Posted by Eric Jones on Oct 11, 2018
The Rotary Club of Sycamore, IL is hosting its annual pancake breakfast again this year during Pumpkin Festival Weekend. This year's event features a brand new venue, the St. Mary's Memorial Hall. Join local Rotarians as we raise funds to support our local literacy projects, clean water projects, disaster relief projects, and much more.

Our new location should provide better parking and more space for families to eat together, so bring your kids and friends and join us for a tasty start to your Saturday. Tickets are $5 at the door or available from your neighborhood Rotarian and all proceeds go to support local projects.

Breakfast includes all-you-can-eat pancakes, sausages, coffee, orange juice, milk, and apple sauce.
Pancake Breakfast Returns for 2018 Eric Jones 2018-10-11 05:00:00Z 0
Posted by Eric Jones on Oct 10, 2018
Linda Klein Means was born and raised in DeKalb County. In high school, she decided that she wanted to be a journalist, even though the high school didn't have its own newspaper. This passion followed her to NIU where she became a Northern Star feature writer, and eventually landing her a job with the Chicago Tribune. After marrying her husband, a Rotarian and international business mean, her travels took her around the world to destinations that included Venezuela, Brazil and France, a journey that she writes about in her new book, "Passport to the World: Looking Back While Moving On." 
Guest Speaker: Linda Klein Means Eric Jones 2018-10-10 05:00:00Z 0
Posted by Eric Jones on Sep 19, 2018
"Greatness is made every day by those who live here," says Sycamore Rotarian and Mayor of the City of Sycamore, Curt Lang. During Wednesday's meeting, the Mayor shared with us the past, present, and future as he sees it for the City of Sycamore.
Of particular importance to the Mayor was that any future development in the city should be intentional. "You can’t have growth without a plan." Property taxes are a major concern and building up the City's industry will reduce that burden. To that end, Mayor Lang also shared business statistics from the DCEDC showing excellent growth for our local industries.  Additional slides were dedicated to education, the park district, and public works, with an emphasis on taking pride in our history and the historic aspects of our existing buildings. 
This year the City Council is expected to hold 24 meetings, and with a new initiative, each of the 23 local faith groups will take turns providing invocations before city council meetings.
Guest Speaker: Mayor Curt Lang Eric Jones 2018-09-19 05:00:00Z 0
Posted by Eric Jones on Sep 12, 2018
Joe Ryan, head coach of the Sycamore High School Spartan football team, shared his story and some facts about the team with our group. Joe also brought four players from the team along with him. Joe has coached for 31 years, and had great mentors to show him the way including his brother who was a Hall of Fame coach. He is also helped by great assistants. 
Joe has been at Sycamore for 15 years, coaching the football team for all of those. Of the four different places he’s coached, Joe remarks that he likes Sycamore the best. As of our meeting, all of the Sycamore teams are 3-0 for the season and have the most playoff points in the state. The team faces its biggest “challenge” of the year in the First National Challenge Game this Friday against DeKalb. The team has failed to post a win in that game for the last four years.
Guest Speaker: Joe Ryan Eric Jones 2018-09-12 05:00:00Z 0
Posted by Eric Jones on Sep 05, 2018
Conceived as a way of addressing needs in the local community, the Spartan Food Pantry will soon have its debut opening. Operated out of West Elementary School, the Spartan Food Pantry will provide health foods to any member of the community that currently has a student with the school district. Originally conceived as a project for her Masters in Social Work through Our Lady of the Lake University, the Spartan Food Pantry has been spearheaded by West Elementary’s Health Assistant, Atlee Mathews.
The first year of the program is entirely funded by the Northern Illinois Food Bank (NIFB), including the costs for all equipment. If the first year pilot is successful, then a 501(c)(3) organization will be formed to continue the operation of the program. An initial Board of Directors has been formed consisting of Kristina Crawford (West Elementary School Principal), Courtney Walz (Director of OSCAR), Allyson Cooley (West Elementary School Parent), Riley Oncken (Attorney), and Eric Jones (Financial Advisor).
The pantry will open biweekly starting October 3, 2018, from 4:30 PM to 6:30 pm. The program will only be possible thanks to volunteers who will help with setting up the pantry and operating it during the two monthly openings. Groups or individuals interested in volunteering or donating are encouraged to call West Elementary at 815-899-8199 or email the program at
Guest Speaker: Spartan Food Pantry Eric Jones 2018-09-05 05:00:00Z 0
Posted by Eric Jones
The new school year has kicked off and with it the resumption of the Student of the Month program. The chosen student for the month of September is Griffin Nelson. Mr. Nelson is ranked 4th in his class with a weighted GPA of 4.483 and an SAT score of 1450. Aside from excelling in the classroom, Griffin also volunteers his time with a plethora of local organizations and extra curricular opportunities included Feed My Starving Children, Track & Field, Football, Basketball, Zumba for a Cause, Business Leadership Academy and others. A quote that always inspired him was from Bruce Lee, "The most dangerous person is the one who listens, thinks, and observes."
Griffin was joined at the meeting by his parents. Of them, he remarked that his household provided him the opportunities to explore, experience and learn. For his future plans, Griffin plans to pursue aerospace or mechanical engineering and would eventually like to travel, having already visited 10 countries and half the US, experiencing different cultures. He believes that immersing yourself in other cultures is one of the best ways to learn. He also hopes to use his degree to be a part of the innovation of the future.
Griffin decided to donate his $100 from the Sycamore Rotary Club to Opportunity House.
Student of the Month: September 2018 Eric Jones 2018-09-05 05:00:00Z 0
The Rotary steak fry dinner is back for its second annual iteration after being relaunched last year. The event will be held Thursday, September 20 at Becker Park off of Base Line Rd. The event will include a ribeye steak dinner (catered by Country Store), baked potato, salad, corn bread, and green beans along with a variety of adult and non-alcoholic beverages. Rotarians and any guests are invited.
Activities will include a corn-hole toss competition (with prizes), music by Craig Mathey, campfire and fraternization. Activities will begin around 4:30 PM. Dinner will be served at 6:00 PM and the evening will wrap up around 9:30 PM. Costs are $30 per person, billed to your Rotary account. A brief Rotary meeting will be held and make up credit is available. 
To sign up, contact Don Clayberg or look for a sign up form at the next meeting.
2018 Rotary Campfire/Steak Fry Picnic Eric Jones 2018-09-05 05:00:00Z 0
Posted by Eric Jones on Aug 29, 2018
With heavy hearts, the Rotary Club of Sycamore bid farewell today to Rotarian Brian Adams. Brian has been a member of the club for nearly 18 years, having served not only as one of the club’s past president, but also as a long time chair of the public image committee, publisher of the weekly bulletin (The Spoke), and Sergeant at Arms. Known for his recognizable radio voice as the news anchor for the B95 radio station, Brian was left speechless during the farewell ceremony as fellow Rotarians Robert Hammon, Jim Buck, and Mayor Curt Lang took turns roasting Brian, lavishing him with praise, and presenting him with a letter of appreciation from the City of Sycamore. 
With the elimination of his position at the radio station due to an ownership change, Brian took a new radio news/sports host job in Knoxville, Iowa, a town even smaller than Sycamore with an estimated population of 7000 people, situated about 30 minutes southeast of Des Moines, IA. Brian’s legacy at the Sycamore Rotary Club will not soon be forgotten. His nearly unwavering attendance record, dedication as Sergeant at Arms, creator and maintainer of the club’s Facebook page, and role as the Club’s spokesperson to local media will not be easily replaced, nor will his countless achievements soon be overlooked. Brian was the inspiration behind, organizer of, and executor for many of the club's successful service projects including the Operation Warm coat drive, Toy for Tots collections, annual Rotarians at Work Days, and Shelter Box. In a remarkable show of the club's admiration for his contributions, Brian was the first and only member to receive the Dr. John Ovitz Rotarian of the Year award twice.
Sycamore Rotary Bids Farewell to Brian Adams Eric Jones 2018-08-29 05:00:00Z 0
Posted by Eric Jones on Aug 29, 2018
Jennifer Newman is one of the co-founders of Cashew Cow Dessert Parlor, makers of a dairy-free dessert treat made from raw cashews and other natural ingredients. Located in Tuscon, AZ, Cashew Cow might not exist except for generous help from Sycamore Rotarian, Ahmed Kamel, who consulted with Jennifer on the financial aspects of the business during fund the initial development of the company. Jennifer shared with us the company's interesting history, including an early confrontation with the other co-founder that nearly led to the company's demise. Fast forward three years, and Cashew Cow is thriving, readying itself for franchise opportunities. With a masters degree in Nutrition, Jennifer sees Cashew Cow as a healthier alternative to ice cream, one that appeals not only to the lactose intolerant, but to those seeking a truly vegan alternative for a delicious iced treat. Jennifer was flown out to Sycamore, IL, as a special send-off gift for departing Rotarian, Brian Adams, along with a collection of Cashew Cow’s various flavored desserts. 
Guest Speaker: Jennifer Newman Eric Jones 2018-08-29 05:00:00Z 0
Bob Pritchard has been a big part of DeKalb County's history over the past couple of decades; he moved from agriculture into politics, becoming chairman of the DeKalb County Board...then stepped into the vacancy left by the sudden passing of David Wirsing, to become a State Representative.  Now, he has left Springfield to use his expertise on behalf of Northern Illinois University, as a member of the Board of Trustees.
Through his time in state politics, he has certainly seen the gains which can be possible when legislators work together; but he has also seen the failings of state government, including Illinois' mounting debt, the impeachment of Gov. Rod Blagojevich and the two-year budget standoff which left so many without the state funding they were expecting.  In spite of it all, he worked to find solutions and to try and bring the parties together -- not an easy task in an increasingly hard-line bipartisan atmosphere.
The problems of corruption also reared their head, not only downstate but at Northern Illinois University; the controversial administration of now-former President Doug Baker not only stained the university's reputation, but left it directionless while fighting to maintain enrollment.  He believes Lisa Freeman, who has shifted from acting as President to taking on the post full-time, has the necessary long-term vision that NIU needs; Pritchard says she is capable not only of getting the institution's finances and enrollment back on track, but she can provide the necessary transparency and organizational reform which the Baker administration lacked.
Guest Speaker: Robert Pritchard 2018-08-22 05:00:00Z 0
To help our new exchange student Sebastian get settled in to life here in Sycamore, all Rotarians are invited to involve him in local activities and experiences throughout his Rotary year.
Julie Sgarlata, for example, will be taking him to a Bears game; and he has a school activity pass, which will allow him to attend school events.  And he may be joined by other exchange students from around District 6420, in helping us out at Pumpkin Fest.
If you have anything you would like to invite Sebastian to participate in, please contact Bert Gray for more information.
Help keep Sebastian busy -- invite him to join you during his Rotary year 2018-08-20 05:00:00Z 0
It's just as true now as it has been for decades -- engineering students at their graduation ceremony, chanting "We've got jobs!" 
The demand for skilled engineers is greater now than it's ever been; students often have job offers, and even full paying jobs, lined up for themselves before they even get their degree.  But Dr. Donald Peterson says in this environment, Northern Illinois University is able to stand out because of the hands-on training it gives to students; and its location near one of the most desirable markets for engineers in the country certainly doesn't hurt.
Dr. Peterson is Dean of the NIU College of Engineering and Engineering Technology; he says the students they produce can hold their own with the best at places such as MIT, Stanford and Cal-Berkeley, because their approach emphasizes practical application and career planning...and not just the use of technology.
While having access to the latest tech is certainly advantageous, students can become too dependent on it; he recounted the story of one businessman who took a stack of resumes from soon-to-be MIT grads -- and pitched them.  He says these students are too reliant on technology, and have proven themselves to be less than helpful in a real-world business environment.
Dr. Peterson says Northern gives its students a well-rounded approach to learning the skills they need, and blending it with the technical tools of the trade, to give them the career development they need.
Guest Speaker: Donald Peterson 2018-08-15 05:00:00Z 0
New exchange student Sebastian Colmenares greets the Sycamore Rotary Club, as he arrives to begin his year with us.
Sebastian comes from Venezuela, and will be attending Sycamore High School this fall; we look forward to getting to know him, and learn more about his life back home.
New exchange student arrives from Venezuela 2018-08-08 05:00:00Z 0
Poverty and undeveloped conditions are all too common in Kenya, and children are the most vulnerable; but one organization is doing its part to help those children who have been abandoned, orphaned, abused or neglected.
Teule (which means "chosen" in Swahili) is a not-for-profit organization which provides a home for about 100 children who have no other home; Samantha Shackleton (right) and Megan Gallagly have ventured there several time, helping to provide assistance and hope to the children being cared for there.
Ages range from the nursery to college age; many of the children are passionate about remaining together as a family unit, and continuing to care for each other as they grow.  The mission gives them access to the Kibo Slopes Academy; it also generates income by selling produce and dairy products from its farm on the premises, and provides water for the community thanks to an underground borehole underneath the property.
Given this stronger and nurturing environment, the children who become a part of the Teule home have demonstrated an ability to grow and develop into the adults they deserve to be; some have gone on to higher education, either locally or in the United States...and have used what they learned to improve the lives of friends and neighbors back home.
Guest Speakers: Samantha Shackleton & Megan Gallagly 2018-08-08 05:00:00Z 0
Girls are constantly bombarded with contradictory ideas and images; they're encouraged to put looks over studies, and are often forced to conform to social pressure. And even at a young age, they can be subjected to sexism, bullying and sexual harassment.  But one organization hopes to instill a sense of self-worth in young girls, preparing them to stand up against the barriers they'll face.
Girls on the Run is open to girls from 3rd to 5th grade; Dr. Alicia Cosky became involved after retiring from 25 years of organizing the DeKalb Corn Fest 5K run, and seeing up close the impact this program has on those who sign up.  Each girl is put on a training program to prepare them for running a 5K race; they're partnered with a "running buddy" who will train alongside them and keep them motivated until the day of their race.  And each is also required to participate in a public service project, to teach them the value of giving back to the community.
In the meantime, the girls combine training with group studies about the problems they'll be facing as they grow up; the object is to help them realize that they can accomplish what they dream about, and become the person they wish to be in spite of the societal hurdles they'll face.  And in the wake of the #MeToo movement, preparing young girls to resist the advances of sexual predators and harassers is of particular importance to girls of this age.
Girls on the Run is open to anyone, regardless of ability to pay; participants can pay based on a sliding income scale, and some are even able to participate at no charge.  But Dr. Cosky says fundraising is necessary to pick up the slack, and the organization is always looking for sponsors and donors who are willing to help them expand participation and spread their message.
Guest Speaker: Dr. Alicia Cosky 2018-08-02 05:00:00Z 0
The end of July gave the Sycamore Rotary Club a chance to plan out the upcoming year; the annual Club Assembly on July 25th saw the Club split up into committees, which gave Rotarians an opportunity to see what types of projects are going on and to do something of direct interest to them.
Club President Ray Dembinski says revised committee sheets will be distributed during the month of August; Rotarians will be able to sign up for specific committees and projects, much like we've done in the past.  Feel free to sign up for one or more of these activities; please ask the appropriate committee chair if you have any questions.
The imminent departure of Brian Adams from the Rotary Club means that several positions will have to be filled:
  -- Eric Jones will be taking over as the Public Image Director; he will serve as webmaster, manager of the Facebook page and editor of The Spoke.
  -- Volunteers are being sought to chair the Operation Warm and Rotarians at Work Days projects
  -- Sergeant-at-Arms responsibilities will be handed over to the monthly program committees; they will provide 1 or 2 members to assist with the following tasks:
       Set up the flag and club banner(s).
       Place and open the Badge Box on the front table.
       Place laminated cards on member tables.
       Set up the podium, hook up speaker and microphone, set up screen and media cart with projector.
       Set up the Rotary Club meeting display board by parking lot entrance.
The committee members will take down and store all these items at the conclusion of the meeting.  Lavarre Uhlken and his wife Connie are normally on hand before and afterwards; and Brian will be available through the end of August, to help with setting up the routine.
There are 4 months (August, October, January, and May) that have 5 Wednesdays in them.  Program committees for these months have the option to schedule a fifth presentation or request that the 5th week be used as either a social event or a make up meeting.  Committees will need to inform The Spoke editor (Eric) of your choice when you submit your monthly program list to him. Informing your club president would be prudent.
Your Club Runner profile sheet will be available at meetings for the next few weeks.  We would like you to complete an initial one or edit an existing copy and submit it to Sally Bruch.
There are 4 months (August, October, January, and May) that have 5 Wednesdays in them.  Program committees for these months have the option to schedule a fifth presentation or request that the 5th week be used as either a social event or a make up meeting.  Committees will need to inform The Spoke editor (Eric) of your choice when you submit your monthly program list to him. Informing your club president is also a must.
Highlights from Summer 2018 Club Assembly 2018-07-26 05:00:00Z 0
Beginning on July 31st, The Spoke will return to publishing once per week; it will now come out exclusively on Tuesdays.
Brian Adams will continue to edit the club newsletter, gradually shifting responsibilities over to Eric Jones.  Special messages will be sent out by the Club President on an as-needed basis.
If you have any problems receiving The Spoke, be sure to check your spam folder; if it isn't present, contact Brian or Eric to ensure prompt delivery of our publication.
The Spoke reverting to once-a-week format 2018-07-26 05:00:00Z 0
Because she's now charged with leading District 6420, and its ongoing effort to attract new and younger members, Kathy Kwiat-Hess remembers how difficult it was for her to first become engaged in the point where she almost quit.
In making her official visit to the Sycamore Rotary Club, DG Kathy recalled her early days as a member of the Rockford Rotary Club; she found herself with few people to talk with, and wasn't finding any club activities she could latch on to.  But instead of quitting, she had some help from a fellow Rotarian who got her involved with a club project -- and bit by bit, she rose through the ranks to become a key member of her Club, and now the District Governor.
Reaching out to potential members, and making sure they find something that keeps them motivated to stay and grow with their club, is to her one of the key objectives of this year's theme, "Be the Inspiration."  DG Kathy says for local Rotary Clubs, the effort to bring in new Rotarians starts with making the Club not only well-known but interesting...and continues after someone joins, by making sure they can pursue or find the aspect of Rotary which fuels their own passion.
She lauded the Sycamore Rotary Club for being one of the strongest in the district, for its variety of projects and its effort to bring in, retain and develop new Rotarians.  The Club earned a Presidential Citation last year, and she believes it's in good shape to repeat during the coming Rotary year.
Guest Speaker: DG Kathy Kwiat-Hess 2018-07-18 05:00:00Z 0
We now have minimum coverage on all of our Meals on Wheels dates during the month of August; at least one Rotarian has signed up for every weekday during the month.
But there are still a few dates with only one Rotarian working; we want to have two signed up each day, to provide backup and extra assistance while delivering meals around Sycamore.
The remaining single-Rotarian dates are August 7, 9, 10, 23, and 31; please contact Ray Dembinski, if you are available to help on any of these days.
Most Meals on Wheels slots filled, but a few remain 2018-07-11 05:00:00Z 0
Due to insufficient interest, as well as scheduling conflicts, the Rotary Club Golf Outing -- originally postponed from June 27th, because of flooding and damage on the Sycamore Golf Club course -- has been cancelled.
Rotary Club Golf Outing cancelled 2018-07-11 05:00:00Z 0
Due in part to the creation of the Oak Crest Satellite Club, the Sycamore Rotary Club has seen a phenomenal jump in its membership and attendance...and new Club President Ray Dembinski hopes this trend will continue during the coming year.
Ray gave his initial outline of goals for the coming Rotary year; he says in addition to membership, Rotary wants clubs to track their members' ages to see if its efforts to attract younger Rotarians is paying off.  All members are urged to go to their profiles on ClubRunner and update them -- not only with their date of birth, but with other pertinent information about themselves.
He says our Rotary Club is already on track to meet many of the goals required for the Club to receive certification from Rotary International; if members continue to get involved with projects, and keep up attendance at meetings, then this is achievable.
Club Treasurer Michele Jurkovic also presented a financial report for the Rotary Club; she says we will be able to meet all budgeted goals for the year, but urges members still in arrears on their dues to settle up as soon as possible.
The largest outlay made by our Club is for the accessible playground project at South Prairie Elementary School; Marijo Schwartz says that thanks to donations from many sources, including Rotary, they are now within $7,000 of the goal.
Sycamore Rotary sets goals for 2018-19 year 2018-07-11 05:00:00Z 0
Ray Dembinski jokes that he's thoroughly trained to be President of the Sycamore Rotary Club, because he's attended the offical President-Elect Training Seminar...three times.
Dembinski was formally sworn in as the Club President at the Installation Dinner on Wednesday, June 27th; this is the culmination of a years-long effort to take over the post, which was twice delayed due to health concerns.
Ray says the emergence of cancer earlier in this decade forced him to step aside during his time as President-Elect twice in two years; even though he feared the effects on his health, he was encouraged to keep at it until it became clear that the treatment could interfere with his ability to do the job.
But he now says he's healthy and ready to go to work as Club President; he will be going over plans for his year in office during the upcoming Rotary Club meetings in July.
Ray Dembinski begins term as Club last 2018-07-05 05:00:00Z 0
There will be no meeting of the Sycamore Rotary Club on Wednesday, July 4th in observance of the Independence Day holiday.
We will resume our regular meeting schedule on Wednesday, July 11th at 11:45 a.m.
Everyone, please have a happy and safe 4th of July!
No meeting on Wednesday, July 4th 2018-06-28 05:00:00Z 0
Paul Stromborg has been named this year's recipient of the John W. Ovitz, Jr. Rotarian of the Year Award; it was presented to him during the annual Installation Dinner on Wednesday, June 27th.
Stromborg serves as the Foundation Chairman for the Sycamore Rotary Club, putting him at the forefront of our efforts to support the End Polio Now campaign. This has proven to be a perfect fit for the retired physician, as he helps to educate the club and the public about the ongoing fight to wipe out polio worldwide.
The award is named for Dr. John Ovitz, who was the longest-serving Rotarian in the Sycamore club's history; Stromborg says he's honored to be receiving this particular award, since Doc was his sponsor when he first joined Rotary.
He previously won the award in 1997, making him the second two-time recipient in the Sycamore Rotary Club's history.
The evening also saw the installation of Ray Dembinski as Club President for 2018-19; this marks the end of a long effort for him to get into the position, have twice previously been chosen as Club President...only to be forced to wait, for health reasons.
Paul Stromborg receives Ovitz Rotarian of the Year Award 2018-06-28 05:00:00Z 0
Due to heavy rains which hit the area, as well as downed trees from a severe storm, the Sycamore Rotary Club Golf Outing scheduled for Wednesday, June 27th was cancelled.
The other events set to take place at the Sycamore Golf Course clubhouse went on as scheduled -- the Make-Up Session at 12:00 p.m. and the Installation Dinner at 5:30.
A make-up date for golfing will be set at a later time.
Rotary golf outing cancelled due to wet course conditions 2018-06-27 05:00:00Z 0
Even though Rotary's "End Polio Now" campaign has been in effect for decades, many newer Rotarians still don't know what it's all about; not only are they unsure of the project's origins, but they have no memory of just how serious polio was here in the United States -- and how much effort has been made to wipe it out worldwide.
Paul Stromborg says he and others of his generation still remember the fear which could be found in post-war America during the summertime; that was the time of year when polio was most prevalent, and parents had to take extreme measures to keep their children from contracting this paralyzing disease -- to the point of keeping them inside, or away from public pools, during the hottest days of the year.
At its zenith, thousands of children and adults were being infected by the polio virus; they ran the gamut from the youngest toddlers up to President Franklin Roosevelt, who was one of the strongest supporters of the March of Dimes -- which collected money for research and treatment.
Scientists were racing to find a vaccine, and competing efforts from Dr. Jonas Salk and Dr. Albert Sabin (apparently with no love lost between them) eventually saw Dr. Salk's approach receive public approval.  The vote to approve his vaccine led to nationwide celebrations which rivaled the end of World War II; within months, thousands of children were immunized, and polio in the U.S. began to wane.
But this didn't extend to the rest of the world on any organized level until Rotary became involved; a single immunization project in the Philippines led to the establishment of End Polio Now, which has seen the disease eliminated in the Western Hemisphere.  The effort continues in a few countries to reach all potential victims, with the hope of eventually eradicating the disease once and for all.
Guest Speaker: Paul Stromborg 2018-06-20 05:00:00Z 0
We will once again be collecting school supplies, for donation to families in need for the upcoming school year.
The Salvation Army in DeKalb will help distribute these items; pencils, crayons, paper, scissors, glue, notebooks, folders, rulers, tape and backpacks are among the items needed.  Rotarians are asked to bring them to the meeting on Wednesday, July 11th.
Everything collected will be donated during the annual School Supply Drive Concert, on Sunday, July 15th at the Taylor Street apartments in DeKalb.
School supplies to be collected at July 11th meeting 2018-06-15 05:00:00Z 0
Voting is now in progress for the annual John W. Ovitz, Jr. Rotarian of the Year Award; members of the Rotary Club of Sycamore are being asked to select the one Rotarian whom they believe has best exemplified the goals and philosophy of Rotary during the past year.
All Rotarians have received a ballot via electronic mail; they are each asked to select one Rotarian for consideration, and submit their vote electronically...or vote in person during the June 13th Rotary Club meeting, at the new Park District Community Center.  The deadline for all ballots is 1 p.m. on the 13th; the recipient will be announced at the Installation Dinner on Wednesday, June 27th.
This award is named in honor of Dr. Ovitz, the longest-serving Rotarian in the club's history; he served as a Rotarian until his passing in 2013 at the age of 99, shortly after it was renamed in his honor.  He himself received the award in 1999.
Voting underway for John W. Ovitz, Jr. Rotarian of the Year Award 2018-06-06 05:00:00Z 0
Illinois has a long, rich legacy in the sport of basketball; from high school memories and legends of the IHSA tournament, to the NBA title runs of the Chicago Bulls, basketball is deeply rooted in the state's culture.  But unlike other nearby states with similar traditions, there is not yet a museum devoted to the state's history in the sport.
Bruce Firchau is among those leading the charge to give the sport a repository for its basketball keepsakes and legacy; he spoke to Rotary on behalf of the Basketball Museum of Illinois, which is scheduled to be open and ready for use in Pontiac by the fall of 2019.  This is an effort sponsored by the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association; Pontiac was chosen out of a number of candidate cities, mainly because of its ongoing effort to become a "City of Museums" -- it already hosts several other museums, and the proposed site (a converted K-Mart) will share space with a transportation museum.
Firchau says he and his colleagues have interviewed many former players and coaches, to gather and preserve their stories for generations to come.  They have recounted tales from the glory days of high school basketball, including the championship run of Hebron and the near-miss for tiny Cobden; Loyola's push for the NCAA title in 1963; and the struggle of those who were left out in the early days of the game, including girls and African-American youths.
While he says they will deal equally with the good and the bad of the sport's history, the aim is to inspire future players and coaches; many who didn't find success on the hardwood, still used the lessons of hard work, sacrifice and teamwork to inspire them in their careers and their lives. 
Guest Speaker: Bruce Firchau 2018-06-06 05:00:00Z 0
Volunteers will be manning a Rotary booth to be set up in downtown Sycamore, during the annual Fizz Ehrler Memorial Turning Back Time Car Show.  It will be in operation on Sunday, July 29th from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Rotarians will be watching over the booth and interacting with the public, answering any questions they may have.  Our schedule for the day:
     9:00   Paul Callighan, Lavarre Uhlken
    10:00  Steve Kuhn
    11:00  Marcy Buick
    12:00  Dave McCann
     1:00   Jim Stoddard
     2:00   Renae Wilkinson, Brian Adams
Since parking is at a premium, volunteers are invited to park at either the Pay it Forward House, or at Lavarre Uhlken's house at 315 W. Ottawa Street.
The Rotary display will be on Somonauk Street, in front of the bank.
Sycamore Rotary to have booth at downtown car show in July 2018-05-23 05:00:00Z 0
Rotarians at Work Days concluded with two projects on Saturday, May 19th; one saw Rotarians Brandon Diviak and Tatum Glas help the Kishwaukee Special Recreation Association plant its interactive garden, and clean out the Hopkins Park shelter, in anticipation of summer camp.
The staff at KSRA says they are excited for camp to open for the year; they have only one spot available out of 70, and are anticipating another busy but fun summer. KSRA thanks the Rotary Club for its assistance each year.
We were also on hand at the Youth Service Bureau's bicycle auction at DeKalb High School; Rotarians helped wheel out bikes from storage crates to the field house floor, and helped put the bikes on display for bidders to see.
Rotarians at Work Days concludes with two projects 2018-05-22 05:00:00Z 0
President – Ray Dembinski
President-Elect – Pat Shafer
Past President – Eric Jones
Secretary – Sally Bruch
Treasurer – Michele Jurkovic
Assistant Treasurer – Lavarre Uhlken
Director – Michael DeVito
Director – Paulette Renault
Sergeant-at-Arms – Brian Adams
Foundation & Grants – Paul Stromborg
New Generations – Julie Sgarlata
Service Projects – Michael DeVito
Fundraising – Don Clayberg
Public Image – Brian Adams
Membership – Sally Bruch
Club Fellowship – Chad Jewett
75th Anniversary – Pat Shafer
July – Board of Directors
August – Lloyd Larson, Jim Buck, Dave McCann, Ben Swedberg, Bob Wildenradt, Don Clayberg
September –Paul Michel, Bert Gray, Jeff Jacobson, Mario Fontana, Brandon Diviak
October – Dave Andrews, Jim Schwarzbach, Beata Palasiewicz, Curt Lang, Marcy Buick
November – Kathy Countryman, Julie Sgarlata, Fred Peltz, Chip Houdek, Troy Oates
December – Dan Gibble, Dan Escatel, Kathleen Merner, Steve Balster, Julie Sommese
January –Paul Barnaby, Chad Jewett, Jim Bowers, Gary Evans, Tatum Glas, Heidi Wright
February – Riley Oncken, Ahmed Kamel, Larry Berke, Brian Gregory, Nicole Stuckert
March – Dave Hamilton, Jeff Petersen, Doug Johnson, Mark Hilde, Tim Carlson
April – Bob Hammon, Suzanne Anderson, Sejal Patel, Paul Borek, Chase Goodeill, Paul Callighan
May – Mark Spiegelhoff, Zac Sheedy, Jeff Frank, Cliff Bottigliero, Renae Wilkinson
June – Marijo Schwartz, Paul Stromborg, Jeff Keicher, Steve Kuhn, Tom Mangan, Jim Stoddard
Rotary Club of Sycamore Committee Assignments 2018-19 2018-05-17 05:00:00Z 0
The month of July marks the start of the new Rotary year, and the Sycamore Rotary Club will take advantage of a reduced schedule to plan out our objectives for the coming months.
We will begin on July 11th with a presentation by Club President Ray Dembinski on the club's goals for 2018-19; this marks the 75th anniversary year for the Sycamore Rotary Club, and Pat Shafer will head up the planning for our observance of that occasion in the spring.  We will also go over our other upcoming projects, and give committees time to get organized.
Then on July 18th, District Governor Kathy Kiwat-Hess will be making her official visit to the Sycamore Rotary Club; we will be one of the first stops on her journey around District 6420, and our Rotary Club will be among the first to hear her plans for the coming year.
Finally on July 25th, we will convene our formal Club Assembly; this annual meeting will be used to solidify our plans for the months to come, as the months of September through December are traditionally the busiest of the year for us.
All Rotarians are encouraged to attend these meetings, as we prepare to Be the Inspiration for our community...and the world.
Rotary planning sessions, DG visit featured in July 2018-05-16 05:00:00Z 0
The June 13th meeting of the Sycamore Rotary Club will be held at the brand-new Sycamore Park District Community Center, located on Airport Road.
Rotarians will be gathering there at the usual time; the afternoon will include lunch, and a tour of the new facilities...including the gymnasium, fitness center, exercise rooms and other locations.
Rotary meeting at new Community Center on June 13th 2018-05-16 05:00:00Z 0
The historic Old North Grove School on Brickville Road harkens back to a different time in education; children of different ages gathered in a single room, subjects were more basic but thoroughly covered, and teachers had to follow and enforce strict rules...while working around the needs of farm families
Jane Dargatz is with the North Grove School Association; they represent the last one-room schoolhouse in the state of Illinois which is still on its original site. Students from District 427 routinely go there to learn how their peers were taught decades ago, in a very different era.
Students back then were from rural families, and they often had to skip or take breaks from school to help out on their family farms; even when they were able to attend, they still have to do their farm chores...then take care of assigned chores at school...and then devote their days to study.  Students from first through eighth grade shared the same room, with older students helping the teacher instruct or supervise the younger ones; teachers were responsible for the entire building, and were always firmly in charge of the students -- but also were restricted in their behavior, and had to resign if they chose to get married.
North Grove School Days will be coming up on June 23rd and 24th; the weekend will feature tours of the schoolhouse, along with old-time games, musicians and singers, period domestic chores and other attractions.  The school will be open on Saturday, June 23rd from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Sunday, June 24th from noon to 4 p.m.
Guest Speaker: Jane Dargatz 2018-05-16 05:00:00Z 0

Balloting for this year’s John W. Ovitz, Jr. Rotarian of the Year Award will begin on Wednesday, June 6th; electronic ballots will be sent out via e-mail that day, and members of the Sycamore Rotary Club will be asked to select the one Rotarian they believe has contributed the most to our Club, and to upholding the ideals of Rotary, during the past year.

All members in good standing with the Rotary Club of Sycamore are eligible to vote, and all members are eligible for consideration – save for the incumbent President, the President-Elect and the five most recent recipients. Previous winners are eligible for consideration after five years.

Since the Rotary Satellite Club of Sycamore-Oak Crest Area is still in its formative stages, its members will not be participating.

Ballots are due by the close of the Rotary Club meeting on Wednesday, June 13th; for those who have not cast a vote via e-mail, paper ballots will be made available that day.

The Tabulation Committee, consisting of Club President Eric Jones, President-Elect Ray Dembinski and 2017 Ovitz Award recipient Brian Adams, will total up the ballots; the recipient will be announced at the Installation Dinner, to be held at the Sycamore Golf Course Clubhouse on Wednesday, June 27th.


Voting for Ovitz Award begins on June 6th 2018-05-16 05:00:00Z 0
Due to various factors, The Spoke will not be published for the rest of May after Thursday, May 24th.
The May 23rd meeting has been switched to a make-up session; in addition, many Rotarians (including the editor of The Spoke) will be on vacation the week of Memorial Day.  So there will be no new publication of our electronic newsletter at that time; regular production will resume on Tuesday, June 5th.
Break in publication for The Spoke 2018-05-14 05:00:00Z 0
A grassroots effort to bring an inclusive playground for children with disabilities to Sycamore has received a boost from the Rotary Club...which has pledged at least $10,000 to the effort.
Citizens for Inclusive Playgrounds wants to build the play area near South Prairie Elementary School; this is the school within Sycamore District 427 to which most children with special needs are assigned.  The organization is seeking $130,000 towards construction of the playground; it will have equipment and play surfaces designed for students with mobility issues, and will be fenced in for safety.  It would be available for use by all children, not just those with special needs.
Rotarian Marijo Schwartz works for District 427, and was grateful to the Rotary Club for its support; she says this has been a dream of hers for years, and the fundraising effort is bringing them ever closer to the goal.  This pledge puts the fundraising campaign well over the $80,000 mark.
The Rotary Club may expand upon its pledge, based on future factors.
Sycamore Rotary pledges minimum $10,000 for playground 2018-05-11 05:00:00Z 0
Your family can have an amazing international experience this coming year without a passport, airfare, or stuffing a suitcase. The international experience comes to you, when you decide to be a host family for an exchange student.
Exchange students are here to experience life in Sycamore, meet and make friends with Sycamore High School students, work on improving their English, and share their culture with the community.  Host families need to live in the Sycamore School District.
All you need is a spare bed at your house and a willingness to share your normal family life with a high school age student for about 14 weeks.  (Your family will be one of three families to share this unique experience.)
For school year 2018-2019 the Sycamore Rotary Club will sponsor a young man from Venezuela. He is a swimmer, loves books, and is looking forward to the personal growth this exchange year will provide.
For more details, call or text Bert Gray, Sycamore Rotary Club Exchange Coordinator, at (217) 521-0968 or e-mail
Have an international experience...without leaving home 2018-05-09 05:00:00Z 0
The work of the Family Service Agency is never-ending; even as they complete the observance of one month devoted to a particular cause, they flow into another month dedicated to two more. And they are making changes to accommodate their ever-expanding objectives.
Erin Tamms from FSA says they just finished Child Abuse Awareness Month in April; this was marked by 125 pinwheels outside their offices along Sycamore Road in DeKalb -- representing 125 children helped by them, or through the Child Advocacy Center, during the past year.
Now they continue to help children through other programs, which now means a change in title for one key project. FSA has ended its affiliation with Big Brothers/Big Sisters, citing the increased cost for using the name and adding the personnel they require; they will now operate the service in-house under the title Youth Mentoring -- with few changes in how they operate.
Coming up during May are Older Americans Month and Mental Health Month; the latter is especially crucial, since they are now working more closely with the Ben Gordon Center in assisting those with mental health issues.
And they have joined a number of agencies which are offering their services to the residents of University Village; this area of DeKalb has proven to be in particular need of special services, and they are taking steps to bring what they have available to a population which would otherwise have trouble accessing them.
Guest Speaker: Erin Tamms 2018-05-09 05:00:00Z 0
The annual Sycamore Rotary Club Golf Outing is set for Wednesday, June 27th; it will be at the Sycamore Golf Club, as the featured event of three being held that day.
The afternoon and evening at the course will feature:
 -- A make-up session at 12:00 p.m. in lieu of our regular meeting; attendance is optional, and lunch will be provided for everyone on hand
 -- The Golf Outing, a four-player scramble team competition, beginning at 1 o'clock
 -- The annual Installation Dinner at 5:30, immediately following golf; Ray Dembinski will be formally sworn in as Club President for 2018-19, and we will also announce the recipient of the John W. Ovitz, Jr. Rotarian of the Year Award
Annual Rotary Club golf outing set for June 27th 2018-05-08 05:00:00Z 0

The Rotary Reader Breakfast Buddies event was held on May 4 in the morning at South Prairie Elementary School.

Rotarians were greeted with a bright yellow thank you banner as they entered the cafeteria. A light continental breakfast was served for students, teachers and Rotarians.

Principal Kreg Wesley thanked the Rotarians for being part of this new program to share the importance of reading and vocations.

Mark Spiegelhoff, project coordinator, noted that 27 different Rotarians read to the third graders in the two classes at the school and emphasized the importance of lifelong reading for their future job or for enjoyment.

Marijo Schwartz helped promote the Early Act program as a next step for the third graders at the school.

Ethan, a current Early Act participant and fourth grader at the school, gave a wonderful speech on what the club has accomplished in the past school year and the positive impact it had on him.

Everyone is looking forward to continuing the program in the 2018-19 school year.


Rotary Readers thanked at South Prairie breakfast 2018-05-07 05:00:00Z 0
Volunteers are still needed for our final Rotarians at Work Days project for this year -- the Youth Service Bureau's bicycle auction, to be held on Saturday, May 19th at the DeKalb High School Field House.
Every year, the YSB auctions off bicycles recovered by the DeKalb Police Department; these bikes were lost or stolen over the course of the previous year, and are sold off to clear them out of storage...and to provide the YSB with extra funds.
Rotarians are needed to help set up and move around the bicycles during the course of the day; we'll be working in two shifts -- from 7 to 10 a.m. and from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m.  You may sign up at any upcoming Rotary Club meeting, or contact Michael DeVito for further details.
Volunteers needed for RWD project with Youth Service Bureau 2018-05-07 05:00:00Z 0
The newly-formed Rotary Satellite Club of Sycamore-Oak Crest Area is undertaking its first project -- the purchase of two planters, for use in the Oak Crest Retirement Center courtyard.
The club is looking to raise $700 for the purchase of two planters (one of which is portable) as well as the soil and additional supplies necessary.
Any amount is appreciated, and checks can be made payable to the main Rotary Club of Sycamore; you can send them to P.O. Box 332, Sycamore, IL  60178, or give them to any Oak Crest Rotary club officer.  Gifts of $100 or more will be acknowledged in publicity and photos taken; donations are tax deductible, and receipts will be provided on request.
For more information, you can call Club Chair Sally Stevens at (815) 756-2343 or Club Secretary Barry Schrader at (815) 758-5424.
Sycamore/Oak Crest Rotary embarks on first project 2018-05-04 05:00:00Z 0
While Northern Illinois' golf team has to fight for recognition on the course, as many mid-major schools have to, they have gotten attention both nationally and internationally for their efforts to build the program...and host competitions at a top-flight golf club.
NIU Director of Golf Tom Porten says NIU broke onto the national scene when Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove was chosen to host the 2017 NCAA Men's and Women's Golf Championships; the course was built by a Northern Illinois alumnus, and that allows the Huskies to use it as their home course.  Porten says it's tougher than the links they usually play on -- and that's good, because it toughens them up for tournament play.
Meanwhile, Porten has worked in his nine years at Northern to widen the range of golfers he chooses from; he became the first NIU golf coach to recruit internationally, bringing two players from France to the men's team and opening the door to two South American golfers to join the women's squad.  He also works to draw in the best available talent from around our area, and across the Midwest.
That effort is beginning to pay off on the fairways, as both teams have finished in the top half of several of their tournaments in 2017...and the trend has continued this year.
Guest Speaker: Tom Porten 2018-05-02 05:00:00Z 0
For many seniors, the month of May is filled with both excitement and nostalgia; they look forward to graduation and heading off to college in the fall...but also spend time looking back on all that they've done to get to this moment.
Allyson Versluys is no exception; like many of the other top-ranked students at Sycamore High School, she has racked up an impressive resume in education (High Honor Roll, National Honors Society and Kishwaukee College Engineering Math & Science Academy) as well as athletics (softball with the Spartans and the Kishwaukee Valley Storm) -- but what she'll remember most is her work with Peer Pals.
This mentoring program pairs volunteers from the student body with special needs students, helping them with their social adjustment as well as with academics. She says the many things these students have accomplished during her time working with them has been the most memorable part of her high school years.
But she has plenty going for her in the classroom as well; she plans to attend Indiana Tech in Fort Wayne, IN to study biomedical engineering...and she enters her freshman year already having earned 31 college credits.  She'll also be playing on the school's softball team.
In honor of her achievements, the Sycamore Rotary Club has provided $100 for donation to the charity of her choice; she has selected Opportunity House.
May Student of the Month: Allyson Versluys 2018-05-02 05:00:00Z 0
A tour of the newly-constructed wing of the DeKalb County Jail will be conducted for Sycamore Rotarians on Wednesday, May 23rd; it will be led by Joyce Klein from the DeKalb County Sheriff's Office, and will commence at 12 noon.
Since Blumen Gardens is booked for another event on the 23rd, we will be offering this tour as part of a make-up session; attendance is optional, and those on hand will get make-up credit towards their overall attendance.  The tour should take about 45 minutes.
Lunch will not be provided at this event.
Rotary tour of new DeKalb County Jail set for May 23rd 2018-05-02 05:00:00Z 0
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Illinois) says human trafficking isn't just confined to far-off, Third World countries -- it's a real problem here in northern Illinois, and across the United States, and action has to be taken at all levels to combat it.
Kinzinger was the keynote speaker at the District 6420 Conference on April 28th; he says many of those involved in the sex trade, as well as migrant workers, are doing so against their will -- they are lured away from overseas by the promise of a better job and a better life, only to find themselves trapped and isolated from friends and family, forced to perform demeaning or backbreaking work with no chance of escape.
He says human trafficking involves power and control; illegitimate employers force workers to become dependent on them, make them believe they are just property and generally treat them as such.  There are many organizations involved in combating human trafficking -- so many, that they have trouble coordinating their efforts; Kinzinger says the best way to get involved is to work at the local level -- make sure employers put up the state-required poster telling employees of their rights, and watching for signs that someone is being exploited.
Human trafficking and exploitation was a recurring theme during the one-day conference; speakers Bethany Lerch and Teresa Wasonga also touched on the effects of this on other countries, and Toni Lucas from Rotary's task force on human trafficking noted the far-reaching effects on individuals and the world at large...along with Rotary's work to help those involved, and to improve living conditions in underdeveloped countries and keep people from being lured in to begin with.
Kinzinger address highlights District 6420 Conference 2018-04-30 05:00:00Z 0
Sycamore Rotary Club President Eric Jones has been selected as the District 6420 Club Officer of the Year for 2018; he was formally presented with the award during the District Conference, at Faranda's on April 28th.
The Sycamore Rotary Club was also recognized for its communications efforts; the club received the District Public Image Award, for clubs with 40 members or more.
Eric Jones named District Club Officer of the Year 2018-04-30 05:00:00Z 0
The Suter Company has grown well beyond its roots; from its operations on May Street in Sycamore, it eventually expanded to a new plant along Bethany Road...and now, that newer site is being expanded, creating new room for processing and storage of the company's trademark products.
Tim Suter says it had become obvious by last year that they had outgrown both locations, and the time was ripe for expansion of the Bethany Road center; the company had to go through the arduous process of getting approval from the City of Sycamore in a three-phase process, in hopes of getting ground broken by the fall of 2017.  They had hoped to be completed earlier in the spring, but the bitterly cold weather of late December and early January slowed down the process.
But he says they're back on schedule, and ready to open a plant with more cold storage, dry storage and processing room -- along with shell space for future expansion. This will effectively double the capacity of the Bethany Road operation; once that's complete, they'll be moving most of the equipment and product from May Street, devoting it strictly to its canning operations.  But Suter says they have no intention of closing down the May Street plant, saying that it's still an integral part of their operations.
The company also continues its devotion to community service; they annually sponsor and host the Make a Difference DKC meal packing project for Feed My Starving Children, and the accompanying raffle to raise funds for it.
Guest Speaker: Tim Suter 2018-04-25 05:00:00Z 0

Blumen Gardens received approval from the Sycamore City Council on April 16th to repave its northeast parking lot; this will be a welcome addition for customers, and Rotarians, who have been using this unpaved lot for shopping and special events.

The reconstruction work is scheduled to begin the week of April 23rd; Rotarians coming to meetings for the next few weeks are advised that parking around Blumen Gardens may be limited, and traffic on the grounds will be re-routed while the work is in progress.


Parking area at Blumen Gardens to be repaved 2018-04-18 05:00:00Z 0
Students with disabilities often have little opportunity to use playgrounds; for those with physical issues, the equipment may simply be inaccessible...while for those with cognitive or autistic problems, the environment may not be safe for them to use.
But the Sycamore Rotary Club is now actively involved in an effort to provide a safe location in town, for use by children with such hurdles to overcome.
Citizens for Inclusive Playgrounds wants to erect the play area on the campus of South Prairie Elementary School; that is the site within the district where most children with such disabilities are assigned, and a safe location designed to let them play and interact with all students is needed.
Rotarian Marijo Schwartz, who is with the Sycamore School District, has been spearheading the effort to bring the playground to town; a goal of $130,000 is needed, and so far over $71,000 of that has been contributed by a combination of public and private donors.  Over $57,000 is still required to launch the project; the Sycamore Rotary Club will be seeking a grant from District 6420 to supplement its own donation, and some individual Rotarians are pledging to contribute.
There is no set deadline for the project, but all monies must be collected before work can begin; it's hoped that construction can be completed over the summer.  Anyone wishing to contribute should contact the DeKalb County Community Foundation, or Marijo at
Rotary moves forward with inclusive playground project 2018-04-18 05:00:00Z 0
It's larger, has better facilities and aesthetics, and offers more services...but it remains a jail, and it will soon be ready to hold DeKalb County's most dangerous criminals.
The nearly-completed county jail will be ready for use in May, with open houses and tours on the 17th, 19th and 20th of the month.  Joyce Klein, head of the corrections department for the DeKalb County Sheriff's Office, says the new design is meant not only to better house the current population of inmates...but is meant to encompass expansion and modifications in the years to come.
The new jail has more cells for various types of inmates...ranging from minor offenders being held overnight, to those with psychological issues or under suicide threat who need constant monitoring.  The cells for more difficult inmates are designed to be accessible, safer and easier to view for corrections officers.
More up-to-date design elements including an increase in outside lighting, and color-coding for the various portions of the jail.  And there are larger kitchens for food preparation and service (provided by VAC), as well as up-to-date medical and dental facilities -- which reduce the need to take inmates out of the jail, thus reducing the risks involved with doing so.
Guest Speaker: Joyce Klein 2018-04-18 05:00:00Z 0
Nearly two dozen new Rotarians were formally inducted into the new Rotary Satellite Club of Sycamore-Oak Crest Area, at ceremonies held on Thursday, April 13th.
This new club will operate under the authority of the main Rotary Club of Sycamore; while many of its members are residents of Oak Crest, it is open to the community in general...and many of the new Rotarians live or work in the area surrounding the retirement center, as well as other parts of DeKalb County.
The club has been meeting informally over the past few months, but now has formal recognition from Rotary International; their members are also considered members of the main Rotary Club -- which boosts Sycamore's total enrollment to over 100, a new high.
The Rotary Satellite Club of Sycamore-Oak Crest Area meets on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays of the month, at 12:15 p.m. at Oak Crest.
Rotary Satellite Club of Sycamore-Oak Crest Area formally launches 2018-04-13 05:00:00Z 0
Our incoming exchange student is Sebastian Colmenares.  He is from a suburb of Valencia, Venezuela and will be 18 when he arrives.
We must find three host families to share the 11 months he will be here.  Homes with high school aged child(ren) are preferred.  If you are interested (and want to know more), or know of families in the school district who might make great host families, please contact Bert Gray, Youth Exchange Officer, at or 217-521-0968.
Bert will provide the club with more details about Sebastian as they become available.
Host families needed for new exchange student 2018-04-13 05:00:00Z 0
Judith Dymond says many Americans, of all ages, lack a basic understanding of how finance works; they aren’t given the necessary background in home budgeting, smart shopping or credit management…and as a result, they find themselves mired in debt and fighting to catch up.
This trend is part of the reason Money Smart Week exists; this nationwide effort runs from April 20th to April 28th, and there will be a variety of presentations in and around the DeKalb/Sycamore area…giving consumers some helpful hints in a wide array of financial matters, designed to help them with their own money matters.
Dymond serves as coordinator for the Center for Economic Education and is an Outreach and Engagement Associate for STEM Outreach. She connects K-12 schools to the university through professional development for educators in economics and she connects adults and students to the university by leading the STEM Cafés program.
She says one in four adults don’t pay their bills on time, 48% of millenials live paycheck to paycheck, and 28% of non-retired adults have no retirement savings or pensions.  She says far too many people are unprepared for money management, and part of the problem is the lack of education during their formative years; Money Smart Week seeks to encourage educators to add financial management instruction to courses, dealing with household and/or business budgeting.
Guest Speaker: Judith Dymond 2018-04-12 05:00:00Z 0
We are still looking for Rotarians to help out at these remaining Rotarians at Work Days work sites:
       Saturday, May 5th at Rotary Park at Sycamore Lake
       Saturday, May 12th at the Pay it Forward House
       Saturday, May 19th, YSB Bicycle Auction at the DeKalb H.S. Fieldhouse
We have sufficient numbers for the Kishwaukee SRA project at Hopkins Park on May 19th.
Sign-up sheets are available at all upcoming Rotary Club meetings; you can also contact Brian Adams for more information.
Volunteers still needed for Rotarians at Work Days projects 2018-04-09 05:00:00Z 0

Teresa Wasonga, the co-founder of a school for girls in Kenya, will be among the featured speakers at the District 6420 Conference on Saturday, April 28th at Faranda’s in downtown DeKalb.

She and her husband, Kishwaukee Sunrise Rotarian Andrew Otieno, co-founded the Jane Adeny Memorial School, a school for disadvantaged brilliant girls in the country – a school good enough for the richest, and open to the poorest.

Wasonga is a graduate of the University of Missouri – Columbia, a Fulbright scholar and an instructor at Northern Illinois University.  She is the recipient of the 2017 University of Missouri Columbia College of Education Alumni Outstanding Professional Achievement Award, 2013 Rotary International Service Award for Exemplary Humanitarian Service, and 2013 Service Above Self in Leadership (Rotary International District 6420).

In addition to teaching and research on educational leadership in the US, she has done research sponsored by Fulbright in Kenya. Findings from her research are modeled at the school, with a hope to stimulate innovation and improve practices in school leadership, teaching, learning, and entrepreneurship in Kenyan schools.


JAMS founder Wasonga is featured speaker at District Conference 2018-04-09 05:00:00Z 0
The finishing touches are being put on the new DeKalb County Jail expansion; and while no one ever wants to build a new jail -- let alone use it -- the project is a necessity for the justice system, and for the safety of the public.
DeKalb County Board Chairman Mark Pietrowski says many counties are put under pressure by the state to provide adequate facilities for prisoners; but if a county takes too long, then the state Department of Corrections (which has jurisdiction over county jails) can simply force them to start in on construction. So the DeKalb County Board opted to get ahead of the curve, and begin with construction of the jail so it could carry out the project on the county's own terms.
The new facility will not only have more space and more up-to-date facilities, but it will also provide a suicide wing for high-risk prisoners; there will also be more natural sunlight provided through windows and skylights...which is beneficial not only to the prisoners, but to the employees working there.
Pietrowski also noted some of the other goals and accomplishments of the County Board in the past few months; he says they're striving to make DeKalb County more business-friendly, are updating the text of zoning laws to help agribusiness, and opened the new county forest preserve in Sycamore on the former Evergreen Village site.  He notes that this location is unique for the county; instead of being in an isolated rural area, this preserve is close to downtown Sycamore...making it more appealing for the public to use.
Guest Speaker: Mark Pietrowski 2018-04-04 05:00:00Z 0
While other young girls were looking at professions ranging from medicine to law to business, Teresa Gramer found her interests drawn elsewhere; she was fascinated by machines and engineering, and gradually came to realize that she wanted to get into what has always been a male-dominated field...and make her mark.
As the Sycamore High School Student of the Month for April, Teresa has the typical resume -- high GPA, top 10 class ranking, National Honors Society membership and time on the track and cross-country teams.  But she also helped to re-establish the dormant Engineering Club at SHS; she was also the first female student to take part in the Manufacturing Academy -- and being the only girl in the class only spurred her on to work harder, and learn how to be a success.
She hopes to attend the University of Nebraska and major in mechanical engineering; her hope is to eventually work for Engineers Without Borders, helping with construction and mechanics in underdeveloped countries.
In recognition of Teresa's achievements, the Sycamore Rotary Club has provided $100 for donation to her favorite charity; she has selected Hope Haven as the recipient agency.
Student of the Month: Teresa Gramer 2018-04-04 05:00:00Z 0
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Illinois) will give the keynote address at the District 6420 Conference, to be held on Saturday, April 28th at Faranda's in downtown DeKalb.
Kinzinger is currently serving his fourth term in the United States House of Representatives and represents Illinois’ Sixteenth Congressional District, which stretches across 14 counties in the Northern Illinois region.
Congressman Kinzinger serves as a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. 
As a 20-year old sophomore at Illinois State University (ISU), he challenged a three-term incumbent for the McLean County Board. 
After serving on the McLean County Board, Kinzinger joined the United States Air Force. He was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in November 2003 and later awarded his pilot wings. He has served in the Air Force Special Operations, Air Combat Command, Air Mobility Command, and Air National Guard.
Kinzinger continues to serve as a pilot in the Air National Guard, with the current rank of Major.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger to be keynote speaker at District Conference 2018-04-02 05:00:00Z 0
If you have been or will be a Rotary Reader this school year, mark your calendar for Friday, May 4.
South Prairie Elementary School is hosting its end-of-year Rotary Breakfast Buddies Event. All Rotarians who have read (or will read by the end of the year) are invited to the event.
Breakfast will be served from 7:55 a.m. to 8:25 a.m.  Please be sure to check in at the school office.
You will get breakfast and a chance to interact with the 3rd grade children you previously read to. Please make it a priority to attend this event and show our support for the children at South Prairie Elementary School.
Readers invited to Rotary Breakfast Buddies on Friday, May 4th 2018-03-28 05:00:00Z 0
For those who participate in amateur wrestling, it's not merely a sport -- it's a lifestyle.  NIU Head Wrestling Coach Ryan Ludwig says even though he got involved at a late age, he found he didn't want to leave that world behind in adulthood...and he seeks out wrestlers for his team, who have a similar attitude.
A native of Chelsea, Michigan, he didn't get involved in wrestling until high school (when normally, athletes start out by middle school); but Ludwig wound up winning a state title in his senior year.  At that age, he soon learned the work and sacrifice necessary to succeed on the mat -- constant conditioning, practice, working on technique, and controlling weight; for the dedicated, this goes on year-round and requires them to put social and family interests on the back burner.
Even after going on to college at the University of Findlay in Ohio, he kept being drawn back to the sport; and eventually, he chose to drop out of law school and pursue coaching full-time.  He coached at Findlay and Minnesota-Mankato before moving on to the Huskies program; at all levels, he has sought out athletes who are willing to hold themselves to a high standard, and are so committed to the sport that he often has to pull them back rather than push them forward.
Ludwig says wrestling demonstrates to youths the reality of life; it shows them the need for preparation, determination and ownership of themselves and their behavior.  All this work goes into preparing for a seven-minute match, which puts constant physical and mental demand on the athlete; he likens it to swimming while someone is trying to pull you under the water.  He says the losses can be difficult, because there's no one to blame but yourself...but the moment of victory, when your hand is raised, makes it worth all the effort.
Guest Speaker: Ryan Ludwig 2018-03-28 05:00:00Z 0

Bethany Lerch will be the opening speaker for the District 6420 Conference on Saturday, April 28th; her topic will be "How Rotary Changes the World: A Shareholder’s Meeting."

Born and raised in Oshkosh, Lerch is a former Fulbright scholar and Rotary Foundation scholar. She has BA in German and International Studies from UW Oshkosh and a Master of Letters in Terrorism Studies from the University of Saint Andrews in Scotland.

Her professional experience includes Assistant Lecturer of American Studies at the University of Leipzig in Germany, volunteer teacher in Palestine, and military trainer in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Since her return to the United States in 2016, Bethany has resumed graduate school, this time in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Someday, she hopes to more meaningfully help vulnerable minorities and assault victims.


Bethany Lerch to be opening speaker at District 6420 Conference 2018-03-26 05:00:00Z 0
The deadline to register for the 2018 Rotary District 6420 Conference has been extended to midnight on Sunday, April 22nd, this event will be held at Faranda's in downtown DeKalb.
The weekend begins on Friday, April 27th, with the District Strategic Planning meeting in the afternoon and the Leadership Dinner in the evening.
The conference proper takes place on Saturday, April 28th; registration opens at 7:00 a.m. and presentations will be held throughout the day,  The evening will be capped by dinner at 6:00 p.m. featuring guest speaker Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Illinois).
Registration for the entire weekend is $130; for the Conference on Saturday, $100; and for the dinner only on Saturday night, $50.  Dinner comes with choice of three different meals.
You can register through Eventbrite at this link
Deadline extended to register for 2018 District Conference 2018-03-21 05:00:00Z 0
Her family is living the American Dream; Beata Palasiewicz says her family came to the United States from Poland when she was just three, and after years of work and struggle they saw each of their children graduate from college...and go on to successful careers.
She herself went to Northern Illinois University, after graduating from Somonauk High School and Waubonsee College; she went into banking, spending several years at what was then Castle Bank before a slight career shift -- as an assistant manager at Hy-Vee.
From there, she went back to the banking world through Resource Bank, but her task there refocuses her on its insurance division.  She says Resource Bank is the last remaining fully locally-owned bank, and that has helped to breed an atmosphere of loyalty to, and from, its management.
Outside of work, she enjoys travel and sports; she often travels with her boyfriend -- who ironically was born in the same part of Poland where she hails from, only to meet her here nearly 30 years later.
Classification Speech: Beata Palasiewicz 2018-03-21 05:00:00Z 0
Thursday, April 12th will see the formal launch of the Rotary Satellite Club of Sycamore/Oak Crest Area, a new satellite club of the Sycamore Rotary for persons in and around the Oak Crest Retirement Center.
Members of the newly-formed Club gathered on March 15th to learn the basics of how Rotary operates -- its history, its traditions and its ongoing effort to serve humanity in our own hometowns, and around the world.
While most of the initial membership is made up of Oak Crest residents, this club is open to any Rotarian wishing to attend or anyone interested in joining Rotary.  The Oak Crest club will meet on the 2nd and 4th Thursday of each month, beginning at 11:45 a.m.
Sally Stevens will serve as the inaugural chairperson, with John Peterson as vice chair and Barry Schrader as secretary.
Satellite club at Oak Crest ready to be chartered 2018-03-15 05:00:00Z 0

Young businesspeople who have enrolled in the Sycamore Chamber's Business Leadership Academy in the past, have been known to take their newly-learned skills out of town; many who have done so, cited an inability to make friends or connections within the community.

But Rotary's history -- an organization founded in part for precisely that purpose -- makes it the ideal place for many of these aspiring entrepreneurs to launch their careers, and establish roots in our town.

Over a dozen past and present enrollees from the Academy came to the March 14th Rotary Club meeting, to learn up close what Rotary does in terms of community service, building connections and promoting interest in each Club's home town.

Participants heard about Rotary's history, how members who have joined have benefited, how projects have grown to fruition and how Rotarians have made friends and established ongoing relationships owing to their participation.

Each member left with information on how to join, what Rotary can do for them, and what they can do as part of Rotary. It's our hope that more than a few of them will choose to join our ranks...and help our Rotary Club grow even stronger.


Students in Sycamore Chamber's academy learn more about Rotary 2018-03-14 05:00:00Z 0
After several meetings with potential Rotarians, the Rotary Satellite Club of Sycamore/Oak Crest Area is officially forming.
Residents of Oak Crest and the surrounding environs have been invited to join, and over a dozen have committed to the formation of this satellite club; it will meet on the 2nd and 4th Thursday of each month at Oak Crest.
An orientation meeting for the new members will convene this Thursday, March 15th at noon at Oak Crest; these new Rotarians will be considered members of our own Rotary Club, and the organization itself will be treated as a committee of the main Rotary Club.  It already has its own newsletter, the Acorn, symbolizing the connection to Oak Crest and the growth of something small...into something big.
Barry Schrader will act as the chairman for the satellite Rotary Club; it will be eligible to have a representative on our own Rotary Club Board of Directors.
Rotarians are invited to attend these meetings, to help out and/or get a makeup. 
Satellite Rotary Club to launch at Oak Crest 2018-03-13 05:00:00Z 0

Paulette Renault has been elected to serve on the Sycamore Rotary Club Board of Directors; she will join the Board beginning in July, and serve as Club President in 2021-22.

Also elected to new terms were Club Secretary Sally Bruch, and Club Treasurer Michele Jurkovic.

The election took place at the March 28th Rotary Club meeting; as they were the only candidates for their respective offices, all three were unanimously elected by acclamation.

The Rotary Club wishes Paulette good luck in her coming term on the Board of Directors, and during her year as Club President.


Paulette Renault elected to Board of Directors 2018-03-07 06:00:00Z 0
Grant Minnihan says he likes to plan out his schedule as far in advance as he can, but something he didn't plan for led him to his intended career.
The Sycamore High School senior took part in two church missions to Haiti; one involved his group going up a mountain, and they were supposed to use three donkeys -- but only one was provided, and it ran away.  That forced the group to make a long climb up to their destination, and some had to turn back; but Grant made it, and saw up close the difficult conditions so many of the locals have to deal with -- including the children, many of home were in this location because they were essentially sold into slavery by their parents.
Seeing the poor hygiene and lack of fresh water in this area compelled him to seek out a career as a humanitarian engineer; on graduation, he hopes to attend either the Colorado School of Mines, or Michigan Tech, to learn how to bring modern conveniences to these underdeveloped areas.
As the Rotary Club's Student of the Month, Grant received $100 for donation to the charity of his choice; he has selected Neighbor's House, which provides homework help and literacy assistance to children from low-income families.
Student of the Month: Grant Minnihan 2018-03-07 06:00:00Z 0
The image often invoked when studying music in college is mentioned, is that of talented youths on traditional instruments such as the violin, piano or other concert instruments studying in a traditional conservatory. But NIU Music Department Chair Janet Hathaway says they are not simply studying the classics of old...but seeking to innovate, and keep music fresh.
Hathaway says the school looks to mix traditional music with innovative compositions and high-tech instrumentation; she says music can't evolve if students are confined to studying the past -- which is why the school urges them to push the proverbial envelope. This effort is especially clear with their steel pan courses; NIU is one of the few institutions which offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in the use of steel drums, and their annual performances involve many genres of music beyond the instrument's traditional roots.
She notes that they offer several performances throughout the year, ranging from holiday concerts to the spring opera to the annual jazz festival; the latter is especially freewheeling -- they simply open the doors to the concert hall, and let the listeners stay inside or outside...dancing to the music if they like, and enjoying the feeling that the music gives them.
Guest Speaker: Janet Hathaway 2018-03-07 06:00:00Z 0
Students graduating from Sycamore High School and moving into the district's Life School no longer have to feel left out as they watch their classmates move on to college...thanks to a special donation from the Sycamore Rotary Club.
Last year, graduating seniors posed for pictures identifying the schools they would be moving on to, and sometimes wearing shirts for their new institution; this included students headed to the Life School after completing their individualized educational plan through District 427.
To give these students further pride in their accomplishments, the Rotary Club provided them with collegiate-style sweatshirts identifying them as Life School students; this year's graduating class will again be provided with these shirts, as part of the Rotary Club's literacy efforts.
The Life School provides continuing education for students with developmental or intellectual disabilities; this is the next step for those students who have finished four years at Sycamore High School and qualify to move on to the school at 357 California Street.
Incoming Life School students get school spirit with new sweatshirts 2018-03-01 06:00:00Z 0
Jenny Ruff, wife of former Rotarian Phil Ruff and now Host Family Coordinator at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at NIU, shared with the Rotary Club about an opportunity to participate in and support the Youth Leadership Program run by NIU and sponsored by the US State Department.
The program is seeking families willing to host 2 students for one week (April 13-20). The Ruffs are great supporters of exchange programs and have hosted several of our exchange students in the past.
This is a great opportunity to learn more about Southeast Asian cultures with students who have been vetted by the government. Obligations would include transportation to/from NIU during the week (morning drop off and evening pickup).
They are also looking for local high schoolers who would be interested in being a part of the program to participate alongside the Asian students.
You can find additional information on their website at:
Families sought for youth program through NIU Asian Studies 2018-03-01 06:00:00Z 0
The nascent satellite Rotary Club at the Oak Crest retirement home will have its next organizational meeting on Thursday, March 8th; it will begin at 11:45 a.m. in the Gathering Place meeting room, inside Door 4 at Oak Crest.
A second meeting was held last week, and featured Bob Pritchard as a guest speaker; former Sycamore Rotarian Barry Schrader is spearheading this effort to build a new Rotary branch, and is hopeful for a big turnout by our own well as potential recruits from Oak Crest.
If you are able to attend, please be sure to do so; you can bring your own lunch, or buy food at the cafe inside Door 18 on the east side. 
A decision on whether to formally apply for admission as a satellite club must come soon, and we need as many participants as possible to help build this new organization.
Next Oak Crest Satellite Club meeting set for March 8th 2018-02-28 06:00:00Z 0
In the early 1900's, once-rich farmland across Illinois was beginning to lose the nutrients needed to grow the common crops of the day -- oats, wheat and alfalfa.  Many farmers didn't know about crop rotation and soil management; but Henry Parke understood, and he joined several of his farming friends on Christmas Day in 1911 to set about bringing this information to their colleagues across DeKalb County.
This marked the birth of the DeKalb County Soil Improvement Association, which today is known as the DeKalb County Farm Bureau; its current manager, Greg Millburg, says the organization set out to help improve the tilth of the soil in this county, and bit by bit grew its services to accommodate the growing array of needs that farmers required as they moved through the 20th Century, and into the new millenium.
The original organization eventually split off into the Extension Service and the Farm Bureau; the latter represents hundreds of persons involved in farming and agriculture-related fields, and helps to give the farmers of today access to the information they need to maintain productive crops.
Millburg says even with the influx of population into DeKalb County, 88 percent of the owned property within its borders is devoted to farming and ag; and our county still maintains some of the richest soil in the world -- which means that agribusiness will continue to remain vital to the economic growth of the area.
Guest Speaker: Greg Millburg 2018-02-28 06:00:00Z 0
We will be needing Sycamore Rotarians to help out with our two major spring projects -- Rotarians at Work Days, and the District Conference.
Rotarians at Work will now be spread out over several weeks, in order to give our members the opportunity to chose one or more projects which fit their schedule.  Work sites will include the Old North School on Brickville Road, Rotary Park at Sycamore Lake, the Pay it Forward House, Kishwaukee Special Recreation Association at Hopkins Park, and the Youth Service Bureau's bicycle auction.
We'll also need volunteer staff for the District Conference, to be held Saturday, April 28th at Faranda's in downtown DeKalb; Sergeants at Arms and registrars will be needed throughout the day.
Sign-up sheets will be made available over the next few weeks; for more information, please contact Jeff Petersen about the District Conference and Brian Adams concerning Rotarians at Work Days.
Volunteers needed for Rotarians at Work, District Conference 2018-02-21 06:00:00Z 0

Malena Dadan Castagno and Maite Zarate paid their final visit to the Sycamore Rotary Club on February 21st, before heading home to Argentina.

They recounted several of the places they have visited, and the experiences they had, during their short-term exchange.

Maite and Malena also got to know Clayton Schopfer (pictured), a host family member who will make his reciprocal visit to Argentina later this year.


Argentinian short-term exchange students prepare for return home 2018-02-21 06:00:00Z 0
Youth Engaged in Philanthropy will soon convene its annual meeting, to decide how to divvy up $12,000 in grant monies from the DeKalb County Community Foundation...between a number of youth-oriented causes.

Steven Poorten (left), Libby Swedberg and Taylor Hull are familiar faces at Rotary, in part because of their dedication to serving the community. They are members of the YEP Board of Directors, helping to guide about 70 students each month through the grant-making process.

In addition to sorting through over $25,000 in requests, YEP gives the participants the opportunity to help out with several Outreach projects throughout the year -- ranging from Feed My Starving Children to the Youth Service Bureau's Royal Children's Ball.
Guest Speakers: Youth Engaged in Philanthropy 2018-02-21 06:00:00Z 0
Dan Escatel's family emigrated from Mexico to the United States, and growing up he spoke Spanish around the house before learning English in school; but as a child, he was actually disappointed to learn that his family came to the U.S. legally -- having expected to hear a story of a daring struggle to sneak across the border.
But his family's mundane arrival set the stage for a successful career; growing up in Rochelle after moving there from Mendota, he attended Northern Illinois University after graduating high school and started off by studying economics.
He was eventually led into a career as a mortgage banker for Stillman Bank in Rochelle; his experience with economics and with electronic business management has served him well as he built his career...and his family settled into a comfortable life in the community.
Classification Speech: Dan Escatel 2018-02-15 06:00:00Z 0
For Tatum Glas, her career as a graphic designer has built up quickly over the years; but her marriage has been a romance on ice.
Glas says she met her future husband while he was working at Lord Stanley's in downtown DeKalb. They eventually decided to wed, and she then heard about a contest being staged by the Rockford IceHogs -- with first prize being a free wedding during a game at the MetroCentre.  They won, and tied the knot in front of 3,300 fans between periods of an IceHogs game; she says the period ended with a brawl on the ice, which was being cleaned up even as they took their vows.
Settling into married life, she has turned Tatum Glas Design into a successful enterprise...designing logos and labels for several regional businesses.  She also uses her skills to promote the United Leukodystrophy Foundation, in its efforts to fund research into this disease.
Tatum has also used her fast-growing hair to help out charity; Pantene's Beautiful Lengths collects trimmed hair to make into wigs for women being treated for cancer.
Classification Speech: Tatum Glas 2018-02-15 06:00:00Z 0

Luca-Sophie Giese has taken the many people she's met in Sycamore into her heart -- the friends she's made at Sycamore High School, and the people she's gotten to know through the Rotary Club -- during her time as an exchange student.

But that time has come to an abrupt end.

For personal reasons, Luca has decided to cut short her stay in Sycamore and return home to Germany; she thanked the many Rotarians and fellow students who have shown her around the town and the region, and appreciates everything she's learned during her stay with us.

Luca's exchange with us is hardly her first trip to the United States, let alone abroad; her family has traveled to several locations around the world, and she has participated in several previous short-term exchanges to the U.S. and several locations in Europe. But she says the time has come for her to return home, and she plans on reconnecting with her loved ones and with the many friends she has back in Germany.


Exchange student bids unexpected farewell to Sycamore Rotary 2018-02-07 06:00:00Z 0

Taylor Hienbuecher and Kate Umekubo from Sycamore High School joined the Sycamore Rotary for the second annual Empty Bowls auction, a prelude to their Empty Bowls fundraising sale on February 7th.

A selection of five bowls made by art students at SHS were auctioned off, with a total of $355 going to the Sycamore Food Pantry. More bowls were put on sale at the school, with those proceeds also going to the pantry.


Empty Bowls auction raises $355 for Sycamore Food Pantry 2018-02-07 06:00:00Z 0

A memorial service for Ken Brooks will be held at 11:00 a.m. Saturday, February 10, 2018, at Kirkland United Methodist Church, 300 West South Street, Kirkland, with the Rev. Jenny Weber officiating. Visitation will be held from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. February 10 at the church.

Ken passed away suddenly on January 18th; he was a longtime member of the Sycamore Rotary Club, and served as superintendent of the Hiawatha School District until his retirement.

A complete obituary can be found here


In Memoriam: Kenneth Brooks 2018-02-07 06:00:00Z 0

Jacob Cavanaugh's parents teach mathematics and art, and when he was growing up he had strong feelings about those subjects. He hated them.

So he turned his interests elsewhere, tinkering with toys and other items he found around the house; turning one toy into something he could fire at his little sister (in fun) gave him his first exposure to engineering...and he's going on to pursue that as his career.

Jacobs is being recognized as the February Student of the Month; he's in the top 15 in his class, has spent four years in baseball and basketball, is in the National Honor Society, and is President of the school's Engineering Club.

He hopes to study bio-medical engineering at either Purdue, Northwestern or Georgia Tech.

The Rotary Club has provided him with $100 for donation to the charity of his choice; he has selected Feed My Starving Children.


February Student of the Month: Jacob Cavanaugh 2018-02-07 06:00:00Z 0

The initial organizational meeting for the proposed satellite club at Oak Crest on February 1st showed that there's a groundswell of interest among residents there for forming the offshoot Rotary Club.

A second meeting will be held on Thursday, February 8th at 11:30 a.m. in the Oak Crest cafeteria; anyone wanting to come by and give our potential recruits a better idea of what Rotary has to offer is invited to come.


Second meeting for satellite club at Oak Crest on February 8th 2018-02-05 06:00:00Z 0
The Sycamore Rotary Club's annual Hula-for-Loota draw-down raffle will be held on Thursday, April 19th; it will be from 6:30 to 9:00 at Chapel in the Pines, located at 15165 Quigley Road.
This annual evening of fun and furious negotiating will include dinner, cash bar, raffles, prizes and our featured drawing; there will be plenty of giveaways throughout the evening, so even if you're can still win!
Tickets are now on sale; all proceeds will go to the Rotary Club's scholarship fund.  Raffle prizes are also needed; contact Paul Michel for more information.
Hula-for-Loota scheduled for Thursday, April 19th 2018-01-24 06:00:00Z 0

An organizational meeting for a Sycamore Rotary satellite club at Oak Crest Retirement Home will be held on Thursday, February 1st; it will be at 3 o'clock in the first floor Gathering Place room (use Door 4 on the west side of Oak Crest's main building).

Barry Schrader has been working to establish the new offshoot Rotary Club; he already has about 20 potential members lined up to participate, and more are always being sought.

If you would like to help with organizing this new Rotary Club, please contact Eric Jones or Paul Stromborg for more information.


Organizational meeting for satellite club at Oak Crest on February 1st 2018-01-24 06:00:00Z 0

A private auction will be held during the Rotary Club meeting, featuring bowls made by art students at Sycamore High School.

This auction serves as a prelude to the annual Empty Bowls sale at the school, which will be held that afternoon and evening from 4:30 to 6:30.

All Rotarians are invited to bid on these items, and/or purchase bowls at the school; all proceeds will go to the Sycamore Food Pantry.


Private auction for Empty Bowls to be held at Rotary on February 7th 2018-01-24 06:00:00Z 0

Beata Palasiewicz was formally installed as a member of the Sycamore Rotary Club at our January 24th meeting; she joins us under the classification Insurance Agent, working with Resource Insurance on Bethany Road in Sycamore.

Please welcome Beata to our Club; we look forward to getting to know her, and to giving her the opportunity to get fully involved in Rotary.


Beata Palasiewicz installed as newest Sycamore Rotarian 2018-01-24 06:00:00Z 0

Chad Jewett was the type of kid who liked to take things apart to see how they worked, and then try to put them back together. In his case, the items he liked to work on were computers -- something his parents didn't always appreciate, until he began to look at them as a potential career.

While attending Sycamore High School, he also went to the Kishwaukee Education Consortium out at Kishwaukee College, where he studied...building trades, not computers. But eventually, the latest tech took over his career plans, and he went into business for himself.

CMJ Technologies provides IT support, hardware and cloud services; they also provide monitoring and maintenance for their various clients. He says he works to give his clients the most up-to-date technology available, to make what they have on hand adapt to changes in tech and the marketplace, and to ensure that it remains operational under all circumstances.


Classification Speech: Chad Jewett 2018-01-24 06:00:00Z 0
John McIntyre from Hy-Vee’s Wine and Spirits Department provided an overview of Hy-Vee’s store operations with a department-by-department description of services offered. He highlighted the fact that Hy-Vee is employee-owned with a focus on putting the customer’s needs above all else.
They source locally when possible, and prepare all of their various fresh-food offerings on-site every day including their sushi, Italian food, Chinese food, and new charcuterie offerings. Additionally, their meat department employs full-time butchers and operates like your traditional butcher shop.
Hy-Vee employs a full-time in-store dietitian who works with customers to do meal planning and design, working with customer dietary restrictions and goals and are, in-fact, the nation’s single largest employer of dietitians.
Their on-line ordering system has been heavily used by the community and they continue to do all of your shopping for you, readying your groceries for store pick-up or delivering them to your front door without additional charge and while still allowing you to earn the same FuelSaver Rewards as in-store purchases.
They are launching a new marketing effort this year which will see the removal of their ads from newspapers and the launch of a new direct-to-consumer mailing on a monthly basis. Hy-Vee is well positioned to continue their successes in the local community and they look forward to hosting a Rotary event in the future should the club choose.
Guest Speaker: John McIntyre 2018-01-18 06:00:00Z 0

Last year the Rotary Club had the chance to bid on a select assortment of ceramic bowls created by the Sycamore High School Art Department as a fundraiser for the Food Pantry. That will be happening again this year.

The exact meeting has yet to be determined, but they go on sale to the public on Wednesday, February the auction may be that day or the week prior.

Empty Bowls fundraiser coming up; Rotary to hold private auction 2018-01-18 06:00:00Z 0

Paul Stromborg is looking for volunteers to join him in meeting with members of the Oak Crest Retirement Community to discuss the potential creation of a satellite club.

Interested members should reach out to Paul to set up a date and time that works for all.


Rotarians sought to form satellite club at Oak Crest 2018-01-18 06:00:00Z 0
DG Steve Kuhn (right) and AG Jim Nelson pose next to the newly-purchased, authentic iron lung obtained by the three northern Illinois Rotary Districts; it will be available for all Rotary Clubs and districts, for promotion of End Polio Now.
Any District or Rotary Club wishing to use the iron lung will be charged a fee; it will be housed in a trailer, which can be transported to any site.  It's expected to be on view at the District 6420 Conference hosted by Sycamore in April.
District 6420 buys authentic iron lung to promote End Polio Now 2018-01-18 06:00:00Z 0
Some of the earliest memories Kate Majerus has involve reading; whether she was hearing stories from her parents, or simply enjoying a book or two on her own in her room, a love of reading has dominated her young life -- and it's a desire to bring that interest to others, that is stoking her future plans.
Kate is a senior at Sycamore High School, and is interested in studying early childhood education upon graduation; she has already worked as a teacher's aide in Sycamore's elementary school system, and has seen up close the joy in children's eyes as they listen to and enjoy hearing a story which someone is reading for them.  Kate says books always led her imagination to places far away, and she wants to be able to give other children that same opportunity.
Kate has spent four years on the High Honor Roll, has a GPA of 4.3 and is a 2017 Illinois State Scholar.  She has also been captain of the girl's basketball and tennis teams, and has volunteered for projects and organizations ranging from Feed My Starving Children to Youth Engaged in Philanthropy.  She is considering enrolling at institutions including Hope College, Lewis University and Carthage College.
The Sycamore Rotary Club is providing $100 for donation in her name to the charity of her choice; in keeping with her interest in reading, she has chosen Altrusa International's Bag of Books project -- which provides books to the families of newborn children at Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital, to help launch these children into the world of reading.
January Student of the Month: Kate Majerus 2018-01-10 06:00:00Z 0
Jay Anderson says the motto at what was once Kishwaukee Community Hospital is "the patient comes first" -- and that the staff there wouldn't let him forget that phrase, even if he wanted to.
Anderson is now President of Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital, part of the ever-expanding Northwestern Medicine group; the acquisition of Kishwaukee gives the company an even larger footprint in northern Illinois...but more importantly, it gives patients access to a wider variety of health care professionals and options.
Anderson says the staff has grown in the months since he's taken over; some are transfers from other health facilities in their network, but many are hospital employees who have worked their way up through the ranks.  And he says that's what helps keep the hospital's personal connection to the community; to the people who work there, patients aren't just cases and files -- they're somebody's friend, relative, neighbor or someone in town they see on a regular basis.  He says their desire to help people with which they're familiar, helps drive their effort to provide optimal care for everyone they serve.
Anderson says patients have immediate access to a wider array of care options, especially when dealing with long-term issues such as cancer or heart disease; their sister hospital in Winfield (the former Central DuPage Hospital) is now being developed into a hub for cardiology care...allowing many patients to get the assistance they need within a reasonable distance from home.  In turn, Anderson is doing what he can to draw the best available medical professionals from their main hospital in downtown Chicago out to DeKalb; he says he doesn't need many to service the patients in this area...just a few who are highly-skilled in their field, and want to make the commitment to living and working here in our county.
Guest Speaker: Jay Anderson 2018-01-10 06:00:00Z 0

The Sycamore Rotary Club plans on having a booth at this year's DeKalb-Sycamore Chamber Expo; it will be held on Thursday, March 29th from 3:00 to 7:00 p.m. at the DeKalb High School Fieldhouse.

This event is open to participation by all DeKalb and Sycamore Chamber of Commerce members; the B2B portion runs from 3:00 to 4:00, and the event is then open to the general public from 4:00 to 7:00.

This will be a prime opportunity for our Rotary Club to show the public who we are and what we do, and perhaps convince some of our friends and neighbors to consider membership in Rotary.


Sycamore Rotary plans display at DeKalb-Sycamore Chamber Expo 2018-01-04 06:00:00Z 0
January is Rotary Awareness Month, and Sycamore's own District Governor Steve Kuhn took time to remind us about Rotary's connection to its roots -- something that is passed along to all Rotarians from the beginning of their membership, as a reminder of what this organization is all about.
DG Steve has been taking the Club's copy of the official portrait of Rotary International founder Paul Harris with him to various Rotary events in District 6420.  Harris is an icon to those in Rotary, not just because he originally conceived of the club...but because he infused it with his own desire to help his community, and to build friendship and goodwill among others.
Impressed by the informality of close-knit business colleagues away from the workplace, he envisioned a club where members would treat each other as equals, and use their combined skills to benefit the public.  Joining three others at the founding meeting on February 23, 1905 in Chicago, they set out to bring together other members from different professions...rotating their weekly meetings among their various offices (inspiring the name Rotary).
From this humble beginning, Rotary has grown to encompass the globe; it has over 1.2 million members in Rotary Clubs around the world, each devoted to providing service to their fellow man in thousands of different ways -- living up to the tenents of the Four-Way Test, and the Rotary motto "Service Above Self."
The Sycamore Rotary Club was chartered in April of 1944, and throughout the years has brought together local icons from a variety of professions -- from law, finance and insurance, to education, technology and the arts.  While Sycamore is one of the larger clubs in District 6420, Rotarians consistently prove that it's not the size of a club which matters, but the drive behind it; the tiny Rotary Club of Harvard recently made it into the pages of The Rotarian, with its local garden project.
DG Steve reminded the Rotarians on hand that they have the skills necessary, and the will behind it, to do so much to benefit Sycamore and DeKalb County -- the best way to uphold the legacy of Paul Harris, and of Rotary itself.
Guest Speaker: DG Steve Kuhn 2018-01-03 06:00:00Z 0
Michael DeVito has been appointed by the Rotary Club's Board of Directors to fill a current vacancy on the Board.
DeVito works at in Sycamore; he takes the place of David Miller, who had to resign due to a new business opportunity out of town.  Under the Rotary Club's bylaws, the Board has the authority to make such an appointment if a Board member departs in mid-term.
For DeVito, this is the latest chapter in a whirlwind membership; he joined the Rotary Club last fall, immediately making an impact with contributions to several Rotary projects...including Operation Warm and Adopt-a-Family.  On top of that, he got engaged during the holiday break to his longtime girlfriend, Madeline Kuhn.
He will serve as Rotary Club President in 2020-2021.
Michael DeVito appointed to vacant seat on Board of Directors 2018-01-03 06:00:00Z 0
December Student of the Month Libby Swedberg presents her $100 charity contribution, provided by the Sycamore Rotary Club, to Noah Nordbrock of the DeKalb County Community Foundation.
These monies will be applied towards the Youth Engaged in Philanthropy (YEP) Young Grantmakers fund, to be used to support charitable organizations as selected by YEP.  Libby is a member of both the YEP Board of Directors and the Sycamore H.S. Interact Club, and told the club upon receipt of these funds that they would be put towards this purpose.
DeKalb County Community Foundation receives YEP grant 2017-12-28 06:00:00Z 0
Happy New Year from the Sycamore Rotary Club 2017-12-22 06:00:00Z 0
A busy year for the Sycamore Rotary Club came to a low-key end on December 20th, as we held our annual Holiday Party at Taxco Restaurant in downtown Sycamore.
The only official business saw the installation of our newest Rotarian; Tatum Glas joined her sponsor Jeff Jacobson (left) as she took the formal oath from Club President Eric Jones.  She joins Rotary under the classification of Communications Manager.
The Club also presented our exchange student, Luca-Sophie Giese, with a Christmas gift to thank her for everything she's done with us during the first half of her year in Sycamore.
Sycamore Rotary celebrates successful year with Holiday Party 2017-12-20 06:00:00Z 0
The Goodfellows are in need of help on Christmas Eve, and Sycamore well as the general public...are encouraged to pitch in.
Wrapped gifts for families all over DeKalb and Sycamore will be ready for delivery on Christmas Eve at 8 a.m.  Volunteers are invited to come to Blumen Gardens at that time; they can select gift bags for delivery to addresses around the area, and take them directly to waiting families.
For many participants, helping out with Goodfellows has become a family tradition; and for the organization itself, this is the culmination of weeks of effort to find recipient families, purchase the clothing and items they need, and get them wrapped in time for Christmas Day.
Rotarians encouraged to help Goodfellows on Christmas Eve 2017-12-20 06:00:00Z 0

Jonathan Delaughter recently started working at DNA Communications for our fellow Rotarian Ahmed Kamel...who snapped him up, when he heard about his experience in working with the poor internationally.

Delaughter served on a mission to Cambodia on behalf of Hope Expeditions; this religious mission brought him to some of the poorest locations in the country, where he and his fellows were able to supply schoolchildren with badly needed school supplies, backpacks and shoes.

They also went to a regional youth home which allows students to attend high school or college; it enables them to live close by, when they would otherwise have to stay in their rural homes...or fall prey to living on the streets, and getting involved in crime or human trafficking.

While on hand at the youth home, they were able to clean up and expand the kitchen area -- making it more livable for the students who reside there.

He also says the Cambodian economy has all but completely collapsed, and an American dollar goes much further than the local currency.

In thanks for his efforts, one of the local leaders spontaneously gave him a traditional drum; the drum head is make of snake skin, which can actually change the sound of the drum depending on the temperature and climate.


Guest Speaker: Jonathan Delaughter 2017-12-13 06:00:00Z 0
Tatum Glas has been invited to join, and submitted her application to, the Sycamore Rotary Club.  She is the communications manager for the Leukodystrophy Foundation.
In keeping with our bylaws, all potential Rotarians must have their name and classification submitted to the membership; if there are no objections within seven days, then that member is eligible for installation.
Proposed member: Tatum Glas 2017-12-13 06:00:00Z 0

Rotary is always on the lookout for new and younger members; but Michael DeVito has set a new standard -- he's just 22, and still has brothers in the Sycamore School District.

Michael joined our Club earlier this year, and says it's something he's been interested in doing for some time. He says he has a sincere desire to become part of the Sycamore community, and to start giving back to the people of Sycamore as soon as possible...and he sees Rotary as a way of doing so.

Michael is already active in the community; he's with the Pumpkin Festival and Turning Back Time Car Show committees...and convinced the latter to contribute to our Operation Warm campaign.

He also works in insurance here in Sycamore, representing MyInsuranceGuy in our area; Michael is also an avid traveler, and has been to several locations around the world.


Classification Speech: Michael DeVito 2017-12-13 06:00:00Z 0
Due to the holiday season, The Spoke will not be published the week of December 25th, 2017; if there are any important messages for the Rotary Club membership, they will be sent out via blast e-mail.
Publication of our club bulletin will resume on Tuesday, January 2nd, 2017 -- the day before our opening meeting of the year.
No publication of The Spoke the week of December 25th 2017-12-11 06:00:00Z 0
Club Committee Meeting Day will be held on Wednesday, January 31st; in lieu of a regular meeting, all committees with projects coming up during the next quarter of the Rotary year will have the opportunity to meet and work on details of their events -- putting club time to use, instead of having to meet via e-mail or after a regular meeting.
Upcoming projects would include the February and March program committees, Rural-Urban Day, the District Conference on April 27-28 at Faranda's, Hula-for-Loota and Rotarians at Work Day.  Others may be added, as required.
Club Committee Meeting Day to be held January 31st 2017-12-06 06:00:00Z 0
Due to the holidays, there will be no Rotary Club meeting on Wednesday, December 27th; please enjoy the season with your loved ones.
Rotary will re-convene on Wednesday, January 3rd, 2018 at the usual time and place -- 11:45 a.m. at Blumen Gardens in Sycamore.
No Rotary meeting on Wednesday, December 27th 2017-12-06 06:00:00Z 0
The Sycamore Park District Community Center is nearing completion, with most elements of it expected to be open for use by the spring; and the Fitness Center is expected to be a popular addition to the community, in spite of the presence of other, similar centers in the area.
Park District Executive Director (and Sycamore Rotarian) Dan Gibble says the fitness center will provide 24-hour access to the facility, including an elevated running track, cardio equipment and two full basketball courts.  It will also have three multipurpose rooms and park district programs and rentals, along with a group exercise and dance studio.
Gibble says Pathway Fitness is not intended to compete with, or take business away from, the Kishwaukee YMCA or the new Northwestern Medicine rehab facility; he says there is plenty of demand for 24-hour access from those interested in maintaining their fitness, and the Park District believes it will quickly fill a niche.
The campus of the Community Center on Airport Road will also include a sled hill, a dog park and the Splash Fountain splash pad; these will also be available for use by springtime...although the sled hill may be put into operation sooner, depending on winter weather.  Gibble noted the difficulties of having such a hill; obtaining proper liability insurance means having the ground at a certain consistency and the slope at just the right angle -- and the Park District staff has worked diligently to make sure it meets all the necessary standards.
Guest Speaker: Dan Gibble 2017-12-06 06:00:00Z 0
Sycamore Rotarians joined other organizations in selling raffle tickets for the Make a Difference DKC food packing and fundraising event on behalf of Feed My Starving Children -- and aside from the children who received the pre-packaged meals the Club helped prepare, Rotary came out the winner in more ways than one.
Each organization selling tickets received $8 off of every $20 ticket sold; and at the December 6th Rotary meeting, Make a Difference DKC presented the Rotary Club with its share -- $2,832.00.  The Sycamore Rotary Club was also the number one ticket seller for this year's event.
This follows the official drawing in November, at which Rotarian Paul Stromborg became the grand prize winner -- receiving $10,000.
Pictured:  Heidi Wright presents Rotary Club President Eric Jones with the club's portion of the fundraising monies.
Rotary receives contribution back from Make a Difference DKC 2017-12-06 06:00:00Z 0
Elizabeth "Libby" Swedberg originally struggled with math as she entered higher levels of education; but her parents made her concentrate on her math studies even over summer vacation and breaks...and this slowly developed into a love for learning, in this and other subjects, which has made her a success in the classroom.
Libby has not only excelled as a student at Sycamore High School, but she has already earned college credit through the Kishwaukee College Engineering, March and Science Academy.  She has been a standout on a Spartans Math Team which has won eight straight conference championships...and she says she prefers going to math competitions over many other activities, even cross country and track (which she has participated in for the past two years).
Libby has been a member of the Interact Club for four years, following in the footsteps of her Rotarian father Ben; he and Lori have encouraged her to take other leadership positions, including with Youth Engaged in Philanthropy.  She hopes to go to either Iowa State or Oklahoma after graduation, to study mechanical engineering.
The Rotary Club has presented her with $100 for donation to the charity of her choice; Libby has picked the Youth Grantmakers program sponsored by YEP.
December Student of the Month: Elizabeth Swedberg 2017-12-06 06:00:00Z 0

A therapy group of girls staying at Hope Haven has bonded together, after enduring the worst imaginable trauma while growing up…and spending the last two and a half years sharing their experiences with each other.  Now as they prepare to move through their last year together, the members of this group – who have dubbed themselves “The Squad” – hope to share one last great adventure…and are seeking Rotary’s help.

Hope Haven Executive Director Lesly Wicks says these six girls have participated in trauma therapy sessions at Hope Haven, and have struggled just to find shelter at times.  But through these sessions and their work with each other, these girls now have a chance at fulfilled adult lives.  Part of their therapy has involved exploring the outdoors; they have been camping, hiking, kayaking, canoeing and other outdoor events in five states.

They now want to undertake their most ambitious adventure yet, with a trip to Canada; the cost of such an excursion would be high, so with the help of Dave Juday from Ideal Industries they have developed a business plan and model…and have begun manufacturing a number of items, to sell around the community and put towards their Canada trip.

Rotary President Eric Jones encourages Rotarians to not only support their sales effort, but find out what more Rotary can do to help The Squad realize this dream, and goals beyond that.  He, Lesly and Dave want to expand the vision for this group beyond a single fundraising opportunity, and would like to know if any Rotarians would be interested in devoting their time and effort to help these girls further build their confidence and character.

Please contact Eric if you are interested in helping out.


Rotary seeks help for teen trauma survivors at Hope Haven 2017-12-04 06:00:00Z 0
The first meeting after Thanksgiving saw the Sycamore Rotary Club launch its “Season of Giving” – a number of projects aimed at helping people in need in our community, during the holiday season.
Neilly Berger from Sycamore District 427 serves as the homeless liaison. She says there are a number of students whose families have no home, and receive benefits through the District.  But she also notes that many older students are essentially on their own, having been forced from their homes and families; they often wind up “sofa surfing” – moving from friend’s house to friend’s house, only staying as long as they are welcome.  She told us about three students who received coats through Operation Warm – and how excited they were to receive their coats.
Upon the conclusion of her presentation Rotarians contributed not only money but gift cards for these emancipated young adults.
Joel Maurer from Sycamore Food Pantry told us about how the pantry works and their community partners.  He discussed the history of the pantry and the number of families that are served; and he highlighted the Empty Bowls project from the Art Club, in which our club took part.
Club President Eric Jones reported on the upcoming events for Toys for Tots; the annual Country Music Concert will be on December 3rd at the Taylor Street High-Rise in DeKalb, and a benefit basketball game will tip off at 7:00 on Monday, December 4th at Huntley Middle School.  Toys will be distributed at the Salvation Army the week before Christmas.
Operation Warm came to its conclusion, as the remaining coats were given over to the Goodfellows.  Tana Knetsch was thanked for the sponsorship through B95.
Riley Oncken gave us a history of Goodfellows and upcoming wrapping opportunities, as well as the upcoming party to be held at PJs Courthouse Tavern on Thursday, December 7th.
Eric introduced many guests, which included Rudolph Sterkel and his wife who are visiting from Germany.  Rudolph was a Kishwaukee Sunrise Rotary member and was in line for District Governor when he moved to Germany.
Eric wrapped up with an acknowledgement that all of these projects involved passionate Rotarians; and if you have a passion that could be a Rotary project, please share it with the Board for consideration.
Rotary "Season of Giving" 2017-12-01 06:00:00Z 0
The Rock Island Rotary Club has informed us of the passing of Fred Luckenbill; he died on Thanksgiving Day, at the age of 82.
Fred was a longtime Rotarian, an important figure at the District level and a dedicated humanitarian.  Those of us who knew and worked with him will miss his contributions to Rotary District 6420; we offer our condolences to his family.
A obituary and funeral information is available at this link
In Memoriam: Fred Luckenbill 2017-11-27 06:00:00Z 0
The Sycamore Rotary's meeting site at Blumen Gardens is also the hub of activity for the Goodfellows during the Christmas season -- and Rotarians are encouraged to help out during the next few weeks.
Each year, Goodfellows bands together for a single purpose:  to provide children with clothing for the holiday season.  This year, over 1,000 children are expected to be served; to help out, the Goodfellows held its annual Office Party benefit on Thursday, December 7th at P.J.'s Courthouse Tavern, beginning at 5:00 p.m.
You can also help with gift-wrapping, as the organization takes over Blumen Gardens to prepare these gifts for delivery; wrapping will be held on Wednesday at 6 p.m.  Rotary has done its part, by donating the remaining coats from Operation Warm to the Goodfellows for them to distribute as needed.
And the campaign culminates on Christmas Eve, as community members are asked to take the gifts to homes in the DeKalb and Sycamore area; volunteers will gather at Blumen Gardens at 8 o'clock that morning, to pick out some of the distinctive red and green plastic bags filled with Christmas cheer for delivery to their recipient families.
Please contact Riley Oncken if you have any questions, or would like to make a donation.
Rotarians encouraged to help Goodfellows during holiday season 2017-11-24 06:00:00Z 0
For over eleven years, children of persons who have business before the court in DeKalb County have had a refuge while their parents are in the courtroom -- which is especially important if the case directly involves them in a custody dispute, or their parents in a criminal matter.
The Children's Waiting Room occupies the former bailiff's room on the first floor of the Courthouse; the staff watches any child between six months and 10 years, while their parents -- be they litigant, witness, attorney or otherwise -- are appearing before the bench.
Euneta Weeks has worked there for about three years, and has spent over 35 years in child care; she took on the task of being the Waiting Room's supervisor, and every day strives to make the room a fun, supportive and learning environment for the children in her care.  She says that's especially crucial for children who come from difficult backgrounds; the situation which may have led their parents to the courthouse is likely to have had a negative impact on them, and Euneta hopes to lessen the problem by giving them a secure place to be watched...and to enjoy the company of other children, as well as the staff.
Every child who stays in the Waiting Room receives a free gift bag, including a new or gently used book to keep; Euneta and the other staff and board members usually work to keep the shelves stocked, and get the budget needed to provide what in some cases may be the only books in a child's home.
To assist with that effort, the Sycamore Middle School Interact Club provided $100.00 from its proceeds from sports concessions to the Children's Waiting Room, towards the purchase of new books.  Gable Carrick from the Interact Club was on hand at the November 15th meeting, to present the check on their behalf.
Guest Speaker: Euneta Weeks 2017-11-15 06:00:00Z 0
Dozens of children in Sycamore School District 427 will be receiving brand new winter coats this week, courtesy of our Rotary Club and Operation Warm.
The coats arrived in Sycamore on November 14th, and were promptly sorted and distributed to the various schools.  These coats were purchased through funds raised by our Rotary Club, and acquired from the Rotary-backed project Operation Warm; they are brand-new, stylish coats -- not hand-me-downs or donated old coats -- and they'll help children around the school district stay warm during this upcoming winter.
The remaining coats will be used for our annual Adopt a Family project, and for the Goodfellows; the latter will be wrapping gifts during the month of December at Blumen Gardens.  These coats will be on display at the November 29th Rotary Club meeting.
Operation Warm coats distributed to District 427 students 2017-11-14 06:00:00Z 0
Make a Difference DKC finished in excess of its goal, as the four-day packing event at The Suter Company finished up on Sunday, November 12th...with over 1.3 million meals packed, for delivery to Feed My Starving Children.
This annual event brought together hundreds of volunteers, who took time to help prepare and load the pre-packaged, ready-to-cook meals for distribution around the world.  Organizers aimed to prepare 1.26 million meals, but wound up with 1.36 million -- a difference of 100,000.
Rotarians from Sycamore joined their counterparts from DeKalb, Kishwaukee Sunrise and our New Generations clubs during the Saturday morning shift; but none worked harder than Heidi Wright, who again helped organize this event on behalf on Make a Difference DKC.
Pete and Char Johnson were recognized as this year's Volunteers of the Year, for their efforts during the weekend; they have volunteered every year since this event began, and worked a half-dozen shifts this weekend alone.
And Sycamore Rotarian Paul Stromborg won the grand prize in the Make a Difference DKC Raffle -- $10,000.  A portion of the proceeds from this raffle will be returned to the Rotary Club, and all other organizations which sold tickets; the remainder will be donated to Feed My Starving Children.
Rotarians help with Make a Difference DKC, as it sets new record 2017-11-14 06:00:00Z 0
Due to the Thanksgiving Day holiday, and the lack of a regular meeting the day before, there will be no edition of The Spoke published on Thursday, November 23rd.
Publication of the Sycamore Rotary Club's biweekly newsletter will resume on Tuesday, November 28th; we hope you enjoy Thanksgiving Day with your loved ones.
No edition of The Spoke on Thanksgiving Day 2017-11-13 06:00:00Z 0
The Rotary Club of Sycamore has been cited by District 6420 for its contributions to The Rotary Foundation, during the annual Foundation Dinner in Dixon on November 4th.
Sycamore was recognized as the second-highest donor to The Rotary Foundation in the district during 2016-17; the Club was also cited as one of eight clubs to donate $1,500 or more towards End Polio Now.
Club Foundation Chair Paul Stromborg (right) was on hand to receive the awards from DG Steve Kuhn (left) and PDG Scott Shore.
Sycamore Rotary recognized for donations to The Rotary Foundation 2017-11-13 06:00:00Z 0
The International Fellowship of Rotarian Military Veterans, Inc. is a Florida non-profit corporation formed to bring together Rotarians from around the world in support of Rotary’s efforts towards Peace and Conflict Prevention/Resolution.
On October 14, 2016 they were notified that the RI Board of Directors had voted to recognize the Fellowship.  The paperwork was filed and on October 19, 2016 the International Fellowship of Rotarian Military Veterans officially came into being – the first step in what will be a long journey in support of peace around the world.
The Fellowship is seeking Rotarians who have been in the service to join its ranks; it also seeks volunteers to serve as Membership Coordinators in each of the 48 Rotary Zones (including Sections).  They in turn will be responsible for identifying one District Membership Coordinator in each of the 536 districts.
If you are interested in joining and/or volunteering, go to for more information.
Rotarians who have served invited to join veterans fellowship 2017-11-09 06:00:00Z 0

Winners from the Pumpkin Festival Bake-Off at Sycamore Middle School came to the November 8th Rotary Club meeting to claim their prizes -- and bring samples of their entries for Rotarians to try!

This year's winners are:


Pumpkin Pie

1st place – Kameron Schroeder
2nd place – Taylor Wesley
3rd place – Laynee Sosin

Baked Pumpkin Goods

1st place – Amanda Jamrog
2nd place – Isaac Ward
3rd place – Caroline Harbecke


Pumpkin Festival Bake-Off winners from Sycamore M.S. receive prizes 2017-11-08 06:00:00Z 0

The Sycamore Middle School Interact Club took time on Wednesday, November 8th to pay tribute to the veterans in our Rotary Club.

Interact presented each Rotarian vet with a special commemorative gift; they have more to be given out at the Veterans Day breakfast, at the school on Friday, November 10th.

Interact has also been working the concession stand at this fall's sports events; they took $100.00 of the proceeds, and donated it to Make a Difference DKC -- which is holding its annual meal packing event this weekend.

The meeting opened with a quartet from Sycamore High School, which performed "The Star Spangled Banner" to open our Tribute to Veterans.

(Amy Bickner, who was scheduled to address us on the topic of "Women in the Military", had to cancel her appearance due to a family emergency.)


Sycamore Middle School Interact honors Rotarian veterans 2017-11-08 06:00:00Z 0
The Sycamore Rotary Club will be hosting a Make-Up Session on Wednesday, November 22nd -- the day before Thanksgiving -- in lieu of our regularly-scheduled meeting.
Attendance is optional, and no formal business will be discussed; those in attendance will receive a make-up credit, towards a past or future absence.  Be sure to notify Sally Bruch in advance, if you plan to attend.
Make-Up Session to be held in lieu of regular meeting on November 22nd 2017-11-07 06:00:00Z 0
Sycamore Rotarians are again being asked to contribute towards this year's Toys for Tots drive, conducted by the Salvation Army and the DeKalb County Marine Corps League.
Please bring a new, unwrapped toy to the November 29th meeting, as part of our "Season of Giving" event; these toys will be presented during the annual Toys for Tots benefit concert, scheduled to be held on Sunday, December 3rd at the DeKalb County high-rise on Taylor Street in DeKalb.
Donations needed at November 29th meeting for Toys for Tots 2017-11-07 06:00:00Z 0
The coats have been ordered, and help will be needed when they arrive.
Operation Warm is the Sycamore Rotary Club's campaign to provide brand-new coats to children in need in the Sycamore School District and at St. Mary's of Sycamore; together, we raised $2,195.00 for this Rotary-backed charity...and the coats are scheduled to be delivered on or about November 15th.
At the November 15th Rotary meeting, we will be seeking volunteers to go over to the Sycamore School District's warehouse and sort out the coats by school; the exact time and date for doing so will be determined at that meeting, based on volunteer availability.
The remaining coats will eventually be brought over to Blumen Gardens, for display at our November 29th "Season of Giving" meeting; some will be given over to Adopt a Family, and the rest will be handed over to the Goodfellows.
Operation Warm coats coming; volunteers needed to sort 2017-11-07 06:00:00Z 0
This year's annual Rotary Holiday Party will be held at Taxco Restaurant in downtown Sycamore on Wednesday, December 20th.
We will be gathering at 11:30 a.m. and can stay through 2:30 p.m.  The event will be informal, with Rotarians having the chance to relax with their friends; but there could be a few Reindeer Games before the day is done....
This will be our last official Rotary Club event for the year; be sure to let Eric Jones or Sally Bruch know if you will be in attendance, and if you plan to bring any guests.
Holiday Party to be held at Taxco Restaurant on December 20th 2017-11-02 05:00:00Z 0
Even though he's excelled in a variety of academic endeavors, Stephen Poorten is equally focused on athletics; and although he has experience in team sports, he says running cross-country has been the best experience he's had representing Sycamore High School.
Stephen says while he's spent time on the basketball squad, he prefers the solitude of running; he says it's appealing because even though competitors race as a team, the challenge while on the course is to relay on yourself -- no one else.  He also says it allows him to escape the stresses of daily living, and to push himself to his absolute limit.
Outside of running, Stephen has served on the Student Council and has been on the Academic Honor Roll throughout high school; he's also with Youth Engaged in Philanthropy, and has acted as a running club coach in his spare time.  He hopes to study business administration at either Boston College, Miami (FL) or Marquette.
In recognition of his achievements, the Rotary Club of Sycamore has provided a $100 donation to the charity of his choice; he has picked Hope Haven as the recipient.
November Student of the Month: Stephen Poorten 2017-11-01 05:00:00Z 0
After ranging far and wide to prepare for his term as District Governor, and traveling the length of District 6420, Steve Kuhn has seen up close what the other Rotary Clubs in our district are doing to help their community, and their world.  But after all that, he's glad to be back with his home Rotary Club.
Steve paid his official visit to the Sycamore Rotary Club on November 1st, customarily saving his own club for last after making official visits to every other Rotary Club in the district on behalf of R.I. President Ian Risley.  He says this is the most important aspect of what District Governors, do, and that supporting local clubs is crucial -- because what local clubs do is far more important than what happens at the District or Rotary International level.
He says the End Polio Now campaign continues full force, and says he wants Sycamore, along with all the other District 6420 clubs, to step up its contributions to the Polio Plus fund and make the final push to wipe out this disease. 
He also addressed one of Rotary's newer international initiatives, in combating human trafficking; he says an estimated 46 million people around the world are victims of human trafficking, becoming slaves, servants or sex workers against their will.  And Illinois is not immune to this problem; Rockford now rivals Chicago, and other cities in the United States, with its problems in such trafficking...especially with prostitution, many of whose victims are underage.
DG Steve lauded the Sycamore club for its efforts in Foundation contributions, in youth services and in public image -- three of the four main objectives R.I. is pushing for local Rotary Clubs.  And he hopes to see a badly-needed surge in membership, for Sycamore and for Rotary across the District.
Guest Speaker: DG Steve Kuhn 2017-11-01 05:00:00Z 0

Dear Fellow Rotarians:


We are looking forward with excitement to our 8th annual Make A Difference DKC Mobile Pack event on Nov 9-12th.  Our goal is to raise $270,000 and pack 1.2 million meals with the help of over 5,000 volunteers!

My deepest thanks to each of you who have been selling the $10,000 Cash Raffle tickets to help pay for ingredients we will pack, and also to raise money for Sycamore Rotary.  For every $20 ticket you sell, you will be feeding 54 children a meal and providing $8 to Sycamore Rotary.  These raffle tickets are another way for Sycamore Rotary to make an impact in the world.

Please make a plan on how you will get your ticket stubs and proceeds to me prior to the drawing on Nov 12th.  You can give them to me at Rotary, or drop them off at The Suter Company on 258 May Street, or you can even bring them to the event if you are still selling tickets. 


Many thanks and appreciation,

Heidi Wright

VP, Sales and Marketing

The Suter Company, Inc.


Update on Make A Difference DKC Mobile Pack 2017 2017-11-01 05:00:00Z 0
The Sycamore Rotary's meeting on November 29th will feature information on the various charities we'll be supporting during the holiday season.
Neilly Berger, the Homeless Liason for the Sycamore School District, will be the featured speaker; she will update us on what the district does for its homeless students during this season and year 'round.
There will also be updates on what we're doing for this year's Adopt a Family project; we will be assisting up to five families and some individual emancipated students, by providing them with Christmas gifts and other perks for the holiday season.
Other projects to be covered include the Sycamore Food Pantry, Operation Warm, Goodfellows and Toys for Tots.  Rotarians are asked to contribute to the latter, by bringing a new, unwrapped toy to the Rotary meeting; these items will be presented during the annual Toys for Tots Benefit Concert in DeKalb on Sunday, December 3rd.
Sycamore Rotary launches "Season of Giving" at November 29th meeting 2017-10-31 05:00:00Z 0

Here are the winners for this year's Pumpkin Festival Bake-Off at Sycamore Middle School:

Pumpkin Pie

1st place – Kameron Schroeder
2nd place – Taylor Wesley
3rd place – Laynee Sosin

Baked Pumpkin Goods

1st place – Amanda Jamrog
2nd place – Isaac Ward
3rd place – Caroline Harbecke

The winners will be in attendance at the November 8th Rotary Club meeting, to receive their prizes.


Winners of 2017 Pumpkin Festival Bake-Off selected by Rotary judges 2017-10-31 05:00:00Z 0
We will honor veterans with the Rotary Club of Sycamore, as well as others in the community, during the November 8th meeting. The featured speaker will be Amy Bickner, discussing Women in the Military

Also featured at this meeting:
A quartet from Sycamore H.S. will perform the National Anthem
Sycamore M.S. Interact will give a special veteran's presentation
Prizes will be awarded to this year's Pumpkin Bake-Off winners
Veterans to be honored at November 8th Rotary meeting 2017-10-31 05:00:00Z 0
It's becoming a national trend in courts across the country -- basing bond for a criminal defendant on their record and their reliability, instead of on whether they can post the right amount of cash.  And Illinois is moving into the area of bond reform, in an effort to give defendants a fairer shake from the system.
The Hon. Judge Robbin Stuckert from the 23rd Judicial Circuit, serving DeKalb County, was joined at the October 25th Rotary meeting by the county's Pre-Trial Services Director Michael Venditti to outline the changes being made in how defendants are assessed prior to arraignment, and whether they qualify for release or need to be held pending trial
Venditti notes that posting bond is proving not to be a deterrent in preventing defendants from returning to court; in fact, many violent defendants are able to be released because they can afford a cash bond...while poorer ones remain jailed, because of their inability to pay.  He says that spending even a few days behind bars can upend a suspect's life, with the loss of jobs, income, family and standing in the community; those problems can remain even after the adjudication of their case -- regardless of the outcome.
His office now provides judges with fuller information on a defendant to the judge making their bond determination; they conduct pre-trial interviews, do a background check, and give their results to the judge...a fuller package of information to work with than jurists have received in the past.  And changes are being considered in state law to give defendants access to counsel, including the presence of a public defender at bond call -- something not provided for in the past (although some jurisdictions, including DeKalb County, may have financial trouble in meeting requirements).
It's still within the discretion of the court on whether or not to have the defendant held, set a bond or release them on their own recognizance.
Guest Speakers: Robbin Stuckert and Michael Venditti 2017-10-25 05:00:00Z 0
If you're a new Rotarian, and are a bit confused about what all the terms mean and what the Club's traditions are, you can get a full briefing at a New Members Orientation Breakfast on Thursday, November 1st.
PDG Bob Hammon will conduct the session, to be held at 7:15 a.m. at Eggsclusive Cafe, located at 265 W. Peace Road in Sycamore.  Anyone who has joined our Rotary Club in the past year is welcome to attend.
New member orientation to be held Thursday, November 2nd 2017-10-25 05:00:00Z 0
The Rotary Club of Sycamore continues its tradition of marking World Polio Day on Tuesday, October 24th with a public the logo for Rotary International's "End Polio Now" campaign is projected onto the front of the DeKalb County Courthouse.
This projection, shown from Friday, October 20th through early Wednesday, October 25th, is meant to reaffirm Rotary's effort to wipe out polio worldwide; End Polio Now provides funding and volunteers to fan out in countries where this disease is still prevalent, and immunize children against polio.
Right now, there are only three countries in the world where polio is extant in the wild -- and it's Rotary's goal to eliminate this disease once and for all.
For more information, or to donate, go to
World Polio Day marked by projection on DeKalb County Courthouse 2017-10-24 05:00:00Z 0
Judging for the annual Pumpkin Baking Contest will be held on Thursday, October 26th; it will take place at Sycamore Middle School, from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m.
Sycamore Rotarians will again judge entries in the Pumpkin Pie and Pumpkin Baked Goods categories; the winners will be invited to a Rotary Club meeting in November, with samples of their winning entries for Rotarians to taste.  Each winning student will receive a cash prize.
Pumpkin Baking Contest judging scheduled for October 26th 2017-10-18 05:00:00Z 0
Doug Johnson has served as DeKalb County Clerk since 2013, and prior to that operated family businesses in his native Sandwich; but his career could have been very different, due to his stint in the U.S. Army.
Doug joined the Army after graduation, and first trained as a combat engineer; but he eventually changed career tracks, first becoming parachute-qualified with the Airborne...then joining Special Forces as a Green Beret...and then becoming an Army Ranger.  He eventually was assigned to an Army Green Light team, where he trained to deploy Special Atomic Demolition Munitions (SADM) -- a backpack-carried nuclear weapon.
But after just three years in the service, he gave up this highly-specialized training to return to Sandwich; his father provided him with 300 acres, enough to get him started with his own farm during the 1980's.  He eventually moved into tax lien investments, operating that company until his appointment as County Clerk; he gave up his direct interest in the company, which his daughter Megan now controls.
He was elected to a full term as County Clerk in 2014, and plans to run again next year.
Classification: Doug Johnson 2017-10-18 05:00:00Z 0
The annual distribution of dictionaries for The Dictionary Project will be held on Wednesday, October 18th -- immediately following the Rotary Club meeting.
Rotarians will be distributing English and English-Spanish dictionaries to 3rd grade students in the District 427 elementary schools, as well as St. Mary's and Cornerstone Christian Academy.  Experts say third grade is the time when children begin to take a stronger interest in vocabulary, and the meaning of words; this is the ideal time to ensure that all children have access to a dictionary, to help develop their language skills.
All Rotarians signed up to help will be issued their dictionary supply and instructions right after the meeting; please contact Lavarre Uhlken if you have any questions.
Dictionary Distribution following October 18th meeting 2017-10-16 05:00:00Z 0
District 6420 will hold its annual Foundation Dinner at Brandywine Banquets in Dixon on Saturday, November 4th.  It will run from 4:45 p.m. until 9:00 p.m.
The Foundation Dinner is a celebration and recognition of District 6420 Rotary members and their support for The Rotary Foundation. The dinner is open to all district members who want to learn about The Rotary Foundation. For more information go to this link
District 6420 Foundation Dinner in Dixon on November 4th 2017-10-16 05:00:00Z 0
The Sycamore Rotary Club will be manning collection kettles on behalf of the Salvation Army for DeKalb County on Saturday, December 2nd; we will be at the Jewel-Osco on Peace Road from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m.
At least two Rotarians will be needed for each shift; we will be signing up volunteers at an upcoming Rotary Club meeting.  See Dave Andrews for more information.
Salvation Army Kettle Collection on December 2nd 2017-10-16 05:00:00Z 0
Tickets are now on sale for the annual Sycamore Rotary Pancake Breakfast, to be held on Saturday, October 27th during the Pumpkin Festival.
We will be serving pancakes and sausage from 7:00 to 11:00 a.m. at the Federated Church, located at 612 W. State Street in Sycamore. 
Tickets are $5.00 each; you can purchase one in advance from any Sycamore Rotarian, or at the door.  All proceeds will go towards the club's Scholarship Fund for Sycamore High School.
Volunteers are needed to serve that day, or to help set up on Friday afternoon; you can sign up at the upcoming Rotary Club meeting.
Pancake Breakfast tickets now on sale; volunteers needed 2017-10-11 05:00:00Z 0
While he has taken an interest in educational achievement and community service, Ben Briscoe says his passion is music -- and he has made good use of his skills while working to stay near the top of his class at Sycamore High School.
As the October Student of the Month, Ben is being recognized for advanced placement in English, history, science and math; he has been on the Honor Roll since 2014, and passed 3 AP tests in his junior year.
But he has also devoted time to playing in the Pit Orchestra, the Suzuki Violin Program and the Orchesis Dance Club; he has been a concertmaster for pit orchestra and chamber orchestra, and has even taken gigs for weddings and special celebrations.
Ben has been with the Interact Club since 2015, as well as Youth Engaged in Philanthropy and the Boy Scouts; he became an Eagle Scout through his work with the Barn on Baseline Animal Shelter, and has volunteered his time with Feed My Starving Children and various church service opportunities.
He is hoping to enroll at either Boston University or Utah State, in a course of study yet to be decided; in recognition of his achievements, the Sycamore Rotary Club has provided him with $100 for donation to the charity of his choice -- the Barn on Baseline.
October Student of the Month: Ben Briscoe 2017-10-11 05:00:00Z 0
The need for mental health treatment is constant and ongoing, and for decades there was no organized effort to treat the mentally ill in DeKalb County. But the formation of the DeKalb County Mental Health Board gave those with such challenges a place to turn, and their families a voice.
Deanna Cada is Executive Director of the DCMHB, which marked its 50th anniversary at a public celebration on Tuesday night.  She says the Board provides a unifying location for the various services offered by public agencies and private vendors; DeKalb County was fortunate to have Ben Gordon to act as an unofficial advocate and informal provider during his lifetime, and the Ben Gordon Center helps to continue that legacy for those who need it.
Cada also discussed the availability of Mental Health First Aid training; anyone willing to sign up for this eight-hour course will receive crucial information on how to deal with someone who has just suffered a traumatic event, is suffering a panic attack, or is having an especially turbulent reaction to an ongoing mental health concern.  While you don't have to be any sort of professional to sign up for this course, it can be of particular use to teachers, first responders and health care professionals in fields outside of mental health.
Guest Speaker: Deanna Cada 2017-10-11 05:00:00Z 0
In advance of World Polio Day on October 24th, Sycamore Rotarian Paul Stromborg -- a retired physician, and the End Polio Now chair for Rotary District 6420 -- submitted this Letter to the Editor to the DeKalb Daily Chronicle and the Rockford Register Star....
End Polio Now: Letter to the Editor 2017-10-10 05:00:00Z 0

The Sycamore H.S. Interact Club is holding a Change War, as a fundraiser for the victims of Hurricanes Irma, Harvey and Maria.

Students will be asked to donate change into specially-designed blue buckets, with proceeds going to the All Hands Organization.

For more information, watch this video


Sycamore H.S. Interact holds Change War for hurricane victims 2017-10-09 05:00:00Z 0
A new round of Paul Harris Fellowship awards will be presented at the October 25th meeting of the Rotary Club of Sycamore.
All current Paul Harris recipients are reminded to wear their medallions and/or pins to mark the occasion, as we salute those who have earned their new or latest PHF awards by contributing to The Rotary Foundation.
Paul Harris Fellowship awards to be presented October 25th 2017-10-09 05:00:00Z 0
Wednesday, November 22nd -- Make-Up Session at Blumen Gardens:  In lieu of the regular meeting, we will have a make-up session at the usual time; attendance is optional, and those on hand will receive make-up credit.
Wednesday, November 29th -- "Season of Giving" Kickoff:  Featuring a presentation from Neilly Berger, the Sycamore School District's Homeless Liason; and information on Adopt a Family, the Sycamore Food Pantry, Goodfellows, Operation Warm and the Toys for Tots Collection.
Saturday, December 2nd -- Salvation Army Kettle Collection:  Rotarians will again spend a day manning one of the iconic Salvation Army red kettles to take in contributions for support of the needy during the holiday season.  Times and location will be announced shortly.
Wednesday, December 20th -- Sycamore Rotary Holiday Party:  Our annual holiday celebration will be held at Taxco Restaurant in downtown Sycamore, at the regular meeting time; please watch for further details.
Sunday, December 24th -- Goodfellows Gift Distribution:  Rotarians are invited to join other members of the public in bringing goodwill to those in need on Christmas Eve.  You are invited to come to Blumen Gardens at 8:00 a.m. that day to help deliver gifts on behalf of the Goodfellows.
Wednesday, December 27th -- Meeting cancelled:  Please enjoy the holiday season with your loved ones.
All other meetings will take place at the usual time and location.
Sycamore Rotary sets schedule for holiday season 2017-10-04 05:00:00Z 0
After a hiatus of several years, the Sycamore Rotary Club is bringing back the Steak Fry.
It will be held on Thursday, October 19th at Becker Park, located at 12710 Base Line Road in Kingston; there will be an evening of games, food and fun for all Sycamore Rotarians and their families.
If you plan to attend, please contact Don Clayberg at
Steak Fry to be held on Thursday, October 19th 2017-10-04 05:00:00Z 0
Representatives of DeKalb County's Court Appointed Special Advocates were on hand at the October 4th Rotary Club meeting, urging those interested to volunteer their help children caught up in the court system.
CASA advocates are trained volunteers who advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children in juvenile court with the goal of finding them a safe, permanent home.  CASA advocates are the voice for abused and neglected children in court, providing the judge with the information necessary to make informed decisions for them. Becoming an advocate is the first step to having a positive impact on these children's lives.
Training begins in mid-October; you can apply online today at
CASA seeks persons interested in representing children's interests 2017-10-04 05:00:00Z 0
The next few weeks represent the busiest time of the year for the Rotary Club of Sycamore, and your help is needed with these upcoming events:
 -- Rotary Readers is now underway; every Thursday, Rotarians will meet with students at South Prairie Elementary School to share a story with them and tell them about their own occupations.  Books will be provided for each Rotarian, to be donated afterward to the library
 -- Sycamore Kids Work Day is open to all Sycamore residents and their children; families are encouraged to come downtown on Saturday, October 14th and help clean up in advance of the Pumpkin Festival
 -- Dictionary Distribution will be held on Wednesday, October 18th; Rotarians will deliver new dictionaries to all the 3rd graders at each of the local elementary schools
 -- The Pumpkin Festival Pancake Breakfast will be held on Saturday, October 28th; sign-up sheets will soon be made available, for all those willing to help
 -- Make a Difference DKC will be held at the Suter Company from November 9th through the 12th; the Rotary Club will be taking a shift on the morning of November 11th, helping to pack food for distribution by Feed My Starving Children
 -- Also upcoming, on dates to be announced, are the Operation Warm coat distribution, the Salvation Army kettle collection, the Toys for Tots toy drive, Adopt a Family and the Holiday Party.
Sycamore Rotary gears up for busy autumn season 2017-09-27 05:00:00Z 0
It's been several years since the Sycamore Rotary Club hosted its annual Steak Fry -- and a survey on interest in Rotary Fellowship events shows that it's the event Rotarians miss the most.
Don Clayberg reported to the Club at its September 27th meeting that 75% of the members surveyed want this event to return, preferably during its traditional autumn time frame.  The Steak Fry was rolled in with the Installation Dinner several years ago; members indicate they want to see it return as a stand-alone event, and Don says they'll try to get it on the schedule for this year.
Also of interest to the Rotary Club was a joint picnic with the DeKalb and Kishwaukee Sunrise Rotary Clubs; that's a potential springtime project, along with a proposed tree-planting be held in conjunction with the Sycamore Park District. 
Fellowship survey says Rotary Club wants the Steak Fry back 2017-09-27 05:00:00Z 0
Basketball players know how difficult it can be to first achieve success, and then sustain it; but NIU women's basketball head coach Lisa Carlsen says she's confident that her squad can build on last season's accomplishments...because they've been brought together off the court, as well as on it.
NIU ended its season with an appearance in the Mid-American Conference title game, and followed that up with its first post-season appearance since 1995 as they played in the Women's NIT.  They now face a season which pits them against difficult in-state competition including Bradley and Loyola -- a total of six teams from Illinois in the early stages of the schedule.  On top of that, they have the usual opponents in their conference schedule, including Central Michigan -- the one team Carlsen has yet to defeat.
But more important than the on-court quest is the bonding which takes place off the court; Carlsen says Northern Illinois has always evoked a special team ethos, one which stretches back to the Jane Albright era.  The team also came together to help two of their players, both of whom joined Carlsen at Rotary's September 27th meeting -- Renee Sladek, who lost a parent early in her NIU career; and Paulina Castro, who was diagnosed late last year with Hodgkin's lymphoma...but is now cancer-free.
The team opens its season at home on November 4th against Benedictine; they also have two scheduled tournaments, at Texas-San Antonio at Thanksgiving time, and at the Puerto Rico Classic in December -- although due to Hurricane Maria, the latter is now in question.  MAC play begins December 30th at Miami of Ohio.
Guest Speaker: Lisa Carlsen 2017-09-27 05:00:00Z 0
We are once again projecting the End Polio Now logo on the front of the DeKalb County Courthouse the weekend prior to Pumpkin Festival, in observance of this worldwide campaign.
The projected EPN logo will be visible from 6:00 p.m. on Friday, October 20th through Wednesday, October 25th; this will include Tuesday, October 24th, which is World Polio Day. 
This has become an annual tradition for the Rotary Club of Sycamore; the projection is made possible with the assistance of DeKalb County Facilities Director Jim Scheffers, and Upstaging, Inc.
End Polio Now logo appears on DeKalb County Courthouse 2017-09-21 05:00:00Z 0

John and Cheryl Countryman tell us that their granddaughter Emma, her family and friends will take part in the in the Ron Santo Walk for the Cure for Juvenile Diabetes; it will be held in Warrenville on Sunday, October 1st.

Emma has suffered from type 1 diabetes since she was 4. She is now 13, and her life has improved with the creation of new devices like the monitor she wears to alert her of high and low in blood sugar.

Team Emma has established an online site that allows you to donate directly; click on this link to go to that site. If you would rather mail a check, payable to JDRF, they will make sure it goes to Team Emma's credit. Their mailing address is: 571 Brant Circle, DeKalb, IL 60115


Local couple seeks support for team in JDRF Walk 2017-09-20 05:00:00Z 0

The Rotary Club offers its condolences to Rotarian Larry Berke, on the passing of his brother -- former DeKalb Chief of Police Don Berke.  A full obituary can be seen here.

In Memoriam: Donald Berke 2017-09-20 05:00:00Z 0
When Jim Gerry became acquainted with a Kenyan man who started his own charitable organization from the ground up, it inspired him to lead other students in doing so; and even after his retirement from the Illinois Math and Science Academy in Aurora, he continued to press for the realization of a dream -- to give students the chance to start their own businesses, while helping those in need in other parts of the world.
Gerry was one of the driving forces behind IN2@IMSA, a business incubator which gives students the opportunity to test their skills in the real world.  The advent of microbusinesses, which give smaller entrepreneurs the chance to grow and expand via internet sales, has been a boon to the economy in many underdeveloped African nations. 
Right now, seven different start-up companies are being operated by a total of 15 IMSA students from IN2; two of these budding entrepreneurs were on hand at the September 20th meeting:
 -- Eden Gorevoy (right) helped start up Kisumu Krafts, a business which sells handmade African crafts on line as well as in street markets. Nearly all of the participants are women, who often face discrimination or unfair treatment when dealing with employers; this company gives them control over their operations, as well as the opportunity to expand beyond their limited local economies.
 -- Sol Hwangbo (left) launched EnlightENT, which seeks to give badly-needed training to potential entrepreneurs; college in Kenya is out of reach for those who aren't in the upper class, and the courses they can take by way of this on-line university gives potential businesspersons a leg up on launching their own companies.
Guest Speaker: Jim Gerry 2017-09-20 05:00:00Z 0
Students at South Prairie Elementary School in Sycamore will be getting the opportunity to enjoy reading, and to meet Rotarians who may inspire them in the future...with the launch of Rotary Readers.
This new project will get underway this fall, funded in part by a grant from Rotary District 6420; Rotarian Mark Spiegelhoff adapted this project from one run by the Quincy Rotary Club -- which has Rotarians come in weekly to read to students, discuss their careers, and get them excited about reading on their own.
One selected Rotarian will go to South Prairie every Thursday at 9:45 a.m. to meet with students; each one will have two books -- one will be selected for reading to the class, and both will be donated to the school library.
Basic education and literacy is one of the primary goals of Rotary, and our club expects to meet this objective through this project; our thanks to Mark for being the inspiration for this effort.
Rotarian Mark Spiegelhoff introduces Rotary Readers literacy project 2017-09-20 05:00:00Z 0
The Rotary Club of Sycamore's first Operation Warm fundraising drive has shattered expectations; with a modest goal of $1,200 to purchase coats for children in need in the Sycamore School District, Rotary has collected over $2,000 from various organizations and private donors.
By far the largest donation came from the Turning Back Time Car Show, held each July in downtown Sycamore; the organization opted to donate $1,000 towards Operation Warm, with committee member and new Rotarian Michael DeVito (left) presenting that check to the Rotary Club at its September 20th meeting.  That, coupled with a $200 donation from his own company, MyInsuranceGuy, was by itself enough to meet the Club's goal.  (Receiving the donation are Rotary Club President Eric Jones [center] and Rotarian Don Clayberg, one of the organizers of the project.)
But the donations didn't end there; the Rotary Club has received nearly $900 from other sources, including $250 from the Chuck Criswell Memorial Fund.  Other contributors have given by way of the club's fundraising page, located at
The Rotary Club will now turn its attention to ordering coats in various sizes, and preparing for the distribution; that is expected to occur sometime in November, at a time and location to be announced.
Donations for Rotary's Operation Warm far in excess of goal 2017-09-20 05:00:00Z 0
Sycamore H.S. alumna Sarah Fischer took her real-life experience battling cancer, and adapted it into a she's been trying to get produced for years.  Now she's in the running for a crowdfunding contest, which could provide her with the monies needed to begin her production.
Fischer's mother Tammy appeared at the September 13th Rotary Club meeting, urging members to consider backing her production. The crowdfunding site Seed&Spark will provide $25,000 to the winning entry; she says the more likes she gets on her fundraising page, the better her chances of qualifying for the grant.
"Other Almosts" tells the story of Emma, a college junior who is forced to take medical leave when she learns she is going blind. Emma reconnects with friends in her hometown, each of whom is going through their own struggles.  Sycamore would be the setting for the film, with production in 2018 around the time of the Pumpkin Festival.
Anyone interested in helping Sarah with her production can go to her page at
Aspiring filmmaker seeks help with Sycamore-based production 2017-09-13 05:00:00Z 0
Tyler Hull has been involved with many community service projects during his time at Sycamore High School; but he says his trip to a Native American reservation as part of a church mission made a major impression on him – reminding him of how fortunate he is, and how much he wants to provide help to those who need it.
The Sycamore Rotary Club’s September Student of the Month has been a member of the Interact Club for the past two years, is on the National Honor Society, has been on the football and track teams and has been on the Spartan Senate.
But his first trip to the reservation with Life Missions showed him how much people who have little must struggle each day…and how much delight the children there got from some of the simplest pleasures…taught him the value of serving others.
The Rotary Club has provided him with $100 for donation to the charity of his choice; he has selected the Gracie Center, which provides continuing education and employment opportunities for developmentally disabled persons from their location in Genoa.
Student of the Month: Tyler Hull 2017-09-13 05:00:00Z 0
Joe Ryan says the work that his team puts in at Sycamore High School is more important than the outcome – and that whatever the score, the lessons they learn about discipline and preparation are more important than the outcome of games.
As head football coach for the Spartans, Ryan has seen plenty of ups and downs in the past few years; it’s been three years since one of his teams has beaten DeKalb in their annual rivalry game, but last year’s team made it to the state semifinals in spite of early losses.
Ryan bristled at a newspaper description of last week’s loss as a “disappointment” – he says that while it can be disappointing to lose, no team which has put in the amount of work that his squad does each week to get ready for a game can be a disappointment to him. 
He says his players open their season with two-a-day practices, plus film and walk-through sessions; then once the school year begins, they have to spend two hours on the practice field each day…with weightlifting sessions mixed in…all to prepare for each week’s contest.
Guest Speaker: Joe Ryan 2017-09-13 05:00:00Z 0
Another Club Committee Meeting Day has been scheduled for Wednesday, October 4th; any and all club committees with pending business may use the time to meet and plan out their projects.
These Club committees are expected to meet on the following topics:
Service Projects -- Operation Warm, Salvation Army, Toys for Tots, Adopt-a-Family and other projects
Foundation and Grants -- Methods for encouraging member donations to polio specifically to meet the RI president’s and club goals
Fundraising -- Pancake Breakfast
Public Image -- Club brochures and other materials
Club Fellowship -- Steak Fry and other Rotary Club activities
Membership -- New Members Orientation Breakfast
New Generations -- To be determined
Club Committee Meeting Day set for October 4th 2017-09-11 05:00:00Z 0

Success didn't come easy for Dennis Barsema; he took a low-paying job out of college, carefully planned out a "road map" for his future, and -- in spite of several challenges along the way -- became a successful tech CEO.

Barsema says sticking to the plan he mapped out for himself was essential, especially after going through a divorce and a period where he was flat broke. He says having these goals in writing, and keeping them in mind even at his lowest, helped him to stay on course -- leading his company to one of the largest initial public offerings (IPO) of stock in American history.

He has since donated two buildings to the Northern Illinois campus, and taught in one of them on a regular basis; he founded a course in social entrepreneurship -- using business methods to deal with social concerns -- and NIU is now one of the few colleges in the country which offers this as a major.

Earlier this year, he was appointed to the NIU Board of Trustees; that meant giving up his teaching position, but he still sneaks back in to give the occasional inspire tomorrow's entrepreneurs to follow their own road map.


Guest Speaker: Dennis Barsema 2017-09-06 05:00:00Z 0
Many families of children in the Sycamore School District can’t afford coats for the upcoming winter; but Rotary plans to help them out – and needs the public’s help.
The Rotary Club of Sycamore and B-95 Radio are sponsoring Operation Warm, a fundraising drive to provide children with winter coats.  Rather than collect used or leftover coats, Operation Warm provides brand-new, specially-made coats for children of all ages.
Rotary’s goal is to raise at least $1,200, enough to buy 60 coats for children in District 427; these will be distributed to the recipient children at an event later this fall.
You can contribute to our fundraising webpage at, or by sending your donation to:
Operation Warm
PO Box 822431
Philadelphia, PA 19182-2431
(Please be sure to note that your contribution is for the Rotary Club of Sycamore, IL)
Sycamore Rotary launches Operation Warm coat fundraising drive 2017-08-31 05:00:00Z 0
Renae Wilkinson says her family is her greatest point of pride, and as she assimilates into the Rotary Club of Sycamore...she's hopeful that one of her daughters will also become a Rotarian.
She is currently a comptroller with DNA Communications, one of several finance-related jobs she's had over the years; she has five children, and seven grandchildren.
As a new Rotarian, Renae is looking to offer her assistance to any and all Club projects and efforts coming up in the next few months.
Classification: Renae Wilkinson 2017-08-31 05:00:00Z 0

Make a Difference DKC is again preparing for its annual food packing event on behalf of Feed My Starving Children...and Rotarians are being asked to help, by supporting their annual raffle or buying specially designed T-shirts.

Tickets are now being sold for $20 each, with $8 going back to the organization which sells the ticket; the grand prize is $10,000, to be drawn on November 12th at the conclusion of this year's food packing event.

If you would like to buy or sell raffle tickets, tickets are available now and at upcoming Rotary meetings; sales will continue through November 9th.

T-shirts for this year's Make a Difference DKC are also on sale; these shirts are designed by a local student, and cost $22 each. That will be enough to provide 100 meals for starving children (at $.22 per meal).

Shirts are available in adult S/M/LG/XL/XXL and youth M/L.

Volunteers will be needed for the food packing itself, to be held from Thursday, November 9th through Sunday, November 12th at The Suter Company in Sycamore. Our Rotary Club will again be sponsoring the event, and providing volunteers to help pack food for distribution to needy children in areas around the world.

Please contact Heidi Wright for more information at (815) 895-9186, or at   


Support Make a Difference DKC with raffle tickets, T-shirts 2017-08-29 05:00:00Z 0
Houston and southeastern Texas are now recovering from massive flooding, as a result of Hurricane Harvey -- some of the worst flooding the state, and the United States, has ever seen.
District 6420 PDG Kent Mallquist now lives in Texas, and he has put out the call for Rotarians to donate towards Harvey recovery efforts; you can go to this link for more information.
Shelter Box USA has also dispatched a team to coordinate relief efforts on the ground, and created a fund specifically to assist those affected by Harvey; you can find more information about how to donate at this link
Former District 6420 DG puts out call for help in Houston 2017-08-29 05:00:00Z 0
Update on District 6420's End Polio Now campaign 2017-08-28 05:00:00Z 0

While Rotary Clubs such as ours have been working on helping to bring fresh water to undeveloped areas of the world, few have shown interest in dealing with one of the most serious sources of poor health and hygiene in these same areas: the lack of proper toilet facilities.

Past District Governor Bob Newlon began traveling to Central America years ago to help with drilling and construction of new water wells; but he also saw a need in many communities for an alternative to poorly-maintained latrines. These can help spread a variety of diseases, and preventing the spread of communicable diseases is also one of Rotary International's primary goals.

So with the help of the Sycamore and Rockford Rotary Clubs, among others, he has ventured to Costa Rica to help with the installation of urine-diverting dry toilets (UDDT) in communities which have a clear need.

The towns that he's been to have open-pit toilets near schools that have gotten full with age; others are located perilously close to ground water, and in some cases botched drilling attempts have caused them to leak into the water table.

Bob recently returned from his most recent trip to Costa Rica, and plans to return in October in an effort to bring new facilities to other remote villages in need.


Guest Speaker: PDG Bob Newlon 2017-08-23 05:00:00Z 0

T-shirts for this year's Make a Difference DKC are now on sale; and as a welcome to our Rotary Club and to Sycamore, Rotarian Curt Lang (right) bought the first shirt for our new exchange student, Luca-Sophie Giese of Germany (center) from fellow Rotarian Heidi Wright.

These shirts are designed by a local student, and cost $22 each; that will be enough to provide 100 meals for starving children (at $.22 per meal).

Shirts are available in adult S/M/LG/XL/XXL and youth M/L.

You can order shirts through Heidi Wright; make checks out to Make A Difference DKC.


Make a Difference DKC T-shirts now on sale 2017-08-23 05:00:00Z 0
As the home club of District 6420 Governor Steve Kuhn, the Sycamore Rotary Club will be the hosts for next spring's District Conference -- and people are needed to help plan the event.
The event will be held at Faranda's in downtown DeKalb on Friday, April 27th and Saturday, April 28th; Friday will mostly involve meetings by the District Strategic Planning Committee, with a buffet dinner for the Rotary Foundation that evening.  Saturday will see the bulk of the events during the Conference, with guest speakers and presentations during the day...and a gala awards dinner that evening.
Right now, the club's Planning Committee needs more help; we are in search of a treasurer and/or registrar, to manage the money and registrations for the event.  Persons with connections to the Chamber of Commerce, the DeKalb County Convention and Visitors Bureau and other such entities are also welcome.  Rotarians will also be needed to work on the day of the event; they will be sought as we get closer to the event.
If you have any questions, please contact Steve for more information.
Rotarians needed to help with planning for District Conference 2017-08-21 05:00:00Z 0
While most people who didn't serve in Vietnam picture soldiers being dropped via helicopter and fighting their way through the jungle, the reality is that far more served in crucial roles that didn't take them into combat.  Rotarian Jim Buck was among those who worked behind the lines, during his tour of duty from 1969 to 1970.
Jim joined the Army for two years to avoid being drafted into the Marines (he didn't think he'd get over the wall on the obstacle course); he was assigned to serve as a Preventive Medicine Specialist, and trained to help prevent the spread of disease by treating water and spraying for mosquitoes.
He was stationed at Camp Viking on the South China Sea, spending much of his tour checking water to make sure it was properly chlorinated.  But in spite of his efforts, at least one soldier came down with hepatitis -- Jim himself.
He was sent to Cam Ranh Bay for recovery, but was well enough when he got there to be put on a work detail -- where he wound up working harder than he did with his own unit.
Jim says his tour in Vietnam was relatively pleasant and uneventful...and when he returned to the U.S.A. he didn't encounter the disrespect that so many other Vietnam veterans did.
Guest Speaker: James Buck 2017-08-21 05:00:00Z 0
Barry Rassin, of the Rotary Club of East Nassau, New Providence, Bahamas, is the selection of the Nominating Committee for President of Rotary International for 2018-19. He will be declared the president-elect on 1 September if no challenging candidates have been suggested.
Rassin’s nomination follows Sam F. Owori’s death in July, just two weeks into his term as Rotary International president-elect.
Rassin earned an MBA in health and hospital administration from the University of Florida and is the first fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives in the Bahamas. He recently retired after 37 years as president of Doctors Hospital Health System, where he continues to serve as an adviser.
A Rotarian since 1980, Rassin has served Rotary as director and is vice chair of The Rotary Foundation Board of Trustees. He was an RI training leader and the aide to 2015-16 RI President K.R. Ravindran.
Rassin received Rotary's highest honor, the Service Above Self Award, as well as other humanitarian awards for his work leading Rotary’s relief efforts in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake there. He and his wife, Esther, are Major Donors and Benefactors of The Rotary Foundation.
Barry Rassin new selection for R.I. President for 2018-19 2017-08-11 05:00:00Z 0
While living in Kenya, Teresa Wasonga sought to promote gender equity between students at all levels of education -- a difficult task in a tradition-bound society, which values boys above girls in most areas.  And when her efforts to find why fewer girls than boys were graduating from the country's high schools were met with indifference, she and her husband decided that they would make a difference.
She and Andrew Otieno are professors at Northern Illinois University, and he is a member of the Kishwaukee Sunrise Rotary; using land she owned in her home region, and after they took out a loan and sold one of their cars, construction began on a school which would be aimed at educating Kenyan girls...using the best available facilities and techniques.  From its humble start in 2009, the Jane Adeny Memorial School for Girls -- named for her mother -- has grown to accept nearly 150 students, and has seen 70% of its students qualify for university education -- well above the norm in Kenya.
The school not only provides a background in traditional subjects, but it also gives students practical training in farming, raising animals and starting their own micro-businesses.  The school is also putting up a new science building, after raising the money necessary to get a matching grant from a private donor.  And one of their graduates has brought the program full-circle, becoming a nursing student at NIU.
With the help of Diana Swanson (left, in photo) and other volunteers, the Friends of JAMS helps raise the funds necessary to cover the cost of scholarships for students there.  All high schools in Kenya require tuition, and many students can't afford both that and the basic necessities of daily life; but $800 provides a student with a full scholarship, as well as room and board, for a full year...and Friends of JAMS aims to provide as many students as possible with the financial backing they need to continue their education.
Featured Program: Jane Adeny Memorial School for Girls 2017-08-10 05:00:00Z 0

Make a Difference DKC is again preparing for its annual food packing event on behalf of Feed My Starving Children...and Rotarians are being asked to help, by supporting their annual raffle.

Tickets are now being sold for $20 each, with $8 going back to the organization which sells the ticket; the grand prize is $10,000, to be drawn on November 12th at the conclusion of this year's food packing event.

Volunteers will be needed for the food packing itself, to be held from Thursday, November 9th through Sunday, November 12th at The Suter Company in Sycamore. Our Rotary Club will again be sponsoring the event, and providing volunteers to help pack food for distribution to needy children in areas around the world.

If you would like to buy or sell raffle tickets, tickets are available now and at upcoming Rotary meetings; sales will continue through November 9th. Please contact Heidi Wright or more information.


Raffle tickets now on sale for Make a Difference DKC drawing 2017-08-09 05:00:00Z 0

We have a brand new badge box, to store all our Rotary Club IDs; but the design has a couple of minor changes you'll need to know about:

-- The lid of the box is detachable, so don't be alarmed if you see it sitting off to one side
-- The numbering system will be different; each row will begin with the lowest number at the FRONT (numbers 1, 21, 41, 61 and 81) and count towards the back. Please take care when removing your badge.

Also, please check the number on the back of your badge; if it is missing, worn out or unreadable, there are stickers located inside the box. Simply write your number on the sticker, and affix to the badge (be sure to remove the old sticker, if present).

And the old box has been donated to the Salvation Army, where hopefully it will find a new home.


Turn in your badge! New storage box available 2017-08-09 05:00:00Z 0
The Mount Carroll Rotary Club and Timber Lake Playhouse invites you to Rotary Night at TLP on Tuesday, August 15 for Little Shop of Horrors.  Join the members of the Executive Staff of Timber Lake Playhouse and the Mount Carroll Rotary Club members for Wine on the Deck behind the Administrative office across the street from the theatre before the show.
Little Shop of Horrors is the story of Seymour Krelborn, a lovesick clerk in Mushnik’s Skid Row Florist. He stumbles across a new breed of plant he names “Audrey II” – after his beloved, ditzy coworker. Over time, Seymour discovers Audrey II’s out of this world origins and appetite, and he must choose between love, fame and saving the world.
All Rotarians will receive the discounted rate of $20 per ticket ($17 for students and active military) for all members of their party.  Contact the Timber Lake Playhouse Box Office at (815) 244-2048 for tickets and visit the TLP website at for more information about the theatre.  Wine on the Deck begins at 6:45 and curtain time for Little Shop of Horrors is 7:30.
Mount Carroll Rotary hosts performance of "Little Shop of Horrors" 2017-08-09 05:00:00Z 0

A recurring problem with our club's e-mail system; messages sometimes bounce back, because certain servers filter out e-mails with multiple addresses.

If you haven't been getting messages from our Rotary Club, try submitting a private e-mail address rather than one to your business. Messages are more likely to get through.

And if you change your e-mail address, please be sure to let us know so you can continue receiving club communications.

Watch out for e-mail bounce -- update e-mails, use valid addresses 2017-08-09 05:00:00Z 0

A recurring problem with our club's e-mail system: messages sometimes bounce back, because certain servers filter out e-mails with multiple addresses.

If you haven't been getting messages from our Rotary Club, try submitting a private e-mail address rather than one to your business. Messages are more likely to get through.

And if you change your e-mail address, please be sure to let us know so you can continue receiving club communications.


Avoid e-mail bounce -- use valid addresses 2017-08-07 05:00:00Z 0

Curt Lang has spent the past few months making the transition from his seat on the Sycamore City Council to the Mayor's Office...and he says it's given him a new perspective on how well Sycamore is doing.

Curt gave the Rotary Club a photo montage tour of the city's businesses, from east to west, during the August 2nd meeting. He notes the many changes we've seen in just the past few years; a number of downtown businesses have changed hands, but most stores in the business district have tenants and remain open for business.

He says City Manager Brian Gregory has played an important role in Sycamore's business development, directing the design and landscape of the city to give it a consistent feel. And in a time when people are more mobile, and quicker to judge the look of a town...he says he has yet to meet anyone who has expressed a desire to get away from Sycamore.


Guest Speaker: Curt Lang 2017-08-02 05:00:00Z 0
The Sycamore Rotary Club welcomes Renae Wilkinson as its newest member; she was officially sworn in at the July 26th meeting, and is already planning on taking an active role in Rotary.
Renae works with DNA Communications, and was sponsored by its founder and much-traveled Sycamore Rotarian Ahmed Kamel; she is scheduled to give her official Classification Speech at the August 30th Rotary meeting.
New Member: Renae Wilkinson 2017-08-02 05:00:00Z 0
The final opening for our Committee Chairs for this year has been filled; Don Clayberg has agreed to oversee the Fundraising Committee for 2017-18.
As a Past President and Past District Governor, Don's credentials speak for themselves; he will be in charge of overseeing events including the Pancake Breakfast, Hula-for-Loota, the weekly raffle and fines.
The committee will also set fundraising targets, identify new fundraising activities and coordinate existing fundraisers.
Don Clayberg to serve as Fundraising Chair for coming year 2017-08-02 05:00:00Z 0
Shelter Box USA continues its mission to help provide the victims of disasters here and abroad with the materials they need to recover; and the organization continues to grow, as it now has a dedicated employee serving the Chicago region -- helping to spread its message to Rotary and the world beyond.
Amanda Runge from Shelter Box says they continue their traditional work, shipping their now-iconic green boxes to disaster sites around the world.  The centerpiece remains the tent, and they now offer several different styles...including one for the tropics, and a winterized version for cold-weather sites.  The boxes are now packed according to the demands of a particular disaster site; they can be tailored with water filtration and mosquito netting, scarves and hats, stoves, kitchen utensils and any other equipment needed for the locations they get sent to.
And they also provide Shelter Kits -- smaller packages with basic tools and materials, allowing disaster survivors whose homes remain at least partially intact to do repair work and remain where they live.
The Sycamore Rotary Club donates annually to Shelter Box, providing $1,000 to help outfit a complete Box for deployment to a disaster scene somewhere in the world; more information can be found at
Guest Speaker: Amanda Runge 2017-07-26 05:00:00Z 0
Several important Rotary Club positions still need to be filled for the coming year, including:
Club Photographer -- If you have a still or video camera, we can use your help in documenting Rotary meetings, projects or special events. If you are interested, please contact Brian Adams at or Paul Barnaby at
Sergeants-at-Arms -- A Sergeant-at-Arms is responsible for helping with setting up meeting rooms, storing and transporting Club property, and monitoring safety at all Rotary events. Help is needed before all Club meetings; please contact Brian Adams at for more information
Volunteers still needed to fill key Rotary Club positions 2017-07-24 05:00:00Z 0

On Saturday, September 9, 2017, Andy Grammer will be headlining a concert at River's Edge in Aurora to help raise awareness for SUDC. 

Joining Grammer will be musicians Ali Morgan and Marty Casey; gates open at 6 p.m. with the show beginning at 7 p.m.

Answers4SUDC is an innovative charitable effort to honor the memory of Emmett Frank while raising awareness and funds toward research and family support for Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood.

By hosting Answers4SUDC, his parents Jeff and Kristy Frank hope to someday prevent the tragedy of Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood (SUDC) so that no other family might have to endure this loss. Proceeds benefit the SUDC Foundation.

Tickets are available at


Andy Grammer to headline Answers4SUDC concert in September 2017-07-20 05:00:00Z 0
Rotarians are needed to sign up for delivery of Meals on Wheels during the month of August; our Rotary Club will again be delivering meals in Sycamore, on behalf of the Voluntary Action Center.
Sign up for a weekday route between August 1st and August 31st; one or two people are needed each day.  Meals should be picked up at VAC's headquarters on Bethany Road at about 10:30 each morning; delivery should take about an hour.
A sign-up sheet will be available at Wednesday meetings during the month of July; for details, please contact Dave Miller at (630) 251-0722 or at
Sign up on Wednesdays for Meals on Wheels in August 2017-07-19 05:00:00Z 0
A new Facebook discussion group for Sycamore Rotarians and the community at large has officially come on line.
This group is open to the general public, as well as Rotarians; it will serve as a venue for discussion about what Rotary does, how you can get Rotary to help you or your organization, and how you can become a member.
For our regular Facebook page, go to:
Sycamore Rotary launches new Facebook discussion group 2017-07-19 05:00:00Z 0
Sycamore Rotarians took time out from their usual meeting to begin planning for the upcoming year; new Club President Eric Jones plans to make time available during regular meetings, so that Rotarians can discuss committee business without having to convene on their own time.
Plans call for having seven overarching committees; each will oversee projects under their purview, and will only set up dedicated committees for projects which require one.  The idea is to make all projects operate in a cohesive manner, rather than spreading responsibilities among varying subcommittees with scattered oversight.  All reports to the Board of Directors would go through the appropriate committee chair.
The assigned Committee Chairs for the upcoming year:
New Generations -- Julie Sgarlata
Service Projects -- Ray Dembinski
Membership -- Sally Bruch
Foundation and Grants -- Paul Stromborg
Public Image -- Brian Adams
Club Fellowship -- Chad Jewett
Fundraising -- to be determined
Please direct any questions concerning a particular project or area of concern to the appropriate Committee Chair.
Committee plans laid out for 2017-18 Rotary year 2017-07-19 05:00:00Z 0
Rotary International President-Elect Sam Owori died suddenly on July 13th, due to complications from surgery.
Sam was a member of the Rotary Club of Kampala, Uganda for 38 years, and was scheduled to serve as RI President in 2018-19.  During his time in Rotary, the number of clubs in Uganda swelled from 9 to 89; he also served as CEO of the Institute of Corporate Governance for Uganda.
A complete story on Owori's life can be seen at this link:
Rotary International mourns sudden death of PE Sam Owori 2017-07-17 05:00:00Z 0
The following Sycamore Rotarians achieved 100% Attendance for the 2016-17 Rotary year:
Brian Adams, Jim Bowers, Sally Bruch, Jim Buck, Paul Callighan, Don Clayberg, Ray Dembinski, Sue Emberson, Jeff Frank, Bob Hammon, Jeff Jacobson, Doug Johnson, Eric Jones, Michele Jurkovic, Steve Kuhn, Dave McCann, Riley Oncken, Julie Sgarlata, Pat Shafer, Jim Stoddard, Paul Stromborg, Lavarre Uhlken, Bob Wildenradt
note -- Doug Johnson joined on April 1st
100% Attendance honorees will be recognized at the August 30th Rotary Club meeting.
If you believe you have been left off this list in error, you may appeal to Club Secretary Sally Bruch by July 31st.
100% Attendance list for 2016-17 released 2017-07-13 05:00:00Z 0
The July 19th Rotary Club meeting will be devoted to laying the foundation for our main committees this year; seven tables will be set up as stations for those interested in one or more of these areas, and Rotarians will be able to move between each one to offer their assistance, ideas or proposals for this year.
The seven main areas of interest are:
New Generations: Responsible for our youth-centered activities including Interact, Early Act, and Youth Exchange. The committee chair would be responsible for ensuring that each of these areas has a representative that is active and will help our club establish guidelines regarding the club’s role in supporting these activities (both from a financial standpoint as well as a volunteer and logistical standpoint).
Foundation and Grants: Responsible for our charitable giving activities including Polio Plus, the Annual Fund, and scholarship functions. The committee chair would be responsible for maintaining the data on the club’s giving and overseeing grants and scholarships.
Service Projects: Responsible for the charitable works performed by the club. The committee chair would be responsible for big picture planning, maintaining a list of the service opportunities during the club year and working with specific project representatives to make sure that projects are supported and maintained.
Fundraising: Previously part of Service Projects, the fundraising committee would be responsible for coordinating the various fundraisers held throughout the year including the Pancake Breakfast, Hoola-4-Loota, the weekly raffle, and fines. The committee chair would be responsible for setting fundraising targets, identifying new fundraising activities, and coordinating existing fundraisers.
Public Image: Responsible for the marketing and public awareness aspects of the club. The committee chair would be responsible for ensuring that the website and Facebook page are maintained and that club materials adhere to Rotary guidelines.
Club Fellowship: Responsible for the social aspects of the club. This would include the golf outing, holiday party, and other social events to be created by the committee.
Membership: Responsible for new member recruitment, training, and retention.
Club committees to convene during July 19th Rotary meeting 2017-07-12 05:00:00Z 0
Sycamore's entry into the Rotary year 2017-18 began with our official Club Assembly on July 12th; this year's theme is "Making a Difference", and one of the goals for Rotary around the world is to increase its volunteerism during the coming year.
New Club President Eric Jones says Rotary wants its clubs to keep track of how much they do to serve the community; we will be doing our best to track what each Rotarian does, be it official Rotary projects and functions or efforts they undertake privately.  He want all Rotarians to keep him up to date on any community service they perform, and to do what they can to make Rotary a visible part of it.
Another main objective is membership; like many other service organizations, our membership is down and the need to bring in younger blood is clear.  Our goals are to net at least two new members, two women members and/or two members under 40.  Towards that end, we are again urging all Rotarians to seek out new members to invite into our fold; this will involve more public visibility on our part, and perhaps the launch of a satellite club aimed at a younger generation of members.
And we don't want to neglect our own membership at the same time; Eric hopes to have more social gatherings, preferably ones which include families in an effort to expand the Rotary experience to include them.
Volunteer hours, recruiting among goals for Sycamore Rotary this year 2017-07-12 05:00:00Z 0
"Hello."  This shy greeting every time Marcela addressed our Club practically became a catchphrase for her, during her year with us in Sycamore.  But now, we find ourselves giving her a shy "goodbye."
Marcela will be returning to her home in Brazil the week of July 17th, ending her year as an exchange student here in Sycamore.  During her time in the U.S. she got to see parts of the country during Rotary-sponsored tours and youth exchange meetings...and also got to experience American high school culture, everything from Homecoming to prom.
While she's looking forward to going home, Marcela says a part of her is now American -- and that she now thinks of herself as having two homes.
Our thanks and best wishes to Marcela on her trip home, and for all she's done for us during her year in Sycamore.
Sycamore Rotary bids a fond, reluctant farewell to exchange student 2017-07-12 05:00:00Z 0
Rotarians are needed to sign up for delivery of Meals on Wheels during the month of August; our Rotary Club will again be delivering meals in Sycamore, on behalf of the Voluntary Action Center.
Sign up for a weekday route between August 1st and August 31st; one or two people are needed each day.  Meals should be picked up at VAC's headquarters on Bethany Road at about 10:30 each morning; delivery should take about an hour.
A sign-up sheet will be available at Wednesday meetings during the month of July; for details, please contact Dave Miller at (630) 251-0722 or at
Sign up on Wednesdays for Meals on Wheels in August 2017-07-10 05:00:00Z 0

The new Rotary year will commence with two special meetings:

Our Club Assembly will be on Wednesday, July 12th; this will include an open discussion of goals and plans for this year, and our club's overall direction.

Then on Wednesday, July 19th we will set aside meeting time for club committees; assignments will be handed out by then, and any committee needing discussion time can do so during this meeting...instead of having to take up time afterwards.

Similar opportunities will be provided throughout the year.


2017-18 Rotary Year begins with special meetings in July 2017-07-06 05:00:00Z 0
As is customary, the Sycamore Rotary Club will be collecting donations for the annual Country Music Show school supply concert in DeKalb.
Rotarians are asked to bring supplies such as writing paper, notebooks, pencils, pens, crayons, glue, rulers, backpacks and other school items to the July 12th Rotary Club meeting.
These items will be donated during the ninth annual show, to be held on Sunday, July 16th at the Taylor Street Plaza High-rise at 507 East Taylor Street in DeKalb.
For more information, please contact Brian Adams at
Donations sought for annual school supply music concert 2017-07-06 05:00:00Z 0
1st Place: Mark Spiegelhoff, Chase Goodiell, Dan Gibble, Ted Strack
2nd Place: Gary Evans, Brian Gregory, Mark Borowicz, Laurie Borowicz
Highest Team Score: Sue Emberson, Ed Emberson, Mario Fontana, Nina Fontana
Longest Putt: Ray Dembinski
Longest Drive-Men: Ed Emberson
Longest Drive-Women: Sue Emberson
Closest to the Pin: Ralph Sherman
Results from 2017 Sycamore Rotary Club Golf Outing 2017-06-29 05:00:00Z 0
Due to the Independence Day holiday, and the lack of a regular Rotary Club meeting the preceding week, there will be no edition of The Spoke published on Tuesday, July 4th.
Publication will resume on Thursday, July 6th.
No Spoke on Independence Day 2017-06-29 05:00:00Z 0
Sycamore Rotarian Brian Adams has been named the recipient of the 2016-2017 John W. Ovitz, Jr. Rotarian of the Year Award.  He was officially presented with the award during the Installation Brunch on Sunday, June 25th at Faranda's in downtown DeKalb.
This award is named in honor of Dr. John Ovitz, who was the longest-serving Rotarian in the club's history.
Brian becomes the first two-time recipient of the award, as a recent rules change makes previous winners eligible after five years.
Brian Adams named recipient of John W. Ovitz, Jr. Award for 2017 2017-06-26 05:00:00Z 0
Steve Kuhn (left) and Eric Jones (right) were officially sworn in on Sunday, June 25th as District Governor and Club President, respectively, at a combined Installation Brunch at Faranda's in downtown DeKalb.
Steve received the oath from outgoing District Governor Scott Shore, while Eric was sworn by Sue Emberson as she completes her term as President.  Eric was also presented with the Home Club banner, denoting Sycamore as the home of the current District Governor; it will be displayed at all Rotary meetings throughout the coming year.
Steve Kuhn sworn as DG; Eric Jones takes over as President 2017-06-26 05:00:00Z 0
June 30th marks the official end of the Rotary year, and we will be finishing it with a the Sycamore Rotary stages two major celebrations.
On Sunday, June 25th, we will hold our official Installation Brunch at Faranda's; not only will Eric Jones be sworn in as our new Club President, but Steve Kuhn officially takes the oath as our new District Governor.  The day will also see the presentation of the John W. Ovitz, Jr. Rotarian of the Year Award.
Then on Wednesday, June 28th, the annual Sycamore Rotary Golf Outing will be held at the Sycamore Golf Club; the day begins with a Make-up Session at 12:00 p.m. in the clubhouse...then the four-man scramble golf event, beginning at 1 o'clock...and the day finishes with a post-outing dinner at 5:30 p.m.
The June 21st meeting marked the last one of the Rotary year, and the final one of Sue Emberson's term as Club President; all of us want to thank Sue for her service to our Club for this year, and to Rotary in the past and future.
Installation, Golf Outing highlight final week of Rotary year 2017-06-21 05:00:00Z 0
Rotary is indeed an international organization -- something Ahmed Kamel has apparently taken to heart, as he has spent nearly the last year and a half ranging far and wide in his efforts to develop a new business venture.
Ahmed has branched out from DNA Communications, his internet service company, into a completely different business; he is running Cashew Cows, a company which specializes in making an ice cream-like confection...using cashew milk, instead of cow's milk.  He says this product is not only healthier than regular ice cream, but it looks and tastes so much like the real thing that even professionals representing a major ice cream company couldn't tell the difference between his product and theirs.
To promote and expand production of his product, he's traveled all over the United States and into the Middle East; and so far, demand is outstripping supply -- so he hopes to be able to expand the production sites, and enlarge the company's footprint in those two key areas.
Ahmed was kind enough to step in as our guest speaker, after our previously-scheduled guest was unable to attend; Amanda Runge from Shelter Box USA has re-scheduled her visit for Wednesday, July 26th.
Reclassification Speech: Ahmed Kamel 2017-06-21 05:00:00Z 0
Rotary International has completed another convention, holding its annual gathering in Atlanta; for those who have never attended, these events are they give Rotarians a chance to meet their fellows from around the world, learn about the many projects and initiatives Rotary is involved in, and see how Rotary is helping to bring change to the world.
Incoming DG Steve Kuhn, and PDGs Bob Hammon and Don Clayberg, were among the attendees this year.  Highlights included the Rotary Foundation's 100th anniversary celebration, and contributions by the Rotarians on hand and from Bill Gates to the End Polio Now well as a presentation by actor and activist Ashton Kutcher, who expounded on the problem of slavery around the world -- much of it involving the exploitation of laborers, and the abduction of children and young adults into sex slavery.
Along with the serious work that Rotary undertakes, all three noted the companionship they felt with other Rotarians from around the world; this included some from Mozambique, where we have been working with the local Rotary Club to help provide fresh water wells.  And the common bond of Rotary enabled everyone on hand to make fast friends...which helps to spread the unity of Rotary around the world.
Rotarians share memories of Rotary International Convention in Atlanta 2017-06-21 05:00:00Z 0
Musician Andy Grammer will be the headline performer at the inaugural Answers4SUDC fundraising concert, to be held on Saturday, September 9th at RiverEdge Park in Aurora.
This is the continuation of "Answers for Emmett" launched by Rotarian Jeff Frank in honor of his son; for information on tickets to this concert, go to or contact
Andy Grammer to headline Answers4SUDC Concert in September 2017-06-20 05:00:00Z 0
Rotarian Bob Wildenradt featured in billboard campaign in Wisconsin 2017-06-20 05:00:00Z 0
Your last chance to sign up for this year’s Sycamore Rotary Golf Outing on June 28th is at this Wednesday's meeting.
There are tee times still available; the fee is $38 unless you are a season pass holder at Sycamore Park District Golf Club, in which case you pay $16.
Lunch is at Noon, during the Make-up Session at the Club House: $10
Steak Dinner will be served after the last foursome --around 5:30pm--at the Club House: $25
If you sign up for golf you get lunch; if you prefer not to golf, but want to come for lunch or dinner, there are separate sign-up sheets for each of those.  Guests are always welcome.
And if you want to boost your attendance, remember:  each event counts as a make-up, so you can get three in one day.
Please contact Dan Gibble for further details.
Deadline to sign up for Sycamore Rotary Golf Outing is June 21st 2017-06-19 05:00:00Z 0
Due to the Independence Day weekend, the Club Assembly originally scheduled for Wednesday, July 5th and the Committee Meetings Day set for Wednesday, July 12th have each been pushed back one week.
Indications are that few Rotarians will be available for the Club Assembly on July 5th; so that event will instead be held the following week on Wednesday, July 12th.  Rotary International requires each club to hold an assembly at least once a year, for planning purposes; others will be scheduled throughout the coming year.
The July 5th meeting is still scheduled to go on as planned.
Consequently, the Committee Meetings Day will be pushed back a week to Wednesday, July 19th.  Committees will be encouraged to meet at that time to begin planning their various projects; similar opportunities will be offered at meetings throughout the year, so that committees can meet without having to take time outside of Rotary meetings.
Club Assembly, Committee Meetings Day rescheduled due to July 4th 2017-06-16 05:00:00Z 0

Rotarians Keith and Moluie Graham from the Rotary Club of Antigua Sundown were our guests at the June 14th Rotary meeting. They were in town to visit their son and daughter-in-law, Keith and Michelle; both couples are members of the Salvation Army, and the younger Grahams are with the DeKalb County Corps.

The Grahams mentioned some of the projects their own Rotary Club has done; the Club works with autistic children, providing donations to two local schools and to a tennis program for children with intellectual disabilities. They also operated a Pediatric Village, preparing children for the school year by providing free health screenings.

You can find out more about the Rotary Club of Antigua Sundown at their club website:


Visiting Rotarians: Keith & Moluie Graham 2017-06-14 05:00:00Z 0

Chase Goodeill has been operating his own business in Dixon for the past few years, but decided to relocate to Sycamore in April of 2016...because his wife works in the area, and his job kept bringing him here.

Chase is the operator of Pest Control Consultants, which provides extermination services for homes, businesses and other commercial locations. He started it up after working for Orkin for several years; he's a native of Dixon, and members of his family are investors and/or employees of the firm.

Outside of work, he has coached basketball at locations including Sterling Christian, Amboy and Dixon H.S. He is now coaching at Cornerstone Christian Academy, where his children attend.

Chase says he was interested in joining Rotary because he wanted to get to know business people in the area, and in order to have the opportunity to give back to the community.


Classification Speech: Chase Goodeill 2017-06-14 05:00:00Z 0
Musician Andy Grammer will be the headline performer at the inaugural Answers4SUDC fundraising concert, to be held on Saturday, September 9th at RiverEdge Park in Aurora.
This is the continuation of "Answers for Emmett" launched by Rotarian Jeff Frank in honor of his son; tickets to this concert are now available, and Rotarians can take advantage of a special rate between now and June 20th. 
Follow the enclosed contact information for details:
Andy Grammer to headline Answers4SUDC concert September 9th 2017-06-13 05:00:00Z 0
Here are the Monthly Committee assignments for 2017-18 (first Rotarian listed is committee chair):
July – Board of Directors
August – Ben Swedberg, Lloyd Larson, Jim Buck, Julenne Davey, Dave McCann, Curt Lang
September – Brandon Diviak, Paul Michel, Bert Gray, Jeff Jacobson, Tim Carlson, Mario Fontana
October – Marcy Buick, Dave Andrews, Jim Schwarzbach, Dave Miller, Don Clayberg
November – Troy Oates, Kathy Countryman, Pete Johnson, Julie Sgarlata, Fred Peltz, Chip Houdek
December – Bob Wildenradt, Brad Waller, Dan Gibble, Kathleen Merner, Steve Balster, Chase Goodeill
January – Heidi Wright, Paul Barnaby, Mark Borowicz, Chad Jewett, Jim Bowers, Gary Evans
February – Nicole Stuckert, Riley Oncken, Ahmed Kamel, Larry Berke, Brian Gregory
March – Paulette Renault, Dave Hamilton, Jeff Petersen, Doug Johnson, Barry Schrader
April – Paul Callighan, Bob Hammon, Suzanne Anderson, Sejal Patel, Paul Borek
May – Cliff Bottigliero, Mark Hilde, Rose Treml, Mark Spiegelhoff, Zac Sheedy, Jeff Frank
June – Jim Stoddard, Marijo Schwartz, Paul Stromborg, Jeff Keicher, Steve Kuhn
Monthly Committee assignments for 2017-18 2017-06-12 05:00:00Z 0
Sycamore Rotarians were among the many volunteers who helped support riders in the annual MS Tour de Farms bike-a-thon on Saturday, June 10th.
Rotarians manned a checkpoint and relief station at North School in Sycamore, providing riders with food, water and other assistance during the course of the day.  The Sycamore, Kishwaukee Sunrise and DeKalb Rotary Clubs came together to provide the manpower necessary for the checkpoint.
Riders came to the NIU Convocation Center on both Saturday and Sunday to begin their rides; they covered courses of varying lengths, most of which ran through the rural areas of DeKalb County.  Proceeds will go towards research and care for those with multiple sclerosis.
Sycamore Rotary joins in to help with MS Tour de Farms 2017-06-12 05:00:00Z 0
Jane Ovitz, the wife of late Sycamore Rotarian Dr. John Ovitz, dropped in prior to the June 7th meeting with a donation of $1,000 for Shelter Box USA.
Doc Ovitz was always a generous supporter of Shelter Box, and traditionally provided a donation at least once a year; the $1,000 provided will be enough to provide a fully-stocked Box for use at a disaster location somewhere in the world.
Shelter Box provides emergency shelter and supplies to survivors of disasters around the world; this Rotary-affiliated organization has responded to major disaster scenes for over 20 years.  Rotarian Brian Adams serves as our Club Liason to Shelter Box; we will be having a presentation on the program coming up at our June 21st meeting.
Rotary receives donation for Shelter Box USA from Jane Ovitz 2017-06-07 05:00:00Z 0
Sycamore Rotary meetings and events will be easier to find, thanks to a new sign obtained by the Club on June 7th.
The 3' x 2' sign designed by Banner Up Signs of Sycamore will be posted at the entrance to Blumen Gardens' parking lot on meeting days; the building can be a bit hard to find for visitors unfamiliar with the area...and the presence of this sign will not only help guide visitors to our meeting site, but remind the public that Rotary is here, and ready to serve.
The sign will also be available for use at all Sycamore Rotary-related events, helping to draw attention to our Club and the projects we do.
Sycamore Rotary makes its mark with new sign 2017-06-07 05:00:00Z 0

Paul Stromborg lived a bit of an adventurer's life, both during his time with the U.S. Air Force...and beforehand, when he sailed the Indian Ocean.

After graduating from NIU in 1964 with a degree in marine biology, Paul signed up for a research cruise; the sailing ship Te Vega (which was originally owned by Hermann Goering) took him to locations around the Indian Ocean from Africa to Singapore -- where he learned far more about history than the Euro-Western dates and developments he learned back in school.

He served in the Air Force during the late 1960's with the Strategic Air Command; after mustering out, he went to medical school at the University of Chicago and set up a practice in Sycamore with his father-in-law.

DeKalb and Sycamore each had their own hospitals then -- and the rivalry between the staff doctors at each was so intense, that they wouldn't even walk on the same side of the street with each other.

Paul re-enlisted in the late 1980's as a flight surgeon, and also became jet-qualified...learning the hard way about the physical effects of an 8-G barrel roll on the human body. He returned to the Sycamore area after his service was up, and worked at Kishwaukee Medical Associates until his retirement in 2014.


Reclassification Speech: Paul Stromborg 2017-06-07 05:00:00Z 0

Incoming Sycamore Rotary Club President Eric Jones plans to hit the ground running, as his term will begin with two events designed to get Rotarians focused on club goals for the coming year.

The first meeting of the 2017-2018 Rotary year on July 5th will be the annual Club Assembly; Rotary International requires all clubs to hold such an assembly each year, and this time will be used to go over objectives and strategies for the next twelve months.

Assemblies will be scheduled on a quarterly basis, and are intended to be interactive -- giving Rotarians the chance to discuss Club goals.

Then on July 12th, Rotarians will break into their individual committees and begin planning for upcoming projects and campaigns.  Eric plans to make time available during general Rotary Club meetings for committee planning sessions; this will enable Rotarians to conduct necessary committee business, without having to remain after a general meeting or convene at another time.

The Board of Directors will itself act as the July Program Committee, dealing with guest speakers and meeting planning; assignments for the remaining monthly committees, as well as other committees, are expected to be made in the coming weeks.


Rotary year to open in July with Club Assembly, committee meetings 2017-06-02 05:00:00Z 0

Malwina Bardoni says the Midwest Museum of Natural History is constantly changing its collection and evolving its layout, as it continues to target its main audience -- children interested in learning about nature and science.

As the new Executive Director for the MMNH, she notes recent changes to their layout; new kid-friendly signage on the main display floor, a redesigned children's Discovery Room and additional live animal displays are designed to hold the interest of children...whether they are on a field trip, or visiting during the summertime.

The Sycamore Rotary Club sponsors one of its display galleries, and the exhibits there are rotated on a regular basis. Currently on display is one dealing with water -- the creatures who live in it, the people who depend on it and the steps needed to maintain a clean water supply.

Their annual Rockin' for the Reptiles fundraiser will be held on Saturday, June 24th in the city lot on Somonauk Street, across from Shawn's; other events are scheduled for the summertime, in an effort to give kids a chance to enjoy the museum experience even while out of school.


Guest Speaker: Malwina Bardoni 2017-05-31 05:00:00Z 0
We are saddened to learn of the passing of Past District Governor Jim Prather, of Rock Island, who served as DG in 2008-2009. PDG Jim passed away on Saturday, May 27, 2017. Our condolences go out to Sherry and family, and to the Quad Cities Rotary Club of which he was a proud member.
DG Scott Shore says Jim was 100% Rotary, 100% friend, a Major Donor to Rotary Foundation, a Veteran, and an inspiration to many of us. He will be greatly missed. 
Visitation will be on Thursday June 1, from 3-7 p.m. at the Wheelan-Pressly Funeral Home at 3030 7th Avenue, Rock Island. PDGs and District friends will gather at 6:00 pm. to proceed through the visitation line together.  
The funeral will be on Friday June 2, at 10:00 at the Two Rivers United Methodist Church, 1820 5th Ave., Rock Island. 
PDG Jim Prather passes away at 74 2017-05-30 05:00:00Z 0
Electronic ballots have been sent out, for selection of this year's recipient of the John W. Ovitz, Jr. Rotarian of the Year Award.
Rotarians received ballots by e-mail, and paper ballots will be made available at the June 14th Rotary Club meeting; voting formally closes at 1:00 p.m. on the 14th.  This year's winner will be announced at the Installation Brunch for DG Steve Kuhn (at Faranda's on Sunday, June 25th).
Due to a recent rule change, previous recipients are eligible again after five years. 
Ballots will be tabulated by current President Sue Emberson, President-Elect Eric Jones and 2016 Ovitz Award winner Julie Sgarlata.  Contact Sue if you have any questions about the selection procedure.
Voting now open for Ovitz Award 2017-05-25 05:00:00Z 0

Pamela Duffy (left) and Victoria Guthrie are nurses at Kishwaukee Community Hospital, who discussed the day-to-day challenges that the staff faces -- from an expanded staff, and an ever-expanding patient population.

Nursing is even more crucial to the medical profession than ever; more hospitals are seeing a greater number of patients, and more medical specialties have created a demand for nurses with expertise in those fields of medicine.

KCH is now affiliated with Northwestern Medicine; while this brings the resources of a larger medical network to their door, it also means there are more records, divisions and personnel to keep track of. KCH will eventually be integrated into the NH health network, which will enable users at all of its affiliated medical centers to relay information quickly.

Even with the extra demands, they note that nurses are even more dedicated to their profession, and that there are a wider variety of educational opportunities open to them -- even doctorates.


Guest Speakers: Pamela Duffy & Victoria Guthrie 2017-05-24 05:00:00Z 0
Sycamore Rotarians Eric Jones, Jeff Keicher and Curt Lang finished out Rotarians at Work for this year with our final project.
On Saturday, May 20th they helped set up these bicycles for the Youth Service Bureau's annual auction, at their offices in downtown DeKalb.
Sycamore Rotary helps YSB with bicycle auction 2017-05-24 05:00:00Z 0

Renee McGuan's husband Joe was one of the driving forces behind bringing The Wall That Heals to DeKalb County, and she is continuing the effort in his name.

This traveling replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was brought to the county in 1997 and 2007; it's scheduled to return to Sycamore Park from July 13-16, and veterans organizations are joining with other local groups and residents to prepare for its arrival.

Renee says her husband never spoke about his time in Vietnam; but when they first saw the original memorial in Washington, DC in the early 1990's, he was moved to tears at the sight.

Joe later died of medical complications, directly related to his time in Vietnam; later this year, she will be returning to Washington to help with the dedication of a virtual memorial in honor of those who returned stateside, but died later as a result of their service.

For the display in July, the biggest need is for volunteers; anyone wanting to devote their time in planning, working at the site, giving funds or sharing info on social media should sign up at their website --


Guest Speaker: Renee McGuan 2017-05-17 05:00:00Z 0
The Sycamore Rotary Club's annual Golf Outing will be held on Wednesday, June 28th at the Sycamore Golf Course; it will be preceded by a make-up session at 12:00 p.m. at the clubhouse. Four-man scramble play begins at 1:00; the round will be followed by dinner at the clubhouse.
Each event that day counts as a separate make-up, so if you spend the whole day at the course you'll receive three make-ups -- and that may be useful, if you are close to making perfect attendance for 2016-17. 
Rotarians not playing must sign up separately for the pre- and post-golf events; golfers will automatically be included for the 12:00 make-up session, but must indicate on the sign-up sheet if they will be staying for dinner afterwards.
Since the traditional Installation of Officers will be held the previous Sunday during DG Steve Kuhn's Installation Brunch, the post-golf event will be strictly a dinner.
If you have questions, please contact Dan Gibble for details.
Sign up now for the Sycamore Rotary Golf Outing on June 28th 2017-05-16 05:00:00Z 0
This year's edition of Rotarians at Work Day saw volunteers at our three main project sites -- the Pay it Forward House, Rotary Park at Sycamore Lake and Hopkins Park with Kishwaukee SRA; about a dozen Rotarians from Sycamore were joined by their compatriots from DeKalb and Kishwaukee Sunrise, performing service projects for these local not-for-profit agencies.
Our collection drive for the Amazing Grace Organization was also completed, as two boxes of items were donated for use in care packages going to cancer patients.  Our Rotary Club also donated over $300 to Amazing Grace during Give DeKalb County on Thursday, May 4th.  Grace Waller founded the organization, after her own experience with cancer treatment; she says they raised over $2,000 during Give DeKalb County, and have taken in over $85,000 total with other fundraisers across the country; she thanked the Rotary Club for its help.
One project remains for 2017; volunteers are still welcome to join in with the Youth Service Bureau's annual bicycle auction on Saturday, May 20th.  It will be from 7:00 to 11:00 a.m. at their offices in downtown DeKalb (next door to Faranda's); assistance with set-up and movement of bicycles will be needed.
And for the future, we will be looking at splitting up the projects among the three area Rotary Clubs, giving each responsibility for at least one; on top of that, DGE Steve Kuhn plans to urge other Rotary Clubs in District 6420 to have their own Rotarians at Work Day next spring, to spread the project across northern Illinois.
Rotarians at Work finishes up with Amazing Grace, YSB project 2017-05-10 05:00:00Z 0
Exchange student Marcela Silva is preparing to wrap up her stay in Sycamore, and is looking forward to returning to her native Brazil; but she says while this has just been a year in her lifetime, she has lived a lifetime in one year.
Marcela comes from the city of Vicosa, in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais; a number of mines are located around the state, but Vicosa itself is known for its open-air markets and for the university...where her parents are professors of environmental engineering.
She showed the Rotary Club pictures of her school -- which is located above a large supermarket.  She commutes almost daily by bus, which apparently is not a pleasant experience in Brazil due to crowding.  Her family has a large farm, with several horses; a pony born shortly before she left is now almost fully-grown.
Marcela often has to dispel myths about Brazil, or sometimes confirm them (the country is truly fanatical about soccer); but one stereotype is that much of the country is poor.  She does note that expensive buildings can often be found alongside slums in many Brazilian cities...and she hopes that her experience in Rotary can be put to use, helping to change that in the years to come.
Guest Speaker: Marcela Silva 2017-05-10 05:00:00Z 0
Rotarians from Sycamore, DeKalb and Kishwaukee Sunrise fanned out on Saturday, May 6th for our annual service day; they were at locations including the Pay it Forward House, Rotary Park at Sycamore Lake and Kishwaukee Special Recreation Association at Hopkins Park. 
Each site saw Rotarians go to work; be it gardening, weeding or cleaning up, we gave these not-for-profit organizations the assistance they need, to do work they can't with limited resources and staff.
We are also winding down our collection for the Amazing Grace Organization; founder Grace Waller is scheduled to be at our Rotary Meeting on May 10th, to receive the items donated. 
And one more project remains, for those unable to help out on the 6th; the Youth Service Bureau is holding its Bicycle Auction on Saturday, May 20th at its offices in downtown DeKalb.  Anyone wishing to help out between 7:00 and 11:00 a.m. that day should contact Brian Adams for more information.
Sights from Rotarians at Work Day -- May 6th, 2017 2017-05-08 05:00:00Z 0
From a young age, Jack Mizgalski loved to play ball; he says he would spend plenty of time rolling balls along the floor, back and forth with his parents -- so much so, that they say he all but ignored his other toys.
That translated into a love of sports, which has led to him being a standout for the Sycamore Spartans; he has spent almost all of his four years at Sycamore High School with the baseball and basketball teams, serving as captain for each and racking up regional and all-conference honors.
He has also excelled in the classroom, placing in the top 25 of the Academic Honor Roll and receiving advanced placement in calculus.  Jack has also served on the Student Council, is a member of the National Honor Society and has been with the Business Academy for the past two years.
Jack also volunteers his time with Feed My Starving Children, and with a youth basketball camp; he plans to attend Wisconsin-La Crosse in the fall, to major in Business with a focus on either management or economics.
In recognition of his accomplishments, the Sycamore Rotary Club has provided $100 for donation to the charity of his choice; he has selected the youth sports scholarship program at the Kishwaukee Y, enabling children whose families can't otherwise afford the YMCA fees to participate in sports.
Due to a last-minute change in the team's schedule, NIU Baseball Coach Mike Kunigonis was unable to appear as our guest speaker at the May 3rd meeting; we hope to have him back with us at a future date.
Student of the Month: Jack Mizgalski 2017-05-03 05:00:00Z 0

Just days before this year's Rotarians at Work Day, the 2016 edition of the project was recognized as the District 6420 Club Project of the Year. Project chairman Brian Adams (center) receives the award from DG Elect Steve Kuhn (left) and Jeff Keicher.

The Sycamore Rotary Club also received the awards for Best Website and Best Use of Social Media; Adams also received an Honorable Mention as the District Club Officer of the Year, as the club's Sergeant at Arms.

The Rock Falls Rotary Club shares the Club Project of the Year Award, for its End Polio Now Walk.


At the District 6420 Conference, PDG Bob Hammon was again selected to represent the District at the upcoming Council of Legislation for Rotary International; this body convenes every three years, to propose and consider additions to Rotary's bylaws and operating procedures followed by Rotary Clubs around the well as RI itself.

Hammon was appointed during the annual District 6420 Conference at Starved Rock State Park; PDGs Elise Cadigan and Shannon Scheffel were chosen as alternate delegates to the COL.


Sycamore Rotary project, electronic platforms honored by District 6420 2017-05-03 05:00:00Z 0
Rotarians are being asked to offer their time on Saturday, June 10th, to assist with the MS Bike Tour rest stop in Sycamore.
Sycamore Rotarians will be manning the stop at North School from 9:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. that day.  Volunteers will set up the rest area, greet the riders as they check in, distribute water and other items to those riders and provide any other assistance needed.
A sign-up sheet will be passed around at upcoming Rotary Club meetings; shifts are from 9-12 noon, noon-3 p.m. and 3-6 p.m.  You can contact Ray Dembinski for more information.
Volunteers needed for MS Bike Tour on June 10th 2017-04-27 05:00:00Z 0
Kevin Poorten says there has been much misinformation concerning Northwestern Medicine/Kishwaukee Hospital's planned fitness center -- and he says it has different objectives than those of the adjacent Kishwaukee YMCA, whom the organization regards as an ally in its efforts.
Poorten outlined plans for the $46 million Wellness Center, now under construction on the northwest corner of the KCH campus. He says it will not just have a fitness element; it will integrate the workout and gymnasium areas with therapy and recovery programs offered by the hospital, tailored to helping patients with their post-medical treatment.
The center will also have hydrotherapy pools, physical therapists and additional medical offices...along with a conference center, and day care for users. While the primary focus is on patient treatment, Poorten says the general public will be able to utilize its services; memberships or as-needed usage tracks will be available.
Poorten also introduced Jay Anderson, who will be taking over his position as President of Kishwaukee Community Hospital as he moves into a new position with Northwestern Medicine.  Anderson will assume oversight of this project, and all of KCH's operations, beginning on May 1st.
Guest Speaker: Kevin Poorten 2017-04-27 05:00:00Z 0
These lucky Rotarians split the top prize of $3,000 at the Sycamore Rotary Club's 20th annual Hula-for-Loota fundraiser:
(Left-right) Riley Oncken, Jim Stoddard (on behalf of Dave Leifheit), Michele Jurkovic, Char Johnson, Sue Emberson and Paul Borek.
In the background is Paul Michel, who once again spent weeks getting the project ready and who conducted the draw-down.  Our thanks to him and the rest of the committee, to Diann's Catering from Tom & Jerry's, and to the staff at Chapel in the Pines for another successful event.  (All proceeds will go to the Rotary Club's scholarship fund.)
Six winners split pot at 2017 Hula-for-Loota 2017-04-21 05:00:00Z 0

Sycamore H.S. art teacher Katherine Katz (right), along with student Morgana Gandsey, came to the April 19th meeting in advance of that evening's Empty Bowls fundraising sale for the Sycamore Food Pantry.

Students at the high school made over 200 bowls during art class; these were sold at $10 apiece, with proceeds going to the pantry at Sycamore United Methodist Church.

To jump-start the sale, they brought a sampling of bowls to be auctioned off at the meeting; they took in over $300 for the sale of just a half-dozen bowls. It was so successful, that Katz says they may incorporate an auction into next year's sale.

Empty Bowls auction starts off fundraiser for Sycamore Food Pantry 2017-04-21 05:00:00Z 0
Necessities for Comfort 
*desk lamps (fluorescent lights can cause headaches)
*Biotène mouthwash (for mouth sores)
*hard candy/mints (to counter taste changes)
*air fresheners (to deodorize the room)
*inspirational décor (to revive the room)
*fleece pillowcases/blankets (for comfort and warmth)
*fun socks/slippers/hats/scarves (for warmth)
*comfortable clothes/zip-up sweatshirts (for comfort and warmth with port access)
*snacks/beverages/gift cards to local restaurants (to eliminate the need for hospital food)
*stuffed animals
*portable speaker for the room
*sporting events
*coloring books (child or adult, depending on age)
*materials for easy/packable crafts
*beads/yarn for bracelets
*yarn for knitting/crocheting
*makeup and nail polish
*board games
*crossword puzzles/Sudoku/mind games
*sport memorabilia
Suggested items for donation to Amazing Grace 2017-04-20 05:00:00Z 0
The Fargo Hotel in downtown Sycamore has undergone a transformation, thanks to the work of developer John Pappas and Ralph Crafton; but the latter told our Rotary Club at its April 19th meeting that upgrading the building wasn't easy.
He says their projects usually involve creating a building from the ground up; but with the Fargo, they had a mandate to maintain as much of the current structure as they could, and had to make what were for them some unusual changes to their regular procedures. 
They had to deal with an older building with its wiring and piping already in place; much of the water and electric controls were located in inaccessible areas of the building, and they had to be moved to more convenient locations while being brought up to modern standards.  Workers also had to rebuild the interior and redesign the rooms from hotel to long-term well as converting the ground floor to retail space.
They also had to tear down unusable parts of the building, including the banquet hall (the former meeting place for the Sycamore Rotary Club) and the private home built directly behind the main hotel.
But the additional effort paid off; Crafton says they held one open house to show potential tenants what the refurbished building had to offer -- and the apartments sold out in just one day.  The retail space was also quickly snapped up.
Crafton says they'll now be turning their efforts to the former Otto's building in downtown DeKalb; unlike this project, they will raze the main building and start from scratch.
Guest Speaker: Ralph Crafton 2017-04-19 05:00:00Z 0
An art project by students at Sycamore High School will be used to benefit the Sycamore Food Pantry...and Rotarians are invited to help out, during the April 19th meeting.
Over 150 bowls have been hand-made by students in the SHS art program; some of them will be on display, and Rotarians will have the opportunity to bid on them...with proceeds going to the Pantry.
This will serve as a prelude to a sale in the school cafeteria; dozens of these bowls will be available for purchase at $10 each, in a sale to be conducted from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. that evening.
Go to this link for more information on this project.
Bowls to be auctioned at Rotary meeting for Sycamore Food Pantry 2017-04-14 05:00:00Z 0
Please join us for brunch on Sunday, June 25, 2017 for the installation of our new District Governor, Steve Kuhn.  The event will be held from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Faranda's, 302 Grove Street in DeKalb.
The event will also feature the installation of Eric Jones as President of the Sycamore Rotary Club, and the announcement of this year's recipient of the John W. Ovitz, Jr. Rotarian of the Year Award.
Cost is $30.00 per person; the deadline to register is Monday, June 19th.  Reservations must be made in advance; no payments will be accepted at the door.
To register, please contact Sue Emberson at
Send payments to:
     Sycamore Rotary Club
     P.O. Box 332
     Sycamore, IL  60178
Rotarians invited to installation for DG Steve Kuhn, President Eric Jones 2017-04-13 05:00:00Z 0
Sign-up sheets will be going around at all upcoming Rotary Club meetings, as we seek volunteers to help out with our Rotarians at Work Day projects.
You'll be needed on Saturday, May 6th from 9:00 a.m. until noon at our work sites -- the Pay it Forward House, Rotary Park at Sycamore Lake, and the Kishwaukee SRA office at Hopkins Park in DeKalb.
If you're unable to join us that day, we now have an additional volunteer opportunity available; the Youth Service Bureau is seeking assistance with their annual Bike Auction on Saturday, May 20th.  Their offices are located in downtown DeKalb, next to Faranda's; help will be needed starting at 7:00 a.m. 
We are also collecting items for the Amazing Grace Organization.  This not-for-profit agency collects items for placement in care packages to cancer patients; Interact has set up collection boxes on the Sycamore H.S. campus, at Country Insurance or at Spex Expressions.
Rotarians are invited to donate items at any participating location, or at the Rotary meetings on May 3 and May 10.
Volunteers, donations needed for Rotarians at Work Day 2017-04-12 05:00:00Z 0
Gilbert Sebenste, chief meteorologist at NIU, spoke about severe weather in this area, some history, and what NIU does to ensure the safety of their people.
Even though Fairdale was hit with an EF-4 tornado two years ago, he says we are overdue for a tornado locally since the average time between them is 25 to 30 years, and DeKalb hasn't had one for 50 or more years.
Steve Kuhn noted that the Rotary Foundation paid for the installation of a warning siren in Fairdale. Sebenste said that is effective only for people outside their houses, while an NOAA weather alert radio is important to have in your home.
He then explained that "straight-line" winds from 60 to 100 mph are the greatest threats we face here, plus hail storms. The most injuries come from the debris tossed about in storms, not just the wind itself.
Sebentse says that his position is being eliminated due to state budget cuts at NIU and after 19 years on the job he will be leaving in the next year.
Guest Speaker: Gilbert Sebentse 2017-04-12 05:00:00Z 0
District 6420 DGE Steve Kuhn (right) receives his Paul Harris Fellow plus-7 pin at the April 12th meeting; presenting it to him is Dr. Paul Stromborg, the Sycamore Rotary Club's Foundation Chairman.
DGE Steve Kuhn receives PHF plus-7 pin 2017-04-12 05:00:00Z 0
We are still looking for pictures of two Rotarians whose images aren't included in the official photo directory -- Dick Hagen, and Bill Scott (both are retired from active participation in the club, but remain honorary members). 
If you happen to have a picture of either one, or if you would like to update your own photo, please contact or send to Brian Adams at
The photo directory is accessible through your account on the club website.
Pictures still needed for Rotary photo directory 2017-04-12 05:00:00Z 0
New Rotarians Chase Goodeill (left) and Chad Jewett (center) were officially inducted into the Sycamore Rotary Club at its April 5th meeting. Rotarian Eric Jones (right) is their sponsor.
Chase is the owner of Pest Control Consultants, based in Dixon; he and his wife Rachel live here in Sycamore. Chad is President of CMJ Technologies; he lives in Sycamore along with his wife Tiffany.
Another member is expected to join our number shortly; Doug Johnson is transferring from the DeKalb Rotary Club to ours.  He is the current DeKalb County Clerk.
New Rotarians inducted at April 5th meeting 2017-04-06 05:00:00Z 0

Kimberly Sims is the Sycamore Rotary Club's Student of the Month for April; motivated by the death of her grandfather due to heart failure, she plans on becoming a cardiologist after graduating from Sycamore High School.

In recognition of her efforts, the Sycamore Rotary Club has provided her with $100 for donation to the charity of her choice; she has selected Laurie Children's Hospital in Chicago, which specializes in infant and child heart conditions.


April Student of the Month: Kimberly Sims 2017-04-05 05:00:00Z 0

Give DeKalb County goes live on May 4th, and dozens of local not-for-profit agencies hope to benefit from this day-long on line donation drive. Michelle Donahoe from the Sycamore History Museum told the Rotary Club about plans for this year's event.

Donors can go to the site at from midnight to midnight on May 4th, and donate to the local charity of their choice. Participating agencies will also receive a percentage of a bonus pool, based on how much they collect that day.

Last year, a computer problem with their vendor knocked their site off line from about noon to 8 p.m. -- the prime hours for donations. But this time around, they are using a new vendor which will make their campaign its sole project for the day; they have multiple contingency plans ready, in case any other problems crop up.

And donors can also go to the DeKalb County Community Foundation's headquarters from 8:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. that day to give in person.


Guest Speaker: Michelle Donahoe 2017-04-05 05:00:00Z 0
Dave Miller has been nominated to the open seat on the Sycamore Rotary Club's Board of Directors; he was formally nominated at the Rotary meeting on Wednesday, April 5th.
In keeping with the club's bylaws, he will remain as the nominee for 30 days; that means he would be eligible for election on or about May 10th.  He would officially begin his term at the end of June, after the installation of Eric Jones as our new Club President.
Dave would serve as Rotary Club President in 2020-21
Dave Miller nominated to Sycamore Rotary Board 2017-03-30 05:00:00Z 0
The advent of the Internet and electronic books has led many experts to sound the death knell for public libraries; but Sycamore Public Library Executive Director Jesse Butz says the opposite has occurred -- libraries are in more demand than ever.
Butz says even though there's a vast array of sources available on line, many readers still prefer good old-fashioned books; he says only 28% of readers use e-books, while 65% still prefer traditional books -- mainly because e-books are expensive, while the library still provides them for free.
Plus, a library can provide human contact and knowledge that a search engine can't; a saying in his business is that Google can find you a thousand answers, but a librarian will give you the right one.
It's the task of the library staff and Butz himself to keep up to date on the offerings they have, the options they can make available, and the needs of the building in terms of space and maintenance.  The Sycamore Library is among those provided by Andrew Carnegie; but while a renovation project some years back allowed them to expand and upgrade the building, the historic portion needs maintenance and updating.  Butz says he and the Library District Board constantly monitor the condition of their plant, as well as its space and equipment needs.
Guest Speaker: Jesse Butz 2017-03-29 05:00:00Z 0
Sign-up sheets will be going around at all upcoming Rotary Club meetings, as we seek volunteers to help out with our Rotarians at Work Day projects.
You'll be needed on Saturday, May 6th from 9:00 a.m. until noon at our work sites -- the Pay it Forward House, Rotary Park at Sycamore Lake, and the Kishwaukee SRA office at Hopkins Park in DeKalb.
If you're unable to join us that day, we are also collecting items for the Amazing Grace Organization.  This not-for-profit agency collects items for placement in care packages to cancer patients; Interact will be setting up collection boxes on the Sycamore H.S. campus, and would like to find other businesses around town to put boxes in.  If you would like to provide space at your business for a collection box, you may contact Interact through Ben Swedberg at
Rotarians are invited to donate items at any participating location, or at the Rotary meetings on April 26 and May 3; here is a list of items you can donate:
Sign up for Rotarians at Work Day projects, collection drive 2017-03-22 05:00:00Z 0
The number of elderly persons and those in need of assistance continues to grow, and it falls to Elder Care Services of DeKalb County to help out both the aged...and adults with ongoing medical problems who need supervision.
Tara Russo from Elder Care Services says they helped over 6,500 people in the county last year, with some level of assistance; they ensure that the persons under their care are monitored for signs of poor health, hunger, neglect and abuse.  The latter is especially troublesome; although they now have more legal remedies available, they still have to respect their clients' rights to self-determination -- and to protect themselves against abusers, some of whom have become more aggressive in recent years.
She also says that they attend to basic needs beyond health for some clients; it's not unusual for some to come up short on money at the end of the month, and face a difficult choice between eating and paying other bills.  But they now provide "Get Me to Monday" bags, with basic foodstuffs which can support clients over a weekend until the next pension or Social Security check comes in. 
The bags also contain a list of resources available to senior citizens and those in continual health care, giving them a place to turn if they need help with specific problems.
Guest Speaker: Tara Russo 2017-03-22 05:00:00Z 0
Rotary's annual taste of Hawaii returns on Thursday, April 20th as we host the annual Hula-for-Loota bash at Chapel in the Pines.
This annual night of fun will help raise monies for the Sycamore Rotary Club's scholarship fund; we will have the traditional draw-down raffle, with numbers being eliminated one by one...until we get down to the final number(s), and the winner of our grand prize of $3,000. 
We'll also have a 50/50 drawing, gift baskets and cash prizes for giveaway during the drawing, food and a cash bar for all participants.
Publication of The Spoke will be delayed until Friday, so that we can include the results from Hula-for-Loota
Hula-for-Loota set for Thursday night 2017-03-15 05:00:00Z 0
Once a year, Sycamore Rotarians roll up their sleeves and give back to the community by helping local not-for-profit agencies with crucial tasks -- jobs which their relatively small staffs could never get done, without our help. 
The annual Rotarians at Work Day is scheduled for Saturday, May 6th; volunteers from our Rotary Club will be joined by ones from DeKalb, Kishwaukee Sunrise and Interact at project sites including:
 -- Sycamore Pay it Forward House (gardening)
 -- Rotary Park (cleaning and weeding, as part of Park Pride Day)
 -- Kishwaukee Special Recreation Association (office work, shelter clean-up, interactive garden)
 -- Amazing Grace Organization (donation drive for cancer patients' care packages)  To be conducted by Sycamore High School Interact Club
Volunteers will be sought beginning the first week of April; further details will be released at that time.  For more information, please contact Brian Adams at any upcoming Rotary Club meeting.
Projects being readied for Rotarians at Work Day 2017-03-15 05:00:00Z 0
Officers from the Sycamore High School Interact Club reported on their annual winter fundraiser; proceeds from their Senior Formal will be donated to Feed My Starving Children, which their members annually support by their participation in the annual food packing project at The Suter Company. 
Members also say they plan to lend a hand during the upcoming Rotarians at Work Day; while RYLA falls on the same weekend, they will still be able to help out with the Amazing Grace item donation drive which will begin in April.
Pictured:  Libby Swedberg (left) and Brianna Jacobson, Co-Presidents of SHS Interact
Sycamore High School Interact donates to FMSC 2017-03-15 05:00:00Z 0
When couples have upwardly-mobile careers, often one has to follow when the other takes a new job in another city; but for Mark Borowicz, the move to the DeKalb/Sycamore area was relatively he found himself in a familiar lifestyle.
When his wife Laurie accepted the job of President of Kishwaukee College, he and their family had to relocate from their home in Wausau, Wisconsin; he says the transition wasn't difficult, because the people and the town felt familiar to them.  He had to find his own job in town, and eventually got his own position in academia -- working at Northern Illinois University.
Mark says his family has always made an effort to give back to the community wherever they've lived, and he chose Rotary because he believes our organization does just that at every level.  He says they've enjoyed their time so far in our area, and look forward to more years among us.
Classification Speech: Mark Borowicz 2017-03-15 05:00:00Z 0
Rose Treml says the Sycamore Chamber of Commerce is about more than promoting businesses; it takes the time to help those businesses grow, and seeks to turn the people who work for them into full participants in the community.
A key element is the chamber’s Leadership Academy; businesspersons of any age are encouraged to join, and take a monthly course which helps integrate them with Sycamore.  Participants are given important advice on how to develop their leadership skills, to partner with community leaders and to learn more about the Sycamore area.
As the chamber’s Executive Director, Treml says many people have come and gone in the community without any sense of Sycamore’s history, or the opportunity to see that they have the chance to build a future for themselves and their businesses.  So the Leadership Academy was developed, in an effort to get these persons to cultivate not only their skills…but their interest in the city’s future.
Each Academy course runs a full twelve months, and participants will be asked to do everything from attend City Council and School Board meetings to help out with community projects.  Some are already on the waiting list for the Class of 2018, but more are always welcome.
Guest Speaker: Rose Treml 2017-03-08 06:00:00Z 0

The Sycamore Middle School Interact Club was at the February 28th Park District Board meeting to present a check for $500 to the District's Leaf a Legacy campaign.

Club members say the group selected this cause because they knew it would benefit Sycamore's youth for many years. They raised the money by selling concessions at Middle School basketball games.

Leaf a Legacy supports the District's long-range plan ACTION 2020. This gift, along with many many others, has helped the campaign reach $918,000 of its $1 million goal.

(from the Sycamore Park District Facebook page)

Sycamore MS Interact donates to Park District's Leaf a Legacy 2017-03-07 06:00:00Z 0

Taryn Mathey may have been a bit taller than most girls her age, but when her parents first had her try out for youth basketball...she didn't take to the sport right away.

But she persisted, and by the time she made it to Sycamore High School she was accomplished enough to play on the Spartans' regional championship teams from 2015 and 2017. She also played on last fall's soccer squad, which wound up finishing 3rd in the IHSA state tournament.

Off the court and the field, Taryn has made the Academic Honor Roll four straight years; she is a National Honors Society member, and has volunteered with Big Sis, Little Sis and Feed My Starving well as a kids sports camp for basketball.

She plans on attending Northern Illinois University, to major in psychology or physical therapy.

In recognition of her achievements, Taryn Mathey has been chosen as the Sycamore Rotary Club's Student of the Month for March 2017; the Club has provided $100 for donation to the charity of her choice. She will be donating it to the Alzheimer's Association.

March Student of the Month: Taryn Mathey 2017-03-01 06:00:00Z 0

The DeKalb County Health Department has been serving the residents of our area for over 50 years, dealing with a number of public health and safety issues; but for the first time ever, the department is seeking help from the taxpayers to keep their operations going.

Michael Haines appeared at the March 1st Rotary Club meeting to discuss the upcoming April 4th referendum, asking voters to approve additional property taxes to go towards Health Department services.

He says that grant monies have been the main source of revenue for the Department for years; but those funds are declining, and they must now turn to the public for help.

In exchange for supporting the DCHD, the public sees a return in the various programs it supports -- maternal and child health; environmental health including restaurant, well and septic inspections; communicable disease prevention; and emergency preparedness in case of emergency...among other services.

Guest Speaker: Michael Haines 2017-03-01 06:00:00Z 0
The Sycamore Park District broke ground on its new Recreation Center this Tuesday, February 28th. Our Rotary Club was among the local entities which were instrumental in the creation of this project.
The Park District has been implementing its Action 2020 improvement plan, authorized by voters in a 2014 referendum.  The new center will have indoor facilities, an outdoor splash pad, a sledding hill and a dog park.  It's located on Airport Road, across from the main Sycamore Park.  Construction is now underway, and is expected to be finished by next spring.
Rotary Club President Sue Emberson (closest to camera) and Rotarian and Park District Executive Director Dan Gibble (far right) joined in the ceremony.
Rotary represented at Sycamore Rec Center groundbreaking 2017-03-01 06:00:00Z 0
As Ken Mundy prepares to finish out his final term as Mayor of Sycamore, he’s looking back on the progress the city has made over the last decade – becoming a more sophisticated, transparent and cost-efficient operation, and making a number of badly-needed improvements.
But Mayor Mundy says the city still faces challenges to its budget and infrastructure; this past Monday, the City Council authorized the inclusion of a line item on water bills to cover radium treatment costs.  Right now, the City pays an average of $310,000 a year under a ten-year agreement which is due to expire in August; when that runs out, the annual cost will more than double…to $647,000 a year or more.  So a radium fee will be needed, to help cover that expense and to prove to users and officials that the city is in compliance.
Mundy also says that the city will be making a stronger push to maintain its streets, thanks to an influx of monies.  Some city funds which have been put towards other purposes are being freed up, and over $3 million will be available to fix Sycamore streets.
In tribute to his years of service to the City of Sycamore, as both Treasurer and Mayor, the Sycamore Rotary Club presented Ken Mundy with a Paul Harris Fellowship.  Rotary Foundation Chairman Paul Stromborg presented him with the award, alongside City Manager and Sycamore Rotarian Brian Gregory.
Guest Speaker: Ken Mundy 2017-02-23 06:00:00Z 0
For years, 911 emergency operators have been forced to field calls for non-emergency matters...ranging from cats stuck in a tree, to requests for information on social service agencies.  This problem will soon go away, as DeKalb County becomes the latest region of Illinois to join in with an informational direct-dial service.
Kishwaukee United Way Executive Director Dawn Littlefield says the agency is spearheading the effort to get DeKalb County involved in the 211 phone answering system; this 24-hour hotline is manned with personnel who have access to a computer database, with information and referral numbers on a wide range of topics.  This service will be especially useful for poorer and elderly persons, who for one reason or another can't access the internet.
Littlefield is part of a campaign to get as many social service providers as possible to join in with them; their names and information will be compiled into a database, and will be constantly updated.  She says the goal is to launch 211 service in the county this spring.
Sponsors are also needed, to foot the cost of setting up this service; several individuals and organizations have already contributed, but more will be needed as 211 service gets off the ground.
Guest Speaker: Dawn Littlefield 2017-02-15 06:00:00Z 0
 - Hula-for-Loota will be held on Thursday, April 20th at Chapel in the Pines, from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m.
 - Our Rotary Club will be helping out with the Bike MS: Tour de Farms on June 10th; we will be asked to man a water station at North School. Two-hour shifts will be available, from 10:00 a.m. through 6:00 p.m.; see Ray Dembinski for more details.
 - The Installation Luncheon for District 6420 Governor Steve Kuhn will be held on Sunday, June 25th at Faranda's Banquet Center in downtown DeKalb; it will be from 12:00 to 3:00 p.m.  This will be the formal induction for DG Steve, as well as for incoming President Eric Jones and our other officers for the coming Rotary year.
 - With our officers' installation moved to that date, the annual Golf Outing on Wednesday, June 28th will conclude with a post-event dinner; no formal ceremonies will be held that evening.
Upcoming events scheduled for Sycamore Rotary 2017-02-09 06:00:00Z 0
Club President Sue Emberson presided over the annual Club Assembly at the February 8th meeting, and laid out goals which the Rotary Club set forth during its visioning process last September.
She outlined five goals that the Club should strive to reach by 2020:
 - Become the premium service club in Sycamore, with a membership of 100
 - Become actively engaged in meaningful leadership projects
 - Have $50,000 in funds available annually to support special projects
 - Have 100% of the members be Paul Harris Fellows
 - Hold an annual community service project
2017 Club Assembly 2017-02-09 06:00:00Z 0
Early registration is now open for this year's District 6420 Conference, to be held from April 28th-30th at Starved Rock State Park.
The weekend will feature a number of Rotary-related presentations, District awards and business, and a variety of events for Rotarians and their families.
Go to this link for more information about the Conference, or go here to register.  (Sign up early, and save $50 to $100!)
Registration open for District 6420 Conference, April 28-30 at Starved Rock 2017-02-02 06:00:00Z 0
A profile of our current delegation of exchange students from Argentina in the February 2nd edition of the Daily Chronicle, is on view at this link
Exchange Student Profile 2017-02-02 06:00:00Z 0

Trevor McDonald has racked up plenty of academic and club honors during his time at Sycamore High School...but throughout his time in academics, the stage has kept calling.

He has been involved in 20 different theater and musical productions, involving the Children's Community Theater and Stagecoach Players; he is currently preparing for an appearance in "Hairspray: The Musical" and has earned All-State honors in choir.

Trevor is ranked in the top 10 of his class, with a GPA of 4.4 out of 4.0; he has also participated in madrigals, jazz choir, community serve and National Honor Society.

In recognition of his accomplishments, the Sycamore Rotary Club is donating $100 to the charity of his choice; Trevor has selected the Children's Community Theater as the recipient.

Student of the Month: Trevor McDonald 2017-02-02 06:00:00Z 0

Opportunity House has provided alternative living, education and employment for persons with intellectual disabilities since the early 1960's; and the organization is taking its next big it moves to consolidate.

Bob Shipman from OH says its facilities are spread out among two different buildings; but beginning in February, everything will be moved under one roof at their site at 357 North California Street in Sycamore. The newly-expanded facility will have more space available for its industrial and educational uses.

These offerings are provided in conjunction with the communal and home-based living groups, as well as the social and recreational offerings provided (including Special Olympics).

An open house will be held at the new California Street expansion on Thursday, February 16th from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.

Guest Speaker: Bob Shipman, Opportunity House 2017-02-02 06:00:00Z 0
The Club Assembly originally scheduled for February 1st, has been moved back to February 8th.
All Rotarians are urged to attend the Club Assembly session, to get an update on the latest local and international Rotary initiatives.
Club Assembly switched to February 8th 2017-01-27 06:00:00Z 0
DGE Steve Kuhn is preparing for his term as District Governor, scheduled to begin in July; as part of the process, he attended the annual Rotary International Assembly in San Diego earlier this month.  And during the January 25th meeting, Steve received his seventh Paul Harris Fellow pin.
DGE Steve Kuhn preps for year; receives 7th Paul Harris pin 2017-01-27 06:00:00Z 0
A trio of exchange students from Argentina have arrived in Sycamore, where they will be staying with local families for the next few weeks; their main delegation arrived in Chicago over the weekend, and have fanned out to various high schools in the area.
Delegation of Argentine exchange students arrives in Sycamore 2017-01-27 06:00:00Z 0

NIU Executive Vice President and Provost Lisa Freeman discussed the state budget impasse and the decline in funding for higher education which has been going on for a decade now. Also, student enrollment has been dropping and is now below 20,000 students. This happened despite a four year tuition freeze.

She provided budget details to show the dire straits the university is in, along with all the other state schools. In FY 2015 when the state last passed a budget Northern received $91.1 million. But in FY 2016 they were hit with a 71 percent budget reduction when the state had no budget and allotted only $26.4 million in stopgap funding. In addition to this the state has not released the $15 million in capital development monies to continue renovation work on Stevens Hall and the whole project had to be shuttered. This resulted not only in lost jobs in the construction industry, but added cost to NIU to shut down and winterize the project, plus loss of planned facilities to students, staff and faculty.

For FY 2017 NIU received a partial year budget of $48.3 million and now that temporary six-month fix has expired and they don’t know when the state will come through with more funding. Freeman added that university employees have not had a raise since 2012.

She said Northern is trying to cope by eliminating under-used or outdated courses of study, adding new programs where there is a need, recruiting more foreign students, and not filling many faculty and staff positions when people leave.

Guest Speaker: NIU Provost Lisa Freeman 2017-01-27 06:00:00Z 0
The biggest piece of the Sycamore Fire Department's history is close to being fully restored; now, the volunteers who are helping to preserve a historic 1923 Stutz fire engine, want to finish the job by getting it running...and finding a suitable place to put it on display.
Retired Sycamore Fire Chief Gene Ege is one of the many current and former SFD members who have worked to restore the truck; it was in use until the mid-1950's, and kept by the department until it was auctioned off in 1966.  It passed through several owners, including a fire truck collector in Wisconsin who refused to sell it back when Ege discovered it there around 1986.  He died soon after, and it was acquired by another collector in Indiana; he offered to sell it back for $16,000 -- no less -- and Ege was joined by others in the community in raising the funds to bring the Stutz home.
That was in August 2001; 9/11, and Hurricane Katrina a few years later, caused fundraising efforts to languish, and the truck sat in storage.  But in 2013, the effort to put it back in its former state was renewed; Jerry Didio at Marty & Sons Bodyshop offered to do the work, and the newly-formed Sycamore Fire Preservation Co. Ltd. raised the monies needed to put it back into pristine conditon.
Ege says they are now concentrating on getting the engine running; it worked 15 years ago, so he believes it can be fixed.  They are also looking to find storage and display space at the Sycamore History Museum; the truck is currently put on display at public events two or three times a year.
Guest Speaker: Gene Ege 2017-01-18 00:00:00Z 0
Mark Borowicz has become the newest member of the Sycamore Rotary Club, as he was sworn in during the January 18th meeting.  He and his wife Laurie are both in the education field -- he at NIU, and she as President of Kishwaukee College. 
Mark becomes the first new member to be issued the new version of The Spoon; as is customary, he will have to carry it at all times until another member joins...and he can pass it on to them.
 -- Jeffrey Frank has qualified as a Paul Harris Fellow; he was presented with his pin and certificate during the meeting.
 -- The Rotarians at Work Day committee held its initial meeting of the year; this year's event will be held on Saturday, May 6th.  Full details will be given at an upcoming Rotary Club meeting.
Other Meeting Notes from January 18, 2017 2017-01-18 00:00:00Z 0
All Rotarians are invited to an Open House to mark the launch of the Answers 4 SUDC campaign for 2017; Drs. Jeff and Kristy Frank invite you to attend the event on Thursday, January 26th.
It will be held at the home of Shawn and Kelly Tilstra, located at 348 Merry Oaks Drive in Sycamore from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m.  A brief presentation will be given at 7 p.m.
This event, and this year's campaign, will be held to raise funds for research into Sudden Unexpected Death in Childhood; the website at will go live, and there will be more information on how to support the campaign, including:
 -- Philanthropic Support
 -- Social Media Campaign: #Cartwheels4SUDC
 -- Memorial Chinese Lantern Launch
 -- Special Concert Event on May 20th, 2017
Open house to launch Answers 4 SUDC campaign on January 26th 2017-01-16 00:00:00Z 0
Peggy Andrews, RDN, from Kish Health is an educator in their Diabetes Education Center. She addressed the Sycamore Rotary Club on January 11th, telling members about Type 2 Diabetes -- which is the most common form that affects 90 to 95 percent of the 29 million Americans who have diabetes.
Andrews says there are three major steps people can take to lower their risk of Type 2 diabetes: (1) Eat a balanced diet (at least half your plate should be veggies), maintain a healthy weight (men-watch your waistlines); (2) stay active physically (even 10 minutes a day helps) and (3) manage and reduce your stress level.
Andrews shared literature explaining the symptoms you may notice before you realize you have diabetes. They include frequent urination, always being thirsty, blurred vision, and tingling pain or numbness in hands or feet.  She also talked about some high risk factors--when your mother, father or sibling has a history of diabetes; if you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure; if female, have you ever been diagnosed with gestational diabetes.
She brought handouts for members to take a simple seven-question test to learn what risk level they are at. And Andrews also shared information on their free Healthy Living classes for next month. For more information, you can go to or call her at 815-748-8962 for more information.
Guest Speaker: Peggy Andrews 2017-01-12 00:00:00Z 0
The Rotarians at Work committee meeting has been postponed to January 18th, immediately following the regular Rotary Club meeting.  All committee members, as well as Rotarians who have joined within the past year, are invited to attend.
This year's event is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, May 6th; we may be returning to some of our previous project sites, as well as hold a week-long donation drive on behalf of the Amazing Grace Organization -- a local charity which provides care packages for cancer patients.
More details on these events will be provided as we prepare for this year's project; this is one of the major community service projects we stage during the spring, and all interested Rotarians are urged to take part.  For more information, please contact Brian Adams at
Rotarians at Work Committee meeting postponed to January 18th 2017-01-09 00:00:00Z 0
Jacob Madden has spent much of his spare time on school activities ranging from Student Council and National Honor Society, to track and cross-country; but one of his favorite memories involves his part-time job at the Sycamore Movie Theatre.
In receiving the Rotary Club's Student of the Month Award, Jacob recalls the effort it takes to keep the concession stand going...even as patrons flood the stand, and a constant supply of popcorn is needed.  He juggles his time there with classes, his duties as Senior Class President, and his time with the Art Club and Math Team.
Jacob attended the January 4th Rotary Club meeting with his parents Jennifer and Todd; he hopes to study Computer Science or Business at Penn, Northwestern or Reed College.
In recognition of his accomplishments, the Rotary Club has provided $100 for donation to the charity of his choice; Jacob has picked the Sycamore Education Foundation, in thanks for the time the school system has put in on providing him with the best education it can.
January Student of the Month: Jacob Madden 2017-01-04 00:00:00Z 0
Sycamore Fire Chief Pete Polarek says his department will be able to take advantage of a grant to upgrade the equipment and training it carry out its task of investigating fires.
During the January 4th Rotary Club meeting, Polarek said a $1,000 grant from Allstate Insurance will be put towards enhancing its fire investigation unit.  According to state law, the Fire Chief is responsible for investigation of all fires; but until recently, the department had a severe shortage of trained investigators and couldn't keep up with the influx of cases.
He says that in the last few years, the department has been able to train six more personnel with the skills necessary to find out the cause of a given fire; while many fires aren't that serious, and sometimes the cause can be obvious, there are other cases where it's not so clear -- and takes plenty of study by fire personnel before they can make a determination.
Polarek also discussed last month's fire at the historic Boynton House; he says while the fire was indeed serious, intervention by his department, assistance from many others and a bit of luck kept the blaze from causing even more damage.  He says it was fortunate that some of the doorways were closed, which slowed down the spread of the fire; on first glance, it appeared that the entire top floor would burn...but fire personnel were able to keep it from spreading, and saved over half of the historic mansion.
Guest Speaker: Pete Polarek 2017-01-04 00:00:00Z 0
Here is the official float representing The Rotary Foundation, in the annual Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena, CA on January 2nd.
(Image taken from NBC-TV)
Rotary at the Rose Bowl 2017-01-03 00:00:00Z 0
A Look Back at 2016 2016-12-22 00:00:00Z 0
The annual Christmas party returned to its afternoon format, and those on hand got to enjoy several special games…for a worthy cause, as all proceeds were to be donated to the Sycamore Food Pantry.
Rotarians were first invited to play the dice game Right-Left-Center; everyone brought five $1 bills, and played until one person at each table claimed all the monies.  Then the club played Pin the Nose on the Snowman; Steve Kuhn (pictured) managed to find the target, but Jeff Keicher was a little bit off – he pinned his onto Fred Peltz’s face!
Also featured was a mystery gift bag sale; Nancy Peltz got the most valuable one, with a $50 bill…and then she won the 50/50 drawing.  She generously donated back her winnings; and all told, the Club managed to raise $1,000 to give to the food pantry.
Rotary gets into holiday spirit for Sycamore Food Pantry 2016-12-22 00:00:00Z 0
The Sycamore Rotary Club will hold a Make-Up Session in lieu of its regularly-scheduled meeting on Wednesday, December 28th; as usual, it will be at Blumen Gardens at 11:45 a.m.
Attendance is optional, and no formal business will be conducted; those present will receive credit towards their annual attendance.
Holiday Make-Up Session scheduled for December 28th 2016-12-22 00:00:00Z 0
Children whose parents lose custody or are otherwise launched into the court system are powerless to make themselves heard, and often don't understand the events swirling around them.  But a dedicated volunteer service is available to represent these children, and have their needs brought to the attention of the court.
Court Appointed Special Advocates of DeKalb County consists of volunteers who act as the bridge between a child and the legal system; they get to know each child they represent, find out how the particular legal matter their parents or guardians is affecting them, and speak on behalf of the child before the bench.
Jill Olson (left) is Executive Director of CASA; she and President Ted Rosenow (right) are among those who stand with these children, who through no fault of their own find themselves embroiled in their family's legal issues.  While the State of Illinois and DCFS are responsible for the physical safety and care of these children, CASA volunteers handle the legal needs and the issues which led each child to this situation.
Olson says the cases they get vary, but they generally involve abusive parents or neglectful ones with substance abuse or behavioral problems.  She says she has encountered plenty of cases where a parent paid little attention to the needs of their child, who may have either a week family support system to help with their care -- or no system at all.
She and Rosenow say there is an ongoing need for volunteers to help; some are attorneys who take on these matters pro bono, but anyone with sufficient training and interest can advocate on behalf of a child.  Anyone seeking more information, or to offer their services, can call at (815) 895-2052...or go to
Featured Program: DeKalb County CASA 2016-12-14 00:00:00Z 0
Continuing with an annual tradition, the Sycamore Rotary Club is again holding its Adopt-a-Family project for 2016; with the help of the Sycamore School District, we have identified several families in need of help this Christmas...and are helping them to get the gifts and other items they need, to celebrate the holiday season.
The Rotary Club, The Suter Company and Rotarian Riley Oncken are each helping to sponsor families this Christmas; each family submitted a wish list, and Rotarians obtained the gifts they were looking for -- items they would otherwise be unable to afford on their own.  This year, we are also helping some individual students who have no parental support available for them; they would otherwise be on their own, without the help of Rotary and our sponsors.
All gifts are being submitted to the Sycamore School District, which for confidentiality reasons will deliver them to the recipients on our behalf.  Whoever they are out there, we hope that the families so helped will find some joy during this holiday season.
Sycamore Rotary again holds Adopt a Family project 2016-12-14 00:00:00Z 0
The Spoke will not be published during the week of December 26th, due to the holiday season; the only official Rotary Club function will be the make-up session on Wednesday, December 28th.
Publication will resume the week of January 2nd, 2017.
No publication of The Spoke the week of December 26th 2016-12-12 00:00:00Z 0
Like many recipients of the Student of the Month Award, Emani Brinkman has a busy life outside of school -- almost too busy.
She is not only active as a Sycamore High School student, but she takes part in plenty of extracurricular activities...ranging from Student Council, to the Spartan News, to National Honor Society.  She also has volunteered her time with the children's section of the Sycamore Public Library, with Spartan TV and with the in-school store Spartmart; and Emani has spent time as an events and communications worker for the school at home sporting events.
Once she graduates, she hopes to study journalism at either Syracuse, Minnesota or Carthage.  In recognition of her efforts, the Sycamore Rotary Club has donated $100 for the charity of her choice; she has chosen the March of Dimes, in honor of a cousin who died at a young age.
Student of the Month: Emani Brinkman 2016-12-07 00:00:00Z 0
Many students at our area high schools are interested in specialized careers, requiring tools and expertise which is beyond the range of most instructors...and most school district budgets.  To serve those students, the Kishwaukee Education Consortium was formed.
KEC combines the resources of five different school districts to provide these students with the background they need in various disciplines; 18 different courses of study, running the gamut from aviation to engineering, allow students to lay the foundation for specializing in their chosen field once they reach college and/or enter their specialty full-time.
Aspiring business students such as Jenee Carlson (pictured) and aspiring journalists including Emani Brinkman (see related article) have taken advantage of the opportunity to get intensive training in their chosen fields through KEC; the consortium has evolved and moved several times since its formation, finally settling into its own facility on the Kishwaukee College campus.
Bruce Griffith from KEC says the students who go there build up the college credit and the hands-on experience they need to get into their chosen university -- giving them opportunities that wouldn't be available through their home high schools.
Featured Program: Kishwaukee Education Consortium 2016-12-07 00:00:00Z 0
Sycamore Rotary helps with Salvation Army kettle collection 2016-12-06 00:00:00Z 0
It started as a one-time invitation to help out with his church's youth group, and grew into a full-time passion...which has spawned a new youth service organization, which helps the teens who volunteer for it as well as those in need around the country.
Joe Munro took over the youth service group at Sycamore United Methodist Church in 2008, and sought to expand it into something more; from an initial team of 13 students, it evolved into what's now known as Life Missions.  Each year, dozens of teens embark on a nine-month effort to raise funds, to cover the cost of their one-week trip to a U.S.-based service project.  Life Missions is open to any teen of high school age, including eighth graders who will be incoming freshmen by summertime; they need not be members of Sycamore UMC, nor even affiliated with any church.
The first mission was to the impoverished town of Cleveland, Georgia; since then, they've ranged afield to locations between there and Native American reservations out west, helping to fix homes, clean up grounds and provide for the needs of communities which require their help.  This year, 187 youths and 24 adults are signed up -- so many, that they've had to split up into two units; each group will go to Kissimmee, Florida to serve the area well as a camp for children dealing with cancer and other life-threatening diseases.
So many participants have gone through Life Missions that they've had to expand into an adult program; while the teen missions are strictly to United States destinations, the adult groups go abroad to places such as Jamaica, Belize and this year to Nicaragua.
Munro says the missions not only bond together youths who might otherwise not interact with each other, but it also serves to help them realize what they can achieve in their faith and in their everyday lives.
Guest Speaker: Joe Munro 2016-11-30 00:00:00Z 0
The Sycamore Rotary Club will have a Make-up Session, in lieu of its regular meeting on Wednesday, November 23rd.  Attendance is optional, and there will be no formal discussion of business; all members present will receive a make-up credit towards their attendance record.
The Thursday edition of The Spoke will not be published this week, due to the Thanksgiving holiday; publication will resume on Tuesday, November 29th.
Thanksgiving Make-up Session on Wednesday 2016-11-22 00:00:00Z 0
Our youth exchange committee is looking for host families for our long term exchange student (Marcela Silva) this well as future host families for next year's long term and short term exchange students.
The committee is asking for all Rotarians to think about their own circle of friends and associates as potential host families.  Families with high school aged students are preferred. 
Please forward your leads to Jeff Jacobson at
New host families sought for exchange students 2016-11-16 00:00:00Z 0

The Make A Difference DKC mobile pack event was a great success again this year.   Our goal was to pack $1.2 million meals, and ended up packing 1,251,936 meals with the help of over 5,019 local volunteers. 

This was the biggest mobile pack ever; extra volunteers and packing time were added so that more meals could be packed in response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Matthew in Haiti.  The mobile pack created enough meals to feed 3,429 children for an entire year.

Make a Difference DKC makes over 1 million meals for 2016 2016-11-16 00:00:00Z 0
The winners of this year's Pumpkin Festival baking contest at Sycamore Middle School were on hand for the November 16th meeting, with samples of their winning items.  Prizes for this year were awarded to:
Pumpkin Pie
1st Place -- Kameron Schroeder
2nd Place -- Madeline Lathrop
3rd Place -- Maxine Lathrop
Baked Pumpkin Goods
1st Place -- Maxine Lathrop
2nd Place -- Lily Rubeck
3rd Place -- Isaac Ward
Pumpkin Festival Bake-Off Winners 2016-11-16 00:00:00Z 0
The objectives of the Sycamore Food Pantry have changed over the years; it began as an emergency resource for persons with a short-term problem...but has since evolved into a necessary supplement for persons who haven't got enough income to meet their needs.
Marlin Anderson has worked with the pantry since shortly after his arrival in Sycamore; the pantry is operated by Sycamore United Methodist Church, and provides regular food service as part of the DeKalb County Food Security Council.
The items offered include the traditional canned goods donated through food drives; but the organization also receives fresh bread, dairy products, produce and frozen meats from local food retailers.  Grocers often wind up overstocked, and keeping food which isn't selling is unprofitable for them; so they participate in a local network with pantries including the one at Sycamore UMC, giving them fresh stock on a continuing basis.
And the pantry also obtains foods from the Northern Illinois Food Bank in Geneva; its distribution center provides large-scale storage and an ongoing supply line of trucks bringing supplies to pantries all over the region.
On top of all this, the pantry often has to make direct purchases from local stores; volunteers take donations and buy up the items which aren't available from other sources directly from the shelves.  Thanksgiving has increased the demand on the pantry, but its need is constant throughout the donations of food and money are always welcome.
Citizen of the Month: Marlin Anderson 2016-11-16 00:00:00Z 0
In the years since 9/11, members of Alpha Battery of the 2/122 Field Artillery in Sycamore have been sent to places around the world; but most of their deployments didn't necessarily involve the use of artillery.
SFC Edmond Schaffer has been with the battery since the mid 90's; he says in the days following 9/11, his unit wound up being sent to U.S. bases in Germany to act as a military police force, providing perimeter security to a base which previously had been open to the public and freely accessed.  The unit was later given actual MP training, and sent to Fort Carson in Colorado; they took the place of regular Army personnel who had been sent to Iraq or Afghanistan, continuing to secure the base against any possible threats.
The unit was also deployed to New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, providing security in the weeks following the city's devastation; they were eventually shipped out to Afghanistan, where they helped to train local police forces in security tactics to help them better deal with insurgents.  They even got to use the skills associated with their official MOS, as they took part in live artillery drills.
Schaffer says there's been a militia or National Guard unit associated with Sycamore since 1876; in the mid-1930's, the city was selected to be one of just a handful of cities to have a proper Armory constructed within its limits for training and storage purposes.  The Sycamore Armory has been in regular use since 1939, and the units base there have covered a variety of operating specialties...from infantry, to medical, to chemical warfare and now its current operations.
Guest Speaker: SFC Edmond Schaffer, Illinois Army National Guard 2016-11-09 00:00:00Z 0
The Sycamore Rotary Club will again be collecting toys from its members, for donation to Toys for Tots here in DeKalb County.
Rotarians are asked to bring a new, unwrapped toy to the meeting on December 7th; these will be turned over to the Salvation Army, which is working with the DeKalb County Marines to round up toys for children across DeKalb County and Northern Illinois.
Toys for Tots collection at December 7th Rotary Club meeting 2016-11-09 00:00:00Z 0
The annual Rotary Club Christmas Party returns to its traditional afternoon format; Rotarians are invited to attend the regularly-scheduled meeting on Wednesday, December 21st at Blumen Gardens, for an afternoon of entertainment, raffles and fun!
Members are encouraged to bring spouses, family and special guests.  Also, be sure to bring along at least six $1 the Christmas Party Committee has some special games planned.
All proceeds from this event will be donated to the Sycamore Food Pantry.
Rotary Christmas Party set for Wednesday, December 21st 2016-11-02 00:00:00Z 0
After nearly a quarter-century at Ideal Industries, Bed Swedberg decided to strike out in a new direction:  helping a Finland-based company which Ideal had worked with, in expanding its operations in the United States.
LEDiL provides lenses and other screening parts for LED light manufacturers; they develop these parts in conjunction with customers, and provide them for use in their commercial lighting systems.
Swedberg says many older-style lights are inefficient and wasteful; they spread their light in all directions, causing light pollution in populated areas and wasting energy.  He says LED lighting allows users to target the light towards the areas they want to illuminate, while reducing glare.
The companies they work with provide general light for a variety of commercial users; these can range from street lighting, to indoor decorative lights, to field lights for outdoor sports.  One of their biggest achievements is helping to provide nighttime illumination for the newly-constructed freeway leading from Rio de Janiero's airport to the downtown Olympic venues.
Joining Ben for his presentation was Rami Huovinen, CEO of LEDiL from their headquarters in Salo, Finland; he is a fellow Rotarian with the Aninkainen Rotary Club of Turku, Finland.  Huovinen (lower left) exchanged banners with Sycamore Rotary President Sue Emberson, presenting us with their unique free-standing banner.
Guest Speaker: Ben Swedberg 2016-11-02 00:00:00Z 0
Anna Clare McComb moved from the Indian Creek school district just in time to start as a freshman at Sycamore High School; she says she was nervous that first day in a strange school, with new teachers and unknown fellow students.  But she says she soon became a part of the school, fitting in with the rest of the student body; her record since then show just how far she's come.
Anna is currently in the top five in her class, and has been in a variety of music and artistic clubs and activities...ranging from choir, to dance.  She has also worked as a tutor with the National Honor Society, volunteered with the Technical Entertainment Crew and served with the Student Council.
She hopes to attend Iowa or Iowa State to study Civil Engineering.
In recognition of her achievements, the Sycamore Rotary Club has provided her with $100 for donation to the charity of her choice; she has selected the Sycamore VFW as the recipient.
Student of the Month: Anna McComb 2016-11-02 00:00:00Z 0
Scenes from the 2016 Rotary Pancake Breakfast 2016-10-31 00:00:00Z 0
The Rotary Clubs of Sycamore, DeKalb and Kishwaukee Sunrise are again joining forces to help with the annual Make a Difference DKC food packing event at The Suter Company.  The Rotary Clubs will be on site Saturday, November 12th from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m.
In addition, at the request of Feed My Starving Children an extra shift has been added on Saturday evening, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.  Extra food is needed for the survivors of the hurricane in Haiti, and more than the usual 5,000 volunteers are needed to help fulfill that need.
Make a Difference DKC food packing event for Rotary set 2016-10-26 00:00:00Z 0
The Sycamore Rotary Club will once again help raise funds for the Salvation Army; we will be manning the collection kettles outside the Jewel-Osco Store on Peace Road on Saturday, December 3rd from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m.
You can sign up at any Rotary Club meeting, or contact Dave Andrews for details.
Salvation Army Bell Ringing on Saturday, December 3rd 2016-10-26 00:00:00Z 0
The Sycamore Rotary Club will once again help raise funds for the Salvation Army; we will be manning the collection kettles outside the Jewel-Osco Store on Peace Road on Saturday, December 3rd from 9:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m.
You can sign up at any Rotary Club meeting, or contact Dave Andrews for details.
Salvation Army Bell Ringing on Saturday, December 3rd 2016-10-26 00:00:00Z 0
All but forgotten in the retelling of 9/11 is the story of what happened at the Pentagon, and how military and civilians joined forces to help the injured in the wake of the attack there.  For one Army veteran, his memories of the day are as vivid as ever...and he seeks to tell a new generation about what happened that day, so that they will understand and remember.
Lt. Col. Ryan Yantis, USA (Ret.) was a Public Affairs Office with the rank of Major that day; he says he understood immediately what was happening when he first learned that two planes had hit the World Trade Center -- that the Pentagon could be next.  He immediately told his assistant, nine months pregnant, to get out of the building and head home; then he followed an officer to an emergency meeting which had been called for the recently-remodeled Air Force portion of the building. 
But the officer didn't know where they were headed (it can be easy to get lost in the Pentagon), so Yantis headed back to his own office to get directions.  A lucky break, as it turned out -- the place where they had stopped to discuss where the meeting was supposed to be, was hit just minutes later.
He immediately had his staff evacuate the building; once assured they were safe at the rally point, he went back inside along with others to effect rescue operations -- getting people out of the danger areas, moving them to triage and otherwise helping in a still-dangerous situation.  Yantis dismisses the various conspiracy theories which have sprung up in the intervening 15 years; he saw for himself the injuries, the deaths and the people who risked their own lives to help.
And he says one aspect of the event which was overlooked was the days and weeks which followed at the Pentagon; while the building itself kept operating as best it could, hundreds of volunteers stayed on site to help with the recovery and clean-up effort.  Local restaurants and stores provided meals and materials at no charge, and the community at large pitched in to help out.
Yantis now spends his time with American Pride, Inc.  This non-profit organization is composed of 9/11 survivors, who travel around the country telling their story to civic groups, students and other organizations; he says anyone who was alive then is a 9/11 survivor, and it's up to those in close proximity to the attack sites to keep the memory alive for future generations.
Guest Speaker: Ryan Yantis 2016-10-26 00:00:00Z 0

Rotarian judges are needed for the annual Pumpkin Festival Baking Contest; four judges are needed at Sycamore Middle School, at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, October 28th.

Students will have entries in two divisions -- pies, and other baked goods; the winners will be recognized at the Rotary Club meeting on November 16th.

If you are interested in helping out, please contact Sue Emberson for more information.

Judges needed for Pumpkin Festival Baking Contest 2016-10-24 00:00:00Z 0
The Sycamore Rotary Club's annual Pancake Breakfast will be held on Saturday, October 29th; it will be from 7:00 to 11:00 a.m. at the Federated Church in Sycamore, during Pumpkin Festival weekend.
This annual fundraiser for the Rotary Club's scholarship and youth programs offers all-you-can-eat pancakes and sausage; admission is $5.00 per person.  Tickets are available from any Sycamore Rotarian, or at the door; the general public is invited.
Sycamore Rotary Club Pancake Breakfast set for October 29th 2016-10-19 00:00:00Z 0
Growing up in western Canada, Betty Mullins likely never suspected that baseball would lead her to America...and to a career in the game, during World War II.
As a youth in Regina, Saskatchewan, she was recruited to her high school softball team to play third base -- mainly because she was the only girl in school who could make the throw from third to first.  Unbeknownst to Betty, her skill got her noticed by a scout for the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, an all-women's league started by P.K. Wrigley to keep the game alive during the war...and kept on going for a few years after that.
Betty was eventually offered a chance to try out for the league; all players had to go through tryouts, whether they had experience or not, and weren't assured a spot on any team...let alone the one they may have played for the prior season.  She was a skilled third baseman, and wound up playing for three seasons in towns including South Bend, Grand Rapids and Muskegon.
Her best season came in 1949, when the Grand Rapids Chicks made it to the league's championship series, losing to the Rockford Peaches 3 games to 2.  During her career, she had one spectacular game...making a dozen putouts from third, something that's never been done by any player in Major League Baseball.
She and her husband eventually settled in Sycamore, where they continued to remain active in sports through coaching; her work with the school's softball team led to full-time employment as a teacher, even though she'd never received any formal education in teaching.  And she now keeps alive the legacy of the league, which eventually folded in 1954; it's enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, she herself is in three different sports halls of fame in Canada...and today, she is the last surviving player from all three teams she was on during her pro career.
Guest Speaker: Betty Mullins 2016-10-19 00:00:00Z 0
We are urgently seeking families interested in hosting Marcela Silva, our Brazilian exchange student. 
We need help from our fellow Rotarians to identify families with an interest and preferably with a high school aged female student.  The family we had identified will not work out and we are in a bit of a scramble for a replacement family. 
The transition would take place around the week of Thanksgiving. 
We need a good Rotarian response for this wonderful young lady.  She’s our guest and we need to see to it that she has an experience that exemplifies what it means to be a part of Sycamore.
Please let Chip Houdek know if you have a family in mind; call him at 815-501-1173. 
New host family urgently needed for Rotary exchange student 2016-10-17 00:00:00Z 0
Matthew was a high school student who seemed to have it all; he was successful in the classroom and in athletics, was popular with most of his fellow students and appeared headed for a bright future.
That was him on October 1st.  On October 2nd, he took his own life.
Roger Briesch has encountered many stories such as Matthew's over the years, working with Operation Snowball and with a suicide hotline.  And he says many teens face pressures which parents and teachers don't detect; it can happen to unpopular and popular students alike, pushed by bullying, a dysfunctional family, pressure to succeed and a host of other outside stresses.
Briesch says suicide has become the second-leading cause of death among youths, ranging in age from 15 to 24 -- and that this is a worldwide trend.  Not only do they face social pressures in their homes and schools, but the advent of social media has accelerated these problems; general news about incidents around the world, as well as cyber-bullying directed specifically at them, now arrives instantly via phone...faster than they can process it.
He says parents and teachers need to help youths understand that there are less drastic ways to deal with their problems; but he notes that troubled teens may be more willing to talk to an outsider than to a loved one, and he encourages parents to make sure their children know that help and a friendly ear are always available -- inside or outside the family.
Guest Speaker: Roger Briesch 2016-10-12 00:00:00Z 0
Umar Mohammad Siddiqui has always been a believer in reaching out and grasping opportunity, and knows that opportunity can only be fulfilled with hard work.  And he has devoted his high school years to achieving as much as he can.
Umar is a senior at Sycamore High School, getting a 4.0 GPA throughout high school; he is in the top 10 of his class, and is president of the National Honors Society chapter.  In addition, he founded "Smash for Safe Passage," and annual video game tournament created to raise funds for the emergency shelter.
He has also shown his talents in performing, as a member of the Penguin Project cast of "Shrek:  The Musical" this year and as a reporter and anchor on Spartan TV.  He has also been on the track and cross-country teams, won 1st place in the NIB Lit Fest short story contest, and has won the NIB math contest for five years straight.
He hopes to attend Illinois-Chicago, Northwestern or the University of Illinois to study engineering.
Student of the Month: Umar Siddiqui 2016-10-12 00:00:00Z 0
District 6420 Governor Scott Shore told Sycamore Rotarians on Wednesday that they'd better get ready to celebrate.
This year marks the first century of Rotary Foundation, which advances world understanding, goodwill, and peace through the improvement of health, the support of education, and the alleviation of poverty, according to its website. Rotarians support the Foundation’s mission with donations. 
"This is Rotary Foundation's 100th anniversary of doing good in the world, and we can all take great pride in that," Shore said. "Our projects and community service locally and worldwide are the ... difference we can make in the lives of others."
Guest Speaker: DG Scott Shore 2016-10-07 00:00:00Z 0
District 6420 Governor Scott Shore (center) paid his official visit to the Sycamore Rotary Club on October 5th; he outlined plans for Rotary International and the District for the coming year.
Guest Speaker: DG Scott Shore 2016-10-06 00:00:00Z 0
Preparations are underway for this year's Pumpkin Festival Pancake Breakfast, to be held on Saturday, October 29th at the Federated Church in Sycamore.
Rotarians wishing to help out can participate by doing the following:
 -- Sign up for a shift at any upcoming Rotary Club meeting; volunteers are needed from 6 to 9 a.m. and 9 a.m. until noon on Saturday, October 29th...and for set-up on Friday, October 28th from 2 to 4:00 p.m.  (The Club has discontinued its policy of giving members who do not participate a special assessment; all Rotarians are free to volunteer, at will.)
 -- Sell tickets to friends, neighbors, colleagues, anyone in need of a hearty pancake breakfast.  Tickets are $5.00 each, and are available at any Rotary meeting.
 -- Take one or more of our posters; display them at your place of business, or put them up anywhere around town.  These are also available at each Rotary meeting.
Be sure to contact Dave McCann for more information.
Sycamore Rotary gears up for annual Pancake Breakfast 2016-09-28 00:00:00Z 0
Grace Waller (right, with her father Rotarian Brad Waller) was a successful swimmer in high school, constantly working on her breaststroke and seeking to improve her times.  She wasn't about to let a little pain in her knees bother her.
But after her swim season ended in 2008, she couldn't ignore the pain anymore and went to a doctor -- who told her she had cancer.
Grace underwent nearly two years' worth of chemotherapy, and her life fell into a pattern -- chemo, recovery, blood transfusions and pain.  But even as she struggled with the disease, she had a bit of hope while in the cancer ward at Rush Memorial Hospital; a friend prepared a care package for her -- a suitcase of individually-wrapped gifts, marked to be opened on specific dates. 
This gave her something to look forward to during the long days in the hospital; and after being in remission for six years, she now wants to share that with other patients, through her own charitable organization.
Amazing Grace seeks to provide care packages to patients at Rush; donors can provide money, items to use as gifts, or participate in a number of fundraising events.  Anyone looking to help out can get more information by going to:
Guest Speaker:  Grace Waller 2016-09-28 00:00:00Z 0
The Kishwaukee Sunrise Rotary Club will hold its 25th Anniversary Celebration Dinner on Tuesday, October 11th; it will be at Faranda's Banquet Center, at 302 Grove Street in DeKalb.
The evening begins with a cash bar and appetizers at 6:00 p.m. with dinner at 6:30.  The program will celebrate the history of the club; the featured guest will be Kirk Reed, the first President of the Kishwaukee Sunrise Rotary.
If you wish to attend, please RSVP to Ken Olson at, or call (815) 520-2857 by October 1st.  Please specify the number to attend, and entree choice (stuffed pork chop, stuffed chicken breast or vegetable lasagna).
Kishwaukee Sunrise hosts 25th Anniversary Dinner on October 11th 2016-09-26 00:00:00Z 0

An important event for Sycamore Rotary each year is the Make A Difference DKC  (DeKalb County) mobile pack event.   With the help of over 4,700 local volunteers, the goal is to pack one million meals to feed children who are at risk of death due to starvation. 

Each meal costs $.22, so to meet the one million meal goal each year, we must raise at least $220,000.  The funds are generated through the generosity of local businesses, service organizations, student groups, clubs, and many wonderful individuals.  No donation is too small, as a meal only costs $.22. 

Make a Difference DKC raffle ticket sale underway 2016-09-21 00:00:00Z 0

Members of the Interact Club were on hand for the September 21st Rotary Club meeting, updating members on what they're doing this year.

The club is planning to once again help out with our annual Pancake Breakfast, and will be planning for their annual senior citizens' ball at the high school. They are also concentrating on recruiting, and have around 25 members this fall.

Julie Sgarlata also updated us on the EarlyAct Clubs; she says there is now more emphasis on getting the general student body involved in club events -- with officers concentrating on brainstorming meetings, and general meetings for all students wishing to participate.

Interactors update Rotary on their upcoming year 2016-09-21 00:00:00Z 0

Lisa Carlsen says when she arrived at Northern Illinois University, she asked herself why NIU couldn't compete with other Division I teams...and after a season on the job, she found no reason why they couldn't.

Carlsen is entering her second season as the Huskies women's basketball coach; she came to Northern from Division II Lewis University, and brought her high-speed philosophy with her.

She says basketball is best played fast, and has emphasized speed, up-tempo pace, fast transition and endurance in preparing her team for play.

But Carlsen is equally invested in her players' academic performance; she had a 100% graduation rate among her players at Lewis, and constantly reminds her charges that their careers aren't likely to lead to professional ball...but to the academic field of their choice.

Guest Speaker:  Lisa Carlsen 2016-09-21 00:00:00Z 0
The annual Dictionary Distribution will be held on Wednesday, October 12th immediately following Rotary Club meeting; volunteers are being sought to help deliver dictionaries to 3rd grade students in the Sycamore School District and independent schools.
For years, the Sycamore Rotary Club has participated in The Dictionary Project; experts say third grade is the time when students begin to explore and learn the meanings of words, and that this is the best possible time to provide them with order to help along that process.
If you are interested in helping out with this year's distribution, you can sign up at any upcoming Rotary Club meeting.
Dictionary Distribution set for Wednesday, October 12 2016-09-19 00:00:00Z 0
Pat Shafer has been elected as the newest Director for the Sycamore Rotary Club's Board of Directors.
At the September 14th meeting, the Rotarians present unanimously elected him to serve on the Board, effective immediately; this follows the standard 30-day nomination period, during which there were no challenges to his selection.
Pat will retain a place on the board for five years, and serve as Club President for the years 2019-2020.
Pat Shafer named to Rotary Board of Directors 2016-09-14 00:00:00Z 0
Tim Carlson says Sycamore H.S. football head coach Joe Ryan always gets the full potential out of every team he coaches; whether a team is able to pull of a 14-1 season, or a 4-5 season, he manages to get that squad to play to the best of its ability.
In advance of the annual First National Challenge contest against DeKalb at Huskie Stadium, Ryan is hopeful that his 1-2 squad can hold its own with the 2-1 Barbs.  He says the team has lost to two difficult opponents, in Sterling and Grayslake North; and Ryan also laments that he had to fill his schedule with an Indiana school (Roosevelt H.S. in Gary), even though they won that game 63-6.
Ryan also addressed the problem of concussions in the high school game, a topic he says he's not afraid to discuss in public.  He says the protocols that are in place at the high school level, along with improvements in equipment and tackling techniques, are helping to prevent concussions; but Ryan says they are still unavoidable, and that teams have to take the necessary measures to protect their players from further harm.
Guest Speaker:  Joe Ryan 2016-09-14 00:00:00Z 0
The Kishwaukee Sunrise Rotary will hold its annual Drive-Thru Dinner on Wednesday, September 21st; it will be from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Hopkins Park shelter house in DeKalb.
The meal will be provided by Country Store and Catering of Sycamore, offering both their award-winning BBQ chicken and pork chop with each dinner.  Tickets are $12 each; contact Becky Beck Ryan at (815) 758-3800 or at
Kishwaukee Sunrise will also host its 25th Anniversary Celebration Dinner on Tuesday, October 11th; it will be at Faranda's Banquet Center in DeKalb, beginning at 6:00 p.m.
The evening will celebrate the history of the Club, featuring its first president Kirk Reed.
If you wish to attend, please RSVP to Ken Olson at or call (815) 520-2857 by October 1st.  Be sure to specify the number attending, and choice of entree (stuffed pork chop, stuffed chicken breast or vegetable lasagna).
Kishwaukee Sunrise hosts Drive-Thru Dinner, 25th Anniversary 2016-09-12 00:00:00Z 0
FitWorkz CEO Raymond Binkowski explained how his organization has grown in 38 years with clients ranging in age from 5 to 97 years old.  He has worked with 40 college interns and talked about producing 1,300 videos now on their YouTube site, as well as 300 video podcasts.
He explained the value of physical workouts and how it is better to exercise with someone instead of alone. He compared it to Rotary which he said can accomplish more together as a group. His company promotes two of the largest body building events in the country that attracts 800 to 1,000 spectators.
He has published three books. The two he brought with him are titled "Eat by Color" and "Exercise Galore." He also talked about the foods we eat and said he works with Hy-Vee nutritionist Lisa Brandt to offer programs on diet and nutrition.
Guest Speaker:  Raymond Binkowski 2016-09-07 00:00:00Z 0
Student of the Month Jake Peloquin was introduced by Steve Balster, along with his parents Greg and Margie Peloquin. Jake talked about a project he initiated at Russell Woods Forest Preserve, building nine birdhouses.
He has a 4.61 GPA, the highest out of his senior class of 314 at Sycamore High.
Student of the Month:  Jake Peloquin 2016-09-07 00:00:00Z 0
The 2nd annual Ben Dover Golf Outing for Rotary District 6420, will be held on Tuesday, September 13th at the Fairway Golf Course in Rochelle.
The cost is $80.00 per person, with lunch at 11 a.m. and a shotgun start at noon.  We'd like to see a Sycamore Rotary team play in this event; gather a few of your Rotary friends, and sign up today.  For more information, go to this link

District Golf Outing
      Fairway Golf Course, Rochelle, IL

     $80.00/person includes lunch, drink ticket, raffle tickets & milligans!

     11:00 - Lunch 
     High Noon - Shotgun Start Regulation Golf -- “Best Ball” Rules

Funds raised will be divided between "End Polio NOW" and  funding of Youth Participation our District Conference. Traditional rules. Singles & Foursomes welcome!!

Host: Rochelle Rotary Club

- See more at:

District Golf Outing
      Fairway Golf Course, Rochelle, IL

     $80.00/person includes lunch, drink ticket, raffle tickets & milligans!

     11:00 - Lunch 
     High Noon - Shotgun Start Regulation Golf -- “Best Ball” Rules

Funds raised will be divided between "End Polio NOW" and  funding of Youth Participation our District Conference. Traditional rules. Singles & Foursomes welcome!!

- See more at:

District Golf Outing
      Fairway Golf Course, Rochelle, IL

     $80.00/person includes lunch, drink ticket, raffle tickets & milligans!

     11:00 - Lunch