Oshkosh Area Community Pantry Volunteering

Written by Rotaract Treasurer, Dan Snyder 

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Saturday February 15th marked our first volunteer activity without our fearless leader, Jerry. Jerry’s sudden passing was and is such a great loss and brings great sorrow to our whole group. We lost a great President and more importantly, a close friend. It was great to see how many current members and prospective members came out to help the Oshkosh Area Community Pantry. It was a great way to honor Jerry, since the food pantry was one of his favorite places to volunteer.

The Food Pantry is a great place to spend a couple of hours volunteering. What makes it so great, you ask? Well, you can not only help a lot of people in need, but have fun doing it as well. The Food Pantry is very conducive to working as a large group which allows everyone to interact and enjoy each other’s company.

The Food Pantry is always looking for help because they are constantly getting in shipments of food that needs to be sorted and sometimes repackaged, before being placed on the shelves. This past volunteer session we were able to accomplish a lot because we had such a good turnout of volunteers. We organized and repackaged cereal before rearranging the shelf so families could find what they needed more easily. We repackaged a large amount of yogurt and stocked the aisles. We helped break down boxes and move heavy pallets to make room for the next shipment. We even helped move some of the shelving to provide more space for future shipments.

The Oshkosh Area Community Pantry is a wonderful organization that helps a lot of people who are struggling to feed their families. The community needs places like this to help those in need and they need volunteers to make sure things stay running smoothly. Rotaract Oshkosh is honored to help the community by providing service to places like the Food Pantry. It is a great way to keep Jerry’s philanthropic spirit alive and to keep the great memories we have of him in our hearts.

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December Volunteering – Celebration of Lights: Santa’s Helpers!

Written by Rotaract’s Interact Coordinator, Crystal Seeley 

On a cold night in December, some Rotaract members were called upon for service by Santa.

Santa needed elves to guide the families into the North Pole located at the Oshkosh Celebration of Lights. Once inside next to the roaring fire, Rotaract elves greeted and introduced the children to Santa. This elf lost count of how many families passed through, but can say with confidence Santa attracted many families from all over the surrounding area and a mixture of ages Whether the elves were dancing outside, or using parents’ cameras to catch those priceless expressions children make when they first meet Santa. All elves were able to enjoy the holiday spirit. The joy on the children’s faces, and the appreciation that the families expressed was well worth the little bit of effort to create such a magical special moment for a child.

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Dear Jerry

Dear Jerry

Rotaract Oshksh lost its President, Jerry Medina, in a tragic car accident on January 30.

Dear Jerry | Rotaract Oshkosh

Dear Jerry,

I write to say thanks. Actually, I write to say thanks for a lot of things.

Thanks for your help. I would have had a really hard time starting Rotaract Oshkosh without you. Your colleague Dan, a Rotarian, was the one that gave me your name. He said you would probably be interested. That’s why I sent you that left-field [read: frantic] email in spring 2012. Luckily, you responded right away.

Thanks for showing up. To Planet Perk in June to hear me out, to Fond du Lac’s chartering, to all those organizational meetings. And with good company!

Thanks for introducing me to Dan and Becky. I am certain Rotaract would not be what it is without them. They came because of you. So did Shelly and Brandon. Together we grew into something real, something to be proud of.

Dear Jerry | Rotaract Oshkosh

Thanks for introducing me to Meredith. We only met a handful of times, but I recognized a familiar soul. Writing and animal welfare mean a lot to both of us. Once or twice we even toyed with the idea of dropping everything to start a rescue of our own. (Meaning more animals, of course.)

Oshkosh Area Humane Society | Rotaract Oshkosh

Thanks for your laughter. Monthly meetings or volunteering, you were the life of all our proverbial parties. Exec meetings are especially fond memories. You were the first one to laugh and the first to make everybody else laugh. You and Shelly would inevitably bicker; you and Dan would joke about sports or work, and you were the quickest to make a snarky remark that rocked the whole table.

Dear Jerry | Rotaract Oshkosh

Thanks for rallying everyone. Like that night we volunteered with Downtown Rotary at Waterfest, do you remember? Someone had the idea to cheer for people who tipped us. Then you took it to the next level and really made a ruckus. Again, laughter. Much of it because of you. That night will go down as my favorite volunteering event.

Working Waterfest | Rotaract Oshkosh

Our friendship formed around Rotaract almost two years ago. I am so glad it did. I am so glad our paths crossed. You have touched my life, Jerry Medina. Thank you for being.

November Rotaract Oshkosh Meeting

Written by Rotaract member, Becky Snyder

IMG_2099Rotaract Oshkosh’s November meeting was all about Habitat for Humanity and what’s to come for the group in 2014. We will volunteering this month (November) on Saturday, November 9th from 9am-12pm at the ReStore in Oshkosh. Additionally, We voted on a few key items for the coming Rotaract year; including:

 

New Location:

 

Starting in January, we will be meeting at Becket’s Restaurant. As we spoke about at our last meeting, we are going to host our meetings at a different local establishment each year as a way to both support different businesses and as a way to try new things as a group. The vote was unanimous.

 

New Meeting Time:

 

Based on the Doodle poll results, the top two meeting times were Mondays at 6pm and Wednesdays at 6pm. The group voted 7 to 2 to move the meetings to Mondays at 6pm starting with our January meeting at Becket’s.

 

 

December Volunteering:

 

As an executive board, we agreed that from now on, we are going to nominate 2-3 volunteer options for coming months to be voted on at our general member meetings. Anyone is welcome and encouraged to share their ideas or suggestions for volunteer projects. The vote was:

 

6 to 3: Celebration of Lights (partnering with Propel)

 

The other two options were bell ringing with Rotary or Empty Bowl Project with Rotary. So our December volunteer project will be Celebration of Lights (assisting in Santa’s workshop) on EITHER (you can do both nights if you would like) Saturday, December 14 or Wednesday, December 18 from 5:30-8:30p.m. Sign up sheet will be coming out in email.

 

Rotaract will be participating in the Race for the Lights run on Saturday, December 7 at 4:30pm at Menominee Park. Proceeds benefit Christine Ann. Money will be due to Shelly beforehand. It’s $30 to run, includes a shirt.

 

We also discussed member obligations and dues. $50 yearly dues are due at our January meeting. In addition, being a Rotaract member asks that you attend a monthly meeting, volunteer project or fundraiser. The more you can make it to, the better, as we are trying to build membership and form relationships!

 

Lastly, we will be hosting our monthly fundraiser – bar trivia – at Peabody’s Ale House this coming Tuesday, November 12 at 6pm. Tell your friends!

 

Our guest speaker was Christy Becker, the Volunteer Coordinator with Habitat for Humanity. Christy gave us an overview of what HFH does in the community as well as what the ReStore is all about – a local volunteer (mostly) run store that collects and sells new and gently used items for those in need. We will be volunteering there this Saturday, assisting with unloading and stocking new items. Christy also explained that the homes they are currently building are open for the public to view on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 8am-3:30pm. On Fridays and Saturdays the homeowners are on site. Email me for the addresses of active build sites.

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See you at our next meeting, Tuesday, December 3rd at Algoma Club.
ARC Cerebral Palsy Benefit

ARC Cerebral Palsy Benefit

Written by Rotaract member, Joe Walk.

photo (1)On Friday October 18th, Rotaract Oshkosh had the opportunity to support Cerebral Palsy and ARC by volunteering at their Parisian-themed art benefit auction. Founded in 1954, Cerebral Palsy of Mideast Wisconsin proudly serves nine counties, including Winnebago, Outagamie, Fond du Lac and Waupaca, and provides services and programs designed to help individuals and families affected by Cerebral Palsy and other physical and developmental disabilities.

The night before the event a group of Rotaract members assisted in the set-up of the event, which including assembling the Arc de Triumph and the twelve foot high Eiffel Tower, as well as decorating and arraigning the auction areas.  On the night of the event Rotaract was able to assist at the registration table, greeting the guest as they arrived at the event, before moving to wrapping and delivering purchased artwork.
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The night was a great success with a great time had by the over 350 people attending this wonderful event and many generous donations going to support the great work that Cerebral Palsy and ARC do for the community. Rotaract is already looking forward to the next art auction next year!

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Rotaract Oshkosh’s First International Project – Pilgrims to Ibillin

Bethany Lerch, the first president of the newly chartered Rotaract Oshkosh, had a dream. That dream was to return to Israel/Palestine where she had been before, this time with the intent of learning all about the Mar Elias schools for Israeli Arab children of Christian, Muslim and Druze descent located in the village of Ibillin near Nazareth in Galilee. Three other Rotarians came to share her enthusiasm. They are: Candice Lane; Yessra Sankari, and John Hobbins.

Alas, Bethany was offered a job in Leipzig Germany for a year; she now plans to go on the trip to Ibillin next year.

Along with one other person from the area, Jack Stubbs, Candice, Yessra, and John are going this year. Other Oshkosh Rotaractors are excited about the possibility of going in a coming year.

To find out more about Candice and why she is taking this trip, go here:

http://oshkoshtoibillin.com/about-us/candice-lane/

To find out more about Yessra and why she is taking the trip, go here:

http://oshkoshtoibillin.com/about-us/yessra-sankari/

You can read more about the trip, why there is a conflict in Israel/Palestine in the first place, and about the commitment of Bethany, John, Yessra, Candice and Jack to the trip at:

http://oshkoshtoibillin.com/

 

If you would like to help support the group going on this trip, please contact us directly at [email protected]

 

PS. Thank you

PS. Thank you

Written by Bethany Lerch

The best stories start at the very beginning. This story, my Rotary story, began four years ago…

I got rocked by Rotary in August 2009. I was standing outside my apartment on Oregon Street. I don’t remember what I was doing, only that it was sick hot out.

My phone rang. It was Richard, a professor from the Milwaukee area, someone with whom I had just interviewed for a Rotary scholarship.

“Bethany?”

“Yes?”

“It’s Richard, from Mount Mary.”

“Oh, hi.” Here’s the part where he is going to tell me I failed. I sat on the steps and scrunched my eyes closed waiting for the fatal blow.

“We’ve selected you for the scholarship.”

“I’m sorry?” ohmigod. Why would you do that?

His voice became cloudy, and the cars on the street sounded fuzzy. When he said goodbye a short while later I called my dad bawling. He cried, too. His daughter was going to graduate school.

Bethany Lerch | Rotaract Oshkosh
Reading with a girl from Al-Arakib in the Negev, Israel – March 2011

Just like that, my life changed. Because of Rotary. It changed many more times in my year abroad in the UK.

Rotary chapters in Oshkosh were curious about my experience in Scotland and, upon my return in fall 2011, invited me to their meetings. I met a number of people at those meetings, one of whom was John Hobbins. A few months later he zeroed in on me. “So, what do you know about Rotaract?”

“Not much,” I told him.

“That’s okay,” he said. And he’s been there every step of the way since.

With that, our curious journey began, and my life changed all over again with Rotaract

Jerry came first. Our first run-in to talk business was a memorable one. I remember trying hard to be professional while I described Rotaract, but an obscenity crept out. I covered my mouth and apologized. Jerry laughed and said he suffers from the same problem. Relief and good humor ensued.

Jerry Medina | Rotaract Oshkosh
Jerry, at our first service project, at the Oshkosh Area Community Pantry – November 2012

With Jerry came Dan, a peer from law school. He and his wife Becky had just moved to the area. John invited the four of us to attend a chartering ceremony for the Fond du Lac Rotaract chapter. That’s when we added Joe Mann. The ball really got rolling after that.

November saw our first event, a Saturday morning at the food pantry (that actually started with bloodies.) I met Jena and Joe and Taylor that day. Our open meeting took place in December, when we went public with the whole gig. Enter Brandon and Michelle, Joe Walk (who has a different last name that none of us can spell) and Virginia.

Come January, we had full support from both Rotary chapters and were going full-steam ahead with monthly meetings and speakers, running events and invites to Rotary socials. Ours was a full plate and it remained a full one as we continued to grow with the help of Crystal, Candice, Ray and Oriane.

Crystal Seeley and Dan Snyder | Rotaract Oshkosh
Crystal and Dan helping out at the Christine Ann Center – February 2013

While we have a number of achievements to smile upon, the greatest, in my mind, was the fact that Rotaract Oshkosh went from brainchild to officially-recognized in approximately nine months. Less than one year. That’s all it took for us to tackle the project of growing a grassroots service organization for millennials in the Oshkosh area. To be clear, that’s – if I may – pretty damn baller.

That we have hosted and been hosted by so many area nonprofits continues to amaze me. You continue to amaze me. It has been a pleasure to be a part of your organization. Thank you for making me, I think, a better person.

For your future, I wish you that which you so beautifully wished me a few short days ago:

Follow your passion. Find what you’re looking for. (Stay out of trouble.) And, above all, find joy in all you do. Together.

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!

It’s Official: We’re Official

It’s Official: We’re Official

Written by Jerry Medina

On Tuesday, April 30, Rotaract Oshkosh and the Oshkosh West and Oshkosh North Interact clubs had a party: We celebrated our official charters from Rotary International!   We were joined by members of local Rotary Clubs, and even our Rotaract Fond du Lac friends, whose Chartering ceremony we attended back in September.

Oshkosh West Interact | Rotaract Oshkosh
Oshkosh West Interact club

It began with a simple social hour with drinks and food from Manila Resto.  After a while of meeting the area Rotarians, we began the presentation. Our fearless leader Bethany MC’d the presentation. After her introduction, we started with a “changing of the guard” for the Oshkosh West and Oshkosh North Interact clubs.  The current officers “passed the torch” to next year’s officers, while giving sound advice and perspective based on their own experience with Interact.

Oshkosh North Interact | Rotaract Oshkosh
Oshkosh North Interact club

Jerry Medina | Rotaract OshkoshThen it was Rotaract’s time to shine, represented by yours truly.  It was important to thank everyone who was able to join us for the ceremony, as it is their continued support that has allowed us to get to where we are today. I also spoke of my time thus far with Rotaract, and how it has taught me things I otherwise never would have learned. From the Warming Shelter, to the Christine Anne Center, to the Humane Society, we have the opportunity to do things as a group that some of us may not be able to do on our own. (I don’t want to spoil anything for our non-member readers who are considering joining, but Rotaract will change your life.)

John Hobbins | Rotaract OshkoshThe presentation continued with some words of wisdom from our District Governor Jeff Reid, who gave all of the clubs high praise for our continued efforts and the changes we have made in the community. We then heard from John Hobbins, a local Rotarian who has been instrumental in our growth. While John always has wonderful words for us in general, the main motive behind us asking him to speak was so that we could recognize his dedication with a gift. I can’t phrase it any more succinctly other than, well: John, you are the man. Thank you. (That goes for you, too, Algoma Club.)

With that, the ceremony was over, photos were taken and we continued to mingle and socialize.  It was an amazing time that I won’t soon forget. It’s a shame we aren’t able to get chartered every year. Still, it’s amazing to me how much we have been able to accomplish in less than one year. Here’s to the next one!

Rotaract Oshkosh
Left to right: Michael Scott, President of Oshkosh Southwest Rotary; Joe Mann, Historian, Rotaract Oshkosh; John Hobbins, New Generations Chair at Oshkosh Southwest Rotary; Michelle Dei, Running Events Chair, Rotaract Oshkosh; Jerry Medina, Vice President, Rotaract Oshkosh; Bethany Lerch, President, Rotaract Oshkosh; Becky Snyder, Secretary, Rotaract Oshkosh; Dan Snyder, Treasurer, Rotaract Oshkosh; Karen Frederick, Southwest Rotary; Jeffrey Reed, Assistant Governor, District 6270