Rotary District 6980 November 2020 Newsletter


It is hard to believe that we are five months into the Rotary year, which is nearly halfway. We are starting to look to next year as we begin our training programs for our club presidents and officers and our district staff personnel.

October was an exciting and event filled month. We started off asking for your involvement in the Youth + Peace in Action project. You certainly got involved with amazing support which was reflected in your very generous $5,000.00 contribution to the project, significantly exceeding our district goal of $3,00.00. The intent of the program is to focus on peace in our communities, in our schools, and in our homes and to support Rotarian efforts to inspire our youth to engage in non-violent solutions to conflict. We look forward to seeing this project develop and hope to host this program in our district in the future. It is a great opportunity for all of us to make a positive difference in our communities.

Closely tied to this project is our own initiative, called Creating Pathways to Understanding which is a developing initiative to communicate Rotary’s official statement on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). The intent is to create pathways of understanding that are inclusive of ideas, ways, and means to enhance peace building, diversity, equity, and inclusion.

We also are continuing to pursue another developing initiative called Rotary Works. This initiative is designed to help our fellow Rotarians find employment through a career transition program with experienced Rotarians serving as coordinating coaches, preparation coaches, and connecting coaches working cooperatively with those who wish to change career paths and find new positions.

Rotary Works is closely tied to our “Rotarian Resources” job board that already exists on our rotarycentralflorida.org web page. After this initiative is successful in our district, we expect to see it adopted as a Zones 33 and 34 program. As part of the Zone Leadership Summit, we participated in the House of Friendship and had the opportunity to present our district program.

To assist those in need because of natural disasters, we initiated an ongoing District Disaster Relief Fund. Please feel free to give as your heart directs you.

Under leadership news, we selected our 2023 – 2024 District Governor, Don Harris, of the Rotary Club of Lake Mary. Don is a 29-year Rotarian and has extensive experience at the club and district levels. Currently, he serves as our Youth Services Committee Chair. Please take the opportunity to welcome Don and his wife Janie to our Rotary district family.

Our clubs and district had a very successful World Polio Day recognition and celebration. Our members and clubs were very engaged and participated in many activities including the virtual marathon, proclamations, city lighting events, and personal donations to PolioPlus through the Rotary International website. Thanks again to Dr. Alex Sacharoff and Michael Franklin for their excellent work.

Also, in October, we had the pleasure of enjoying a very informative and inspiring tour of the Eisenhower Center in the Villages. Our outstanding tour director was COL (Retired) Harry Lumpkin of the Rotary Club of the Villages. Harry showed us the wealth of displays and mementos donated by veterans and their families in the center. Harry’s descriptions and comments made them come alive. Everyone should take the opportunity to visit the Eisenhower Center and appreciate the sacrifices made by our veterans and their families.

We rounded out the month of October with an inspiring discussion by Rotary International President-nominee, Jennifer Jones, our first female Rotary International President, in the Infinite Possibilities Series – Women in Rotary. It was a wonderful opportunity to get to meet Jennifer on Zoom and hear her encouraging thoughts and ideas for the future of Rotary.

November started off quickly as we celebrated Veterans Day and thanked our veterans and their families for the sacrifices that they made in service to our country.

November is Rotary Foundation month. Our Foundation theme this year is Creating Cultures of Giving. District Foundation Chair, Dr. Alex Sacharoff discusses this in the Foundation newsletter, and you will hear more about our program for the year in the near future.

This year’s Zone 33 and 34 Leadership Summit is on Friday, November 20th and Saturday, November 21. Because the Leadership Summit is virtual this year, any Rotarian who wishes to attend is encouraged to do so. I encourage everyone to take advantage of being able to attend the Zone Summit. You can sign up for the Leadership Summit on the DACdb, and the link is at http://summitofchampions.org/index.html

Also, on Saturday, November 21, from 12:00 – 3:00 PM, our district youth have an exciting event coming up. President Brandon Cunningham and the members of the Interact Club of Celebration High School are hosting a Global Interact Summit. The event is free and open to all students.

Rotary International President Holger Knaack will welcome the students, and Rotary International President-elect Shekhar Mehta will be the keynote speaker. Additionally, Zone Directors Stephanie Urchick and Peter Kyle are expected to join in the Summit.

This is a great opportunity for our Interact students, and we thank President Brandon and the members of the Celebration High School Interact Club for their initiative, creativity, and enthusiasm as they host the Global Summit. Well done!

As you can see, we are very active through Thanksgiving.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and for those that are traveling during the holiday season, please be safe and enjoy being with your family and friends.

My sincerely appreciation to each of you for your commitment, dedication, and desire to put Service Above Self. Thank you for being wonderful Rotarians.

Until our next newsletter, be safe, be healthy, and have fun!



The Rotary Foundation transforms your gifts into service projects that change lives both close to home and around the world.

Since it was founded more than 100 years ago, the Foundation has spent more than $4 billion on life-changing, sustainable projects.

With your help, we can make lives better in your community and around the world.

Our mission

The mission of The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International is to enable Rotarians to advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace through the improvement of health, the support of education, and the alleviation of poverty.

What impact can one donation have?

For as little as 60 cents, a child can be protected from polio.

$50 can provide clean water to help fight waterborne illness.

$500 can launch an antibullying campaign and create a safe environment for children.


100 Years of Doing Good in the World

Arch Klumph’s idea for an endowment fund dedicated to “doing good in the world” planted the seed of The Rotary Foundation in 1917. Thanks to his vision and staunch advocacy, and the extraordinary generosity of Rotary members worldwide, that fund has become one of the world’s leading humanitarian foundations.

Learn about the people and events that have made our Foundation a powerful force for good.

Rotary District 6980 Youth Service Foundation

Don Harris, District Youth Services Chair, 2020-2021

We have several important updates this month within Youth Services to share with you. Details follow in the body of this message, but to summarize:

We are not having RYLA this fiscal year. We are working to conduct a one day program for our youth focused upon Leadership, Zone 33-34’s proposed Signature Project , “ Rotary+Youth+Peace in Action (RYP): Engaging 100,000 Young Community Peacebuilders ” and Mental Health Initiatives. More info to be provided next month.

All rotary youth exchanges for this fiscal year were cancelled. We are actively recruiting for short- and long-term exchanges for FY 2021-2022 - STEP next summer and long term beginning in August 2021. We have important deadlines coming up and need our club commitments soon.

The Interact Club of Celebration is hosting a virtual youth summit November 21, 2020. Rotary International President-elect Shekhar Mehta has confirmed he will speak during the conference! Zone Directors Stephanie Urchick and Peter Kyle have also been invited.

Please take a few minutes to review details on each program below.

Eddie Fernandez, District 6980 RYLA Chair

What is our plan for RYLA 2021?

Our RYLA team has been conducting an in-depth study regarding the possibility of having RYLA next spring. Many alternatives were considered. One overriding fact is true – without the ability to meet in person, staying overnight, over several days, the magic and team building of RYLA cannot be accomplished.

In a time where social distancing, mask wearing, and heightened hygiene are too restrictive to hold the RYLA event in the way we are accustomed - a virtual substitute would not be a true representation of the event. Our concerns are not only for the student’s health, but that of our seasoned volunteer Rotarians who give so many hours during that event and would be exposing themselves to the possibility of illness. We understand making these changes to RYLA will not be a popular decision. We were not thrilled at having to make the decision. However, because many of the arrangements have to be set months in advance, we felt it best to design an event that we knew we could hold without the possibility of having to restructure or cancel because societal conditions may have changed as we approached the date. And an event that is not a poor substitute for RYLA, but a strong event to help build leadership, peace and mental health education

The committee’s recommendation to which your District Leadership has agreed is to cancel the RYLA for the Spring of 2021. Instead of hosting RYLA we are developing a one day program for our youth focused upon Leadership, Zone 33-34’s proposed Signature Project , “ Rotary+Youth+Peace in Action (RYP): Engaging 100,000 Young Community Peacebuilders ” and Mental Health Initiatives. This will be a 1-day session, most likely virtual, but possibly in-person. We would then return back to our regular schedule in February, 2022 assuming that the world has returned close to normal. More details will follow in the next two weeks.

We thank you all for your understanding during these difficult times. It is our intent to get back to hosting RYLA the way we are all used to. We are going to work to make this as successful as we possibly can while working within the conditions that keep everyone safe. Please send questions or comments to eddie.rotary@outlook.com. Stay Safe.

Don Harris, Interim District Youth Exchange Chair, 2020-2021

District 6980 is actively recruiting for 2021-22 Long Term and Short-Term exchange students.

It is time for us to choose the American outbound students and sponsoring clubs for the 2021-2022 year. We have 10-12 prospective slots for students scheduled to go on exchange from District 6980 and they need your support. They are required to have a sponsoring club, as well as a club that will receive an inbound student in August 2021.

We have four students rolling over from this year's cancelled long-term exchange. We have contracts with another 9 clubs for inbound students for the 20-21 fiscal year and interest from several others. Members of our RYE committee will be reaching out to those clubs to determine if they desire to host inbound students again next year. BUT, we are reaching out to all of you NOW!!!

The Club contracts deadline due date is 11/20/2020. They have been e-mailed to all Club presidents and Youth Services chairs.

Youth outbound applications deadline 12/15/2020. The application for youth desiring to participate in the 2021-2022 exchange is live on our District website as a link or directly http://youthexchangefl.org/

For clubs wishing to host exchange students next fiscal year, or If you have children or know of students who are interested please work with your club youth services chair, club president or contact:

Don Harris, rotarydon6980@gmail.com, or

Susana Huaman, District Outbound Chair, susana@youthexchangefl.org, or

Daryll Parker, District Short Term Chair, dparker@uanconsulting.com.

Clubs are also encouraged to support this fiscal year by donating to the District 6980 Youth Services Foundation to help with our program finances.

Bill Stack, Rotary District Interact Chair, 6980 Interactdistrict6980@google.com

The Interact Club of Celebration HS invites the Interacts clubs of District 6980 to join us for a virtual youth summit November 21, 2020.

The Interact Club of Celebration High School is organizing a FREE Virtual Global Youth Summit on the 21st of November from 12pm - 3pm EST (-05:00 UTC) and is inviting Interact members from around the world to attend.

The purpose of this conference is to provide a forum for Interact Clubs around the world to come together to discuss the challenges we are all facing and to share how we are facing those challenges in positive ways that benefit our communities. This conference will enable clubs around the world to share their stories and examples of how to engage in a discussion to better equip and prepare our world’s future leaders with better understanding and compassion for the challenges that we all face regardless of race, nationality, gender or geographic location and how by uniting we can find new ways to overcome those challenges. We also aim to celebrate local heroes who are making a positive impact in our communities.

Speakers/Content: The content of the conference will consist of live presentations, videos and panel discussions. We will invite adult and youth leaders who are making a difference in our world and our local communities.

Rotary International President-elect Shekhar Mehta has confirmed he will speak during the conference! Zone Directors Stephanie Urchick and Peter Kyle have also been invited.

We will also invite Interact Clubs around the world to submit a 90 second video on how they are facing the challenges in ways that are helping others or benefiting the community. We are looking for stories of hope and positivity and local heroes to inspire others.


Email Contact: For confirmation and more information please email the Conference Chair, Brandon Cunningham at Interact.summit@gmail.com

As always please feel free to reach out to any of our youth Services chairs, RYE committee, or me for additional information.

Yours in Rotary Service,


We are all facing a challenge with COVID-19 restricting our meetings and service projects as restrictions stay in place. With these limitations, it is difficult to undertake food drives, food service, and other activities that fall under the Zone 33-34’s Feed10Million initiative. Fourteen clubs, however, have been able to provide almost 100,000 meals since the beginning of the Rotary year.

Please make sure you remember to enter your meal totals at www.rizones33-34.org/feed10million-initiative or email me at treat01@gmail.com with the information and I will record it.


The Maitland Rotary Art Festival announces plans for its 44th Annual Maitland Rotary Art Festival, to take place in Lake Lily Park in the heart of downtown Maitland. Explore the art and entertainment of Art Under the Stars – one of Central Florida’s most cherished annual events. The show opens at 5pm Friday, November 13, and runs through Sunday, November 15. Admission is free. Hours are 5pm-9pm Friday, November 13, 10am-9pm Saturday, November 14, and 10am-4pm Sunday, November 15.

This year’s Art Festival is Maitland Rotary’s first hybrid event, with a Virtual Art Show component available online on Eventeny.com, at http://bit.ly/artunderthestars. The juried artists will be exhibiting and selling their artwork online between November 5 and December 20, 2020.

The 44th Annual “Art Under the Stars” will feature talented artists from the Southeast, showcasing a variety of mediums including sculpture, painting, ceramics, photography and glass. Each artist will be judged for top honors in their category. Festival guests can meet the artists and view their work while strolling the scenic walkways surrounding Maitland’s Lake Lily. Experience the magic under the stars with evening display hours until 9:00pm Friday and Saturday, November 13 and 14.

The Maitland Rotary Art Festival will strictly follow all State and local rules / guidelines / laws and encourage everyone to practice CDC guidelines (social distancing, frequent handwashing, and masks when in close proximity with a vendor).

The Maitland Rotary Art Festival Inc. is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that raises funds for the charitable activities of the Rotary Club of Maitland. Those activities include financial support of other local charities and nonprofits. The Festival thanks this year’s sponsors and partners, which include Patron Sponsor Beck Realty, LLC, The City of Maitland, Performing Arts Matter, Maitland Art & History Museums, and the Venue on the Lake (Maitland Civic Center).

We welcome volunteers! We have available time slots throughout the weekend. If you are interested in helping, contact us at:


For more information:




A Letter From our Executive Director

​Dear Friends of Latisha’s House Florida:

The Citrus Gala, “Welcoming Her Home” Latisha’s House and the Citrus Club have your safety and health in mind. Safety guidelines are in place-- with social distancing, and the requirements of masks when not eating at the table. Temperatures will be taken upon entry and staff will all be wearing masks.

If you are not comfortable being in a gathering at this time, not a problem. We’ve got you covered! After you register, you can purchase a virtual ticket, which provides you with online bidding access to our silent

auction items and additional opportunity to donate towards Latisha’s House Florida. With your virtual ticket, you will receive a thank you card with a LH face mask, plus a $10 Publix gift card.

Since opening in February 2019, our comprehensive, wrap-around, real life programs are already producing wonderful fruit. Women are healing through counseling, learning life skills, and two have passed their first round of GED testing. They have been reunited with their children and are developing healthy relationships with mentors and volunteers. We even have two graduates employed and living on their own, taking care of their children. There is joy, laughter, and hard work happening at Latisha's House.

Over 95 percent of all funds go directly to our program. Your financial support changes lives! your contributions of cash, in-kind giving, and talents you have readily shared, none of this would happen.

At Latisha’s House you are “changing one life at a time and changing the world for future generations.”

So, come join us and make a positive impact on the lives of residents at Latisha’s House.


Holiday Request for a district Haiti Orphanage

La Fatima Haitian Orphanage owned by Rotarian Odette Constant in our district could always use clothes and gifts for the holidays and tuition for the school year. The children are sizes 4T-12. Schools are back in session from COVID-19 at this time and are all private in the nation requiring tuition. Gifts and school supplies appropriate for both boys and girls school age through middle school will be gratefully accepted.

Odette Constant can be contacted at 1-321-536-1986 or care@haitihealthreahab.com. It is a 501©(3).

Thank you for your Service Above Self.



In February 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic engulfed the United States. Vincent Chiaiese, Jr. member of the Rotary Club of Kissimmee West (RCKW) since 2007 . (Paul Harris Fellow +2 , Sustaining Member;Vice President 2008 , President 2009-10, Perfect Attendance Since 2010 ,Rotarian of the Year 2013 ,Presidential Community Service Award 2020 , Vinnie is married to Bernice Joy for 54 years, they have two sons Fredric and Drew, and a black Cairn Terrier / Poodle mix breed called MILO. Vinnie retired from IBM Micro Electronics Division after 27 years and held several engineering jobs until 2010)

Vincent Chiaiese Jr

Vinnie felt the need to take action, to make a difference in our community. He knew the impact was substantial to our neighborhoods, local charities, and first responders. Life as we knew it had instantly changed in many ways. Vinnie did take action, he drove to PUBLIX, located on Boggy Creek in Lake Nona, spoke with the store manager Chip Bridges and asked Chip if there was an opportunity for PUBLIX to partner with Rotary. Chip is an avid supporter and said yes.

May 2020, the PUBLIX Service Project was in full swing. Vinnie developed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), outlining the roles/responsibilities of Rotarians, and submitted the MOU to PUBLIX’s. The MOU was accepted for Rotarians to pick up donated food items seven nights a week. For the next twenty days, Vinnie picked up the PUBLIX donated bakery items every night and delivered them to the Council on Aging (COA).

Vinnie did not stop with the PUBLIX on Boggy Creek, he contacted PUBLIX store manager Stacy Losgar, Dyer Blvd. in Kissimmee. PUBLIX Dyer Blvd. also agreed to partner with Rotary and committed to one night a week for a pick-up of donated bakery items.

On June 4th, Vinnie was joined by fellow (RCKW), Lynn Ingersoll, that graciously volunteered to pick up at the Dyer Blvd. PUBLIX store, while Vinnie picked up at the Boggy Creek PUBLIX store. The next morning, Lynn and Vinnie delivered two carloads of PUBLIX Bakery items to the Council on Aging (COA) Food Bank. Fellow Rotarian RCKW Wilda Belisle and her husband Larry, stepped up to the plate and volunteered to do the pickup on June 5th and June 6th, (Fri & Sat nights) from the Boggy Creek PUBLIX Store. The following morning(s), they delivered to the COA Food Pantry. We are very grateful to Lynn, Larry, and Wilda for volunteering to help out with the pickup from PUBLIX; and the deliveries to the COA food pantry. Vinnie found himself in a bit of a scheduling bind with a seven-day commitment from the Boggy Creek PUBLIX and a one-day commitment from the Dyer Blvd PUBLIX, both on a Thursday night. That would be two pickups from two different PUBLIX Stores, with pick-up and delivery to the COA the next day. Vinnie extended his sincerest Thank-You to Lynn, Wilda, and Larry for their last-minute support. Currently, the RCKW has added to its volunteer base President Kathy Wandel her husband Lee Wandel, and Brian Wheeler. An extraordinary effort by the members in RCKW.

On June 12, Vinnie met with fellow Rotarian, Tony LaBosco, President of the Rotary Club of Lake Nona Lunch Club (RCLNL). Tony was motivated, the RCLNL was motivated and had great energy. RCLNL agreed to pick up and deliver of donated food items three times per week. Since June 12, the RCLNL’s involvement with the Boggy Creek PUBLIX, has served donated food items to nine organizations in need and two departments with first responders.

Organizations in need include the Ronald McDonald House – Serves three houses, Latisha’s House, VA Veteran’s Domicile (Lake Nona) , Orlando Fisher House, Grace Landing Inc., Bishop Grady Villas, Veteran’s Transition House, and departments with first responders, the Kissimmee Police Department and the Orlando Police Department.

RCLNL’s volunteer roster includes Amy Benison, Maurita and David Brown, Gem Micheo, Lois Page and her husband Steve, Arbra Calvert, Dr. Larry McKinney, and Wayne Allen. RCLNL are to be commended for this outstanding achievement.

Recently, Vinnie was invited as a guest speak at the Rotary Club of Avalon Park (RCAP). After Vinnie’s PUBLIX presentation, President Gregory Meunier and the entire club were in support of the PUBLIX Service Project. Vinnie began working with RCAP, Dan Ashby and Brenda Kolbrich . Dan Ashby has reported that Avalon Park has formed an agreement with PUBLIX at Avalon Park, to pick up Bakery Items once per week and deliver to organizations in need.



Rotarians receiving Proclamations from the City of Kissimmee and Osceola County; placement on the electric sign at the lakefront for World Polio Day

Received an editorial in our local paper – Osceola News Gazette –

Rotary Club Kissimmee West received a TV story on CFN-TV Ch 13 on Sunday, October 25th -


The Rotary Club of Leesburg has partnered with the City of Leesburg, Chamber of Commerce and a group of Rotarians with the roll-out of our Space program, creating the design and building of the virtual Lunar City of Leesburg.

Participants will have their plans, photos etc. in a time capsule loaded on a Space Rocket, which will be launched next summer from Cape Canaveral.

Rotarians are invited to participate and create their own office, store or building on the Moon.

There will be a Rotary Club building, named after our President Don Overby.

Several schools are named after well known Rotarians.

The Lunar Space Hotel has a special room (named Galaxy) where Rotarians can meet, similar to cruise ships.

Seems that Rotary will be a “first” on the Moon, supporting the efforts of many schools in Central Florida.

The Space Rocket with the digital data (including Interact clubs) is landing on the North Pole area of the Moon.

The Lunar City of Leesburg is virtual and a challenge for students to construct and organize.

Our program is approved and supported by the Leesburg City Board of Commissioners.

Our Rotary Club is not only involved in anti-bullying in the schools, but this is also to teach students about Space and their future. Any school or Rotary Interact Club, any where in the world, can participate.

Kind regards,

Dave van de Velde

Rotary club of Leesburg




Rotary Club of Orlando Food Program Funds Thousands of Meals

During the spring Covid shutdown, when so many in Orlando were off work, concern grew that many hourly workers would be out of work for extended periods as the area’s tourism industry all but closed for business. These laid-off workers, many already fi-nancially strapped, would be without resources to feed their families. A group of RCO members organized a club project to raise money and help feed the families whose children attend the four Title 1 Elementary Schools in the Washington Shores area. RCO would fund accounts for each school at Second Harvest Food Bank, and using a system set up previously by Orange County Public Schools, each school’s parent liaison staff could order food for their needy families drawing against the funds in their ac-count at Second Harvest. Second Harvest would then deliver the food to the school for pickup by the families.

Club member and Ivey Lane Elementary School Principal, Sam Danner said, “The help that the club has given to my school and the others in the Washington Shores area has been so meaningful and impactful for our families in need during this crises. Food in-security is a dark cloud and the club has helped bring much light to many.”

Over the spring and into the summer, funds were raised from three local foundations including Rotary Club of Orlando Foundation, club members and third-party direct contributions, and from a GoFundMe campaign set up for that purpose. We fell short of the original goal of $25,000 but did raise some $18,900. Funding the accounts for each school at Second Harvest got underway quickly. Using Second Harvest’s own val-ue metric, we know that “$10 provides 40 meals for our neighbors in need.” To date RCO has funded Second Harvest to provide over 33,000 meals, and as the need contin-ues, will fund 45,000 more meals.

Knowing the achievements of thousands of past Rotarians, it raises the question, “What are we going to do next to carry forward the tradition of service?” Above is one answer to that question. Be active, be involved, be a part of Rotary’s next great project!

Dick Harris

President 2020-2021

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Stephanie Fernung


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