As members and guest arrived at the Doubletree, they were greeted by Steve Ross.  The meeting was officially called to order at 12:10 with President Dan Coons introducing himself, then reciting the 2020-21 Rotary International Theme - Rotary Opens Opporunities.  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
The invocation was offered by Robin Harris, and the Pledge of Allegiance was led by Jim McGown.
Introduction of Guests attending in person:
  • DG Elizabeth Mahoney
  • AG Lee Holmes
  • Jessica Lamborn
  • Logan Harper 
  • Cori Christiansen and PE Mike Flores with the Gilbert Rotary Club, where President Dan first joined Rotary
  • Tom Yuzer
  • Jeane Crouse 
Raffle - Chuck Flint
For the benefit of the guests, Chuck explained the raffle.  Each week raffle tickets are sold at a price of $5/ticket. 
  • 1/3 of the funds taken in provide operating income for the club
  • 1/3 is added to the accumulated potential winnings should the holder of the winning ticket draw the Ace of Clubs (which we believe we are)
  • 1/3 goes to the holder of the winning ticket.
Should the holder of the winning ticket draw the joker, they win an additional $20.  Any other card drawn is destroyed making the odds of winning increasingly better each week.  At the April 22 meeting, the Accumulated winnings were $1,387, and the daily winnings would be $55.  
Guest Logan Harper's ticket was drawn by DG Elizabeth Mahoney  He drew the joker from the deck making his total winnings for the day $75.
Introduction of guests attending via Zoom
  • Immediate Past District Governor David Simmer
  • Past District Governor Terry Cowan
Happy Bucks - Greg Okonowski
  • President Dan Coons was happy that when Terry Diedrick arrived for the meeting he turned in sponsorship donation checks totalling $1,250.
  • Warren Williamson was happy to have internet working again at his office.  He had sent a text to his bookkeeper to let her know the internet was down, while at the same time she was sending him an e-mail letting him know that she had a new cell phone number with privacy protection and had gone back to using her maiden name.
  • Polly Cady contributed.  She was happy to be at the meeting and was also happy to have renewed her drivers license and passed the eye exam.
  • Ted Williams contributed sad dollars.   He had received a text from his son, Ned who is a Lt.Col. in the Air Force, indicating that because of a push on TicToc, heightened vigilance would be wise including avoiding being alone after dark.
  • Colleen Coons contributed $3, saying she had purchased two lotto tickets after finding Dan's stash of cash, so her contribution next week should be larger.
  • Mike Flores contributed $10 for the joint Rotary Week of Service project accomplished by the Mesa West and Gilbert Rotary Clubs.
  • John Pennypacker was having fun playing golf the morning of April 19, until he had a close encounter with a rattlesnake near the 7th tee box.
  • Allan Cady contributed $6.  He was happy to report that his son who had COVID was feeling much better and thought that day would be his last day of recovery.
  • Logan Harper contributed $10.  He has enjoyed the last few meetings he has attended and was happy to report he had turned in his application.
  • Chris Krueger wished everyone a Happy Earth Day.
  • Shelly Romine was happy to report that her brother and his significant other would be coming to Arizona for a visit.
  • Bob Zarling pledged $100 to The Rotary Vocational Fund of Arizona.  Life has handed him some lemons recently, but there have been some good things as well.  He no longer has to get the injections in his eyes.  
  • AG Lee Holmes asked members to keep the President of the Superstition Mountain Club, Harvey Clark, in their thoughts and prayers.  Harvey had traveled to Florida for his mother's 99th birthday and while there suffered a stroke.  He is back in Arizona now and making good progress with his recovery.  He pledged $50 for Harvey and $50 for finally getting to be at a meeting and spend time with Mesa West Rotarians in person.
  • President Dan Coons pledged $100 for the sponsorship program in recognition of DG Elizabeth Mahoney being at the meeting.
  • There will be no meeting Thursday, April 29 since it is a 5th Thursday.
  • Club Leadership Academy will be held virtually Saturday, May 1.  Any level of Rotarian, whether new or long-time member, officer, director, committee chair, or with zero named responsibility - are all welcome to attend.  It will be held virtually.  Registration is not required, and there is no charge for participating.
  • Shelly Romine thanked all the Rotarians and family members of Rotarians who helped Saturday April 17 with the Rotary Week of Service project.  She also thanked Cori and Mike from the Gilbert Club for allowing Mesa West to join with them in their project.  The Shower Kits were delivered to Paz de Cristo later that day.  The helping hands kits were retained by both clubs, and Dan brought several boxes of them to the meeting for members to take with them to hand to homeless people they encounter when they are out and about.
  • Mike Flores read a certificate of participation which he then presented to President Dan thanking Mesa West for our participation.
  • Rotarians world wide will be celebrating World Immunization Week April 24-30.
  • Allan Cady was happy to announce that with the funds delivered by Terry Diedrick plus known commitments, the sponsorship will bring in over $55,000 this year.  He was also happy to announce that member participation this year had reached 82% - the highest participation rate of any year since we started the sponsorship program.
Program - Elizabeth Mahoney - Rotary Opens Opportunities
Assistant Governor Lee Holmes said it was a great honor for him to introduce DG Elizabeth, who is a Past President of the Sun City Rotary Club and served as the first Chairman of the Sun City Satellite Club.  She has been active at the District level as a Youth Exchange mom and with Interact.  She traveled to Kenya as an advisor to the Crutches 4 Africa Interact Ambassadors team to years in succession.  The first year, she was the only adult advisor.  
In her training to become District Governor, Elizabeth felt like the most important part of her job was to help make the district and each club in the district all they could be.  In order to do that, at PETS 2020, incoming Presidents were told it was time to Get Our Game On. 
Three years prior, when she applied to be District Governor, there was no way she could have known about COVID and the many ways Rotarians would have to adapt to stay vibrant and serve their communities and the world.  She said President Dan was one of the best Presidents, remaining positive and focused on service. 
The theme for the year - Rotary Opens Opportunities - could not have been a better theme.  Unique ways were found to serve needs in the world, in our communities and within our own ranks.  Our district has lost several members as well as spouses of some of our members this year, so the need to support one another has never been stronger.
It was clear that Elizabeth was very aware of the projects that have been part of our lives in the past, and how we are working to ensure we can keep them alive after COVID - like the Guaymas hearing project, etc.  
In the district, there were a total of sixty projects planned and executed during he Rotary Week of Service, which replaced the District Conference.  It might not have been as much fun or as big a celebration as a District Conference would have been - but it did a lot more good.  
Elizabeth is proud that Mesa West Rotarians are TRVFA champions.  There is a personal story behind every TRVFA grant given.  It impacts the recipient, their family, and their future.
She was also aware of the computers for the impoverished children in Mexico enabling them to learn.    
She also knew that Mesa Rotarians are on record of having given to The Rotary Foundation a total of $397,000.  Last year alone, Mesa West was responsible for donating $63,682.00  Year to date this year, Mesa West has given $21,187.  She said that four members are only $1,000 away from being major donors.  
In 2020, Mesa West was the first club to win the opportunity to house the travelling Polio Plus Champions trophy.  Currently, this year, Mesa West is in 2nd place with our top competition being a near neighbor.
She thanked Mesa West for their generosity.
Elizabeth shared a little bit about her Rotary background.
Her advice to others is that if someone in Rotary asks you to do something you've never done before and hadn't really ever thought about doing, say yes and figure out how you can make it work. 
A few years ago, a chaperone (advisor) for the Crutches 4 Africa trip had to abandon that responsibility and Elizabeth was asked to replace that individual.  She somehow got everything she would need to adjust worked out.  The first time she met the rest of her team was at Sky Harbor Airport on the day of departure.  Ninety Interact Clubs had helped collect devices which had been shipped to Kenya. 
Elizabeth encountered wonderful surprises while there.  On the first trip, they delivered a wheel chair to the man who was an intended recipient on one of their team visits, but there was another person there.  A woman who had spent 40 years on the ground since contacting polio at the age of 4.  She had flip flops on her hands.  Some of the ambassadors (high school students from our district) walked back five miles to their base and returned with a wheel chair for the woman.  She took off in a hurry after she was settled into the chair.  The crowd that was assembled looked at each other and wondered if they would ever see her again.  Then she turned around and with a jubilant smile on her face raised her hands and arms in a spontaneous victorious celebration of her newfound freedom and independence.  She had just received dignity, freedom, the ability to be educated and participate in life in her community.
The other surprise on that first trip to Kenya was the opportunity to visit a water project that had been frustrating local Rotarians because - for ten years - they had been unable to locate a stable source of ground water.  A stable source had finally been found.  Elizabeth was asked if she would like to visit the project, which was a four-hour trip by van across Maasai land.  She was eager to do so.  An even big surprise was the coincidence that was that, coincidentally, our district was the international partner for the pending Rotary Foundation grant.  Elizabeth was among the first to see the water tower from a distance and see water running for the first time in the community - clean water.  For women who had been having to walk ten miles to get water and sometimes not be able to find it at all, life was changed for the better forever.   The improvements clean water makes for a community of 5000 are amazing.  Disease is diminished, nutrition improves, educational and economic opportunities open up.  Water is life.  The community there has some of the lowest rates of COVID in Africa, and much of that success is because of their clean water.  
When the Interact District was looking for Advisors to travel with the ambassadors to Kenya the following summer, Elizabeth did not hesitate.  While there that second year, she had the privilege of seeing the woman they had helped the prior year as she was in the local market shopping.
Elizabeth encouraged Mesa West to continue to support the Rotary Vocational Fund - an absolute case of Rotary opening opportunities.
She encouraged individual members - when they see a need, take the lead - just do it!
She also encouraged us to engage the next generation and be flexible.
This year, Rotary District 5495 was the first district to have a Virtual RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Awards).  65 students attended the RYLA held in the fall.  150 participated in the RYLA held in January.
Clubs and individual Rotarians in the district responded to a financial need to assist a wheel chair project in Oaxaca, Mexico.  Within two days, $12,000 was committed to support the project.  
She said it has been a privilege to serve as District Governor this year.  When you strip everything away, the core essence of service is always there in the hearts of people who are Rotarians.
She was happy to move into the next part of the program to formally induct our three newest members into Rotary.  She welcomed Juli Kelly who was participating via Zoom.  The three being inducted were Robin Harris, a former Mesa Baseline member, Juli Kelly, a former member of the Coolidge Rotary Club, and Dan Lamborn, who was actively seeking a way to become involved in Rotary and was referred to Mesa West through the online registration service now offered through the Rotary International website.  Dan's wife, Jessica, was a Youth Exchange Student to France in 1990, and her father is a Rotarian in Utah.
Elizabeth welcomed all three into the 1.2 million membership of Rotary and encouraged them to get involved because that is how lives are changed and opportunities happen.  They are now a part of Rotary's promise to the world to end polio forever, and encouraged them to soak up the passion and strength that comes from being an active part of the Rotary family.  
Elizabeth pointed out that what initially keeps members enthused and active is local community service, friendship, and fellowship.  
She acknowledged all Zoom participants.  
In answer to a question from the audience, Elizabeth explained the special relationship our district has with American Furniture Warehouse.  They will accept mobility devices donated for the Crutches 4 Africa and similar trip planned to Mexico this coming summer.  They were a sponsor for our Rotary Week of Service in the District.  With the help of American Furniture Warehouse, forty-foot containers of devices have already been shipped to both countries.  Lauren Lucas, our primary contact with American Furniture Warehouse, was an advisor (chaperone) on the 2019 trip to Kenya.