Club Information
Welcome to our Rotary Club of Mesa West!
Mesa West
Thursdays at 12:00 PM
Via Zoom
Mesa, AZ
United States of America
District Site
Venue Map
March 11 Speaker - Tara Sundem  - Tiniest Victims of Opiod Crisis
The speaker at our March 11 Zoom meeting will be Tara Sundem, Executive Director at Hushabye Nursery.
As a neonatal nurse practitioner, Tara brings over 28 years of experience caring for babies in the neonatal intensive care unit.  She was drawn to babies suffering from neonatal abstinence syndrome with the opioid epidemic.  Her passion to transform the healthcare experience for the babies and their families has led to her founding Hushabye Nursery, an Arizona non-profit dedicated to caring for opiate-exposed newborns in their first weeks of life.
Tara's career in healthcare has spanned across the valley neonatal intensive care units.  She most recently served as Executive Director at Hushabye Nursery.  Under Tara's leadership, Hushabye Nursery has grown from an idea to "save the babies" in 2016 to a new care model serving the entire family system impacted by the opioid crisis starting prenatally and continuing after discharge from the hospital.  
Tara holds a Master of Science from Arizona State University and is a board-certified Neonatal Nurse Practitioner.  She lives in Gilbert with her husband, two sons and a dog.
Sponsorship Campaign Update
As of Friday, March 5, funds already received for Mesa West Rotary Foundation this year have reached $45,341.59, exceeding the increased goal the team captains recently agreed to!
There are still some commitments outstanding and pledges which have been made during happy bucks during our Zoom meetings that will not show up on the thermometer until dues invoices go out April 1 and payments of those pledges start rolling in.
It is looking more and more likely that the final thermometer photo may have red spilling over the top.
Team Goetzenberger is still clearly in the lead.  Team Flint is in second place with Team Okonowski nipping at their heels.
Kudos to Allan Cady for leading this effort.
Highlights of March 4 Zoom Meeting
Prior to the Zoom meeting being called to order, several Rotarians logged into the Zoom platform early to enjoy some casual conversation.
John Pennington and President Dan Coons shared some memories of a Group Study Exchange (GSE) team that visited the district several years ago.  John stays in touch with most of the team, has hosted some of them in his home and seen them when he has traveled to Scotland.
Greg Okonowski received some attention when he logged in with a different nautical background.  It made everyone wonder what he had been up to recently since it had been a few weeks since he attended a meeting, and it looked like he had upgraded his boat...
John shared some photos taken at Zone Institutes.  One was taken with Michael Fish who he met at an Institute when it was held on Palm Springs.  It was John's first Institute where he attended as a Special Invited Guest (SIG).  The other was taken of Candy Pierce's car with an End Polio Now logo wrap on the hood.
Harvey Clark, current President of the Superstition Mountain Rotary Club logged in early.  Harvey volunteered to help manage broadcasting the Speaker's presentation from the Salvation Army where Don LaBarge had arranged for as many members and guests as chose to do so to try having lunch together using safe social distancing protocols.  It was a good first meeting to try using Harvey Clark's hybrid meeting experience because the speaker was planning to have some items to display.
Jack Rosenberg had conversed with a former member recently and invited him to attend our meeting.  Direk Srichankij now lives in Thailand, and even though, with the time difference, it was 2:00 AM, he did use the link Jack provided and logged into the meeting.
There was no snow in Frank Rosenberg's background, but he was planning to travel to their second home in Flagstaff on Saturday, March 6. 
As everyone was visiting, it was clear that several members and one guest were arriving at the Salvation Army dining room.
Call to Order - President Dan Coons
President Dan opened the meeting by reciting the 2020-21 Rotary International President's Theme - Rotary Opens Opportunities.  He then shared 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
Inspirational Thought for  the Day - Colleen Coons
Through Rotary, we have the power to use language to speak, share, educate, and find meaningful service to others to enable them to be self-sustaining.
Rotary Minute - Chris Krueger
Chris shared some information from District 5495.  She is currently serving as the District Membership Chair.  There is an exciting event coming up April 17 through April 24 will be Rotary Week of Service.  All clubs in the district are asked to do some type of service during that week.  The district leadership plans to "hit it out of the ballpark."  They will use print advertisements, and many other forms of publicity including a GivSum website platform where the many club projects will be featured.  It is an exciting opportunity to grow Rotary Membership.  The public will be invited to join Rotarians in service projects through the GivSum website, so it will be an opportunity for Rotarians to engage with potential members and put new life into our clubs and grow the pride members feel about their involvement in Rotary.  Chris voiced appreciation for the work our current Community Service Chair, Shelly Romine, has done putting together meaningful monthly service projects this year.  Assistant Governor Lee Holmes said that a training/planning meeting was scheduled on Zoom at 5:00 that very evening about the Rotary Week of Service.  Some club leaders were planning to attend that meeting.  John Pennypacker is working on trying to get a photo op scheduled  with Mayor Giles mayor signing a Proclamation about Rotary Week of Service in the presence of the Presidents of each of the three Rotary Clubs in Mesa.
Introduction of Guests
  • Jack Rosenberg introduced Direk Srichankij, a former member of Mesa West Rotary who now lives in Thailand.
  • President Dan asked Juli Kelly who has been a Rotarian in the past and is looking for a club to join to share a little bit about herself.  Juli is a former member of the Rotary Club of Coolidge.  She was very active there.  She has been in Mesa about a year and a half.  She works at Mayo Clinic where she is an operations manager and runs the neurology program.
  • Dan Lamborn was introduced.  He has submitted an application for membership, and that process is moving forward.
  • Assistant Governor Lee Holmes was introduced.
  • Jim McGown was attending from the Salvation Army Facility and had Dennis Hawley attending with him as his guest.
Happy Bucks - Greg Okonowski
  • Chris Krueger pledged $10.  $5 because she was going to be getting her first COVID vaccination at 2:00 AM Friday morning.  The second $5 was because she was happy her son and his family from Nebraska would be arriving for a visit and she was very excited to see her grandbabies.
  • Colleen Coons pledged $10 - she was happy her vaccination appointment was at 3:15 PM.
  • Allan Cady pledged $50 for the career success his son Matt Cady is enjoying.
  • Polly Cady pledged $10.  As Membership Chair, she was thrilled to have two potential members - Dan and Juli -  in attendance.
  • John Pennypacker pledged $5 on behalf of his youngest grandson who just had his fifth birthday and proclaimed he does not want to be called "baby" anymore.  John pledged another $5 for surviving the wind on the golf course on Wednesday afternoon.
  • Jeanie Morgan pledged $10.  When she was processing the on-line donations to TRVFA last week, she noted that three of the seven donors were from Mesa West Rotary Club.  She also noted that more than half of the online donated revenue last week came from those three Mesa West Rotarians.
  • Bob Zarling pledged $10.  He was going to get his COVID shot Friday at Salvation Army.
  • Jack Rosenberg pledged $5 - happy to see his friend Direk at our Zoom meeting.
  • Dan Coons made a $10 confession admitting that when he did his homework about listing things he was grateful for following the February 25 meeting, he had forgotten that he was supposed to prioritize his list, and had Colleen listed as #2.
  • Colleen Coons pledged $5 if anybody could give her an attorney because she was only #2.
  • Warren Williamson pledged $5 to tell a joke.  A very wealthy elderly man had a beautiful young wife.  People were regularly planting seeds of doubt by insinuating that she had only married him for his money.  He finally worked up the courage to ask her if he had to sell their mansion and their vacation home, their boat, private jet and luxury cars, would she still love him?  She answered, "Of course I would still love you - and I would miss your terribly."
  • Chris Krueger pledged $5 to share a joke, as well.  A priest, a rabbit, and a minister walked into a bar.  The bartender asked the rabbit what he would have.  The rabbit responded, "I have no idea - I'm only here due to autocorrect."
  • Greg Okonowski pledged $50 for the sponsor program to be payable when Juli submits her membership application.  Juli responded that would not be a donation, it would be an investment.
  • Pam Cohen pledged $5 - she also was happy to see former member Direk.
  • Don LaBarge pledged $5 - happy that business has been good and he will be getting his second COVID shot Friday.  He was able to get his appointments using a secret number only available to veterans.
  • Pam Cohen, who is on team Okonowski in the fundraising campaign, said she would match Greg's $50 pledge to be due when Juli turns in her membership application.
The official visit from the District Governor was postponed indefinitely hoping that DG Elizabeth Mahoney would be able to meet with our club in person.  With the recent precautionary ruling from Rotary International, the in-person option is out of the picture.  They are trying to find a date where she can attend and make her presentation at our Zoom meeting.  Since the meeting, President Dan has confirmed with DG Elizabeth and the Program Committee that April 22 will be the date Mesa West Rotarians will have the opportunity to host the official visit of our District Governor on Zoom.
While waiting for Ray Smith to make his way to the podium to introduce the speaker, the winning raffle ticket from the drawing at the Salvation Army gathering was drawn.  John Benedict was the lucky winner of $45.  When he tried to draw the Ace of Clubs, however, he instead drew the jack of hearts.
Ray Smith introduced Justin Organ from the Mesa Police Department SWAT TEAM.  Justin is 41 years of age, has been married for twenty years, and he and his wife have four children.  He joined the Mesa Police Department in January, 2002.  He was a patrol officer for seven years when he decided to test for the SWAT team.  He was able to make the team on his first try.  When he first joined the team, they were a part-time team, so he continued to work patrol and was part of the team.  In September, 2010 the entire team went to a full-time capacity.  He has been a member of the SWAT team for twelve years.  He is an assistant team leader and is their lead sniper.  Standing beside Justin, Ray said it is sometimes all to clear - all men are NOT created equal.
To begin the discussion, Ray asked Justin to tell everyone what the longest shot he had successfully made when hunting big game.  If his answer was heard correctly, it was 1,025 yards.  If, indeed, it was heard correctly, it is understandable why he is the team's lead sniper.  Being a sniper is a specialty everyone on the team is trained to do.  There are various other specialties on the team - breachers, tools, shotgun, explosives...
Justin brought a few items for display.  The first he spoke about was an "entry vest."   He said it is rated for protection from both handgun and rifle.  He said the rifle plate covers vitals and a groin flap provides additional protection.  Contained on the vest are additional magazines of ammunition and a first-aid kit.  It also includes a gas mask.
Justin said that medics from the fire department train with and for them.  Team members can start self-treating until out of the hot zone.  The gear weighs about sixty pounds.
Another piece of equipment which Justin displayed was a helmet that included night-vision equipment.  He said that when they are serving a high-risk search warrant, they try to get everyone out so the team can collect evidence.  
He spoke about some of the situations that create a need for the SWAT team:
  • When they are serving a high-risk search warrant and need to get everyone out so they can collect evidence.
  • When there are criminal barricades
  • When they are trying to arrest someone for a felony misdemeanor, but the subject refuses to come out of home
  • When one or more hostages are being held inside a barricaded home or business.
  • Kidnapping 
  • Domestic violence
He said in a recent case that involved an $80,000 ransom, during the attempt to pick up the ransom, the SWAT team did a victim rescue.
They provide security at city council meeting and for other dignitaries.  Justin said that undercover detectives provide cover for "deals" that are set up.
The team has been full time since 2010.  If they are not doing operations, there is a lot of training to keep up on.  Before they were full time, when not busy, they went out to help on patrol.  Justin said that they are constantly going and constantly busy.
In answer to a question, Justin indicated he lifts weights at 4:00 AM so he can lift without interruption.  Someone said that if Justin is lifting, there are no other weights left so the rest of the team has to wait until he is finished.
Justin said they are super busy, so crazy stories don't stick out anymore.  He finally did share one story.  Six or seven years ago out in east Mesa off Power Road, an estranged wife showed up at a house to get items.  The husband had been drinking and using narcotics or abusing prescription drugs.  When the patrol arrived on scene gunfire started.  The patrol officers called for SWAT support.  When they arrived, they were immediately shot at.  It was obvious there were several handguns shooting at officers and their vehicles.  They were there eight hours.  Justin was deployed as a sniper.  The lots in the neighborhood were large.  He was a long distance away on a roof where he had clear sight of the front door.  He could feel bullets whizzing over his head, but there was no way the shooter could have known Justin was there.  He was just shooting randomly.  
They used gas to try to get him out, but it didn't phase him.  His blood alcohol after he was final arrested was four times the legal limit plus he had the narcotics in his system.  After 7-8 hours, he finally surrendered and gave up without harm.
Alcohol and drugs are a huge factor necessitating SWAT team action.  They are now up to 21 full-time members plus 8-9 in training.  They have three squads.  Call-out statistics are used to set schedules.
They use Mesa Fire Department SWAT medics, and go through their SWAT training and additional training throughout the year.  They get no extra pay for being on the team.  They are all just officer level.  They do not get a step up in rank unless they become sergeant or team leader.  Overtime is minimized requiring team members to be flexible.  They might be sent home early if an event is coming up that is likely to create extra hours.
They have two armored vehicles which will take up to 50 caliber rifle rounds.  Typlically they drive leased vehicles to support their undercover operations.  There are no police markings on the regular vehicles.  They do have police communication equipment and red and blue lights.
Justin said there are nine snipers on the team.  He was into long-range hunting before SWAT.  He has done his own reloading.
The team works together with ICE, US Marshals, Homeland Security, etc. when requested.
When Justin was asked if he had every had to shoot anyone, he replied that the hope is that they will never have to.  He did have to shoot someone in 2010.  A Gilbert police officer had been shot.  Justin was involved in the pursuit.  Both suspects were shot, arrested, and are in prison.
Mesa West Honored by Salvation Army
Earlier this week, Don LaBarge was presented a certificate of Appreciation for Mesa West Rotary from the Salvation Army in Mesa Arizona.  
In recent years, Don has coordinated the scheduling of bell-ringers to serve at the kettle station located in front of the Bass Pro Shop.  This past holiday season our station set another record for collections.  This year, Mesa West Rotarians stepped up to the staffing challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic which prevented some groups who normally help from being there.  Many members worked multiple shifts throughout the holiday season.  
As was reported earlier this year, Mesa West Rotary set a new record, raising $20,384.42.
March Service Event - 7th Street Food Pantry
We have a very special community service project for March.  This project is part of a district grant we have received and benefits the 7th Street Food Pantry.  We will be providing labor to remove old flooring tile in preparation for new flooring.  The new flooring will be professionally installed but we need a few very hardy people to break up and remove the existing tile.  This will be a very labor intensive job and requires those with good stamina and strong backs.  For this part of project we are looking for 5 people Friday March 19th beginning at 9 am.  I will set up a sign up sheet but please also contact Don LaBarge by email or phone if you can help that day 480.213.1617
As a bonus (and for those of us not meeting criteria for the 19th) we will also be repainting the pantry.  It is not a huge space so we will be limiting paint crews to 5 as well.  Painting will take place Saturday and Sunday 3/20 & 3/21 beginning at 9 am.  I will also create a sign up sheet for these days but ask that you also let Don LaBarge know when you can be there.
The 7th Street Food Pantry is a nondenominational ministry that works to meet the needs of the homeless, veterans, seniors and low income individuals and families in the community to help ease the struggle with hunger and hopelessness.  Our very own Greg Okonowski is on their board of directors. 
CLICK HERE to view available slots and book yourself directly online - then use the above information to let Don LaBarge know when you will be there.
Today's Chuckle - Tired Dog
An older, tired-looking dog wandered into my yard.  I could tell from his collar and well-fed belly that he had a home and was well taken care of.  He calmly came over to me, I gave him a few pats on his head; he then followed me into my house, slowly walked down the hall, curled up in the corner and fell asleep.
An hour later, he went to the door, and I let him out.
The next day he was back, greeted me in my yard, walked inside and resumed his spot in the hall and again slept for about an hour.  This continued off and on for several weeks.
Curious, I pinned a note to his collar:  "I would like to find out who the owner of this wonderful sweet dog is and ask if you are aware that almost every afternoon your dog comes to my house for a nap."
The next day he arrived for his nap, with a different note pinned to his collar:  "He lives in a home with 6 children, 2 under the age of 3.  He's trying to catch up on his sleep.  Can I come with him tomorrow?"
Thank you, John Pennypacker, for sending this story to the editor.
Something to Ponder
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
 — Mahatma Gandhi
Support the Mesa West Sponsorship Drive
If you or a friend, family member or associate would like the convenience of electronically contributing to the Sponsorship Campaign, EMAIL JEANIE
Please provide the dollar amount to be donated, the name and email address of the donor if it is not yourself, and tell Jeanie whether the funds should go to:
  • Community Service
  • International Service
  • Youth Service 
Jeanie will e-mail an invoice from Mesa West Rotary Foundation which can be paid electronically using debit or credit card or bank-to-bank transfer.
The Most Efficient Way to Support The Rotary Foundation
The Rotary Foundation is the charitable arm of Rotary that enables the amazing work we, as Rotarians, are all proud to be a part of.  Every Rotarian is strongly encouraged to support TRF every year by donating to the General Fund of TRF.  The target gift is $100 per year per member.  That has been the target for a very long time and in the US the average family income has multiplied a few times since that target was set.  Many Rotarians who have the means to do so have set their personal target at the $1,000 per year mark making them eligible for the Paul Harris Society level of donor recognition. 
The End Polio Now campaign is a separate fund to which gifts are matched two-for-one by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  Many Rotarians choose to support both the general fund and the fight to end polio.
No matter what level you decide to donate, please support the Foundation by giving through Rotary Direct.  CLICK HERE to get answers to commonly asked questions about this program.  DOWNLOAD A FORM to authorize your Rotary Direct donations.  By giving through Rotary direct, the opportunity for human error is eliminated and recognition credit for the Rotarian and their club is much more accurate and timelier.
You CAN make a difference!
Executives & Directors
President Elect
Foundation Director
Public Image Director
Club Service Director
Service Projects Director
Executive Secretary
Mar 18, 2021 12:00 PM
Tribal History and Future
Mar 25, 2021 12:00 PM
Reducing Number of People with Mental Illness Who are Incarcerated
Apr 01, 2021
Stop Recruiting, Start Attracting (New Rotary Members)
Apr 15, 2021 12:00 PM
FBI Community Outreach Role, Objective and Programs
Apr 22, 2021 12:00 PM
Official Visit
View entire list
Upcoming Events
Monthly Board Meeting
Mar 16, 2021
5:30 PM - 7:30 PM
Weekly Club Meeting via Zoom
Mar 18, 2021
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
7th Street Pantry Project
7th Street Food Pantry
Mar 19, 2021 9:00 AM –
Mar 22, 2021 5:00 PM
Weekly Club Meeting via Zoom
Mar 25, 2021
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
Weekly Club Meeting via Zoom
Apr 01, 2021
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
Weekly Club Meeting via Zoom
Apr 08, 2021
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
Weekly Club Meeting via Zoom
Apr 15, 2021
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
Monthly Board Meeting
Apr 20, 2021
5:30 PM - 7:30 PM
Weekly Club Meeting via Zoom
Apr 22, 2021
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
Weekly Club Meeting via Zoom
Apr 29, 2021
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
View entire list
Birthdays & Anniversaries
Member Birthdays
Jim LeCheminant
March 3
Dick Myren
March 12
Erica Williams
March 31
Spouse Birthdays
Angie Troy
March 6
John Yost
March 25
Erika Yost
John Yost
March 3
Terry Diedrick
Patty Diedrick
March 16
Join Date
Wendell Jones
March 1, 1989
32 years
Rotary District 5495 Links
District Links
Rotary Interact District 5495
Rotary District 5495
The Rotary Vocational Fund of Arizona (TRVFA)
Rotary Youth Exchange
Rotary Youth Leadership Awards - RYLA
RYLA Service Project Support
Bulletin Editor
Jeanie Morgan
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