Journalist and club Rotarian, Maria Karagianis shared the account of her 2016 visit to the Moria Refugee Camp in Lesbos.  Through some informal contacts, Maria was asked to visit the camp to observe and report on the conditions.  After some deliberation, she did agree to visit, however when she arrived, the Greek government would not give her a press pass. Being an astute journalist, she quickly met up with some camp volunteers who provided her access,(somewhat illegal Maria recounts).

The Moria refugee camp was dubbed "the worst refugee camp on earth", as reported by the BBC, a sentiment also echoed by  Maria.  The camp was built to accommodate around 3,000 people, however there were around 20,000 people living in the camp, among whom 6,000 to 7,000 were children under the age of 18. It was not uncommon for people to wait in line for 3 hours for food and never get anything.  Maria said it was more like a prison than anything.  Luckily there were a lot of great volunteers at the camp.

Thank you Austin Hill for this excellent presentation!         The Wild Animal Sanctuary is a 794-acre animal sanctuary in Keenesburg, Colorado. The non-profit sanctuary specializes in rescuing and caring for large predators which are being ill-treated, for which their owners can no longer care, or which might otherwise be euthanized. Nearly 650 animals roam large-acreage, species-specific, natural habitats.  The elevated walkways above the animal habitats provides a fantastic view for visitors, while ensuring the animals are comfortable. At 1.51 miles in length, it even holds the Guinness World Record for the world’s longest footbridge.  All males are neutered upon arrival at the wildlife sanctuary, except for male tigers because their manes are influenced by testosterone, thus the female tigers all receive contraceptives.  It takes approximately 80,000 pounds of food to feed the animals and Walmart is a major donor in this effort.
     Courtney Michelle, VP of Longmont Sister Cities Association, gave us an update on that organization and its relationship with the Northern Arapaho tribe.  LSCA has been active since the 1990’s, conducting student exchanges with Chino, Japan and Ciudad Guzman, Mexico.  It is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit, affiliated with Sister Cities International, and has also enjoyed the support of Longmont City Council over the years.  Since 2020, the usual student exchange has been on hold due to the pandemic but a relationship with the Northern Arapaho tribe has begun to take shape.
     LSCA is the first sister cities organization to be successful in establishing some sort of exchange with a tribal nation.  At first SCI discouraged this endeavor, but they are now fully supportive.  Former Longmont Mayor Brian Bagley encouraged LSCA from the start, having met some of the tribal leaders and being interested in their history and problems.  Longmont and the surrounding area were once home to these people.  Since the Sand Creek Massacre in 1864, the Arapaho tribe has been split into two groups and put on reservations, the Southern group in Oklahoma and the Northern in Wyoming.  About 10,000 Northern Arapaho share the reservation with approximately 8,000 Shoshone, who were their traditional enemies.  Over the years, the two groups have intermingled.     
PROGRAM:  Denver Sports with Troy Renck (May 10, 2022)
Troy Renck is currently the sports anchor at Denver7. He joined the station in 2016 as the Broncos insider and sportscaster. Renck worked for the Denver Post from 2002 to 2016 as the Rockies beat writer. In 2014 he joined the Post Broncos beat and in 2015 he took charge as the lead reporter during the team’s Super Bowl season. He has also worked for the Havasu City Today’s Daily News, the Colorado Daily covering CU athletics, and the Longmont Daily Times-Call. He hosts the Broncos Podcast with Troy Renck Mile High Sports. Renck was awarded the 2016 Top Breaking News award by the Associated Press Sports Editors for his coverage of Peyton Manning’s retirement.
Troy and his wife have lived in Longmont since 1996 and both of their sons graduated from Longmont High School where they played sports. Troy coached his sons in baseball from a very early age. Although baseball is Troy’s first love, the opportunity to cover the Broncos eliminated the long, grueling travel schedule required to cover baseball.

Dr. Gene Bowles, MD retired from his career as a surgeon in 2017 at the age of 80.  He was the Associate Professor of Neurosurgery at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Denver Health Medical Center. Dr. Bowles addressed the question of when surgeons should retire.  Or should there be a structured time or process for surgeons to retire?   Should detailed cognitive testing and other such tests be required at a certain age? 

The Employment Act of 1967 prohibits age discrimination, however, there are some mandates of retirement for certain professions.  Congress has approved fixed retirement ages for a number of professions that impact public safety.  Those occupations include the following:  

Commercial airline pilot-- 65 years,   Air Traffic Controllers-- 56 years,  FBI agents-- 57  years,  Lighthouse operator  -- 55  years,  National Park Ranger -- 57 years, Federal Judges-- 70  years, Physicians--N/A

According to a John Hopkins study, medical errors are the third leading cause of death.   An American College of Surgeons Statement, dated Jan 2016, offered the following comments:  Surgeons should pursue a life-long approach to wellness. Surgeons experience age-related decline in physical and cognitive skills-varies among individuals. Surgeons many not recognize deterioration in skills. Recommend starting at age 65-70, voluntary & confidential assessment.  Colleagues encouraged to bring forward performance issues.

The organization, A Way Forward, offers hope to those who struggle with substance abuse.  Debbie Platts, Executive Director and LSW Counselor, Mark Rogers, spoke to our club about this important local non-profit organization.  The mission of A Way Forward is to eliminate financial barriers to recovery from substance use disorder (SUD) and provide a trusting, welcoming, diverse and non-judgmental environment for families and individuals seeking help in the St. Vrain Valley.  Their goals include:  1) Inspire hope that people do and can recover, 2) Walk with people of their recovery journey, 3) Dispel myths about what it means to have a mental health condition or substance abuse disorder, 4) Provide self-help education and link people to tools and resources and ,5) Support people in identifying their goals, and building a path forward.

Debbie reported that throughout the pandemic, problems with use of substance abuse and alcohol  increased.  In fact the rate of alcohol-related deaths outpaced the rate of deaths for all other causes (JAMA March 2022 study).  Debbie mentioned that the staff are available 7 days a week. They are not a franchise, but rather "a community recovery center, for the community by the community". A Way Forward provides structured recovery programs, including services for Veterans, individual and family support, mental and emotional health programming and wellness and community groups.  Debbie reminded the club that A Way Forward recently received a grant from the Charity Fund for the purchase of The Hazelden Betty Ford Mental Health Series.

Longmont Rotary

Service Above Self

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803 3rd Avenue
Longmont, CO 80501
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All our meetings are in-person and a buffet meal is provided. Lunch is served at 12pm. The actual meeting starts at 12:30 and ends at 1:30 pm.
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