Amanda Walls called the meeting to order and Joe Xanthopoulos led the invocation, pledge, and Four-Way Test.
Mark Fore introduced the guests and visiting Rotarians. Robert Maysonet and Lillian Entas-Maysonet were guests of Scott Katz. Mario Stone and Tyneshia Ghent were guests of Rick Maxey. Carlos Martinez was a guest of Ralph Allen. Chrissanne Long was a guest of Linda Wiggs. Melissa Innella was a guest of Kathy Abels and Linda Roddenberry was a guest of Larry Rankin.
Happy Dollars were collected by Blair Allen. Ginny Harris was happy to have had a birthday and for the success of UGA football. Mark Fore was also happy about UGA football, while Kristen Hathcock was happy to be a Gators fan. President Amanda was happy about winning in week one of fantasy football. Michelle Emerson-Lewis was happy about her recent successes. Michelle Ledford was happy about USF recognition. Joe L Ruthven was happy that over 200 Navy Seals were able to come to the recent services for a fellow Navy Seal who passed away in an accident.  Larry Rankin was happy about his book being revised and re-released, as well as about getting badge #1. Linda Wiggs was happy about her daughter in law becoming a naturalized citizen soon.
Next, President Amanda inducted new member Ben Daniels who was sponsored by Linda Wiggs.
Following that, Mark Davies led the Club in singing “Let there be Peace on Earth.”
Numerous announcements were made by President Amanda and Stephanie Colon. This Friday, September 16 will be the first coffee talk with President Amanda. On October 21 the Rotary golf event will take place and there are still plenty of opportunities to be involved in this event. On October 22 there will be a Rotary fishing trip- be sure to sign up for the fishing trip soon if you want to join. On October 24 there will be a social at Swan Brewing with a portion of the proceeds going to Polio Plus. There is a Board meeting on September 13 at Central Florida Speech and Hearing. Additionally, our club is sponsoring a trip to Honduras which will take place from January 21-28 and will involve working on water/housing projects. Registration for the trip is currently limited to the Lakeland Rotary Club’s members until the 23rd.
Crash Roberts is recovering and has recently been moved to Brooksdale, where visits from fellow Rotarians would be welcome if arranged in advance.
Todd Christian’s family sent a thank you letter to our club for including them in the Annual Dinner this year. The first Know and Grow opportunity will be at Philip O’Brien Elementary in October as the Highland City Elementary dates have had to be postponed by the school. The next Lake Wire clean up will take place this Saturday, September 14.
Brenda Ramirez then introduced our guest speaker and spoke about Hispanic Heritage Month.
Teresa Martinez, the author of Success in Exile, immigrated from Cuba with her family to the United States in 1970. Teresa Martinez pointed out that we can take the United States of America for granted. Many people come to the US for opportunities that they do not have in other countries. When Teresa was only five years old, Fidel Castro took over and announced that Cubans were finally “free.” Fidel Castro had created a narrative that Cubans were oppressed, that there were too many people who were poor, and that everyone should be equal. Ms. Martinez noted that socialism is just a theory, and like the feathers of a peacock it may seem appealing, but it is not able to handle high winds.
After Fidel Castro took power, Ms. Martinez’s family’s stores began to be taken “by the people.” Her family was locked out of the businesses they had worked to build and told that they would be shot if they tried to go inside, even if to retrieve personal items. Many unqualified people were placed in prominent positions, and citizens were shot and imprisoned for having beliefs that did not align with the regime. Food in Cuba was rationed and still is severely limited. Bread is only given to children under 5 years of age, and milk is only given to young infants. Ms. Martinez spoke about attending a private Catholic school when it was taken over by the new government. Men came into her class of 6-7-year-olds and began questioning and challenging their beliefs in God. They began encouraging the children to see Castro as the provider and source of help. When her family requested to leave Cuba they were required to wait eight years until they were given permission to leave with just the clothes on their backs. Ms. Martinez pointed out that she and so many other immigrants from Cuba came with faith, perseverance, and education, and she believes that anyone can find success in this country through hard work. Ms. Martinez encouraged us all to be careful about taking the United States for granted because she can say from experience that you do not know what you have until you loose it.
President Amanda closed with her word of the week: Stentorian, which means extremely loud.
Next week’s program will be about the state of our local colleges and universities.