Rotary Club of Sycamore, Illinois
We meet In Person
Wednesdays at 11:45 AM
St. Mary's Parish Activity Center
312 Waterman Street
Sycamore, IL 60178
United States of America
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President Elect
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Club Foundation Chair
Polio Chair
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Sycamore Rotary News
Despite the fact that domestic violence is the most common crime in DeKalb County, Safe Passage is the only domestic violence shelter in the area. Founded in 1981, the nonprofit organization operates six single-family homes, a long-term apartment complex (with nine apartments), and a farmhouse shelter. The farmhouse houses an astounding 28 people each day, despite having just five bedrooms and one and a half bathrooms...and being over 100 years old!
In addition to serving as a shelter for both women and men (with or without children) experiencing domestic violence, Safe Passage offers 24/7 crisis intervention services. When individuals seeking such services are determined to need a shelter, they can stay in Safe Passage facilities for as long as they need help. The organization also offers programming for support, education, and legal advocacy to its clients. Safe Passage works closely with the state's attorney's office, police departments, and elected representatives...and all of the nonprofit's services are provided to clients at no cost.
Safe Passage currently has an operational budget of approximately $3.5 million, with significant amounts coming from government sources. Unfortunately, the organization is anticipating a reduction of $500,000 in state funding effective July 1, 2023, as Illinois completes a reappropriation process. Safe Passage is seeking new funding sources for this shortfall, as well as for its capital campaign to build a new, 3,000-square-foot shelter able to house up to 50 clients.
The new shelter will be built on the vacant lot located at 217 Franklin Street in DeKalb (across the street from Faranda's), and is anticipated to cost millions of dollars. Safe Passage would be grateful for any support provided by organizations or individuals to address this important need in our community.
To learn more about Safe Passage, please visit their website at You can find a video of the current shelter (and its limitations) at the following URL:
Steve Braser says he grew up instilled with a desire to help the City of Sycamore grow and prosper as he helped out at his parent’s downtown shoe store.,  Later, raising his family in the city, he got involved in city government, serving 12 years on the City Council and then the past two years as Mayor.  Braser made a pitch for people to seek elective office.  He noted that there are often lines of people ready to complain about a particular issue but many times a lack of candidates to fill various board seats where solutions get decided.  He said he has been surprised at the large number of Freedom of Information Act requests placed on the city, nearly 1,000 a year, which adds administrative burden to staff.   Braser also made a pitch for consolidating units of government that overlap in responsibility or where merged territories would bring greater efficiency.
Braser said he wants to make sure the City is on sound financial footing and future generations are not saddled with significant debt.  He noted that the City is up to date on its pension obligations unlike many other government entities.  He clarified the recent lawsuit settlement over lead levels in water.  He said independent tests verified Sycamore was far below lead action levels and a commitment for annual water infrastructure spends of $1.2 million through 2027 was at or below traditional water department spending levels.  He said the benefit of the settlement is an end to ongoing litigation fees.  Braser said providing safe, clean water remains a priority for the city.
Several differing economic development projects were highlighted by Braser.  These include the rehabilitation and expansion by Innovative Growers Equipment Company of the former Anaconda wire and cable property.  Owner Chris Mayer has added a trade school on the property in association with the Kishwaukee Educational Consortium.  Although controversial, Braser said he favored a plan to allow a marijuana growing operation on the site (noting this was not a dispensary).  The plan failed to win council approval.  Braser said there remains strong interest in downtown buildings.  He is also trying to find buyers for vacant commercial and industrial sites but says working with out-of-town owners has been a challenge.
Overall, Braser believes many positive things are happening in Sycamore and he hopes it continues to be an attractive place for people to live and for businesses to expand and locate.
St. Charles Park District Naturalist Pam Otto gave a multi-media presentation to Rotarians this week highlighting the sights and sounds of Spring’s arrival in our area.  Otto’s remarks included details about woodland wildflowers, bugs, toads, and birds.  Her information came from observations that were documented both during the day and in the middle of the night.
Otto explained that Woodland Wildflowers are the first to make their appearance in the Spring.  This is because they flourish in forest areas and appear before tree leaves are fully blocking the sun.  Examples shown by Otto were Prairie Trillium, Dutchman’s Breeches, and Trout Lily.  Otto also issued a warning about poison ivy.  She cautioned that the oil plant remains an active irritant even on gloves or clothing anytime contact is made.  Four out of five people will have a serious reaction to the poison ivy oil according to Otto who said washing in a solution of cold water with liquid detergent is the best way to avoid having irritating exposure.  A surprising spring bloomer mentioned by Otto is the cactus, not something normally associated with northern Illinois.
Beetles are busy being part of the garden landscape in the Spring according to Otto.  She showed a video zooming in on one beetle to demonstrate his multiple ways to grasp and devour a fly.  She also explained the speed of a beetle saying it can move 10-times faster than world-renowned sprinter Usain Bolt when adjusted for size.
The sounds of toads filled the room as Otto explained their abundance in Spring.  She commented that there seemed to be no danger of running out of toads.  One photo of a small pond was analyzed and showed 13 toads in a simi-concealed state.
The height of the bird migration season is now underway.  Otto noted that World Migratory Bird Day will be Saturday.  A computer program estimates 447-million birds would be in flight at some time during Wednesday.  She said 4,739,500 would have flown over DeKalb County the previous evening.  A challenge for birds is the increased impact of street, highway, parking lot, and security lighting during evening hours (Artificial Light at Night or ALAN).   Otto said Lights can be so bright that they confuse birds in flight causing fatal accidents.
For those interested in adding to their native plants collection, Otto promoted a plant sale at Hickory Knolls Discovery Center June 3 from 9 AM – 2 PM.
The mission of the Sycamore Chamber of Commerce is to improve commerce by being a champion for business and advocate for our community. With three staff members serving approximately 500 members, Sycamore's chamber has grown significantly over the years.
Rose Treml shared that, in the past 18 years, the Chamber has advocated for Sycamore's business community in the following ways:
  • Written letters to the Governor and other legislative officials at the state and local level (e.g. COVID restrictions on businesses, minimum wage legislation, and small business tax credits)
  • Supported local taxing bodies (e.g. Park District, Kishwaukee Community College, courthouse expansion, and wind and solar farm legislation)
  • Actively participated on boards and committees (e.g. DeKalb County Economic Development Corporation Board and Sycamore Economic Development Committee, and City's Planning Commission)
In Rose's mind, however, the most successful program the Chamber has created in the past 20 years, which advocates and supports our communities and businesses more than any other, has been their Leadership Academy which began in 2011. The stated goal of this program (an offshoot of the Chamber's Young Professionals Organization which began in 2006) is to "build a better future for Sycamore by developing informed, effective, and dedicated leaders with a truly vested interest in our community." The Academy is a 13-month program with a maximum of 18 members who meet on Friday mornings throughout the year. Approximately 188 professionals have completed the program to date. Success is measured by what the program's graduates and current members are doing or have done for the community. Graduates include business owners as well as leaders within city and county government, the school district, the park district, the public library, and non-profit organizations.
The Chamber also organizes and promotes over 115 events and meetings each year, helping members to network and promote themselves to Sycamore residents and visitors. They also host three websites, thirteen social media pages, and have 23,442 followers across all platforms.
As with Happy Dollars and fines, 50/50 raffle proceeds have long been earmarked for the scholarship fund for Sycamore High School seniors. In an effort to "spread the wealth" and support more causes, the members of your Rotary Board have determined that 50/50 raffle proceeds collected each month will benefit a different cause.
For the month of June, 50/50 raffle proceeds will help support CASA DeKalb County, Inc. to advocate for and serve as the voice for children who have experienced abuse or neglect in DeKalb County. The Board has committed that the total amount given to this cause will be no less than $250.
Thank you for your support of this important cause...and best of luck with the raffle!
The Rotary Club of Sycamore is committed to supporting many great causes. Following are the causes we have support since July 2022:
  • $372.50 to Sycamore District 427 for School Supplies (50/50 raffle cause for August)
  • $300.00 to Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County (50/50 raffle cause for September)
  • $465.50 to Safe Passage (50/50 raffle cause for October)
  • $1,350.00 for Polio Plus (funds raised through Chicken Salad Tasting with Suter Company)
  • $2,761.00 for Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County’s 2022 Home Build (w/ Dist. 6420 Matching Grant)
  • $400.00 to Usborne Books (during District conference) to provide reading materials to Ukrainian refugees attending two schools in Chicago's Ukrainian Village
  • $896.00 for Adopt-a-Family
  • $1,000.00 to Coats for Kids
  • $1,000.00 to Feed My Starving Children/Make a Difference DKC
  • $352.50 to Spartan Food Pantry (50/50 raffle cause for November)
  • $1,000.00 to Sycamore Public Library to fulfill District 6420 Governor's "Nothing Reads Like a Book" initiative
  • $292.50 to Sycamore Food Pantry (50/50 raffle cause for December)
  • $500.00 to Pay-It-Forward House (50/50 raffle cause for January)
  • $400.00 to Navajo Water Project (50/50 raffle cause for February)
  • $365.00 to DeKalb County Community Gardens (50/50 raffle cause for March)
  • $297.50 to Tails Humane Society (50/50 raffle cause for April)
  • $500.00 to South Prairie Elementary School (Rotary Reader)
  • $2,500.00 to Sycamore Food Pantry