Club President
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It's hard to believe that we're just days away from our last Rotary meeting of 2020.  Certainly 2020 was a year of firsts for the Risers.  Your club will end the year with a record 42 members, a dozen Paul Harris Fellows since July 1, creation of a Vocational Service focus, addition of a Meals on Wheels weekly route, continuing international service projects, more than six months of well-attended Zoom meetings and more.  Thanks to you, The Risers are one of District 5960's most engaged clubs.  Our challenge will be to "keep the pedal to the metal" to assure that once Rotary life looks more like it did before COVID-19, the Risers are in a position to "keep the drive alive."
Hopefully soon, each of us will be able to look back on 2020 and say "I survived and hope to never experience another year like this."  As Rotarians, people of hope and optimism, we look forward to a better and brighter 2021.  Time magazine, in a recent piece on the year in review, might have captured it best...
What 2020 became was a series of rolling disasters—the killing of George Floyd, the burning of California, an acrimonious political campaign marred by baseless allegations of fraud and illegal voting, and the worst pandemic the world has seen in more than a century. But in the midst of the tragedies there was courage, there was grace, there was sacrifice, there was hope—there were people faced with the very worst rising up to be their very best. Few will recall the year just ending with anything close to fondness. But it will surely be recalled with no small measure of pride.
My wish for you and your family this joyous season is...
December 22 - Rochester Fire Chief Eric Kerska
At our last regular meeting of this calendar year, we're hear from Rochester Fire Chief and Emergency Operations Lead Eric Kerska.  Battalion Chief Kerska was elevated to Chief by the Rochester City Council in June, 2018.  Kerska has been with Rochester Fire Department since 1994.  His appointment to Chief was effective June 30, 2018.  Prior to taking on the role of Battalion Chief, Kerska spent nine years as a Fire Captain and six years as a Firefighter. His educational background includes an Associate of Applied Science degree in Fire Sciences from John Woods College, a Bachelor’s Degree in History from Winona State University, and a Master of Science degree in Strategic Studies from the US Army War College.  Kerska also served in the Army National Guard from 1983 – 2015, including service in Iraq and Kuwait, retiring as a Colonel.  I suspect he'll surprise us with some hot news and be able to answer your burning questions.
December 29 - NO MEETING..."Holiday Hiatus"
January 5, 2021 - NO CLUB MEETING...Board & Support Team Leads Meet via Zoom
New Member Application - Kate Boyer
The Board has approved the membership application of Kate Boyer.  Kate's membership application, which you received in an earlier email, is now in your court.  As per established process, members have until December 23 to review and comment.  Prior to joining Western Governors University five years ago as an instructional design manager, Kate spent more than 25 years in numerous educational and technical roles at Mayo Clinic.  I'm looking forward to inducting Kate as our first new member of 2021.  Thanks to Amy Donahue-Anshus for inviting Kate to a meeting and asking her to join the Risers.  I challenge each of us to follow Amy's lead and invite a prospective member to a Zoom meeting.
New Paul Harris Fellows!
Please join me in congratulating the Risers two newest Paul Harris Fellows...Mike Neumann (PHF+1) and Dean Stenehjem (PHF+5).  These gentlemen represent our club's tenth and eleventh PHF this Rotary year.  AMAZING!  And, there are more Fellows to be recognized, yet this year and in 2021.  I'll recognize a member who'll be receiving her first PHF at our next meeting and then we'll honor the five new PHF's from this year's 4X4 clubs - Mike Neumann, Janet Swanson, McKinsey Goodenberger, JoMarie Morris and Jolene Hansen!  Congratulations and thank you for your contributions to our club and the Rotary Foundation.
District 5960 Governor Ed Marek
District Governor Marek will deliver his Risers Club Zoom remarks during our regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, March 30.  Immediately following the club presentation, Ed would like to meet with as many members of the Risers Board and Club Support Team Leads as possible.  All members should make every effort to attend the club meeting and club leadership should plan to engage in a conversation with Ed from 8-9 a.m. the same morning.
Community Service Opportunities
It's been called to my attention that the Rotary-related volunteer hours Risers have submitted since July 1 are lagging significantly behind this same time last year.  Some of this is probably due to COVID-19 and the lack of face-to-face volunteer opportunities.  But I'm guessing that some of us have just failed to submit our service hours to Kim Keilholtz.  Remember that any hours related to Rotary count...STRIVE, District training, community service projects, raffle ticket sales, etc.  Joanne has indicated that she will submit the Meals on Wheels volunteer hours for all participants.
Please, whenever you complete Rotary-related service projects or activities above and beyond our regularly scheduled meetings, send your hours to Kim at kimdtm@msn.comThank you!
The raffle has been completed with good success and winners names have been drawn.  The 2021 calendar raffle is in the books and 365 lucky ticket purchasers have won a prize (some really lucky folks might have won more than one).  Dean will give a more complete update at Tuesday's meeting.  Thanks to each of you who sold and bought tickets.
Human Trafficking...A Learning Opportunity

The Harmful Effects of Pornography

January 9, 2021 – 9 am-Noon – Via Zoom

Learn about the addictive nature of pornography and how it is a contributing factor to sexual violence and has a strong connection to human trafficking. Its usage has increased due to COVID-19. Hear scientific and research-based information on what pornography is and its effects on the viewer and society as a whole. This program is appropriate for youth and adults.

Presented by Neil Dennison, Violence Prevention Specialist/Volunteer Coordinator for Victim Services, with a panel of local professional experts, including Detective Dan Johnson with Olmsted County Law Enforcement and Andrea White, Safe Harbor Regional Navigator.


(Note:  You must register at least 2 days in advance to receive Zoom Link.)


For event information, contact Sister Marlys at 507-529-3524

For registration information, contact Jessica at 507-280-2195

Getting to Know Rotary International

Charity Navigator Gives The Rotary Foundation Its Highest Rating

For the 13th consecutive year, The Rotary Foundation has received the highest rating — four stars — from Charity Navigator, an independent evaluator of charities in the U.S.

The Foundation earned the recognition for adhering to sector best practices and executing its mission in a financially efficient way, demonstrating both strong financial health and commitment to accountability and transparency. Only one percent of the organizations Charity Navigator evaluates have received 13 consecutive 4-star evaluations.

"Your achievement and 4-star rating will enhance your organization’s fundraising and public relations efforts,” says Michael Thatcher, president and chief executive officer of Charity Navigator. "This exceptional designation sets the Foundation apart from its peers and demonstrates to the public its trustworthiness."

The rating reflects Charity Navigator's assessment of how the Foundation uses donations, sustains its programs and services, and practices good governance and openness.


RI  Receives Global Humanitarian Award

ShelterBox awarded Rotary International with its first Global Humanitarian Service Award, in recognition of Rotary’s outstanding partnership throughout the years during its 20th anniversary virtual event in November.

Founded in 2000 by a Rotary member in the United Kingdom, ShelterBox provides emergency shelter and essential supplies to help communities through their toughest times. ShelterBox and Rotary officially became project partners in disaster relief in 2012.

Rotary has been instrumental in ShelterBox’s growth, helping to transform ShelterBox into an internationally recognized disaster relief charity. The mutual benefits are enormous. ShelterBox receives networking, logistical and financial support from Rotary and, equally, acts as a catalyst in encouraging people all over the world to become involved with their local Rotary club.

ShelterBox CEO Sanj Srikanthan presented the award to Rotary International General Secretary and CEO John Hewko at the virtual event.  The two organizations have helped over 1.6 million people in 100 countries. More recently, the partnership has delivered lifesaving shelter and aid to families, protecting them from the threat of coronavirus.

“This award is for every Rotary member in the world who has ever enabled this life-saving work,” said Hewko. “Together, we should take great pride in this achievement of supporting families recovering from disaster and conflict around the world.”

Supporting the Environment

New Rotary Focus:  Supporting the Environment

The Rotary Foundation Trustees and Rotary International Board of Directors have both unanimously approved adding a new area of focus: supporting the environment.

More than $18 million in Foundation global grant funding has been allocated to environment-related projects over the past five years. Creating a distinct area of focus to support the environment will give Rotary members even more ways to bring about positive change in the world and increase our impact.

RI President Mark Maloney says that during his travels around the world as a Rotary senior leader he encountered many Rotary members and Rotaractors who advocated for the environment to be an area of focus.

“I believe strongly that our Rotary Foundation programs now have a valuable added dimension to our efforts,” says, Maloney.

Foundation Trustee Chair Gary C.K. Huang says that with the global population reaching near eight billion, protecting the environment is increasingly important.

“It is time for us to use our collective resources to invest in a smart and efficient way to protecting our environment,” says Huang. “We are qualified to take this initiative because we are a global group of problem solvers with diversified talents.”

In 1990-91, RI President Paulo V.C. Costa made the environment one of his primary causes, creating the Preserve Planet Earth subcommittee, which looked at ways clubs and members could conduct environmental initiatives.

“We have finally caught up to Costa [his vision],” says Past RI President Ian H.S. Riseley, chair of the Environmental Issues task force, which championed the new area of focus.

“As a lifelong environmentalist, I’m delighted that our great organization has recognized that the environment is a worthy and appropriate destination for our project activity,” says Riseley. “This is an exciting moment in Rotary history.”

Supporting the environment becomes Rotary's seventh area of focus, which are categories of service activities supported by global grants. It joins peacebuilding and conflict prevention; disease prevention and treatment; water, sanitation, and hygiene; maternal and child health; basic education and literacy; and community economic development.

Grant applications for projects will be accepted beginning on 1 July 2021. Gifts and commitments from Rotarians and others will be sought to provide global grant support for the new area of focus.

More information about this new cause will be announced soon.

It's Not All Bad News!

It's Not All Bad News:  10 Good Things to Come Out of 2020

[The following was taken from an article of the same name in the latest Minnesota Sheriffs' Association newsletter.]

While 2020 has been a most challenging year, and COVID-19 has flipped the script on normal, it's not all bad.  In not particular order, consider these 10 Good Things to come out of 2020.

Good Hygiene Habits - We are all benefitting from a renewed emphasis on the importance of proper and frequent hand washing and germ mitigation.

Community Spirit - Despite the fact that many people are shut away in their homes, many communities have never been closer.

Appreciation for Essential Workers - Supermarket cashiers, stackers and delivery drivers are not generally thought of as heroes.  But COVID-19 has highlighted the essential roles played by key workers we depend on.

Drive-in Movies are Making a Comeback and Drive-in Concerts were Born - Many of us remember the good old days at the drive-in.  Now a new generation is getting the opportunity to take in a movie or even a live performance from the comfort and safety of their automobile.  You can even go to drive-in church now.

Restaurants are Sharing Their Secret Recipes - From McDonalds Egg McMuffin to IKEA meatballs, Panera Bread pastries to a Disney Dole Whip, a number of formerly best-kept recipe secrets have been shared by their sources, so we can enjoy their staples in the comfort and safety of our homes.

Animal Adoptions are Up - Shelters across the country are seeing an increase in pet adoption applicants.  Animals in need are finding forever homes.

Corporations are Stepping Up - Major companies such as 3M and Apple pooled resources or shifted production to make millions of personal protection equipment items.  Ford, GM, Tesla and other automobile manufacturers were able to make ventilators and other medical devices.  Distilleries around the country, large and small, have used their resources to produce badly needed hand sanitizer.

Virtual Access to Culture and Nature - You can visit the Met in New York, take in Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum or the Louvre in Paris, virtually tour national parks and zoos, and even go on an expedition to Mars, all without leaving home.

Board Games, Puzzles and Books - The board game, jigsaw puzzle and book industries are all reporting increased sales.  A new generation is discovering the old family and household standards as more people are enjoying family time - unplugged.

More Community and More Caring - Stories abound of communities coming together, serving one another and rallying to meet needs among society's most vulnerable.  (Think Rochester's Together and the City and County Caring Funds)

Office Attire Changes - Sweatpants, t-shirts and pajamas...need we say more?

African Region Declared Polio Free

It our pleasure to announce to you that the African region has just been certified wild poliovirus-free.

Rotary members have played an invaluable role in the effort to rid the African region of wild polio. We should be proud of all the hard work that we’ve done to eliminate the wild poliovirus throughout Africa and in nearly every country in the world. 

This progress is the result of a decades-long effort across the 47 countries of the African region. It has involved millions of health workers traveling by foot, boat, bike and bus, innovative strategies to vaccinate children amid conflict and insecurity, and a huge disease surveillance network to test cases of paralysis and check sewage for the virus. 

Over the last two decades, countless Rotary members in countries across the African region and around the world have worked together to raise funds, immunize children, advocate with local and national leaders, and raise awareness about the importance of vaccination, enabling the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) to effectively respond to and stop polio outbreaks. 

This milestone is an incredible public health achievement for Rotary members, the African region, and our GPEI partners, and a huge step forward on the road to global polio eradication. But we still have important work to do in order to eradicate wild polio in the last two endemic countries.

We have faced many challenges in our journey to eradicate polio. But we’ve made remarkable progress, and the polio infrastructure that Rotarians helped build will serve as a lasting legacy that will continue to help protect vulnerable children against other diseases for decades to come.

We are calling on you today to recommit yourselves to ending polio. We need each and every one of you to help finish this fight and continue raising $50 million each year for PolioPlus. The eradication of wild polio in the African region shows us that polio eradication is achievable, and shows how our hard work, partnerships and financial commitment continue to propel us forward, even during a global pandemic.

Thank you for your continued efforts, for achieving a wild polio-free African region, and for remaining committed to fulfilling our promise of a polio-free world.

Holger Knaack, President                                                     K.R. Ravindran, Chair
Rotary International                                                           The Rotary Foundation

Rotary International President Holger Knaack and Nigeria National PolioPlus Chair Dr. Tunji Funsho congratulate Rotarians on eradicating wild polio in the African Region. Watch here.

Rochester Rotary Risers Recognized at District Event
On Tuesday, June 23, 2020, Rotarians from District 5960, which covers south east and east metro Minnesota and western Wisconsin, met virtually for the 2019-20 District Awards Happy Hour.  Clubs were recognized for their efforts in various categories and based on the size of the club – Large, Medium Plus, Medium, or Small – as part of the District’s Awards Program.
The Rochester Rotary Risers Club was responsible for submitting examples of their efforts against a checklist for up to six categories – Club Service, Community Service, International Service, Public Image, Vocational Service, and Youth Service. The submissions were then judged by Rotarians from Clubs in a different size category to keep the voting objective. The Rotary Club of Rochester Rotary Risers was in the Medium Plus size club category.   
After the tabulating, the club received several awards for its efforts, including the District Governor's Citation, 3rd place in Club Service, 1st place in Vocational Service, and 3rd place in Community Service! The Club has been focusing on Vocational Service through vocational talks, Rotation Days, vocational programs, a vocational workshop, and recognition of a community member with a Paul Harris Award for being a Rotarian at heart. The Club has also been involved with and sponsored community programs like the Jeremiah Program, that helps families move from poverty to prosperity two generations at a time, and Cradle to Career, that focuses community resources on programs that make a difference in the lives of children and young adults in reaching education goals and eventually employment.
About Rotary and District 5960
Rotary’s vision is “Together we see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change, in our community, across the globe, and in ourselves.” We do this through a global network of volunteer leaders dedicated to tackling the world’s most pressing humanitarian challenges. Our mission is to advance world peace and understanding, good will and peace through improved health, the support of education and alleviation of poverty. Rotary connects 1.2 million members of more than 35,000 Rotary clubs in over 200 countries and geographical areas. Within District 5960, which includes much of south east and east metro Minnesota in addition to 6 counties in western Wisconsin, there are 63 clubs focused on humanitarian service. Locally, the Rotary Club of Rochester Rotary Risers members provides both hands on skills and financial support for sustainable projects to improve our community. Our work improves lives at both the local and international levels including our continuing work toward a polio-free world. For more information, visit ( or
The Awards Happy Hour reception was recorded and can be viewed here:
Club Information
Rochester Risers
Service Above Self
We meet Tuesdays at 7:00 AM
Hilton Garden Inn
225 S. Broadway
Rochester, MN  55904
United States
DistrictSiteIcon District Site
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Meeting Responsibilities
Greeter 1
Rosener, Joanne
Program Coordinator
Supalla, Don
Birthdays & Anniversaries
Member Birthdays
McKinsey Goodenberger
December 8
Sylwia Bujak Oliver
December 19
Janet Swanson
December 31
Join Date
Joel McNeil
December 17, 2019
1 year
Elaine Case
December 18, 2012
8 years
Executives & Directors
President Elect
Community Service Team Lead
Vocational Service Team Lead
Club Service Team Lead
International Service Team Lead
Rotary Foundation Team Lead
Past President
Fundraising Team Lead
Human Trafficking Officer
Rotary Classic Event Liaison
Youth Service Team Lead
Literacy Team Lead
Social Team Lead
President Elect Nominee
Membership Team Lead
Public Image Team Lead
Club Administrator
Russell Hampton
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