The Rotary Club of Traverse City – March 23, 2021

President Mack opened the meeting with a moment of silence for our dear friend and fellow Rotarian Byron Hanson. Byron passed away on Friday, March 19, 2021 at the age of 79.  He was a long-time member of our club and many of us have fond memories of Bryon playing the piano at our weekly meetings. Even though he struggled with symptoms of Parkinson’s disease over the past few years, he still managed to play a robust version of God Bless America for us. He was a kind soul, a brilliant musician and will be greatly missed by our club and community. To read his obituary, please visit:!/Obituary

The Pledge of Allegiance was recited and Nikki Subkowski offered up words of inspiration during our Gratitude and Reflection moment. 

Awesome Allison Beers introduced an awesome new Rotarian Jen Wilson. Jen has an impressive career in public service that has taken her from Capitol Hill, London and San Francisco. Jen worked with the largest HIV/AIDS fundraiser in the country through the Macy’s Passport program. Since moving to Traverse City, Jen has joined the Old Mission Peninsula Education Foundation and has helped support their fundraising efforts. Welcome Jen! We look forward to serving our community with you!

Connor Miller updated us on the March Madness brackets and all we can say right now is “Go Blue”.

Bob Stow updated the club on behalf of Rotary Camps and Services with the activities of The Discovery Center. The Discovery Center is looking forward to some summer activities. They include:

  • The Schoolship Program with Inland Seas for a summer program

  • MHA will be launching their Sail Champion program for at-risk youth

  • Two new for-profit ventures will be operating from the Pier this summer. 

    • The Discovery Tour Boat will offer daily public cruises and private events. 

    • Fish X TC will be operating a fishing charter in West Bay from Discovery Pier.

  • The Manitou will continue operations from the Pier

All three businesses will pay full market rate lease fees and will provide The Discovery Center with free vouchers for distribution among local youth who are under privileged. Big Brothers, Big Sisters, and TBAISD will partner with The Discovery Center to launch this opportunity. 

President Mack announced that a Rotary Task Force has been formed for Diversity, Equality and Inclusion. The purpose is to make everyone feel valued and respected at Rotary. A survey will be conducted among a random sample of current Rotarians and District Governors. The information that is gathered will be used to develop a DEI policy. 

Rotary International will have another area of focus and service beginning July 1, 2021. The environment will be included in world community service activities. 


Ken Weaver introduced Carla Weaver as our program speaker today. Carla currently serves as the Youth Exchange Officer for our club and has been involved in every aspect of Rotary Youth Exchange from being a host sister in her earlier days, to sending her own children on Rotary Exchange years and everything in between!

The purpose of the Rotary Youth Exchange is: World Peace One Student at a Time.

The program first began in Denmark in 1929 with exchanges taking place over the summer break. In 1959 the first-year long exchanges were implemented. 

Being a Rotary exchange student is a three-year commitment. Students fall into three categories: Outbounds, Inbounds and Rebounds. Outbound students are those who are preparing for their exchange year which begins a year before they leave on exchange. This is a preparatory year of interviews, district conferences and attending Rotary meetings of their sponsoring club. Once on exchange in their host country, they are considered Inbound students. Upon return from their successful exchange year, they are Rebounds and often serve as mentors to Outbound and Inbound exchange students. 

Outbound exchange students have the task of completing a 30-page application that includes academic status, health information and personal information on the student’s hobbies and family. Students aged 15-18 are eligible for exchange. Students are interviewed locally and at the district level before acceptance into the program. 

Outbound students have a financial commitment of conference fees and the cost of air travel. In the past, a local fundraising dinner has been held to help support these students with some of the expenses of their exchange. 

In non-pandemic years, 9,000 students worldwide go on an exchange year to 80 countries. A true exchange is a “one for one” exchange where a Rotary Club sends out one student and takes in one student. The hosting Rotary Club is responsible finding host families, providing educational and fun opportunities for the student to learn the culture and language along with transportation needs. Each hosting Rotary Club commits to helping the students with district conference fees, a monthly stipend and sometimes school lunches. 

Inbound exchange students are placed with three families during their exchange year. Each family hosts the students for 3-4 months and this helps create a variety of experiences for the student. Many host families develop lifelong connections with their exchange students, attending their weddings and welcoming international grandchildren into their families! (Just ask Marsha Minervini about her exchange kids! Nothing makes Marsha light up faster!!)

Each inbound student also is paired with a counselor who serves as the student’s advocate. The counselor is a Rotarian and can help with transportation, the transitions between host families and smooth out any bumps the student may be experiencing. 

How do you spot an exchange student in an airport? Exchange students wear a blazer identifying them as Rotary Exchange Student. Should they have missed connections or need assistance in an international airport, they will often encounter a friendly Rotarian who can help. Carla shared a story of when Amelia, her daughter was traveling to Brazil. While on her fourth layover, Amelia was exhausted. While wearing her blazer, she was approached by a Rotarian who presented a Rotary business card, helped her find her gate and made sure she had something to eat! 

A year ago, our exchange students found themselves away from home when the pandemic hit. It created a whirlwind of uncertainty and our Youth Exchange committee found themselves navigating through situations that no handbook or training could have prepared them for. But in true Rotary style, these Rotarians helped students return safely home at appropriate times based on their home country’s restrictions and family requests. It was kudos all around for our Youth Exchange committee and dedicated host families!

As the COVID-19 pandemic continued, the 2020-2021 exchange program was halted and students who were scheduled to go on exchange, missed their year. Some have now aged out of the program. With students who are left without an exchange year, Carla is helping create opportunities for them to have international exposure through the International Affairs Forum at NMC. 

Applications for the 2022 – 2023 exchange year will be available in August. The Youth Exchange committee normally would recruit students in local high schools. If you know of a great student who is interested in the exchange program, please contact Carla at:

The Rotary Youth Exchange Program nurtures our young people, helps them build a sense of service to the world, provides a greater international understanding while developing great avenues for lifetime achievement. To make this program a success, it takes an army of Rotarians working locally, at the district level and above. 

You can be a part of this program by hosting a fabulous exchange student, becoming a super cool counselor or serving on the Youth Exchange Committee.

Remembering Rotarian Byron Hanson
Byron Hanson: Celebrating a rich history with Interlochen
Bryon Hanson Record-Eagle CLICK HERE

Celebrating Byron Hanson on Classical IPR CLICK HERE

Please CLICK HERE to see the article titled
Byron Hanson's joyful noise
BY SALLY BARBER Special to the Record-Eagle Nov 19, 2016 
A Requests For Your GO•REC Stories
GO•REC needs your urgent help documenting the history activity at the Camp Greilick property. In particular, we are looking to document any non-camp-related day use (no overnight stay).  We know that there is a rich history of many family and community activities that have occurred at Camp Greilick.  While we encourage and appreciate your stories a simple list will also serve our purpose.
Please contact Matt McDonough 
Thanks in advance,
Jamie Lewis Hedges
Director GO•REC
For: Rotary Camps & Services, a nonprofit 501(c)(3)

…GO•REC is open for daily public recreation! Rent cabinsmini cabins,campsites , and tree tents can be booked now for dates starting April 15, 2021Become a Member for free overnight stays and discounts on education programs. Or consider making an end-of-the-year donationor our Amazon Wish List.
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Wheels of Hope 

Project repurposes bicycle parts for wheelchairs

  • By Karen Hopper Usher Cadillac News
    •  Updated 

CADILLAC — Bicycles are given a second act and polio survivors are given new independence thanks to donations from Rotarians and a workshop in Nigeria.

Rotarians from several Northern Michigan clubs, including Cadillac, partner on the “Wheels of Hope‘ project with a workshop in Jos, Nigeria that repurposes bicycles by turning the parts into wheelchairs for polio survivors.

Al Bonney, a Traverse City Noon Rotary Club member and president of Wheels of Hope, got interested in the workshop in 2008 after hearing about founder Ayuba Gufwan, a polio survivor whose life was transformed when his uncle built him a wheelchair; Gufwan now runs a shop with 30 employees that build the wheelchairs. The chairs are given away.

“He’s visited Northern Michigan twice, and he’s been to Cadillac both times. So the Cadillac Rotarians know him, and they have regularly made contributions to not only his wheelchair project but to some other wheelchair projects,‘ Bonney said.

Recently, five Rotary clubs (Traverse City, Elk Rapids, Benzie Sunrise, Cadillac, and Traverse Bay Sunrise) worked together to pool enough money to earn a grant for Wheels of Hope, the charity formed by a Traverse City Rotary club to fundraise for Gufwan’s wheelchair project.

Now the Rotary Foundation (based out of Evanston, Illinois) is matching the funds raised by the local clubs, resulting in an $11,000 grant for Gufwan’s wheelchair shop.

Wheels of Hope, which was founded in 2012, has sent over $250,000 to the workshop to ensure the wheelchairs continue to be produced and distributed, free, to polio survivors, according to a news release.

“These wheelchairs transform the recipients’ lives making it possible for them to go to school, learn a trade, get a good job, raise a family, and live a life of dignity,‘ the Rotary Club of Traverse City stated. “For only $150 you can change a life.‘

Rotary Club's Tuesday Meeting Details
The Next Rotary Club Meeting is on Tuesday, May 11, 2021
(Same Meeting ID & Password) this will be the same every week at least until we meet in person.
Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 817 2758 9532
Passcode: 42
Speakers: Mark Eckhoff and Scott Hardy
Program:  Commercial Real Estate
You're welcome to join Zoom by 11:45 am to be placed in a breakout room with 
a small number of other members to socialize. 
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