Posted by Bill Neagus
ATTENDANCE – There were 22 Farmington Rotarians in attendance.
 
ANNOUNCEMENTS – Patty Strazzulla, chair of the March Madness wine tasting event slated for March 15, reported that sponsorships “are coming in nicely.” She also reminded members to bring a bottle of wine valued at $30 or more for a lottery during the event.
 
Mike Schloss announced that ticket purchases “are coming in, but could be better.” He urged members to try their best to sell tickets to the event. Tickets are $55 each.
 
Dave Barrett announced that the next social get-together will be 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 27, at the Stanley Whitman House.
 
President-Elect Jenn Diederich reported that she has been attending training (Pre-PETS) to become our next president and has learned that membership is a major issue in United States clubs. It’s shrinking here, though it’s growing in other countries. So, she said, there are no longer any rules in the United States governing minimum meeting attendance. “As far as rules in the United States, there are no rules. You can do anything to attract new members.”
 
Diane Kennedy, chair of the Foundation Committee, reminded everyone again to make donations – preferably of $100 or more – to the Rotary International Foundation.
 
President Ron Llewellyn announced that our March 20th meeting will not be at the Country Club of Farmington as usual. Instead, he said, it will be at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at UConn Health. The NICU was the beneficiary of our campaign to provide webcams that allow parents and other family members of infants who are patients to remotely keep an eye on the babies.
 
Matt Vendetti reported there is an effort among several other nearby Rotary clubs – Avon-Canton, Simsbury-Granby, West Hartford, and Bloomfield – to have a regional meeting during which we could network with other Rotarians. He will keep us appraised as to when and where the regional networking meeting will be scheduled.
 
Brendan Goodrich, manager of the Farmington Bank branch on Main Street, announced that his branch bank will host a business after hours (BAH) for the Farmington Chamber of Commerce the evening of Wednesday, March 14 – the night before our March Madness wine tasting. He suggested that Rotarians who are donating the $30 bottles of wine could bring them to the BAH.
 
BIRTHDAYS – Joe Voves celebrated his 96th birthday this past Sunday, March 4. Joe is recovering from back surgery, however, and wasn’t at the meeting. HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY TO JOE, who first joined Rotary in 1956 while serving in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, as general manager of the Ethiopian Hotel Co. then-owned by Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie.
 
RAFFLE – Immediate Past-President Phil Chabot had the winning ticket, but pulled the seven of spades from the deck of playing cards instead of the ace of spades and therefore lost the pot.
 
SPEAKER – Speaking in what she described herself as “broken English,” Pinar Ozy, told us about going from being a well-known newspaper and television journalist in her native Turkey to the owner of a shop in Unionville that sells custom-made, embroidered and monogramed towels for all occasions.
 
Pinar told us that she decided at age 10 that she wanted to be a journalist. Everyone told her she was crazy, but 20 years later she was a journalist at what she said was the Turkish equivalent of the New York Times – in other words, one of the largest and most influential newspapers in Turkey. She was a columnist and the digital editor.
 
One night, she explained, one of her readers e-mailed her that she had been working in the same job for 17 years, but became pregnant and gave birth prematurely. Because of a Turkish law that required mothers of premature infants to return to work immediately, she was being forced to leave her baby and get back to her job.
 
Pinar felt compassion for the injustice this woman was enduring so she mounted a nationwide digital petition drive to get the Turkish government to change the law. Her campaign was a success, the law was changed, and she was lauded throughout Europe for her efforts.
 
Through her connections with an American businesswoman from Boston, she was able to get a special visa via the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to move her family – her husband and three children – to the United States. This was during the Obama Administration. She was told that DHS interceded and get her the visa because she had done something good in Turkey – successfully lobbied for a change in Turkish law.
 
Once in the United States the family wanted a safe place to live similar to where they lived in Turkey. Her husband did some research on Google and the family moved here to Farmington. However, because of her difficulty with English, she has been unable to become a journalist here, so she opened a store – called The Happiest Shop Ever at 1680 Farmington Ave., Unionville, where she custom designs authentic Turkish towels, mini towels, dinner and cocktail napkins, and accessories for children. Go to https://happiestinc.com to check it out.