Posted by Kevin V. B. Schumacher
As Forrest Gump would say, “We wuz like peas and carrots” at the Lansing Center on Friday as we assembled for the first time since March 13, 2020. Newly minted President Sue Hansen called the meeting to order and we all remembered the drill: stand, invoke, sing, introduce, turn your head to the right, cough, health of the club is good and on to the announcements. A red badge was given to new member Matthew McGaughey of Mayotte Architects. John Cauley was pinned as Secretary, Courtney Millbrook pinned as President Elect, Jennifer Marsh (who gave a great invocation) was pinned as Treasurer and an uncharacteristically casually attired Pat Hanes was given the Rotary Hero Certificate.
Lisa Smith will be performing on Thursday, July 29 at Capital Prime from 7to 10. Regrettably she will not have the Past Presidents backing her up, but she would love to see you all in the audience so call Capital Prime for reservations. Sue Mills was called to the podium to tell of the more than 1,300 calls made by Rotarians to Rotarians between March 29 and last week as part of the Rotary Connections initiative. Janet Lillie suggested the concept to then President Pat Hanes and Sue Mills got a system up and running, recruiting a number of Rotarians to make calls and identifying Senior Rotarians who would receive calls. Eleven callers participated in all 59 weeks of the calling (Crippen, Draggoo, Gardner, Granger, Hoffman, Holman, Kern, Lillie, Lynch, Sienko, and Tucker) and 20 others chimed at different points of the initiative. All in all, a great experience for both the callers and the callees.
Katie Krick gave her new member presentation. She was sponsored by John Person and I’m thinking this may have been her first in person meeting. She’s got a couple of kids and a husband and has enjoyed Lansing Rotary’s history in the community so much that she brought in a picture of her great grandfather who was part of the Lansing Police Department in 1909. She also brought in her grandmother’s wedding ring which was still in its original box from Heath’s Jewelry store.  I found this ad from a 1922 For the Bride publication and some of our senior Rotarians were old enough to remember the store.
If our Friday lunch date had a raison d'être, it would have to be hearing Ken Beachler introduce live special music with John Dale Smith at the piano and our mystery date singer. I think there was actually a collective sigh and relaxing of shoulders as we all sat back in our chairs, closed our eyes and listened to Ken Beachler’s hypnotic made for radio voice introduce Meg Eldred Woolsey, who has performed for us 3 or 4 times before. Meg sang from The Apple Tree, Eve’s wonderful put down song, the title of which eludes me (Gorgeous?) but the lyrics of which were hilarious. When someone is singing just for you, you can’t help but think that all is right with the world.
Our speaker of the day was introduced by Courtney Millbrook. Cathleen Edgerly is the Executive Director of Downtown Lansing, Inc. Lansing’s downtown district is bounded by St. Joseph Street on the South, the east side of Capitol Avenue to the West, Larch Street on the East and Shiawassee Street to the North. Ms. Edgerly leads the effort to coordinate efforts at maintaining downtown Lansing’s vibrancy. She noted numerous challenges, especially in light of a pandemic where downtown businesses suffered an 80-90% sales loss. She indicated it will take years to recover for some, but that this also presents opportunity. The reality that not all offices will return to their previous occupancy rates creates an opportunity to do something new and different with those spaces. She encouraged everyone to participate in the many activities that are happening in downtown and applauded us for being a catalyst with Rotary Park. Downtown Lansing Inc. has high hopes for Lansing and seeks to support local efforts with small business incubators, start up funds, rent and mortgage support programs and events to make our downtown spaces a destination! She closed with “Are you down with downtown?” and based on the number of questions, I would say a lot of Rotarians are! President Sue survived her first meeting with aplomb!
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