There were three delegations

Dave introduced Mike Hamelin abd Trent Simons of The Next Door.  They are working to establish a transitional housing facility for at risk youth, looking to emulate 'Youth Haven' which has been operating in Barrie since 1987.  While there are interim options, the Salvation Army and others, youth at risk have special needs - one of which is to not be included in facilities with adults who, often, are not the best role models.  There is a Board in place and they are incorporated and have a $5,000.00 donation from St. Mark's to get started.

Youth Haven took in over 700 young adults last year, including 15 from Midland.  It is not just a shelter - staff act as mentors.  The goal of The Next Door is to host 25 in the first year at hotels and to provide them with food and clothint while the staff evaluate need, help develop an individual life plan, assist with returning to school and generally provide support.  The long term goal is to have a facility.  They expect to need about $15,000.00 in the first year. 

They estimate there are between 50 and 75 homeless or at risk youth in North Simcoe - runaways, the kicked out, the escapees from abuse and many have mental health concerns and drug problems.  They need structure, counseling, support in making decisions, help with child care, addiction support.  A shelter bed costs $1,933.00 but putting them in jail costs $4,300.00, transient shelters over $6,000.00 and hospital over $10,000.00.

Elephant Thoughts, which had spoken at a regular lunch, was back to ask Midland to join several other Rotary Clubs in supporting their educational initiatives in the North.  First Nations youth have all the issues mentioned by the first presenters.  A lack of education makes it worse and trans generational.  An investment in early education is the best response.  Residential schools still cast a huge shadow over First Nations even though the last one was closed in 1996.  An entire generation carries the marks and has passed the effects on.

Education on reserves is a Federal responsibility and the gov't is too far removed from the reality to be effective.  Graduation rates are at 35% but in self governed reserves it can be as high as 80.  Elephant Thoughts assesses, encourages, inspires and equips schools to make education fun.  It works with schools and teachers to encourage interest, attendance, and mentoring to put students on a path to graduation and in touch with themselves.  60% are basicallly illiterate, 400,000 of them are unemployed and this represents a loss to the economy of over 10 billion dollars.

Collingwood has been supporting this for several years and now 5 clubs are involved. 

Gary Morehouse and Lu LaFrance spoke about Sistema Music in Schools.  This is a program that started in Venezuala and that uses music to inspire shildren to become better, to heal, to bond, through ensemble based co-operation which raises self esteem, teaches life skills and builds a foundation for life as an adult.

They plan to start with 15 randomly selected elementary students at Huron Park, hire a teacher, involve mentors and work with them 2 hours a day 4 days a week for 35 weeks.  They need to buy instruments - 9 violins, 4 cellos and2 violas.  The program has demonstrated success at encouraging academic improvement and attendance and at building bridges.

This is a new program and has no budget yet though they are putting on a dinner dance/silent auction and there will be a Blind Mary concert in the fall.  They do have several sponsors on board - Scotia Bank, LabX and Canadian Tire.  They anticipate expenditures of $36,630.00 this year for salary, nutrition, instruments and insurance.  They are getting assistance and advice from a similar group in Toronto.

There was a free ranging discussion on all three presentations.  There were questions about the need for a 'Next Door' and its potential effectiveness and its operatinal funding, not to mention capital requirements, and where the money would come from next year.  Essentially, the delegation did not have a business plan, there was no mention of other sponsors, other volunteers or what fund raising had already been done.

Sistema had an operations budget but no revenue projected - they expect to hold dances etc. but didn't say what they hoped to raise.  Questions about the need - MSS has a music program - and the time involved - it's a major commitment for kids and, again, where's the money coming from next year?

There was a question about how Elephant Thoughts would fit into the Club's existing priorities and whether it was a Community or an International project.  

The consensus was that the Board would review and there would be further discussions.

Mike Proulx has offered to co-ordinate Music in the Park again this summer.

Ralph reported work on POD - relations with the Town are good.  LCBO is being more stringent and Paul Hamelin has agreed to supervise security.  In the same way that HCL receives some of the proceeds because Lisa does so much on co-ordinating volunteers, the Boys and Girls Club will benefit from Paul's involvement.  Paul Larche is producing new posters and doing promotion on his stations to benefit Radio for Radiology as well.   

Ralph said that the last few years have topped out at about 2,900 tickets sold and revenue at about $70,000.00 so 15 can go to HCL, 10-15 to R for R and 5-8 for the B and G Club leaving the rest for GBGH.  The suggestion was made to develop a percentage or a tiered structure rather than tie the Club to specific amounts so the partners suffer if there's a bad weather day and receipts drop.

Steve Rastin agreed that all these were worthwhile but wondered what had happened to the signature project idea - we should be doing something that no one else is doing.  Rotary Trails are only there because of the Club.  What else can we own?  Britt agreed to bring that subject back for more discussion.

Ron Shulman talked a bit about the Auction.  He and his team have completely redesigned it using technologies and, as a result, have lots of info on demographics of bidders, what items make money and what don't and etc.  They are now in a position to bring the auction back but need more participation from the club.  This year they only made $22,000.00 and there's lots of potential for growth.  The shift of timing was a mistake - pre Christmas donors don't want to give and buyers are pre-occupied.  He suggests postponing the next to April 2015 to give lots of time for promotion, approaching donors and raising awareness.  There are actually very few bidders - between 100 and 200 doing it all.  Ron and the Committee will be back during the year with more info and ideas.