Rotary Club of Sycamore, Illinois

We meet Wednesdays at 11:45 AM
Blumen Gardens
403 Edward Street
Sycamore, IL  60178
United States of America
District Site
Venue Map
Upcoming Speakers
Tom Mangan
Feb 20, 2019 11:45 AM
Classification Speech
Bill Nicklas
Feb 27, 2019 11:45 AM
City of DeKalb
Heather Duvall
Mar 06, 2019 11:45 AM
Pay-It-Forward House
Tom Cleveland
Mar 13, 2019 11:45 AM
Dekalb Airport
Club Events
President Elect
Immediate Past President
Assistant Treasurer
Rotary Foundation
Membership Chair
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Sycamore Rotary News
The club learned much about DeKalb’s gang activity during today’s presentation from the DeKalb Police Department’s Target Response Unit (or TRU). The team consists of officers Steve Parsons and Jason Goodwin. The team specializes in gangs and narcotics. In 2018, there were 457 gang-related arrests, of which 220 were felonies.
A gang, by their definition, consists of three or more people who have a unique name or identifiable organization and are actively engaged in an unlawful activity. Gangs are broadly defined as associatin with one of two factions, named the People Nation and the Folk Nation, who typically don’t get along, though there are signs that has begun to recently change. The officers employ many tactics to identify and track gangs and gang member activity, but rely heavily on social networks.
Some of the more prominent gangs in Dekalb include the Latin Kings, Gangster Desciples, Vice Lords, Ambrose, and Insane Deuces, though there are many more. By population, the Latin Kings and Ambrose are the largest. Many of their tactics rely on the recruitment of kids at a younger age because the system is usually more lenient with them than adults. The officers shared background information on the various gangs, including their associated hand signs, visual symbols, colors (including sports team associations), among other facts. For more information on gangs, you can visit
If someone suspects gang activity or sees gang-related graffiti in the public, they are encouraged to reach out to the officers at:
Officer Steven Parsons #33
Officer Jason Goodwin #55
Sycamore Rotary Club’s short term exchange program continued this year with the arrival of Laureanna Bagliani and Martin San Emeterio.  Illinois’ brutal winter weather did little to welcome our Southern Hemisphere visitors who, during today’s presentation, mentioned that they are used to summers of 110 degrees and no snow. So far they say they are “surviving the weather shock.” So far, they’ve visited Starved Rock, where they witnessed a frozen waterfall, commenting that it was a very pretty park. Martin comes from a family of 5 with parents who work as a nutritionist and a doctor. Laureanna comes from a family of 4 and her family are ranchers. Both Martin and Laureanna are planning to go into medicine. Next year they plan on attending college about 6 hours from home. 
Also joining us was Sebastian Colmenares, our long-term exchange student from Valencia, Venezuela. He too has been surviving the cold weather but took a small break from thinking about the snow to help his dad celebrate his dad’s birthday last week. He talked to him on the phone and enjoyed a ceremonial cake eating simultaneously with his remote father. Sebastian commented that of everyone he knows, his father is the person Sebastian would like to be, and that his father has made his life “so special”. The club sang Happy Birthday to Sebastian’s dad.
We were joined by Jim Elliott, President of Diveheart and Rotarian from Downers Grove, IL. As a youth, Jim’s daughter struggled with blindness. In figuring out how to help her through her struggles, Jim started working with blind downhill skiers and now works with adaptive schools to help students around the world through Diveheart. Jim shared a video that highlighted some of the work that he’s done with students as a part of their water-based therapy programs that enable individuals of a broad range of physical ableness to participate in life changing experiences. Diveheart’s programs have benefited individuals ranging from ages 10-87. For more information, visit 
February’s student of the month for 2019 is Grayson Burns. Grayson is a transplant from WI. He found his spiritual connection after joining the Sycamore United Methodist Church. As an athlete, Grayson had to make the difficult decision to pursue a promising career in football or to focus on his education, ultimately deciding to pursue his engineering studies at the University of Illinois - Champaign or the University of Missouri. Steve Balster describes Grayson as “the best student athlete he’s seen in 10 years.” Grayson decided to donate his $100 gift from the club to “Life Missions”.
Michael Embrey is the owner of DeKalb County Online which focuses on positive happenings in the county. Michael spoke on two topics. First, he discussed some travel tips, suggesting people consider traveling in “shoulder “ seasons rather than peak season to economize. He presented information on travel opportunities he sponsors through FunMe Events , including day trips in the region. He also presented the calendar of events for Kishwaukee Fest. There are 6 events scheduled between June & December including a blues festival, drum corps competition, bacon festival, a parade, a food & beer festival, & a holiday festival.
Image Credit: Michael Embrey
Brian Grainger is a local developer and builder who has recently been focusing on senior living communities in the DeKalb county area including two prominent developments, Somerset Farms and Hickory Terrace. These communities feature senior-friendly floor plans and amenities based on Brian's experience as a builder and reflected by his Certified Aging in Place Specialist background. Brian updated us on the status of the two developments along with his future plans for the property on Main Street across from the Middle School. Brian was joined by Linda Tillis, broker for Century 21, who works with Brian to promote these properties.
Speaker Credit: Brian Grainger