Zoom Meeting May 14, 2021
The link for the meeting is below and will also be sent out on Thursday as a reminder.
WHEN DOES THE MEETING START?  Here is the schedule:
  • At 12:00 pm the Zoom room will be available for our "breakout room/virtual tables" to have a conversation with other members.  President Julie will draw us all back into the main meeting room at 12:28 pm
  • At 12:30 pm the meeting will be called to order
  • At approximately 12:55 p.m. we will introduce our speaker
  • Speaker will start at approximately 1:00 p.m.
  • Meeting concludes at 1:30 p.m.
SPEAKERSamara Valla, Choral Director of the Haslet High School Select Women's Ensemble
TOPIC:  "Haslett High School Choral Program - Hurdles of a Choral Program in a Pandemic"
CHAIR OF THE MONTH:   John Dale Smith 
FOLLOW UP:  Please keep your microphone muted when you are listening.  Be aware of the lighting in your room, a well lit room with natural light if possible.  Please feel free to use Chat throughout the meeting.  If you have any questions for the speakers, ask them through Chat.
Biography for Samara Valla
Samara Valla grew up in Western New York. She received her Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education at Michigan State University followed by a Master's in Music Education from Michigan State University. Mrs.Valla began her teaching career in Haslett the fall of 2000. Her students regularly receive the highest ratings at both District and State Choir Festivals.
As the director of the HS Select Women's Ensemble this ensemble has made appearances at the Michigan Youth Arts Festival. She also directs the middle school musicals and the high school musicals. As a soloist, Mrs. Valla has performed both internationally and locally. She has toured Europe and the Midwest with various choirs and has participated in community theater extensively in New York State. Previously, Mrs. Valla was a Community Music School Instructor of early childhood music classes and the coach for the Ladies First A Cappella Ensemble at Michigan State University. She currently resides in East Lansing, Michigan and is married to Justin, orchestra director at Okemos High School. She has three daughters, Myah, Julia and Lara.
Zoom Meeting Link 
Below is the meeting link and dial in phone number for our Friday Rotary Club of Lansing Meetings on Zoom.  You will find the SAME link each week in the Rotogram so you will not have to look for a new weekly link. Thank you!
Topic: Rotary Club of Lansing Meeting
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 899 2218 2374
Passcode: 016004
One tap mobile
+16468769923,,89922182374#,,,,,,0#,,016004# US (New York) 
Time: Noon, Friday, May 14, 2021
May Birthdays
Baumer, LaurieMay 17
Benson, JeffMay 23
Dart, MelanieMay 09
Fliehman, DennisMay 21
Hall, CarmenMay 07
Hansen, SueMay 05
Hines, DonaldMay 24
Hooper, MarkMay 12
Larson, ErikMay 17
Marsh, JenniferMay 19
McNaughton, HeidiMay 25
Millbrook, CourtneyMay 29
Mills, SueMay 14
Robison, LoloMay 13
Sherry, C. EdwardMay 16
Sonnenberg, CurtMay 25
Wanger, EugeneMay 16
Rotary District Matching Program
This matching program is to help our members reach their next Paul Harris or your first by matching the money needed to reach that level.  You make a contribution of half the amount needed to reach the next Paul Harris, make sure Cathy has your donation.  A form will be completed so the District will match your contribution with the available points.  The "Earn a Reward" Points Match Challenge will continue until May 31, 2021, or until the pool of donated points is exhausted.
IF you donate via credit card, please email your receipt to Cathy to insure your matching funds.  Also, it must be designated to "Annual Fund" to qualify.
If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask: or Paul Harris Chair Jenn Dubey, email:
Editarian Report for May 7, 2021
Today’s meeting was challenging with gremlins attacking several of our computers just as we were getting started, dogs underfoot, and phones ringing at inconvenient times. For example, this editarian’s audio was suddenly and inexplicably muffled and stayed that way throughout the meeting. Please forgive any unintentional omissions.
12:00-12:28 Attendees assigned to chat rooms
12:33 CALL TO ORDER by President Julie Pingston
12:33 INVOCATION: Pat Munshaw
Pat delivered a lovely invocation called Seven Prayers for May.
May your health improve.
May your family be loved.
May your friends be blessed.
May your pains be less.
May your finances multiply.
May your worries disappear.
May the good Lord bless you everyday.
12:35 PATRIOTIC SONG: America the Beautiful by John Dale Smith
John White (not to be confused with John Dale Smith) was in attendance from the Ann Arbor Club. John has been around the club for 17 years, mostly in an administrative capacity like Cathy. Now that he is part of the new member committee, he is interested in learning how other clubs—like ours—manage new members.
Dawn Haddad, an old friend of Julie’s, is the new Director of Development for Ele’s Place and was also in attendance at today’s meeting.
12:39 HEALTH OF THE CLUB: Diane Sanborn
Happily, Diane had nothing to report today. Her message to everybody: “Enjoy the spring!”
12:40 ANNOUNCEMENTS: Julie Pingston
1. Julie introduced Rocco Rucinski who gave the April Birthday report from his car while out of town for a funeral. (Please accept our condolences, Rocco.) Close to 100% of those with April birthdays made a financial contribution to Rotary last month and three answered the following question: What would you tell your 13-year-old self?
Jenn Dubey: “I would tell myself to never stop dancing even in the moments when music has stopped. Appreciate all the small blessings and look for the good.”
John Shaski: “Save your money, compound interest!”
Sam Tucker:  5. Invest in Berkshire Hathaway. 4. It is what it is. 3. It’s not about you. 2. Figure out who you are and act on it. 1. Marry Jan!
Rocco then sang happy birthday to everybody—in Italian—in a beautiful voice! BUON COMPLEANNO!
2. Save the date for Wednesday, May 12 at 5:00 for a membership social time and fundraiser for our Foundation – Rocco Rucinski and Sheri Jones will present “A Taste of Italy” - Sheri will be our host and Rocco will teach us how to make some Italian appetizers as they share stories from Italian culture as you make along with the demonstration or just watch along – Check the upcoming Rotogram for all the details.
Michelle Lantz gave an excellent update on the Greater Lansing Foodbank’s new location north of I-69 in Bath. Twelve months ago was the groundbreaking and the facility is now fully operational. Previously, the Foodbank was able to provide 8 million meals annually. Its goal now is to provide 18 million meals in 2025. The new facility has 60,000 square feet and is 36 feet tall. Jackson was the main sponsor and donor, contributing $750,000 towards the construction of this new facility and the Jackson Volunteer Center recognizes this donation. There are now seven bays for large semis to use, compared to four previously. And semis are no longer competing with smaller vehicles for access.This new facility has a, 11,000 square foot freezer (-10 degrees) and two coolers (34 and 43 degrees, respectively for produce and dairy items). One third of this space is already filled with food items, with plenty of room to grow. Now, four groups of volunteers can work in different parts of the building simultaneously. The board room and front entrance have color themes that match the logo is everything is clean, fresh and expansive when compared to the 70-year-old building that was previously home to the Lansing Foodbank. Best of all, this facility will be able to serve many more urban AND rural families in need across seven counties. Michelle called this the ‘community’s building’. No loans were needed for the construction to happen and, despite challenges presented by the pandemic, this project was completed quickly.
Julie noted how sad it is that we need such a large facility, but how truly lucky for our community.
Congratulations, Michelle, on a job well done!
Thanks to our Chair of the Month – John Dale Smith
 12:47 INTRODUCTION OF SPEAKERS: Today’s Chair of the Month is John Dale Smith, who could not be with us today. Instead, Julie Pingston introduced today’s four new member speakers: Kimberly Garland, Monique Field-Foster, Casey Jacobsen and Micki O’Neil.
Kimberly Garland
Kimberly joined Rotary at the end of 2020 and attended her new member orientation in late March. She lives in DeWitt with her husband, William. They have been there for 15 years and have two children. They also have a dog.
Kimberly graduated from MSU with a degree in dietetics and is presently taking classes through South Florida.
Her family enjoys running together and spending time outside in nature. They have visited 27 national parks and also like volunteering together—at the Foodbank, at the Humane Society, picking up trash, serving hot meals to the homeless, at Impression 5, and at the local vaccination clinics. They really like to encourage volunteerism with their children.
Kimberly works for the Delta Dental Foundation and has been there for 13 years, including at the foundation for ten years. She has a $6 million annual budget and has especially enjoyed working on an oral health campaign with Sparrow and fellow Rotarian Michelle Reynaert, that has saved Sparrow a million dollars. She has also worked on an oral health exhibit at the Impression 5 Science Center. Kimberly works closely with five dental schools across the tristate area, troubleshoots how to increase access to dental care for people with disabilities, works closely with federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), and is involved with a project to replace drinking fountains, the purpose of which is to encourage water consumption over ingesting sugary drinks.
Kimberly’s boss encouraged her to join Rotary. Since the Rotary mission aligns well with her own personal mission, she feels honored and fortunate to be part of this club and looks forward to new relationships and making a positive impact through Rotary.
Monique Field-Foster
After a brief distraction by her brand new puppy, Monique started her presentation with the finding that humans usually make an assessment about a new person in the first 5-10 seconds of meeting them. Although Monique has a serious side, too, she wants people to know she is a self-described ‘goofball’.
The only child of Dr. Ron and Saundra Field, her dad is a community college president and mom is a fashion designer. They recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary and she loves her parents dearly. Most importantly, Monique’s parents taught her the importance of it not being all about you. Growing up, her family had three foster kids. This experience gave her the ability to look outside of herself and what she wanted—and inspired her to give back to other people. All the blessings in life aren’t worth much if you don’t share them with someone else.
Monique’s family consists of her husband Eric, fur baby Axel, and a new puppy named Dude—who is an English pointer. This new puppy came home to live with them just last night. Monique and Eric have been married for six years. Disappointingly, COVID-19 prevented a big celebration of their five-year anniversary. As quarantining got underway, Monique was afraid too much ‘together time’ would be bad but, instead, the pandemic has allowed Monique and Eric to get to know each other a lot better. She has appreciated Eric’s support of her ‘just being her’.
Eric’s work is spent providing loans to underrepresented businesses in Grand Rapids. He has been able to help a lot of companies that likely would have fallen on dire times without his assistance. She is very proud of him.
Monique then went on to say that ‘what she does’ is different from ‘who she is’. After graduating from MSU with a dual major in environmental communications and resource development, she decided she wanted to be an environmental attorney. This turned out to be too dry a choice for her, leading Monique instead towards criminal law. This started her journey towards politics, and working on issues related to ‘guns, sex and drugs’. Part of her work has been focused on eliminating mandatory minimum sentences for drugs that were intended to put major kingpins behind bars rather than the minorities and ‘little guys’ who ended up with life sentences in their place.
Later in her career, Monique ended up back at MSU, in a governmental affairs office working with alumni. This position allowed her to broaden her scope and move in the direction of grassroots issues, which then led towards her serving as deputy legal counsel for the Whitmer-Gilchrist administration. Whatever side of the aisle you are on, Monique stressed what a great opportunity this has been to see the government from the inside out.
Monique and Eric love to travel and haven’t let the pandemic thwart their dreams. Part of their quarantine has been spent on Youtube, visiting all the places that call to them. This has given them the opportunity to refresh themselves while caring for others who have had a harder time during the pandemic.
Monique comes from a biracial family, a blessing during the past year and a half in particular, offering her family great opportunities for challenging conversations, listening to each other, and allowing everyone to see the world from different perspectives. What it all comes back to is ‘it’s not about you’.
Faith plays an important role in Monique’s life, too allowing her to grow and appreciate different perspectives. Because there are so many times when we get caught up judging people on the outside rather than seeing who they are on the inside, Monique has been inspired to start a children’s book called Welcome to the World, Honey Bear.
Monique closed her presentation by saying that “Life is a journey of twists and turns but it’s all about how we show up and give back, that makes it beautiful”.
Last, Monique considered it a miracle that her new puppy stayed quiet throughout the presentation.
Casey Jacobsen
Casey has been a Rotarian since 2019 and was hoping to stay under the radar for her new member presentation. Alas, that was not the case!
Casey is from the Livonia and Garden City communities just outside of Detroit. Upon graduating, her self-described ‘major hippy spirit’ caused her to drive west to Oregon for a few years. When she returned, she became a real estate appraiser alongside her mom who was a real estate agent. Her dad was a carpenter, giving them all something in common.
With her now ex-husband—two children, Casey has two children. Madison turned 21 in April and has just wrapped up her junior year Grand Valley. Her son, Gary, just finished his freshman year at Western. While an empty nester now, Casey feels blessed for having been able to stay at home for most of her children’s childhoods. At the time, she worked at their elementary schools.
During her divorce, Casey did not know which way to go. As a Christian, she let God take control of the wheel and that is what brought her to the automotive world, LaFontaine’s in particular. Kelly LaFontaine is her direct boss. After commuting from Milford to Lansing for a while, and getting to know the culture here, Casey fell in love with Mike and bought a home in Williamston. She has put down roots here now, made lots of friends, and enjoys golfing, kayaking and snowboarding. She also has an 8-year-old dog named Lucy.
In closing, Casey said that that’s her in a nutshell. She looks forward to being back in person with Rotary, once again breaking bread together.
Susan Angel was Casey’s sponsor for joining the Rotary Club of Lansing.
Micki O’Neil
Micki is the chief communications officer for the Ingham Intermediate School District (ISD). Chris Holman was her sponsor for joining Rotary and she began in January.
One of seven children, Micki was born in Detroit. She is married to her husband Ron, has three children, five grandchildren and another on the way. She also has a dog named Cooper.
Something important about her is that Micki loves storytelling. She likes to find out who people are and everything about them. She also enjoys helping young people find their passions. Community connections are important to her such that any opportunity to introduce people and organizations to one another is most welcome.
Family and friends are what drive Micki’s life. She enjoys traveling, camping in the summer, being on the water, and her family has a boat.
According to Micki, if you love what you do, then work is just ‘home away from home’ and you’ll never really work a day in your life!
Micki began her career first at Jackson, then Accident Fund. At a pivotal time in her life’s journey, her house was destroyed by a tornado. This event led her to reevaluate her life, at which time she moved to the ISD. She has a different purpose now and really enjoys working with kids each day.
Some fun facts about Micki are that she was once the President of the Board for Gateway Community Services, she was a participant in the Leadership Michigan program, took part in the Leadership Lansing program (where she learned so much about our community, even after having been here for 40 years) and she once won the Learning and Liberty Legacy Leader award.
Micki is very glad to be giving back through Rotary now.
An interesting statistic recently uncovered by Cathy Andrews is that our Club has just reached 36% female membership! Welcome to everyone!
In lieu of a speaker’s gift we will be making donations in honor of our speakers to a local organization through our Lansing Rotary Foundation which has, over the history of our club, given in excess of $2,000,000 to local organizations and projects.
NEXT WEEK: We will meet May 14 and our guests will be students from the Haslett High School Choral Program and yes John Dale Smith.
President Julie adjourned the meeting at 1:30 pm.
Stay well, Everyone!!
Pam Miklavcic's email is:
May 21, 2021
"What the Pandemic Has Been Like for a Professional Musician"
May 28, 2021
Jun 18, 2021
Jun 25, 2021
View entire list
Rotary Club of Lansing
P. O. Box 13156
Lansing, MI   48901-3156
Meeting Responsibilities
May Birthday Chair
Hall, Carmen
Sanborn, Diane
Miklavcic, Pam
Chair of the Month
Smith, John Dale
Chair of the Day
Smith, John Dale
Lilje, Missy