Rotary Club of Sycamore, Illinois
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Wednesdays at 11:45 a.m.
St. Mary's Parish Activity Center
312 Waterman Street
Sycamore, IL 60178
United States of America
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Sycamore Rotary News
Red Cross Volunteer Charlie Sharp is a lifetime Sycamore resident and talked passionately about his experience on the scene of the tragic St. Albans fire that left 120 people displaced in 2019. As soon as he heard about the fire, he rushed to the scene and saw the firefighters battling the blaze and residents standing in the parking lot at Southeast Elementary School across the street. He immediately called his regional office in Chicago and the Sycamore School District Superintendent at the time, Kathy Countryman, and they got to work helping the firefighters and families. Members of the Red Cross provided the firefighters with drinks and essentials while Superintendent Countryman opened the school and allowed the Red Cross to set up emergency shelter. He says many people think of the Red Cross as emergency disaster relief for natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes. However, he wants us all to know that local emergencies such as apartment fires get the same degree of relief. The Red Cross also helped residents of the recent apartment fire in DeKalb on Kimberly Drive along with Family Service Agency. Charlie says one of the FSA workers recognized him on the scene because she was displaced from St. Albans and she is happy to be able to give back.
James Stuart joined the presentation as well, telling his story as a Service Armed Forces Regional Program Specialist. He has served military troops around the world as a volunteer of the Red Cross. At one time he was responsible for 450 service members. The Red Cross has a permanent office staffed with employees at every military base. In WWII, they provided coffee and donuts to military members as a treat in Poznań, Poland. The Red Cross also provides emergency communications to commanding officers when a family member falls ill or passes away back in the States. 
Charlie also wanted to bring attention to the fact that they install free fire detectors for anyone who asks for them. There are no pre-qualifications or income requirements. (I can vouch for the fire detectors, which Charlie installed in my house in 2017. They are still going strong, thanks to their 10-year batteries.)
Red Cross services include:
1. Disaster response, (clean water, safe shelter, hot meals
2. Training (CPR, first aid, life support, babysitting and more)
3. Military and veterans support (reintegration, veterans services and more)
4. International support (120 million people outside of U.S. benefit each year)
5. Blood services (40% of the blood supply is provided by Red Cross and its 2.3 million volunteers)
The Red Cross also provides financial assistance to qualifying families after crisis and has the funding to put qualified families in a hotel for up to a week after crisis. They also aid in prescription assistance, medical assistance and counseling services. They only aid in crisis help, not long term. However, they work closely with the Family Service Agency of DeKalb County for emergencies as that agency has resources to go beyond what Red Cross can offer. 
The American Red Cross has 230 chapters in the U.S. The Rockford chapter is nearest to Sycamore.
Steve Wilder will serve as our Club President for 2024-2025 and during this week's meeting he presented the following goals for his presidential year:
Financial Security
  • We can't serve if we can't survive
  • Maximizing our current fundraisers/programs
  • Being open to changes and/or new opportunities
  • Retention...maximize everyone's experience
  • Recruitment...give people a reason to check us out
  • Fellowship
  • Always looking to the future
  • Getting our hands dirty
  • Serving through financial support
  • Partnering
  1. EarlyAct & Interact
  2. Literacy
  3. Youth Leadership
  4. Youth Exchange
Steve reminded the group that he had previously served as President of the Rotary Club of Galesburg in 2019-2020 and was looking forward to this second opportunity to serve as President of his Rotary Club. He sees it as an opportunity to serve both our Club and our community, and believes strongly in servant leadership.
Steve looks forward to working with all of us to achieve the Club's goals for 2024-2025 and beyond.
Do You Know a Rotarian Who Embodies "Service Above Self"? 
It's time to nominate a fellow Rotarian for the prestigious Rotarian of the Year Award! 
This annual award recognizes a Rotarian within our district who truly exemplifies the  Rotary motto: "Service Above Self." 
Who are we looking for? 
A dedicated Rotarian: Someone with a history of significant contributions to our  club's mission, local community projects, and international service initiatives.
A team player: A Rotarian who actively participates in club meetings, service  projects, fundraising efforts, and fellowship activities, fostering a strong club spirit.
A leader and mentor: Someone who takes initiative, holds leadership positions,  and actively recruits new members, ensuring the future of Rotary in our  community. 
A global citizen: A Rotarian who engages with Rotary beyond the club level,  participating in district activities and international programs. 
Nomination Criteria: 
Nominees must be club members in good standing for at least one year. • Consistent attendance at club meetings is valued, but not mandatory. 
Take action! 
Reflect on who among your fellow Rotarians best embodies these qualities. Contact  Brandon Diviak for details on the nomination process and to provide your submission. I  will have paper copies for voting at our next meeting 6/5/2024! 
Let's celebrate the Rotarian who truly goes above and beyond! 
The members who have received this award in the last five years include the following and are not eligible for the award currently. 
  • Paul Callighan
  • Patrick Shafer 
  • Robert Brown 
  • Paulette Renault
  • Tim Neubert
Rotarian Jeff Petersen said he had only a backpack for supplies and a one-way ticket to Thailand for his trip to Southeast Asia.  He called his ten-week adventure “incredible.”  Petersen said he typically planned his visit one-to-three days at a time and used phone apps extensively to find  tourist sites, lodging, and transportation.  He said he slept in 29 different beds of varying quality.  His longest hike was 19 miles in one day.  Because of his reliance on his cell phone, he backed up essential information in a paper dairy just in case he lost his phone or had a technological failure. 
Transportation was really quite easy according to Petersen.  For example, while trying to go from Bangkok to Ching Mai he had a choice of 12 trains and 43 buses plus their “Grab” service (equivalent to Uber).  Petersen said he learned not to take taxis because drivers didn’t use their meters, they just negotiated a price.  Large passenger vans were frequently used for tourist travel.  His most unique experience was a 13-hour night-ferry trip.  There were no chairs, only beds.
Jeff said that fortunately he knew a few people living in Thailand and Southeast Asia and had guidance on how to navigate his solo journey.  He did pass along some important lessons learned for the future, such as having at least two cell phones on the trip.  He found Google translate a valuable resource.  He learned food was very spicey and many times only available through street vendors (fortunately he never got sick).  He admitted he’s eaten his quota of rice saying it was served everywhere at all meals.
Petersen’s talk was mainly focused on logistics of his backpacking journey.  Perhaps a future appearance will highlight the many tourist sites and nature areas he visited.
2024’s emergence of two different broods of cicadas in the same year is unusual, but no cause for alarm according to Saint Charles Park District Naturalist Pam Otto who was this week’s Rotary speaker.  Brood 13 (locally) and Brood 19 (further south) will both emerge this year, but Otto showed Rotarians a penetration map indicating little overlap between the two (mainly in the central Illinois area).  “It’s not a cicada apocalypse,” said Otto.
Otto explained that a brood is made up of several species which emerge at the same time.  Over centuries, cicadas developed a timeline for hatching to disorient their predators by emerging on regular cycles while staying buried underground over multiple years.  Brood 13 is made up of three distinct species of cicadas.  The cicadas emerge as the ground warms to their desired temperature which will probably be in the next several weeks.
Once the cicadas emerge, they will begin a mating ritual according to Otto.  The male cicada seeks to attract a female using its “tymbal,” a membrane rubbed to produce a species-specific sound.  The sound is amplified through its shell that acts like a sound chamber.  The female uses a winged motion to acknowledge her suitor, creating a sound similar to snapping one’s fingers.  The life cycle of a cicada is only a couple of weeks.  Females lay eggs in slits made in tree branches.  After hatching, the cicada drops to the ground, burrows into the soil, and hibernates to await its appropriate timed emergence.
Otto gave a few thoughts on cicada’s impact on the environment.  She said it is common to see “flagging” where a branch holding eggs has a die-back reaction and turns brown as if it were broken .  There is soil aeration caused by the multiple cicadas burrowing for hibernation.  The decaying bodies of the large die-off can have a fertilizing effect.  And Ott pointed out that the cicada can become the meal of choice for birds and other predators that ordinarily might eat caterpillars, helping increase the butterfly population during their emergence period.
This week's speaker was Christina Sutcliffe, Head Softball Coach at NIU. Christina is in her 12th season at NIU. Her assistant coaches are Alaynie Woollard and Hannah Clark.
The 2024 team's roster is primarily represented by talent from the Great Lakes region, with players hailing from Illinois (14), Indiana (4), Ohio (2), Wisconsin (2), California (2), Florida (2), Iowa, and Arizona. The team leads the MAC in Stolen Bases and is Top 10 in the country for Stolen Bases Per Game. Infielder Caitlyn Shumaker (Senior, Ohio) has broken NIU's career stolen base record, while Catcher and Outfielder Ellis Erickson (Senior, Florida) has one of the longest hitting streaks in the country.
The NIU softball facilities have recently been upgraded with pole and fence removal to enhance fan viewing, backstop padding, graphic-wrapped outfield fences and padding on the top rails, refreshed visitor bullpen, refreshed hitting cage, reroofed dugouts, and an expanded bullpen for the home team. A capital campaign project is currently underway to raise funds for improved and enlarged dugouts.
During her tenure, Coach Sutcliffe's teams (and individual players) have accumulated many athletic honors, including:
  • 13 MAC Pitchers of the Week
  • 22 MAC Players of the Week
  • 19 First Team All MAC
  • 12 Second Team All MAC
  • 3 MAC Freshman of the Year
  • 3 All Great Lakes Region 1st team, 6 2nd Team, 5 3rd Team
  • 5 MAC Nan Harvey Winners
  • 1 NFCA All American 3rd Team
  • 1 NFCA Top 25 Freshman of the year (1st in MAC history)
  • Broken 26 NIU records
In the meantime, Christina and her assistant coaches have kept a strong focus on academic success as well. In the past decade, NIU Softball has also had:
  • 132 MAC Academic Honor Roll Players
  • 62 MAC Commissioner’s Awards
  • 21 MAC President’s Awards
  • 18 MAC Distinguished Scholar Athletes
  • 122 NFCA All-America Scholar Athletes
  • 77 Academic All MAC
  • 11 CoSIDA Academic All District 1st Team, 1 2nd Team
  • 2 CoSIDA Academic All American 1st Team (first since 1988), 2 3rd Team
  • Team was 4th in the country in SB GPA in 2022-2023
The NIU Softball team is also very active in community service, with each player completing at least 20 hours per year. One of their favorite causes is Cal's Angels, a St. Charles-based 501(c)(3) pediatric cancer foundation with a mission of granting wishes, raising awareness, and funding research to help kids fighting cancer. Christina is always seeking additional opportunities for her team to serve the DeKalb and Sycamore community.
Christina Sutcliffe has set a high bar for her team with the following mission and vision:
United as one, we are competitive and resilient on and off the field. We hold each other accountable to exceed our standards and achieve excellence. As a pack, we proudly represent our school and our community.
Forward together, we buy into the hard work and mental toughness it takes to become champions. By outworking everyone and executing our goals, we will become the powerhouse of the MAC.
You can still catch one (or all) of the team's three remaining home games this weekend:
  • Saturday, May 4, 11:00 AM, vs. Miami University (OH), Mary M. Bell Field
  • Saturday, May 4, 1:00 PM, vs. Miami University (OH), Mary M. Bell Field
  • Sunday, May 6, 12:00 PM, vs. Miami University (OH), Mary M. Bell Field