Pam Cohen, Acting President, opened the meeting inviting Wendell Jones to offer the invocation and Jim McGown to lead the Pledge of Allegiance.  In the spirit of major league baseball spring training happening throughout the Valley of the Sun, Ray Smith led everyone present in singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame."
There were several guests present.  Among them were Samantha Rosenberg (Jack's granddaughter and Frank's daughter); Colton and Sandra of the Westwood High School Interact Club; Bob Yates from Calgary, Canada; Mike Grandjean, a former member now living in the State of Texas; Carolyn Jones; and Dan Coons introduced his wife, Colleen, her sister, Juday, and her brother-in-law Bob Roller.
Wendell Jones won the attendance drawing on the third try.  Owners of badge number 16 and 8 lost out as their numbers were drawn prior to Wendell's.
Robert LaBarge handled the weekly drawing.  Colleen Coons won the small pot of $51, but did not draw the Ace of Clubs so the large pot, now at $1,026, will continue to grow.
Next week will be the Club Assembly.  March 29 and April 5 do not yet have speakers confirmed.  Steve Ross would appreciate any suggestions and/or help making contact with potential speakers.
Bob Zarling paid happy bucks for receiving ten tickets for the Tuesday, March 20, Phoenix Suns basketball game against the Detroit Pistons.  He gave them to the Gilbert High School basketball team in appreciation for their service as referees at our annual spring olympics and Salvation Army bell ringing shifts they worked for us at Bass Pro last November-December.  
  • Don LaBarge reminded members that throughout our district, when it comes to community service, we are known as "the ditch digging club."  He has an event coming up in April to plan fifteen trees at the Save the Family facility in Mesa.  Volunteer help is needed and lunch will be provided.  Westwood High School Interact students will help.  Volunteers who have appropriate tools should bring them.
  • The Club Leadership Academy is coming up April 21.  The club will pay the cost of registration for anyone who wants to attend.  That offer is extended to all club members, and is not restricted to the 2018-19 leadership team.
  • The April 19 program will be about the Arizona Museum of Natural History located in downtown Mesa.  Members are urged to attend and learn about the museum as we will be hosting our Sponsor Appreciation Night at the museum on the evening of April 25.
  • May 5 is a date that needs to be reserved for our annual Spring Olympics, which will also be a Cinco de Mayo celebration at the home of John and Jane Benedict.
Dan Coons had an auction item from a trip to Springfield, Illinois.  Bob Jones from Canada was the most generous bidder.  He was delighted with the first gift he pulled from the bag - reading "Four score and seven years ago..." from a mug from the Lincoln museum.  There were a number of interesting mementos, one of which held one of Bob's favorite quotes from Abraham Lincoln, "The better part of one's life consists of his friendships."  He chose not to read the copy of the Gettysburg Address, which was among the treasures.
Pam turned the program over to Ed Koeneman for our annual Youth Programs Day.
Ed began by saying that a year ago, he was the only Mesa West Member with official youth program duties.  This year, he has had the help of Dan Coons and Donna Goetzenberger to support our involvement in Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA), Interact, Rotaract and Youth Exchange.  Our club has been very involved with RYLA for a long time.  We are co-sponsoring the Grand Canyon University Rotaract Club since its formation last November.  Mesa West has a long history of supporting Rotary Youth Exchange.
Donna had travel plans which had been made prior to the scheduling of the Youth Day program.  Dan Coons talked about our exchange students.  
  • Takuma Fujiya from Japan is a very enjoyable young man.  He is attending school in Scottsdale.  He will be residing with the same family all year.  Dan and his wife Colleen have involved Takuma in several of their activities and encouraged other members to do the same and invite him to participate in large or small family activities.
  • Nicholas Dell'Olio, Dan's son is spending this school year in Taiwan.  He is spending six hours per day learning Mandarin - a very difficult language.
  • Bryan and Donna's daughter, Emilee, is spending the year as a youth exchange student in Belgium.
  • They are hosting Lissa Bergner from Austria, who is sponsored by another club in our District.
  • Next year, our club is sponsoring Yordi Miguel from Westwood High School who will be spending the 2018-19 school year on his exchange trip to Brazil.
  • After learning that the reciprocal inbound student is not required to attend Westwood High School, Dan Coons and Frank Rosenberg, who both live in the same school district, have committed to host the inbound student which will be sponsored by Mesa West Rotary.  They hope to find a third host family to complete the ideal situation where the inbound  students are immersed in three different family settings while they are in the US.
Ed Koeneman talked about the GCU Rotaract club sponsored last November.  They have been participating in two service projects each month and held a purple pinky fundraiser recently to raise funds and awareness of Rotary's End Polio Now efforts throughout the world.  Their President, Scarlett Zinggeler, and Secretary, Isabelle Clausen, are both former Interact Club members.  They meet every other Wednesday evening at the university.  Rotarians are urged to attend.  The members would enjoy opportunities to be mentored by Rotarian professionals as they work toward their goals.
In the United States, Interact is primarily in our high schools.  Internationally, it is found in middle schools as well.  The Westwood High School Interact sponsor, Andrea Murphy, is a member of Mesa West Rotary.  Ed introduced their President, Colton, and Secretary, Sandra to talk about their RYLA experience and their Interact Club.
Colton explained that he would probably not have gotten as involved in Interact if he had not attended RYLA as a sophomore.  Sandra attested to the fact that RYLA is a "life-changing experience."  She also attended as a sophomore and has applied to be a counselor this year.  She is anxiously waiting to hear if she has been accepted.  Their Interact club raised $853 with their Purple Pinky fundraiser and were happy that that amount would be matched by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  They ranked 2nd in the state for their effort. 
Their main project is one they are participating in with the District 5495 Interact Council - Crutches for Africa.  The goal for the council is to raise $30,000 to transport the crutches and mobility devices they are gathering for for delivery and distribution in Kenya.  Colton has been selected as one of the Interact ambassadors who will travel to Kenya in June, 2018 to participate in the distribution.  
Donation information to support the Crutches for Africa project:
Anyone who wishes to donate, especially larger amounts, and plans to "itemize" and take a deduction for federal income taxes, should mail a check made out to the Rotary Club of Prescott Foundation, with the memo:  "for Interact C4A Project," and mail it to 100 E Sheldon, Suite 105, Prescott, AZ 86301.  Although Interact will have fees deducted from on-line donations, for the sake of convenience, donations can be made on-line by CLICKING HERE.
Megan, who was Interact President at Westwood High School last year, is attending ASU, and sent her appreciation to Mesa West Rotarians for the $1,000 scholarship she received from the Mesa West Rotary Foundation.
It was noted that host families do not necessarily need to have school-age children in their household.  Living with empty-nesters can be very beneficial when mature perspectives are shared with the exchange student and the hosts have more time to enjoy the cultural enrichment their guest will bring to their home.