Working Waterfest

Working Waterfest

Written by Jerry Medina

Waterfest Oshkosh | Rotaract Oshkosh

On Thursday, August 15, Rotaract Oshkosh and Downtown Rotary joined forces at Waterfest to sell food, drinks, and cheers (you could buy a cheer with your tips) to the crowd who came to watch “The Tubes” and raise funds for our respective organizations.  Usually, two groups volunteer to handle the concession duties at Waterfest, but this year the other service group had a scheduling error, and didn’t show up. Luckily, the Rotarians who were there were able to tough it out and cover both the east and west concession and beer islands.

Working Waterfest | Rotaract Oshkosh

Some of our responsibilities that night included taking tickets at the entrance, taking money in the parking lots, selling beer and selling food. (Brandon even got his hands dirty and mopped a couple floors.) Perhaps the highlight of the evening – besides the music and the lead singers costume changes between every song – were the loud cheers that everyone in the concession stands would give whenever we received a tip. It was nice to indulge in glass nickel pizza and soda, too.

We don’t have a final count as yet, but it doesn’t really matter: With as much fun as we had that night, and the goodwill we spread in the community, the event was a success!

Meeting in Review: August 2013

Meeting in Review: August 2013

Written by Crystal Seeley, Interact Chair

If you missed our August meeting, here’s what happened:

First, Jerry discussed our fundraising efforts. For those of you who were not able to make the Rotaract Brat Fry at the Butcher Block, the event was a huge success. Thank you to everyone who stopped by and volunteered!

Rotaract is again partnering with Peabody’s Ale House (located at 544 North Main Street in Oshkosh) for Bar Trivia. Trivia will be this Tuesday, August 13, at 7 pm. Bring some friends and form a team to test your skills against some awesome trivia. Prizes will be awarded for the top teams. (Psst, it’s free!)

This Thursday, August 15th, Rotaract will be joining forces with the Downtown Rotary to run concessions and help with ticket collections for Waterfest. The shift runs 7-11 (at the latest). The Tubes will be headlining.

Rotaract will be receiving a portion of the sales, so this will be a fundraising effort.If you’re available on Thursday and you’d like to listen to some great music while hanging out with some fellow Rotaractors we would love for you to join us!

Becky reminded us of the Tough Mudder coming up in September. The Tough Mudder benefits the Wounded Warrior Project and can use a lot of volunteers to make the event successful. To volunteer, check out the Rotaract Facebook event for more information. There are some pretty cool benefits to volunteering at the Tough Mudder. Think free food, free t-shirt, free beer, and free entry to the event.

Our speaker this month was Karlene from the Women’s Fund of the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation. She spoke on the Campaign to End Isolation. Information on this campaign (along with how you can help) can be found in a previous blog post, here:

During our meeting we also enjoyed some tasty appetizers from Manila Resto and passed out our newly created brochures.Lastly, we finished off our meeting with the Rotary Four Way Test. Of the things we think, say or do:

  1. Is it the TRUTH?
  2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?
  4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned? 
First Annual Elections

First Annual Elections

Written by Dan Snyder, Treasurer

Below are the seven positions that will be filled at elections that will take place at our September meeting. The description of the duties of each position is listed, but it is important to know that while each has a specified role, it has been our experience that everyone collaborates and takes on different tasks each month.This is a great way to help move Rotaract Oshkosh forward and to put your own stamp on what our club can be and achieve.

President (Presently Bethany Lerch)
– Oversee club organization and operation including meeting schedules
– Lead meetings
– Determine member skills and designate projects appropriately

Vice-President (Presently Jerry Medina)
– Work closely with the club President in terms of goals, projects and activities
– Develop a long-term plan (yearly) as well as a short-term plan (monthly)
– Preside over meetings in the President’s absence

Treasurer (Presently Dan Snyder)
– Request funds from Oshkosh Rotary chapters (via Joshua Anderson at Oshkosh Downtown)
– Track money spent and money received
– Collect member dues

Secretary (Presently Becky Snyder)
– Promote Rotaract to local Rotary clubs, Rotary International, prospective members and the surrounding community
– Record meeting minutes

Historian (Presently Joseph Mann)
– Photograph Rotaract in action at meetings, service projects, workshops and fundraisers

Running Events Chair (Presently Michelle Dei)
– Find running events in the community that members can participate in
– Organize group sign-ups for events
– Report at monthly meeting upcoming runs

Interact Liaison Chair (Presently Crystal Seeley)
– Maintain contact with local high school interact groups
– Facilitate collaboration with interact groups for combined activities

If you are interested in leading Rotaract Oshkosh, contact the group at [email protected] with your name, the position you dig, and why you want it. We’d love to include you in our September exec meeting so you can get a feel for it all. Oftentimes there is good food and good brews and always good company.

What Does It Take to End Isolation

What Does It Take to End Isolation

By Kate Salter, Intern, Women’s Fund

The Women’s Fund of Oshkosh welcomes all volunteers to support the Campaign to End Isolation. This campaign consists of three phases:

  • The first phase will raise awareness of the issue of isolation.
  • The second will create understanding; what does it mean to be isolated?
  • And the third will empower the community to take action to end isolation.

The first phase—awareness—is where we need your help. But first, here’s how the campaign originated.

In 2008, to celebrate its 10th anniversary, the Women’s Fund launched the Power of 10. We gave 10 groups of 10 individuals, $10,000 to make an impact in the lives of our mothers, daughters, sisters and friends. Our groups consisted of a wide range of demographics—from teenagers to the elderly and single moms to dads of daughters. We promised them we would LISTEN to the issues and everyday challenges they face, and that we would act on what we learned.

As we listened, we heard one common theme: They all felt some kind of isolated. Teenagers said they have 800 Facebook friends but no one to confide in. Elderly women told us that no one had come to visit in more than a month. Single moms explained that their couple‐friends would stop asking them over after a divorce. Everyone was feeling alone.

We suspected that isolation was much more than just a feeling, though, so we started doing some research. Here’s what we found:

  • Isolation is as dangerous to your health as smoking.
  • Loneliness takes a greater toll on your health than obesity or physical inactivity.
  • Social isolation changes the way the brain functions.
  • Being lonely increases the risk of dementia by 50 dementia.

With the stories from our groups and the statistics we found, the Campaign to End Isolation was born.

Rotaract Oshkosh | Womens Fund | Campaign to End IsolationThe first part of the campaign, building awareness, features our seven feet tall by three feet wide isolation booth. The booth is meant to grab the attention of passersby and create a diversion in the everyday routine while representing the feeling of someone being surrounded by people but unable to connect with them.

We’ve found that the most effective way to raise awareness with the isolation booth is to have someone either near it or inside of it. This is where we need your help! We’d love if you could sign up for a shift to:

  • Set up/tear down the booth
  • Stand inside the booth
  • Hand out information outside the booth
  • Maybe even write a blog post about your experience!

Join us and be the change in our community. If you have any questions, or would like to learn about how to sign up to volunteer, please email Kate Salter at [email protected]. Also, visit our website, to read stories and pledges made by real people in our community.

Rotaract Oshkosh Brat Fry

Come and join Rotaract Oshkosh this Saturday, July 27 at Butcher Block in Oshkosh for some brats n’ burgers. Rotaract Oshkosh will be serving up delicious brats and burgers from Oshkosh local meats and cheese shop, Butcher Block, from 10:30am – 2:30pm. Come and see why we love the food at Butcher Block and learn more about Rotaract. Proceeds from the brat fry will help support Rotaract Oshkosh’s club as well as a local charity, which will be chosen at our next group meeting in August.

Butcher Block is located at 234 North Koeller Street, Oshkosh, 54902

If you can’t make the brat fry, don’t forget our next meeting is Tuesday, August 6 at 6pm at Algoma Club. We always have great food, amazing speakers, and lots of information on upcoming service projects.

Hope to see you this Saturday!

July Meeting Notes

July Meeting Notes

Written by Joseph Mann, Historian

It’s July! Already eight months since our very first meeting – can you believe it?

Summer weather has arrived and Rotaract Oshkosh events are going on full force this summer! For those who were enjoying the nice weather or on vacation for the Fourth of July, here is a rundown of our July meeting:

The meeting began with the Pledge of Allegiance at 6 PM at the Algoma Club. Bethany then welcomed our special guests:

Following Bethany’s warm welcome, we all shared the best part of our day for this month’s Change for Change.  There was a wide variety of answers from “not being late to work” to “being here tonight.”

July Meeting | Rotaract Oshkosh

We briefly recapped Trivia Night at Peabody’s and agreed that if we choose to do another, we need to get more people to attend.  We also passed around a sign-up sheet for our upcoming brat fry fundraising event on July 27 at the Butcher Block in Oshkosh.  The brat fry is from 10am to 2:30pm and I encourage you all to come volunteer, or buy some burgers and brats!

July Meeting | Rotaract OshkoshKate Salter shared the Oshkosh Women’s Fund Campaign to End Isolation. You may notice telephone booth like structures around the area. This is a part of the project.  They need volunteers to stand in these booths, as well as help outside them handing out information.  Sign up via Volunteer Spot (will be put up on Facebook as an event).

July Meeting | Rotaract OshkoshNext up was Bill Thimke to tell us more about an upcoming travel opportunity to Lima, Peru in November. There, Oshkosh Southwest Rotary helps support an orphanage to “assist hundreds of children by providing funding and on-site assistance.”They also have a something known as a “Soy Cow,” which is a machine that produces a milk substitute from soybeans. Southwest sponsors five of these installations outside Lima, each of which serves thousands each day. Rotaract Oshkosh members are free to go on this trip with other Oshkosh Rotarians. For more information, contact Bethany Lerch.

Finally, after everyone grabbed some appetizers from Manila, Jeff Bollier shared with us several up-and-coming improvement plans for the City of Oshkosh. He presented on new residential developments just across the river from Beckett’s, Pioneer Island and the happenings of the former Buckstaff factory buildings—including a rare inside.

July Meeting | Rotaract Oshkosh

Check our Facebook for upcoming running events including the Titan 5K on July 20.  If you plan on going to the Titan 5K, please sign-up on and run with us as a team!

Until next time, happy Summer everyone!

Pantry Matters

Pantry Matters

Written by Bethany Lerch

In 1989, a handful of churches worked together to start the Ecumenical Food Pantry in a small room inside Trinity Episcopal in downtown Oshkosh. What began as a small customer base soon grew beyond the 12′ by 25′ room inside Parish Hall. That’s when the seven churches really built momentum with volunteers and financial support.

Then, in January 2008, it evolved into a new nonprofit organization, the Oshkosh Area Community Pantry. That year, as poverty rose, it served more than 14,000 customers. And with poverty comes food insecurity. According to Feeding America:

  • In 2011, 50.1 million Americans lived in food insecure households
  • In 2011, 14.9 percent of households were food insecure.
  • In 2011, households with children reported food insecurity at a significantly higher rate than those without children, 20.6 percent compared to 12.2percent.
  • In 2011, households that had higher rates of food insecurity than the national average included households with children (20.6 percent), especially households with children headed by single women (36.8 percent) or single men (24.9 percent), Black non-Hispanic households (25.1 percent) and Hispanic households (26.2 percent).
  • In 2011, 8.8 percent of seniors living alone were food insecure.

Food insecurity is a serious problem in Winnebago County. It means that children and adults may have to drastically reduce their food intake or resort to unhealthy foods that are more affordable. Consumption, or lack thereof, impacts academic performance for children in school and perpetuates higher crime rates in adults. Poverty, and hunger, are powerful. Mahatma Gandhi once said “Poverty is the worst kind of violence.”

In a small effort to help end this cycle, Rotaract Oshkosh has dedicated itself to a monthly volunteer commitment at the Oshkosh Area Community Pantry. We want to make a difference for people affected by food insecurity right here at home. Join us the first Monday of every month anytime between 3-7 pm to help check in customers, organize food shipments and stock shelves. The next time: Tomorrow, Monday, 1 July.

Until then, here are a few photos from our 17 June service project with the pantry:

June Meeting Notes

June Meeting Notes

Written by Becky Snyder

DSC00483I can’t believe it’s June already! While the weather maybe doesn’t indicate (yet) that it’s the beginning of summer, Rotaract Oshkosh is ready and hungry for what the next few months will bring – our goals include new members, bigger service projects, epic fund raising and of course, fun.

The meeting began with the Pledge of Allegiance, and, as Bethany mentioned last month, we now have an American Flag hanging proudly in our meeting space at The Algoma Club. Jerry kicked off the meeting by introducing the newest board member, Crystal Seeley, who is now the Chair of Interact Relations. Crystal will manage the relationships between Rotaract Oshkosh and the area’s three Interact groups – Oshkosh West High School, Oshkosh North High School, and Lourdes Academy. She will help us by communicating news and events from one group to the other as well as coordinating joint service projects. Crystal will be a huge asset to Rotaract Oshkosh’s board and will play a significant role in the development of the Oshkosh Interact groups.

Per usual antics, we have to have a little free brain storm session at the beginning in the form of Change for Change – a game in which we pass around a change jar, collecting spare money for ideas. And, we usually have a lot of ideas! Last nights topic was “how can we promote our group in Oshkosh?” Many great thoughts were shared and we’re excited to implement as many as possible. So make sure to listen and watch for us in the community this summer!

The meeting was packed full of information on fundraising and upcoming events. Read on to find out more on what’s to come this summer….


Peabody’s Ale House TriviaMonday, June 24 6-7:30pm
Jerry has set up a trivia night hosted by Rotaract Oshkosh at Peabody’s Ale House in Oshkosh. Jerry will be running this event (he is a trivia expert) and we encourage everyone else to form a team and come to participate! Rotaract Oshkosh will receive a portion of the night’s proceeds and if we are successful, this could be a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly event for our group. So make sure to stop by Peabody’s and support the group, and tell your friends and family to stop by, too! Let us know if you’re attending on our Facebook page. 

Butcher Block Brat FrySaturday, July 27 10am-2:30pm
Becky has arranged a brat fry sponsored by Rotaract Oshkosh at Butcher Block in Oshkosh. We will need 4 people at the stand at all times – and can do this in two shifts. Please sign up on Facebook if you can help. We will buy all of our products (brats, burgers, chips, soda) from Butcher Block, decide a price to charge, and then receive all the proceeds. Pretty sweet deal! Plus, we’re helping out a new, local business. Joe is going to help with getting signage around the area.

Upcoming Running Events:

Titan 5k, Saturday, July 20 8:45am start time (Through Menominee Park)
Shelly will be organizing a Rotaract group to run in this 5k. Anyone interested should sign up on the Titan 5K website. Cost is $15 per person, $17.50 per person after July 8. The race benefits the Endit Movement, specifically for the Love146 Charity (which is for the abolishment of child trafficking and exploitation).

Tough MudderSaturday, September 7 – Sunday, September 8, EAA Grounds
Tough Mudder is coming to Oshkosh! If you are interested in running, please contact Shelly Dei. If you are interested in volunteering – please sign up! They need a lot of help those days and volunteers get great perks. Like a free shirt, reduced event admission for a future race plus free admission day of (spectators must pay an admission fee!). Rotaract Oshkosh will have a volunteer team which you can sign up for on Facebook.

Upcoming Service Projects:

The focus this summer is going to be on big service projects with the most “bang for their buck.” We hope to get close to a full turnout at all service projects from all of our members.

Oshkosh Community PantrySaturday, June 15 9am-12pm
Join us for a morning helping stock shelves at the Oshkosh Community Pantry. Everyone please try to attend. Sign up on Facebook if you can attend.

Men Who Cook BenefitSaturday, June 22 5-10pm, UWO Reeve Memorial Union
Christine Ann Center is hosting their annual Men Who Cook Fundraiser at Reeve Memorial Union. Men from the community will be preparing a delicious meal. Admission is $65. Christine Ann is looking for volunteers interested in helping out with anything from bartending to cleaning to helping with the raffle. If you are interested, please contact Dale DeVries at [email protected]

In addition, we are working with Dale at the Christine Ann Center to determine a time to hold a four hour advanced volunteer training. This training is needed to work directly with clients and children. Please use this Doodle poll to elect the best dates for you. Please note: The training is 4 hours total. The options are to either do the training in one day or to break it into two, two hour trainings. Keep that in mind when selecting your dates (if you are available for two, two hour trainings, please make sure you select at least TWO different weekdays to attend).

Last but surely not least, we welcomed our amazing guest speaker, Cari Tetzlaff from the Oshkosh Area Humane Society.  Cari is the Volunteer and Foster Coordinator with OAHS. As a proud owner of an adopted animal from OAHS, this meeting was especially interesting!

Cari spoke on behalf of fostering pets and how to help keep pets happy and healthy. What was really interesting are all the reason that fostering an animal is really something that I personally think anyone can do! Whether you take a pet into your home or you provide monetary or supply donations to a shelter, there are a ton of ways to help.

Animals in foster care are there because they are not yet ready to be adopted. This can be for a number of reasons – perhaps kittens are not yet old enough, an animal may be recovering from surgery and just needs the extra attention, there could be an illness, or it may just be an anti-social pet who needs lots of love and attention before being adopted. Whatever the reason, there are always animals who need a foster home.

Cari at OAHS is a pro at matching each person or family with the perfect animal to foster. If you have kids,  have other pets, live in a small apartment or have never had a pet before, it doesn’t matter! Cari will help you find a foster animal that will fit perfectly with your situation. For more information on how to foster, contact Cari at 920-303-3166 or [email protected]

Our next meeting will be held at Algoma Club and 6pm (same time, same place!). We are still waiting to lock down the guest speaker, more details to come soon.

Until next time!

May Meeting Notes

May Meeting Notes

Written by Bethany Lerch

The May meeting for Rotaract Oshkosh began with the pledge of allegiance. I share that only because the remarkable bit is that we are now the proud owners of an American flag… and because there once was an instance where he said the pledge without it. (Whoops!)

Jerry Medina, our vice president, opened by sharing exciting news about our chartering (a success!) and the opportunity to travel to South America with the Oshkosh Rotary groups come October. Destination: Peru. Service + Machu Picchu. Awesome or awesome? Details: Stand by.

May Meeting | Rotaract Oshkosh

This month is packed with service opportunities. Here’s a quick look:

Meals on Wheels: Meals on Wheels is a service provided by Oshkosh Family, Inc., a social welfare organization. Volunteers take one hour one day each week over their lunch break to retrieve 8-12 meals from Evergreen and then deliver them within a specific geographic area in the city. For this, we will need to do an orientation. If you’re interested, please drop a line to [email protected].

Christine Ann Center Packer Tailgating: A handful of past and present Packer players were in attendance at the Oshkosh Convention Center on Tuesday the 14th for an evening of “tailgating” to benefit the Christine Ann Center.

May Meeting | Rotaract OshkoshWhen the change for change jar went around, we had an array of fundraising ideas (and Visa cards). Here’s what the group came up with:

  • Bake sale
  • Brat fry
  • Social – pay to get in!
  • Concessions – bartending at Water fest
  • Local band
  • Celebrity calendar – Police, high school, coaches, etc.
  • Online Facebook auctions
  • Run the steps at Lambeau field
  • Seroogy’s candy sale

There are a handful of running events on the horizon, too. The next big team run will likely be the Irish Fest 5k, which will be the first Saturday in June. Race starts at 8 AM. Participants get free admission into Irish Fest the rest of the day! Don’t forget, Michelle and/or Bethany like to run three miles on Thursdays.  Feel free to join! Just come to 100 North Main around 5:15. (But send a note to our Gmail account that you’ll be there so we know for sure – thanks!)

May Meeting | Rotaract OshkoshFor our main presentation, we were joined by Angie and Megan, from the Day by Day Warming Shelter, a local homeless shelter open seasonally from October to April. Here are some of the interesting things they shared with us:

In a study conducted via ADVOCAP, it was found that there were 12-15 “unshelterable” people each night. That’s when the City of Oshkosh facilitated a sheltering option for them with the establishment of the Day by Day Warming Shelter, which exists to fill the gap for people who don’t meet other criteria for area shelters like Father Carr’s and the Christine Ann Center. At first, the shelter was equipped with 20 guest beds, but they hit capacity three weeks into the season. The following year they added five overflow beds and were full by the third week—again.

In its first season, Day by Day accommodated 106 different guests. In its second: 127. Where they had six employees their first year, they now have 16 members of staff and more than 400 volunteers. Despite the help, though, they had to turn away 16 people this season. Angie and Megan noted that about half of Day by Day’s population is chronic, that they are trapped in the kind of poverty they cannot get out of. And although they work very closely with the VA, they have helped 19 veterans, up from 11 in its first year.

“We accept people where they’re at,” Angie noted. “Their reality is that they have no place to go and we want them to know that they are a worthy human being no matter how many bad choices they make.

May Meeting | Rotaract Oshkosh

However, guests have a clear understanding of what’s expected of them. While there are instances of substance abuse, “the responsibility is on them… they have to be able to take care of themselves because there are 24 others we’re taking care of, too.”

As for Rotaract, we’re waiting for Day by Day’s third season to come around so we can start helping again. Many thanks to Angie and Megan for joining us and sharing more of Day by Day’s story; we’re so grateful to be a part of the wonderful work you do.

May Meeting | Rotaract Oshkosh

Our next meeting will be on Tuesday, 4 June. Same time, same place. The speaker will be Cari Tetzlaff, the Volunteer and Foster Coordinator at the Oshkosh Area Humane Society. There will also be a special guest, a former member of Rotaract in Beirut, Lebanon.