives.  Providing members with service opportunities is one of the best ways to retain and grow membership.  Mike Flores, President of the Gilbert Rotary Club has assured Bret their club will have a service project every week.  They are setting a very high bar, but one Bret hopes more clubs will strive for.
Next April, during Rotary Week of Service, Bret is encouraging clubs to involve non-Rotarians in the opportunity to serve, hoping some will find their own passion to serve.  Hearing about Hal's life was inspirational.  Some Rotary service projects come with a bonus of being able to travel for good, making a difference abroad.
Bret encouraged continued support of The Rotary Foundation Annual Fund and Polio Plus.  The primary visible focus of Rotary for the past forty years has been to eliminate polio.  We are closer now than we have ever been.  There have still been only two cases of wild polio virus reported this year.  One case in Afghanistan and another in Pakistan.  
Bret encouraged us to continue to support our youth.  Serving as RYLA volunteers, hosting of exchange students, supporting scholarships, and supporting Interact activities are among the many ways to do so.  The sone of the President-Elect in Winslow went to Mexico this past summer as an ambassador on a mobility device mission.  After a year of attending school virtually and living in Winslow Arizona where standing on a corner seems to be the only thing to do, he came home from that trip with a complete new outlook.  He has a new goal of becoming a physical therapist.  A new way to serve youth is in the new reach of Rotary emphasized by our current Rotary International President Shekhar Mehta of India - Empowering Young Girls.  Our immediate PDG Elizabeth Mahoney is working at the district and zone levels on this project.
The final opportunity Bret mentioned was to support The Rotary Vocational Fund of Arizona.  At the 2019 Rotary District Conference, three ladies who had benefited from vocational education grants from TRVFA each spoke about the difference the grant had made in their life.  Most who were in attendance found themselves tearing up as they listened.  
Our actions have potential to impact lives.  Small acts multiplied by many others joining in are powerful.  Through Rotary we have the opportunity to do service with passion and purpose.  Through service, we can also discover true happiness in our own lives.
He encouraged us to be more than successful, he challenged us to be significant, saying Rotary provides the path to do so.
DG Bret followed his presentation by making some presentations:
  • He had a coin designed to give to community service champions.  It has the current theme logo on one side and the district logo on the other side.  Two Mesa West Rotarians received this award:
    • Shelly Romine - Community Service Chair who has had at least one service project each month last year and this year to date.
    • Don LaBarge - Salvation Army Bell Ringing coordinator for at least a decade.  Bret is aware that the job of filling the bell-ringing shifts is a lot like herding cats.
  • Bret invited Polly Cady forward to help him recognize Rotary Leadership Institute graduates who were not able to attend the July 10 District celebration.
    • Don Boucher and Bob Zarling were not present at the meeting, but their graduation from RLI was announced.
    • Jim Schmidt was present to receive his RLI graduation certificate.
President Dan announced that a $500 donation to Polio Plus would be made in honor of District Governor Bret to thank him for his service.
Following the meeting, DG Bret met with the Board of Directors of Mesa West Rotary.